Arrange these around an evergreen branch or platter, and set it out for a special meal or holiday party for an extra dash of festive cheer.
- Yield: Makes 3 dozen
Source: Martha Stewart Living, December/January 1998/1999
For the cupcakes:
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
For the butter glaze and decorating:
- 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 8 teaspoons milk
- Royal Icing for Cupcake Ornaments
To make the cupcakes:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line three 12-holed mini-muffin tins with baking cups, and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and almond extracts.
With mixer on low speed, add one-third of the reserved flour mixture, and mix until combined. Add 1/4 cup buttermilk; combine. Add another third of flour mixture, then the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk. Add the last third of flour, and mix until smooth.
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a coupler. Fill each baking cup three-quarters full. Using an offset spatula, carefully smooth the tops. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the middles comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to a wire rack to cool. Remove cupcakes from tins.
To glaze and decorate the cupcakes:
Place 1 cup confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Remove pan from heat; immediately pour butter into bowl with sugar. Add 4 teaspoons milk; whisk until smooth. Working quickly, dip the top of each cupcake into glaze, and place cupcake right-side up on wire rack.
Repeat step one; glaze remaining cupcakes.
Allow glaze to set, about 20 minutes. Using a pastry bag fitted with a plain writing tip and filled with royal icing, decorate.