For Christmas Lobster gave me a cupcake "courier" to store and transport my cupcakes - best gift ever! Not to be mistaken for a cupcake "carrier" - this baby is the bad ass of cupcake carriers. It was designed by a mom who was obviously brilliant since it's a triple decker carrier that transports cupcakes wonderfully and unharmed. To christen my new gift, I made Brown Sugar-Almond Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream Frosting. This is a bit of a unique cupcake since the bottom is layered with crushed almonds and sugar, then topped with the cake batter. The result is a rather dense cake which is not overly sweet considering it's called a brown sugar cupcake. While the cupcakes were good, they didn't warrant a happy dance like these or these. I tend to like my cupcakes fluffier but these tasted a bit "heavy" IMO. Even though I was a bit disappointed with them, one guest did enjoy them quite a bit and asked to keep a couple extra - so maybe it's just me. Give them a try and let me know whatcha think :)
Brown Sugar-Almond Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream Frosting
Recipe from Raspberry Eggplant blog
Makes 8 cupcakes
For the Brown Sugar-Almond cupcakes:
¼ cup almonds
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup low-fat yogurt
¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
For the Blackberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting:
4 ounces fresh blackberries
1 tablespoon sugar
[Alternately, 2 tablespoons blackberry jam in place of the blackberries + sugar]
2 egg whites
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and at room temperature
Heat an oven to 350 F. Line 8 wells of a muffin pan with cupcake papers.
Put the nuts and sugar into the bowl of a mini chopper and pulse until the nuts are ground – you want some texture so do not grind them too finely. Evenly distribute the ground nuts between the lined wells of the pan and set the pan aside.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, and vanilla. Set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and light brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and mix until combined.
Add half of the flour mixture, all of the yogurt mixture, and then the remaining flour, mixing on medium speed after each addition until just combined.
Distribute the batter between the cups. Bake until lightly golden around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean, 16-18 minutes.
Slice 4 berries in half lengthwise and set them aside.
Puree the remaining berries along with the sugar. Strain the blackberry puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan. Gently simmer the puree over medium-low heat until it is thick and reduced to about 2 tablespoons; this will take 10-12 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool.
Put the sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer. Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan and set the mixer bowl on top of the pan. Whisk the egg white mixture until it is 130 F – the mixture will turn thick and white, and this should take about 3 minutes.
Transfer the bowl to a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip the egg white mixture on high speed until it is cool, thick, and glossy, about 7 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-high and add the butter a few pieces at a time, making sure they are fully incorporated before the next addition. After all the butter has been added, continue beating the frosting until it comes together – this will take a minute or two.
Add the reduced blackberry puree (or jam) and mix to combine.
Frost the cupcakes and top each with a berry half.