Basic start, as with most, is my lovely vanilla cake. A good dose of finely chopped maraschino cherries and almond extract instead of vanilla will quickly convert them.
I love these candied fruits despite everything becoming sticky and the risk of stain at a moment's notice. When dealing with maraschino cherries, I recommend starting there and then clean up your surfaces and tools immediately. Only then, move on to the cake.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the lines I did not account for the additional moisture the cherries would expel while baking. I either needed to counterbalance within the batter or bake them slightly longer. I ended up with cakes a little sunken in on top as a result but luckily there was no sticking to the paper cups. I hate that!
The addition of the almond extract and maraschino cherries was a subtle change to the cake. The almond extract played hide-n-seek within the cake, leaving a hint of taste everywhere it went; the little cherry chunks were a snappy burst of flavor to keep life interesting.
These little dolls were all set to the side to cool. I stretched my hands and turned to the mixer. It was time to venture to the clouds and see what I'd find.
What I found was what a baker's dreams are made of. Well, this baker's dreams anyway.
The ingredients went through a two-stage process starting with some hand whisking over simmering water on the stove until warm and frothy. Next it is transferred to the mixer to run until, as usual, stiff peaks form.
And boy did they! At first, I would glance in the bowl as I passed by, cleaning the kitchen while my clouds formed. The frothy soup seemed to not be doing much initially. It took a good 10 minutes before I started to notice a whipped cream sort of style being created in the bowl. By 15 minutes, I could tell there was density to the cream as it became to fill the bowl. These clouds were about ready to float.
After about 18 to 20 minutes, I stopped the mixer and lifted the arm. The bowl did not want to relinquish what the whisk still cradled. Wow. I have never seen whipped cream like this before! What started out as a small amount of warm froth similar to what gets added to cappuccino had grown into a bouncy, dense pillow of silk that filled the bowl.
After a taste, I realized: I hadn't just made whipped cream. I had made my childhood love: marshmallow fluff. And I had made a LOT OF IT. 2 cups of sugar and 6 egg whites go a long way to filling up a Kitchenaid bowl!
My tastebuds were a whirl as I could not stop snatching little tastes of the fluff. I felt like a kid in the kitchen while mom is baking; waiting until her back is turned to grab a pastry bag or adjust the line up of cupcakes then, quick as lightning, dip a finger across the beater for a sweet taste of fluff! I could not wait to combine one of these little beauties and dive in.
I looked at my pastry tips and was tempted to use the Wilton 12, a simple round tip, but decided that was just too plain. Besides, I intended to go a step beyond frosting them with fluff by adding a drizzle of cherry juice then sprinkle with chopped almonds. The Wilton 21 tip caught my eye next and after a couple of tested techniques, and spousal input, I had my plan in place.
These turned out to be beautiful and tasty. The stickiness of the outer layer of the fluff along with the cherry juice drizzle makes you feel like a kid again as you bite past and into the the airy center of the fluff. The fluff is exactly that: very light, airy, slightly springy with a subtle marshmallow flavor. This goes great with the delicate, moist crumb of the cake. The almond slivers were a great crunch to counter the bright snaps of cherry.
These were a total hit and none came home from the party.
Cherry-Almond with Marshmallow Fluff: A++ Cupcake. After the fluff sits in the fridge for about an hour, the top layer seems to “set” into a sticky exterior. It reminds me of the tacky skin that curd pudding gets without being creepy, most likely because the fluff version is much thinner. I suspect this recipe actually is a basis for making marshmallows. Perhaps something I will need to look into...
Also, the fluff recipe makes a lot; way more than needed for two dozen cupcakes. I have found that it freezes well, although it separates and you have to fluff it again with the mixer. Since it is essentially marshmallow fluff, it makes a wonderful dip for Granny Smith apple slices!
All [creativity] is not lost...
Corissa has been an artist her entire life and attended the Art Institute for design after completing a Bachelor’s in Accounting from National American University. She validates the contradicting combination with “I love my art but I don’t have to starve for it.”
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