Monday, June 21, 2010
Cute As A Cherry
Cherries are the hands-down winners in the cutest fruit contest. Strawberries are nice, kiwis have a special appeal, and oranges are colorful, but I'm drawn like a magnet to anything with cherries printed on it. Aprons, kitchen towels, dresses, handbags - anything with cherries on it is just about irresistible. Something about the bright red color, the cheerful off-round shape, and the jaunty stem just makes them darling.
Another cute thing that's hard to resist is tiny food. Petit fours, itty bitty cookies, tiny tarts, brownie bites, and miniature cupcakes.
Now if you combine cherries with mini cupcakes what do you get? Serious cuteness. And deliciousness. When I saw this recipe in Martha Stewart's Cupcake cookbook, I had to make them for the cuteness factor alone. Bonus that they are moist, almondy, and have the surprise of a whole cherry in the middle.
These are perfect for a tea party, a picnic, or just a mid-afternoon indulgence. Small, sweet, and oh so cute - how can you resist? Just be sure to warn guests that there's a pit in the middle so they don't break a tooth. Of course, you could pit the cherries, but I think it's more fun to leave them in. There's a certain amount of cute in having to spit the pit from a cupcake, too.
Tiny Cherry and Almond Tea Cakes
- adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
makes about 24-30 mini cupcakes
1-1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 oz almond meal OR 1 cup unblanched almonds
1 cup sugar
1 tsp coarse salt
5 large egg whites
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp kirsch (cherry brandy)
30 sweet (Bing) cherries, stems intact
1- Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. Brush mini muffin tins with butter and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
2- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter is lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from the heat and skim off the foam from the top. Set aside.
3- Place the almond meal in a large bowl. (If using whole almonds, process them in a food processor till finely ground, then transfer them to the bowl.) Whisk in the flour, sugar, and salt to combine. Add egg whites and whisk until smooth. Stir in the kirsch. Pour in the browned butter, leaving any burned sediment behind, and whisk to combine. Let the batter rest for 20 minutes.
4- Fill each prepared cup with 1 Tbsp batter. Push a cherry into the batter of each cup, stem standing up. Dip the back of a small spoon into the remaining batter and smooth the batter over the top of each cherry to cover it.
5- Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted near the cherries comes out clean. Cool the tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edges to loosen and turn out the cakes onto the rack to cool completely.
Cakes can be stored overnight at room temperature in airtight containers.