De­light your Valen­tine with old-fash­ioned cherry cup­cakes

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - EL­IZ­A­BETH KARMEL

This old-fash­ioned cherry cup­cake is just the thing for Valen­tine’s Day.

I’ve up­dated a cake that my mother used to make for my sis­ters and me when we were chil­dren with all the flavours of a bour­bon Old-Fash­ioned. The rosy pink colour of the cake im­me­di­ately brings to mind the Feast of Saint Valen­tine.

When I drink an Old-Fash­ioned, I sel­dom add cher­ries, but the cher­ries are es­sen­tial to this cake. The cake is tinted a beau­ti­ful rosy pink by the ad­di­tion of maraschino cherry juice and a gen­er­ous amount of chopped cher­ries that add tex­ture and mois­ture to the light white cake.

The cake it­self tastes like the best vanilla cake you ever ate, with a soft nod to the maraschi­nos. A fra­grant or­ange-bour­bon but­ter­cream tops the cup­cakes and com­pletes the adult “Old-Fash­ioned” flavour.

I had re­mem­bered this cake fondly but some­times the mem­ory is bet­ter than the ac­tual thing. Not so in the case of this cake.

In fact, I made it twice re­cently while my mother and I vis­ited my sis­ter and her fam­ily. We couldn’t get enough of the cake and it is now my cur­rent favourite.

Af­ter all, ev­ery­thing that is new was once old and vice versa. When mak­ing this cake for a mixed age crowd, you can make two ver­sions of ic­ing and elim­i­nate the bour­bon in one of them, for the un­der 21 crowd.

The or­ange but­ter­cream brings a bright taste of sunshine to what can some­times be dreary days in Fe­bru­ary, with or with­out the bour­bon.

I never thought that this sim­ple recipe would re­mind me of an im­por­tant les­son. The day that I was bak­ing the cup­cakes for the photo, I ran into a leg­endary pas­try chef. When I told him what I was mak­ing, he said “You cooks (as op­posed to pas­try chefs) have all the fun. Can you imag­ine what ‘they’ would say if I made a cake with maraschino cher­ries?”

I love to make my food de­li­cious and some­times play­ful, and it had never oc­curred to me that there might be in­gre­di­ent bound­aries for some cooks.

I think that this is a good les­son for our hol­i­day de­voted to love: if you love it, and it makes you happy, don’t worry what other peo­ple think.

These Old-Fash­ioned cup­cakes make me

very happy — and I think they’ll do the same for you.

Cherry Cup­cake with Or­ange-bour­bon Frost­ing

MAKES 20 SERV­INGS ½ cup (1 stick) un­salted but­ter, soft­ened 1 1/8 cups gran­u­lated white sugar 2¼ cups cake flour or 2 cups all-pur­pose flour 2 tea­spoons bak­ing pow­der ¾ tsp fine sea salt ¼ cup maraschino cherry juice ½ cup whole milk ½ gen­er­ous cup chopped maraschino cher­ries (about 1 cup of un­chopped cher­ries) 4 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Start to fin­ish: 40 min­utes Pre­heat oven to 350 F. Us­ing an elec­tric mixer, cream to­gether but­ter and sugar un­til fluffy, about three to five min­utes.

In a sep­a­rate bowl, whisk to­gether flour, bak­ing pow­der and salt. Stir in al­ter­na­tively with the cherry juice and the milk. Re­move from elec­tric mixer and stir the chopped cher­ries into the cake bat­ter. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.

Pre­pare a reg­u­lar cup­cake pan by plac­ing lin­ers in each mould. Fill each cup­cake three-quar­ters of the way full. Bake for 15 to 20 min­utes or un­til a tooth­pick in­serted in the mid­dle comes out clean.

Let cool on a rack and make the frost­ing.

Bour­bon Old-Fash­ioned Frost­ing

1 box (1 pound) pow­dered sugar Pinch of fine-grain sea salt ½ cup (1 stick) un­salted but­ter, soft­ened ½ gen­er­ous tea­spoon pure vanilla ex­tract ½ tsp or­ange ex­tract 2 ta­ble­spoons heavy cream 1-2 tbsp bour­bon, depend­ing on taste Zest of one large navel or­ange

Sift box of pow­dered sugar and salt or whisk well to re­move any lumps. Set aside.

Cream but­ter un­til fluffy us­ing a stand mixer or a hand mixer set on medium speed.

Slowly add the sugar. When the sugar is in­cor­po­rated in the but­ter, add vanilla ex­tract, cream and bour­bon one ta­ble­spoon at a time un­til your de­sired con­sis­tency is reached.

Stir in or­ange zest at the end. Taste and add more bour­bon only if you want it to taste a lit­tle boozier. If it is too stiff, add a lit­tle more cream. If it is too loose, add a lit­tle more sugar.

Taste for bal­ance and add a touch more salt and vanilla if needed. Spread on top of cup­cakes or place in a pas­try bag fit­ted with a large star tip and dec­o­rate in a swirl pat­tern. Top with a pink con­ver­sa­tion heart or stemmed cherry, if de­sired.

Per cup­cake: 151 calo­ries (44 from fat); 5 grams fat (3 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 13 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 218 mg sodium; 25 g car­bo­hy­drate; 1 g fi­bre; 15 g sugar; 2 g pro­tein.

Per serv­ing of frost­ing (on one cup­cake): 200 calo­ries (65 from fat); 7 grams fat (5 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 23 mg sodium; 33 g car­bo­hy­drate; 0 g fi­bre; 31 g sugar; 0 g pro­tein.

RICHARD DREW, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The cake is tinted a beau­ti­ful rosy pink by the ad­di­tion of maraschino cherry juice and a gen­er­ous amount of chopped cher­ries.

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