BUT, before we do all that....LET'S EAT SOME CUPCAKES!! I, unapologetically, decided to bake myself cupcakes for my birthday again this year since I enjoyed last year's cupcakes so much. I had no plans on a party or a small gathering, I just wanted to enjoy baking my own birthday (cup)cake and eating more cupcakes than I want or need. I looked through lots of blogs and cookbooks trying to find this year's perfect cupcake. I ended up settling on this Almond Cloud Cupcake I had at a cooking class I took many years ago at Crate Cooking School. This was the perfect choice because it is a rather simple recipe - ie, I had most of the ingredients on hand and would be enjoying cupcake satisfaction in a very short amount of time. The cake itself is light and airy with a hint of almond flavor - the almond flavor really comes through in the icing. I decided to top it off with some toasted, slivered almonds which gives the perfect amount of crunch.
Makes about 24 cupcakes
For the cupcakes
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups 2% milk
2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
5 egg whites
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 standard cupcake pans with liners. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, butter and almond extract. Beat on low sped for about 30 seconds to combine. Adjust the speed to medium-high and beat another 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add egg whites and beat on medium-high for another 2 minutes.
Scoop the batter into the prepared liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in pans for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Almond Buttercream
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (I prefer Plugra, European butter)
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 tablespoons cold water
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add 2 cups of confectioner's sugar and mix on low until well combined. Add almond extract and water, mixing for about 30 seconds. Add the remaining 2 cups of confectioner's sugar and mix until just incorporated. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.
Transfer buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip and frost cupcakes. Top with toasted, slivered almonds, if desired.
Barely adapted from Crate Cooking School