Drawing Inspiration from Past Memories
Before I start baking or cooking, I always start with that one key ingredient that I want to incorporate into my cooking, and then try to come up with other ingredients that would go well with it. Most often, I draw from my pot of memories regarding food I have tasted with this key ingredient.
This time, my key ingredient was Amaretto.
Amaretto is an almond-based liquor. It is very sweet and has a very distinct almond flavor and scent.
The first time I had Amaretto was when I had Cherry Amaretto flavored ice cream from Haagen Dazs. It was absolutely divine.
I think the reason why cherries and Amaretto goes so well together is because cherries are sour and it complements the sweetness of Amaretto. They also both have a strong scent that are just perfect with each other.
The second time I had Amaretto was in a Christmas market. They were serving Belgian Hot Chocolate with liquor and I chose to have mine with Amaretto. It was just what I need to combat the cold winter night.
So, I started with Amaretto as my key ingredient, then combining my two memories of having this delightful liquor — I came up with cherries and chocolates as my other two ingredients.
Since I was craving cupcakes at the time, I decided it was about time I made Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes!
Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes
I based this recipe from my previous Red Velvet Cupcake recipe because I really like the way my cupcakes turn out when I follow that recipe.
See, that’s the beauty of cooking and baking. As long as you have one go-to recipe, you can tweak it to create an unlimited amount of recipes!
I hope you enjoy baking these Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes as much as I did!
Happy Baking :)
- 1 1/2 cups of cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 1 to 2 cups of Amaretto
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature (You can soak it in warm water to bring its temperature down.)
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 1 ounce white, milk or dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup of milk + 2 teaspoons of lemon)
- 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)
- 8 ounces cream cheese (regular or whipped), softened at room temperature for at least 1 hour
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Combine the coarsely chopped pitted cherries and Amaretto in a pan and simmer for a few minutes until the cherries are soft and the liquid has reduced to just a small amount. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
- In a small bowl, sift flour and set aside.
- If using milk and lemon to make buttermilk, combine the two in a small bowl and set aside until milk curdles.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg into butter sugar mixture until well incorporated.
- In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder and almond extract. Add to the batter and beat well.
- In a measuring cup, stir the salt with the buttermilk. Add one-third of the buttermilk to the batter, and then one-third of the flour, making sure not to over beat (repeat three times).
- In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda (it will sizzle a bit!) and add to the batter (this chemical reaction is what makes the cake soft and moist).
- Fold in your cherries drenched in Amaretto and your choice of chocolate chips until well incorporated.
- Pour batter on cupcake pan with cupcake liners and bake in pre-heated oven for about 18 to 20 minutes.
- Cool cake before frosting, then top with slivered almonds and chocolate chips (if you want).
- If your cream cheese is still too cold, put it in a bowl and on the microwave on high for 15 - 30 seconds until it gets soft.
- Whip cream cheese for a few minutes until it's smooth and set aside.
- In a small sauce pan, combine the flour, sugar, salt. On low to medium heat, gradually add the milk. Whisk continuously so no lumps appear until it become a smooth thick paste.
- Turn off heat and transfer to a bowl. Mix continuously for about 5 - 10 minutes to lighten. Set aside to cool, or keep whipping!
- When the flour milk mixture becomes lukewarm, add the whipped cream cheese and almond extract, and keep on whipping until the two are well incorporated.
- Use to frost cake immediately, or if you want it to be firmer, put it in the fridge for about an hour before frosting.