I had the best almond cupcake from the Bristol Farms bakery in the San Francisco Shopping Center: light and moist white cake with a delicate almond flavor topped by a fluffy swiss meringue buttercream with even more almond.
I vowed one day to try and make my own almond cupcake. When I found this recipe for Toasted Almond Crunch Cupcakes it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try and recreate that great flavor.
This cupcake was good, but not as good as the one from the bakery. I think I might have slightly over-baked the cake (and white cake is not very forgiving) as it seemed a little dry.
And the buttercream could have used more almond extract, probably 1 teaspoon instead of the 1/2 teaspoon called for in the recipe.
The Almond Brittle Crunch is a nice addition with the freshly toasted almond flavor and the extra crunchy texture that goes nicely with the whipped buttercream. Here is how you can make your own:
You can find the entire recipe here. Start by preheating the over to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with papers and set aside.
Almond Brittle Crunch: Line a baking sheet with a Silpat and set aside.
In a small skillet, toast the almonds (I used peeled slivered almonds) until brown and fragrant. Set aside.
In a saucepan combine the sugar, water, lemon juice and I added 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves then increase heat to medium high and continue to cook without stirring until the mixture starts to caramelize.
Remove pan from heat and mix in the toasted almonds and transfer to the lined baking sheet. I sprinkled a little extra salt over the brittle at this point.
Let the brittle cool until hard then break into pieces. Place the pieces in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture becomes finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
Cupcakes: Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy.
Add the egg whites and almond extract and beat until well combined.
Add the flour mixture and milk, alternating between the two, mixing just until everything is incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops just start to get golden. Do not over bake.
Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Buttercream: Pour water into a pot and bring to a simmer over low heat.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, egg whites and water. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water and gently whisk all the ingredients.
Using a thermometer, gently whisk the mixture until it reaches 160 degrees. Remove bowl from heat and transfer to the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. I added a pinch of cream of tarter and a pinch of salt to the mixture at this point.
Whisk at medium high speed until the meringue is cool and forms stiff, shiny peaks. When stiff peaks have formed, add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time at medium speed until incorporated.
After all the butter has been mixed in add the almond extract (I would use 1 teaspoon instead of 1/2 teaspoon for better flavor) and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy.
Assembly: When the cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to spread a small dollop of buttercream on each cupcake. Top with a sprinkle of the Almond Brittle Crunch.
Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with the remaining buttercream and swirl a generous amount on each cupcake. Top with another sprinkle of Almond Brittle Crunch.