Friday, 8 March 2013

Mothering Sunday Amaretto Sour Cupcakes

Amaretto Sour cupcake

Traditionally, before Easter nicked it, Mothering Sunday was celebrated with a Simnel cake, but my mother is not traditional by nature, so you can keep your marzipan and fruitcake for another day. She deserves something a bit more fun and frivolous.

My Mum is a glamorous but self-effacing blonde, who hates shopping but loves shoes and has a penchant for navy strength gin. She goes tap dancing, plays the violin and loves botanical drawing. She is the mother of four daughters, gets impassioned about politics, loves dancing with her grandchildren and has loud fits of giggles at least twice a day.  In the ‘60s, she worked in town planning at County Hall by day and stomped the Kings Road by night in all the latest Biba outfits, before rocking out to The Rolling Stones. She is warm and daft, beautiful but unintimidating, generous, clever and fidgety. She looks years younger than her age, gets excited by new ideas, but would be happier holidaying in Cornwall than any of the world’s most exotic places. 

Most of all, my mum is a lot of fun - she throws her head back when she laughs, lets us borrow her clothes and will offer you the entire contents of her fridge if you visit. I have inherited that trait, along with her fear of under-catering, which is why you will rarely leave either her home or mine, hungry or sober. 

With this in mind, I wanted to create a fun cake for her, deceptively unassuming to look at but with a twinkle in its eye. Pretty, yes, but not old fashioned, and delicate without being in the least bit fussy. I looked to the drinks cabinet for inspiration and dusted off a bottle of Amaretto, before rooting out a bag of sour cherries from the back of the cupboard. Amaretto Sour cocktail cupcakes, I decided, will make a very happy Mother’s Day indeed!

Amaretto Sour Cocktail Cupcakes (gluten free)

I made these cakes gluten-free, as my mum, like so many of the people closest to me, is a gluten dodger. If your mother can eat wheat, you can substitute the rice flour with plain wheat flour if you wish. 

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F (325°F fan)/Gas Mark 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake cases.

For the cakes

100g/4oz soft, unsalted butter
100g/4oz caster sugar
2 large eggs
50g/2oz ground almonds
50g/2oz rice flour
1 tsp. baking powder
The zest of 2 lemons
1 packet of dried sour cherries, soaked in 2 tbsp. Amaretto for 20 minutes.

For the icing

75g/3oz soft, unsalted butter
25g/1oz full fat Philadelphia
150g/6oz icing sugar
A generous splash of Amaretto
Natural glacé cherries to top, if you like.

Squeeze out the excess Amaretto from the cherries and reserve until later. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, almonds, rice flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and whisk with an electric hand whisk for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy. Whisk in the Amaretto from soaking the cherries to slightly slacken the mixture, before folding in the cherries and lemon zest. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, two thirds full, and bake for 20 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the icing, simply beat the butter and cream cheese together until soft and sift over half of the icing sugar. Whisk together until fully combined, before sifting over the second half of the icing sugar and whisking in. Add the Amaretto and whisk in and taste, whisking in more booze if needed for flavour.

Use a palette knife to smooth the icing over the tops of each cake before topping each one with a cherry.

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