I can guarantee that, if you do decide to make these, the results will be spectacular. The flavor blending of raspberries and almonds is perfect, and the cake is tender and rich. By making these in the "regular" sized muffin pans (not the giant ones so often used for muffins and cupcakes lately), the recipe makes three and a half dozen rich dessert servings, each one just right to finish off a meal.
A few things to keep in mind:
- You really do need to use butter in these rather than any substitutes. (Budget hint: Watch for sales on butter and put an extra pound or two in the freezer.)
- While you can use frozen raspberries, you will need to drain them very well. If not, the juices will "leak" into the batter, making it a less appetizing grayish purple.
- For that same color-of-batter reason, be very careful to fold the raspberries gently into the batter, only to get them evenly distributed but no more.
- Ground almonds are something you might need to look for a bit. In places where ground nuts are sold, they are usually at a lower per pound price than whole or chopped nuts. I have not ground my own but you could try. (Upper Midwest readers: Fleet Farm and Farm Fleet stores regularly stock ground almonds, pecans, and walnuts.)
- As noted in the recipe, don't under-bake. These little gems are very tender, so they need to be completely cooked. Look for the color to be similar to the photo below.
- If you don't have unsweetened applesauce available, you can substitute a tightly packed cup of grated apple.
NOTE: These are a little on the ugly side before frosting, as the tenderness of the cake and the weight of the berries will cause them to look like they have "fallen." However, if you let them bake until fully done, they will be wonderfully delicious, and the frosting will turn the Cinderella chamber maids into Cinderella princesses.
Raspberry Almond Cupcakes
1 c butter, slightly softened
2 c sugar
2 1/2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1 c ground almonds
1 c unsweetened applesauce
6 T milk
2 t almond extract
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
3 c raspberries
1. Beat the butter and sugar together until very smooth. Add the eggs, almond extract, and ground almonds and continue to beat until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the beaten egg mixture alternately with the applesauce and milk.
3. Gently fold in the raspberries (use a silicon scraper or wood spoon) just until mixed throughout the batter.
4. Spoon the batter into standard sized muffin pans lined with cupcake paper liners. Fill each about three quarters full.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 22 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don't underbake, as these are very tender.
6. This recipe makes about 3 1/2 dozen cupcakes, so you will probably need to bake the cupcakes in batches. The batter will not be affected if it sits while waiting to put another pan or two in the oven.
Almond Butter Cream Frosting
1 pound powdered sugar
3 to 4 T very soft butter (the amount depends on your preference for richness)
1 1/2 t pure almond flavoring
milk as needed
1. Stir about 1 cup of powdered sugar into the butter and beat until smooth.
2. Add the almond flavoring and a tablespoon or so of milk. Gradually add more powdered sugar and then milk, continuing to beat the frosting until smooth. You will probably need about a quarter to a third of a cup of milk for this much powdered sugar.
Store extra frosting in the refrigerator. This can be used with peanut butter on toast or French toast--honest, it isn't half bad!