Vanilla Almond Cupcakes
Yield: 2.5 dozen
1 3/4 cups (175 g/6 oz) cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups (157 g/5.5 oz) all-purpose flour
2 cups (400 g/14 oz) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 227 g/8 oz) unsalted butter cut into 1-inch cubes, room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (250 mL/8 liquid ounces) whole milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract for all of my baking)
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) pure almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Line standard cupcake pans with your favourite paper cupcake liners ( I love black & white liners for the Anise Cupcakes!).
2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt) and mix on low speed until blended. On medium-low speed, add cubes of butter, a few at a time, and mix each one for a moment before adding the next few, until each cube of butter is incorporated. Be sure there are no large chunks of butter in the batter before moving onto step 3.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Be sure each egg has been incorporated before adding the next.
4. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together milk, vanilla, and almond extract. With mixer on medium speed (#4 on KitchenAid), add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula after each addition. Beat until just incorporated (try not to over beat).
4. Using a 1.5 oz cookie scoop (or your cake batter tool of choice), divide batter among liners (should be 2/3 full). Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17-20 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and immediately transfer the cupcakes onto a cooling rack by inverting the tray. Carefully turn the cupcakes right-side-up and let cool completely before frosting.
*Recipe adapted from Billy's Bakery Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes via Martha Stewart
Whipped Vanilla & Anise Frosting
Yield: enough to frost 2.5 dozen cupcakes
3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (375 grams/13 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 cups sifted (480 grams/7 ounces) confectioners' sugar (icing, powdered)
2.5 tablespoons (37.5 mL) milk
1 1/2 teaspoon (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract)
3/4 teaspoon (3.75 mL), or to taste, pure anise extract (such as Watkins Anise Extract 2oz)
pinch of salt
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use "4" on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
3. Best used right away.
4. You can include one seeded and scraped vanilla bean and 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract for a deeper vanilla flavour (and the glorious vanilla bean specks).
Once cupcakes are completely cool, spread frosting over each one using a small offset spatula or you can pipe frosting using a piping bag and your desired pastry tip. I used Ateco #887. Top with sprinkles, black jelly beans, Goodies, or, as I used, Mini Licorice Allsorts, 1 LB and De Ruijter Anise Sprinkles (see here).
Store at room temperature in airtight container for up to 3 days, but best enjoyed the day they are made.