Those roses bring me to the second reason this post is special. Today is my little sister's 22nd birthday. She loves roses and I love her. I can't believe she's 22. I'm old.
Almond-Scented Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling
adapted into cupcakes from www.williams-sonoma.com
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
12 TBSP (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 c. milk
5 egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 c. raspberry preserves, melted (increase to 1 1/4 c. for cupcakes)
1 1/4 c. sliced almonds, lightly toasted and cooled (optional)
For the cream cheese frosting:
1 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 TBSP (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
Directions:1. Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 350ºF. Butter and flour 2 round cake pans each 9 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches deep.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat the butter until light. Gradually add the sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
4. Reduce the speed to low and, dividing the flour mixture into 3 batches, beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture alternately with the milk just until combined.
5. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with clean, dry beaters and set on high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
6. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten whites into the batter just until incorporated.
7. Divide the batter between the prepared pans; smooth with the spatula. For cupcakes, divide among 24 cups using a standard-sized scoop.
8. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes (20 minutes for cupcakes). Transfer to racks and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the pan sides to loosen the cakes. Invert onto racks and let cool completely.
9. Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting: In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter. Using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat until smooth. Reduce the speed to low, add the confectioners’ sugar and again beat until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts until well blended.
10. For one layer cake, use a long serrated knife to cut each cake in half horizontally. Place 1 layer on a plate. Spread 1/2 cup of the frosting over the top, then drizzle on 1/4 cup of the melted preserves. Top with another cake layer and repeat with the same amounts of frosting and preserves. Top with a third cake layer and again repeat with the same amounts of frosting and preserves. Top with the fourth cake layer, cut side down.
11. For cupcakes, use either a piping tip or the cone method to fill each cupcake with raspberry preserves.
12. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides. Ring the top with raspberries, if using, and press the toasted almonds onto the sides.
13. Serve immediately, or cover with a cake dome and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes one 9-inch cake; serves 10 to 12.