Recipe: Cherry Nut Cupcakes


Perfect for: Princess birthday parties, club gatherings, any event where pink food would feel welcome. 
Make and take: Stack frosted cupcakes on a plate or in a 9-by-13-inch pan and loosely cover with plastic wrap, or place in a large flat plastic container with a lid. 
Made famous by: Lynn Jacques of Snellville, who grew up eating the cupcakes on special occasions. Her mother, Gerry Baxter, got the recipe from friend Mildred Wilson of Bucksport, Maine. The cakes are still popular in Jacques' family. 

There's a certain satisfaction in pouring a jar of maraschino cherries into a mixing bowl and watching the beaters churn the batter pink. The cupcakes taste good, too.

 

Hands on time: 30 minutes  Total time: 1 hour and 45 minutes  Serves: 12

    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 
    1 cup granulated sugar 
    2 eggs 
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
    2 cups all-purpose flour 
    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
    1/4 teaspoon salt 
    1 (6-ounce) bottle maraschino cherries with juice, no stems 
    1/2 cup milk 
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts 

    Cherry Frosting: 
    The delicate pink of this buttercream frosting can be enhanced with a drop of red food coloring, if desired. 
    1/3 cup (about 5 tablespoons) butter, room temperature 
    2 cups confectioners' sugar 
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
    1 tablespoon reserved cherry juice 


    Optional garnishes: additional cherry halves (drained on paper towels), chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and eggs. Add vanilla. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing just enough to combine. Turn off the mixer. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the cherry juice for the icing, then dump the rest of the bottle of cherries and juice into the batter. Add the milk. Beat with the mixer until the cherries are a little chopped and the liquid is incorporated into the batter, but do not overmix. Fold in the walnuts. 
Spoon the batter into the cupcake pans, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake until a tester inserted in the middle of a cake comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before icing the cakes with Cherry Frosting and topping with a cherry half and additional nuts, if desired. 

Cherry Frosting: 
Beat butter until very light. Beat in confectioners' sugar, vanilla and cherry juice. (If frosting is too thick to spread easily, add a little water or milk to thin it. If it is too thin, beat in additional confectioners' sugar.) 

Tip: Sprinkling the tops of the frosted cupcakes with chopped nuts makes them easier to stack on a serving plate, as the frosting is less likely to stick to upstairs-neighbor cakes.

Per serving: 399 calories (percent of calories from fat, 37), 5 grams protein, 59 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 17 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 66 milligrams cholesterol, 221 milligrams sodium.


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