Cheeky Cherry-Vanilla Cupcakes

Every year around this time, I find myself making cupcakes. Kevin’s birthday is a few days before Valentine’s Day, so some cheerful, pink themed cupcakes fit the bill for both occasions. Last year, I wrote more about why this treat is a must. This year, I came across a cherry cupcake birthday card and used it as my inspiration.

I realize that this is a bit of a repeat post, but I just had to share these delightful, retro-inspired morsels of baked happiness. I have to say that these are the best I have made to date. I think the key was the double dose of icing. I followed my friend Eve’s gooey icing tip and did one layer of icing, let that set up in the fridge, and then layered on some more. It allowed me to use a really soft frosting and still pile quite a bit on top. I don’t really like finicky cupcakes with piped icing, fondant, sprinkles and whatnot. I like the old school kind that your grandmother might have baked you as a kid. Plus, they’re so delicious, I see no need to dress them up. After all, George Clooney looks just as good in jeans as he does in a tux, y’know?

I used a vanilla cupcake recipe from Canadian Living and cut the dozen down to 6, as two people hardly need more than 3 cupcakes each in a weekend, especially at a time when baked goods seem to arrive uninvited at our door and bring their friend candy along for the ride. When I cut the recipe in half, I followed the proportions, but found the batter so thick my mixer could barely move, so I added one more egg and a splash of milk to thin it out. This ended up creating a less sweet cake than I had intended, but once the icing went on, the lack of sugar was actually a good thing. That said, I think there are probably better vanilla cake recipes out there, as I did not really find this one to be “tested til perfect.” However, the cake was dense yet moist, so it all turned out fine in the end.

For the icing, I always eyeball it. I started with a quarter cup of softened butter, and mixed that together with a cup of icing sugar, a splash of maraschino cherry juice and a splash of light cream. I whipped that together with a hand mixer and alternately added icing sugar or liquid until I had a good sized bowl of soft pink icing. It was on the gooey side, on purpose, hence the icing technique I mention above. I made sure to drain the cherries on some paper towel before crowning these little beauties.

Overall, a great texture and flavour combo. The cake is dense but not too sweet and the icing is soft and melty, bursting with vanilla and cherry flavour. It’s a good thing I only made 6 of these.

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