This is the first batch of cupcakes as part of my A... B... Cupcakes project and I must say it was a lot of fun! We had to choose from apple, almond, apricot or angel food, and almond was the hands down winner. So I decided to make a chocolate and almond cake, with a chocolate easter egg hidden inside of it, topped with almond swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) and a chocolate covered almond. All in all a winning combination I think. Here is one of the cupcakes in all its glory:
Oh and you read right, I made my first ever batch of SMBC! I am happy to report that it was really easy - and I am now in love with both SMBC and my KitchenAid. The only thing is I probably should of mixed it for longer to get rid of those air bubbles - but unfortunately little Zoe needed some attention ;)
Now for the ratings:
Me - 5/10, I know that doesn't sound very good but I used almond essence in the SMBC, and I must say that I am really not fan of that at all! Apart from that strange flavour the texture of the SMBC is amazing - I love SMBC!! The cake had a strange texture - it was slightly dense and I am guessing that is because of the almond meal. The cake was pretty moist, but unfortunately the flavour was a bit so-so, nothing amazing really.
Mat - he really liked this cupcake and especially the SMBC - a big fan of the texture and the fact that it isn't overly sweet. In regards to the cake I think he pretty much agreed with my points.
Dad and friends - they tell me that this is one of my best cupcakes yet and that I should have to pay for their dentist bills :P
Chocolate Almond Cupcakes (from Better Homes and Gardens Easter Issue 2009)
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cocoa
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup almond meal
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
12 chocolate eggs (the recipe called for caramel filled Easter eggs, but I wanted to keep things simple)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.
Put the butter, sugar, water and cocoa in a saucepan and cook, stirring over a low heat, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Here we go in to the pan:
Let the chocolate mixture cool for 10 minutes, then add the beaten eggs and stir until combined. Stir in the almond meal and flour until combined, then transfer the mixture into a jug.
Remove foil from Easter eggs and put 1 egg in each cupcake liner...
Pour the cupcake batter into each liner until three quarters full...
Bake for 15 minutes (or until firm to the touch). Note: my oven is crazy so you may have a different baking time. Cool the cupcakes in their tin for 30 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool...
Almond Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Made more than enough for 12 cupcakes - probably enough for 18.
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond essence
Combine the egg whites and sugar into a heatproof bowl and whisk over a saucepan of simmering water until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is as hot as you can get it without the egg whites cooking.
With the whisk attachment on your mixer whisk the egg white and sugar mixture on high speed until a stiff meringue is formed and the mix has cooled down to room temperature. Look at the KitchenAid going...
Now put the paddle attachment on your mixer and with the mixer on a low speed add a tablespoon or two of butter at a time. Once all the butter is incorporated turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until the mixture is light and fluffy again.
Add the vanilla extract and almond essence and mix on medium speed until the SMBC is a good piping texture.
Pipe the SMBC onto the cupcakes and then top each cupcake with a chocolate covered almond.
Stand back and marvel at their beauty.