Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pink Squirrel Cupcakes

I don't make a lot of cupcakes anymore. I'm more more of a cake lady these days. Maybe because it seems fussy to have to portion all those little cups out, I dunno. Maybe because I've been too busy this past year making Milk Bar layer cakes, which do not translate at all to cupcake form. 

I saw a recipe for Pink Squirrel cupcakes on Sprinkle Bakes back in December, and have been dreaming about them ever since. I've been fascinated by the Pink Squirrel cocktail, but it's kind of out of fashion these days, and I fear that if I ever tried to order one, bartenders would laugh/stare at me. A Pink Squirrel is Creme de Cacao, Creme de Noyaux (or Creme de Almond) and heavy cream. It is bright pink and looks kind of like Pepto Bismol. 

I got my Creme de Noyaux from a creepy liquor store attached to a gas station, but my Creme de Cacao is some Tattersall, a local distillery. I'd love to go on one of their tours because...well, I'm a food/beverage nerd I guess. I like to know how stuff works, okay? Anyway, they make awesome spirits. Naturally, my cupcakes were not as beautiful as Heather's. But they have a light texture and mild almond flavor. Very nice in my book. The "American" style buttercream is a bit sweet for my tastes, but hey, it's a Pink Squirrel, and you're supposed to go over the top. 

Pink Squirrel Cupcakes 

1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup crème de noyaux liqueur (also called crème de almond)
1/4 cup clear or white crème de cocoa liqueur
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pink gel food color, optional

Crème de noyaux frosting
2 sticks of butter softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup crème de noyaux liqueur
Pink gel food color
White nonpareils for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make the cakes: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, crème noyaux, crème do cocoa and almond extract. Add flour and sour cream mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Beat in a drop of pink food color, if using. Batter will be thick.
Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter. Bake for 17-22 minutes. Set aside.

Make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together. Once the frosting is thick, add the crème de noyaux one tablespoon at a time while beating on medium-low speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add a drop of pink gel food color; mix well.
Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with nonpareils. Garnish the cupcakes with a glittering squirrel topper (recipe follows). You may also choose to top the cupcakes with maraschino cherries with stems, as this is the usual Pink Squirrel Cocktail garnish.

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