Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tiny Cherry and Almond Tea Cakes

I'm a little late on the post, I know. And my excuse is the same one I always use... I've been busy, and to be honest, quite tired as well. Some days I just don't have the energy it takes to work on a post. I'm fading fast today as well, but I'm going to power through because the hardest work is already over, and these tiny cherry and almond tea cakes are just too adorable to keep from you any longer. You have to admit they look pretty cute!

As you know I was MIA for a little while when I was on vacation and while I've done plenty of baking since I've been back, I haven't done much cupcake baking due to the previously mentioned lack of time and energy. I'd also been putting these off because they required a bit of shopping, expensive shopping no less. First thing I went out in search of was cherry brandy. Yep, the booze is back, but in a very small portion. I went to the liquor store hoping I would be able to find a nip of cherry brandy because I only needed less than 1/4 cup of it. There was cherry vodka, I think there may have been cherry rum (not positive), but there wasn't any cherry brandy. I know, I was upset too. So, my search extended to the large bottle of liquor where I of course found cherry brandy, wild cherry if we're being specific. The bottle was around $11 I think, but with no other choice I went for it. If you or anyone you know is interested in an opened, but almost 100% full bottle of wild cherry brandy let me know. I'm your girl.

The next 2 items that I had to purchase that aren't normally on my grocery list were unblanched almonds and cherries. I actually made 2 attempts to get these items. Truthfully I went grocery shopping without knowing what unblanched almonds were, but hoping that the package would be labeled as such. I was wrong, nothing was labeled as such. On that same shopping trip the store was also sans cherries. So I went home without almonds or cherries, but with all the other items on my list. In the meantime I did a little research to find out what unblanched almonds are (almonds that still have the skins on them) and kept my fingers crossed that next time cherries would be in stock. Lucky me, second time was the charm.

The worst part about making these cupcakes was the sound the almonds made when I ground them up in the food processor. It was awful. Instant headache. I plugged my ears. Seriously. I ground the almonds until they were as powdery as I thought they would become in the food processor. The most time consuming part of this recipe was browning the butter. You know me, I always get nervous when I have to do this. That I'm either going to burn the butter or not brown it enough. But, each time I do it, I surprise myself by not messing it up. This time was no different. Once the batter was put together it had to rest for 20 minutes. I'm not sure why, Martha didn't elaborate, but then again, she usually doesn't.

After the 20 minutes had passed I proceeded to fill the mini cupcake pans with batter. Now, you know I struggle sometimes with whether or not I want to listen to all of Martha's instructions. This time I didn't listen. Martha wanted me to butter and flour the pans. You all know how much I detest that process so I obviously didn't want to do it, and I didn't. I remembered that I have some cooking spray with flour that I bought by mistake awhile ago and thought, why not give that a try? And I did. Without giving too much away about the end result, the spray worked perfectly. I may consider using it in the future.

On with the cupcakes! I used a tablespoon of batter for each cupcake, which I think was a little too much since they overflowed a little once I put the cherries in. Plus, once they were baked some of them turned out to be larger than I would have liked. I baked each batch for 14 total minutes with a turn halfway through the baking time. The first batch came out perfectly, but the second batch came out a little more done than I would have liked. Luckily there were only 4 cupcakes in the second batch so I cared less about the final product.

I was a little disappointed by how little the cherries showed through the cake once they were done. I attribute that to using too much batter, and also to covering the cherries with the batter before I baked them. Martha told me to do it, but if I were to make these again I might skip that step. As for the taste, I enjoyed them very much. I found it a little difficult to eat them since the cherries still had the pits in them. Martha didn't mandate that they be removed, but next time around I think I would get rid of them. While that would most likely be a pretty tedious process I think it would make for a better final product. The pits didn't take away from the taste, just the overall eating experience itself.