A Southern Grace: for the pyromaniac in us all

May 21, 2012

for the pyromaniac in us all


Even if, like me, you claim to dislike messing around with fire, you have to admit that it's pretty fun in controlled situations. I don't really consider alcohol and an open flame to fall into that category (it seems to me like a good way to lose eyebrow hairs), but I still had a blast making these cupcakes.

They're inspired by the classic pineapple upside-down cake, with an exciting blazing twist. What we have is an almond cake (made with actual ground almonds!) filled with DELICIOUS flambeed pineapple innards and topped with a lightly-flavored almond buttercream. The texture of the cupcakes was surprisingly delicate considering the presence of the ground almonds in the batter and the fact that the cakes get saturated with amaretto when they come out of the oven.

All in all, these go down as one of my favorite batches of cupcakes to date, and that's almost entirely to do with the filling. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll find other places in which to use it and frankly, I wouldn't be above making it and eating it with a little bit of ice cream on the side.

Pineapple Inside-Out Cupcakes
(makes 12 cupcakes)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unblanched almonds, finely ground in a food processor
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup amaretto (almond flavored liqueur)
1 cup heavy cream

8 slices pineapple
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup amaretto
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2-3 tablespoons milk, room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line muffin tins with papers and lightly spray.
Whisk together flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in extracts. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and mixing until just combined.
Divide batter among prepared cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks; immediately poke holes all over tops of cupcakes with a toothpick. Pour amaretto evenly on top; let cool completely before removing from tins.
To make the filling, first stack the pineapple slices and cut into quarters, then into a small dice. Heat sugar in a large skillet over medium-high, stirring, until sugar melts and turns golden brown. Add pineapple; toss. Carefully pour in amaretto; immediately tilt skillet slight to ignite alcohol. (If using an electric stove, use a long match to ignite alcohol.) When flames subside and caramel melts, carefully stir in cream, orange juice, and vanilla-bean seeds. Reduce heat to medium; boil, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely before using or storing.
To make the frosting, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few minutes. Add the extract and milk and briefly blend. Add the powdered sugar gradually until the frosting is thick enough to spread easily. If the frosting is too dry, add additional milk until the desired consistency is reached.
To fill the cupcakes, carve out a cone-shaped hole (and immediately eat the cone)(after schmearing it with filling and/or frosting, of course) and carefully spoon the pineapple innards into the hole. Apply frosting generously to cupcakes, sprinkle with toasted almonds, and devour.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Mmmhhh, divine looking and sounding!



Becki's Whole Life said...

While all of your cupcakes sound amazing I do have to say these sound particularly fun to make and tasty. Pineapple updside down cake is my hubby's favorite and I love cupcakes so this is kind of like the best of both worlds for us. Amaretto is our fav, too. I agree - I would eat that filling up with a spoon by itself.

I WIlkerson said...

I am not an amaretto lover, but I wonder if Frangelico would work. The idea of carmelized pineapple in the center is amazing!

Jackie @Syrup and Biscuits said...

I love Pineapple Upside Down cupcakes and big cakes, too! Your idea of adding caramelized pineapple to the center is a brilliant twist. Well done!

~~louise~~ said...

Oh gracious me, that filling alone would send me over the top. Put it inside a cupcake and I'm in heaven!

Thanks for sharing, Grace...

Cara said...

We've been doing a lot of pineapple around here too lately. I've been working on a pineapple cake protein bar :) Great minds think alike - even if the outcome is a little different!

Karly said...

I'm sad to say I've never played with fire in the kitchen, other than your typical "turn the stove on to high" type of thing.

I must go flambé something immediately.

jillian said...

Great combination of flavors! My mom would go crazy for that filling over ice cream! :)

Sue/the view from great island said...

Almond and pineapple flambe? This is crazy good.

Pencil Kitchen said...

I am too much of a coward to play with fire. The worst i can do with fire is to pinch a lit-up candle at its fire tip to put it out. That was with much worry under the surface! but these almond cake sounds intricately beautiful!

Pencil Kitchen said...

I am too much of a coward to play with fire. The worst i can do with fire is to pinch a lit-up candle at its fire tip to put it out. That was with much worry under the surface! but these almond cake sounds intricately beautiful!

Carolyn Jung said...

I think I might just eat every spoonful of filling before it made it into the actual cupcakes. ;)

Lynda said...

What a great flavor combination...! love pineapple cake, and almonds would be a crowning touch. I have never set my food on fire Grace, (well, not on purpose anyway), but I'm sure these cupcakes taste fantastic because of it. Great job!

Anonymous said...

I love this twist on pineapple cake - it looks stunning :D

Choc Chip Uru

Joanne said...

Playing with fire (in the literal sense) always makes me nervous...but it's also so stress relieving once you're done. It's a weird feeling.

The burnt pineapple on the inside of these cupcakes must be so caramelly delicious! Love.

Barbara said...

Yum! Almonds and pineapple! My favorites. I bet that caramelized pineapple is sticky and delicious. (I would probably have burned my eyebrows) Yes, the inside would be my favorite too.

Julie M. said...

Ummm, yea. You wholeheartedly had me at "saturated with amaretto". Those sound like pure unadulterated pleasure in a wrapper.

momto8 said...

oh my goodness..this might just be prefect!!!

Blond Duck said...

How do you come up with this stuff? :)

lisa is cooking said...

Amaretto on the cake and in the flambeed filling sounds fabulous! This is an alcohol fire very worth starting.

Pam said...

You are right... fire can be fun. These cupcakes look stupendous! Seriously drool worthy.

Hungry Dog said...

You just blew my mind with these cupcakes...

Faith said...

Wow! I honesty don't know what to say other than you are my cupcake inspiration. All cupcakes I could attempt to make would pale after seeing these babies though!

Beth said...

That pineapple filling looks absolutely divine! I can see myself eating it by the spoon.

Angie's Recipes said...

I am always a fan of your cupcakes, esp. those swirls...just sexy!

Anonymous said...

am STARVING by looking at your wonderful photos..

Rosita Vargas said...

Que ricooooooo .....es una tentación hermosa,abrazos hugs,hugs.

Deborah said...

What a great twist on pineapple upside down cake!!

tania@mykitchenstories said...

Yes you are cupcake obsessed but they all look so good!

kimberleyblue said...

That is one gorgeous cupcake. It sounds amazing too - love the pineapple/almond combo.

batterychargersell said...

Your world is amazing.Thank you for all this information!

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