Mini Brown Butter Sweet Cherry Pie Cupcakes
These cupcakes might be mini but they are big on flavor! Brown butter cake is filled with sweet cherry filling, swirled with vanilla bean swiss meringue buttercream, and topped with an almond brown butter crumb. Mixing in some Luxardo cherry liqueur into the filling help to bring out the bitter almond and tart flavors of the cherries and the warmth and spice of the crumb brings it all together.
Cherries are one of my favorite summer snacking fruits. To pit these beauties without any specialty, use a bamboo skewer. Place the cherry lengthwise on a cutting board. Put the flat end of the skewer on the bottom (opposite of the stem end) of the cherry and push until the pit comes out the stem end. You can also place the cherry bottom side up on the top of a wine bottle. Then the pits will come out the stem end and all the juice and pits are collected in the bottle for easy cleanup.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream can be intimidating. Heating over a double boiler, whipping meringue to stiff peaks, incorporating butter piece by piece, it is a lot of steps but for me, it's worth it! The reason I like Swiss meringue buttercream so much is because of its silky texture and not too sweet flavor. If you run into some issues, here are a few tips. You know when your egg white syrup is at the right temperature when it is warm to the touch and loses its eggy elasticity. Take your butter out of the fridge and cube it when you start whipping your meringue. Then, it can sit an warm up a bit before you incorporate it.
Once you've made it through these steps, temperature can be the main cause for issue. If your butter is too cold when you incorporate it, the buttercream will become too stiff and may even look curdled. If you run into this issue, remove a spoonful of the buttercream and place it in a small bowl. Microwave it for 10 seconds, until it is melted. Then, add it back into the buttercream and keep whipping. This should gently bring the temperature up and smooth out the texture. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if the meringue or the butter is too warm when you incorporate it, things may turn soupy and never thicken. If this happens, place the buttercream covered in the fridge for 15 minutes then whip it again. This should cool the mixture allowing for it to thicken.
Mini Brown Butter Sweet Cherry Pie Cupcakes with Almond Brown Butter Crumb
Brown Butter Cake
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/3 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
Sweet Cherry Filling
1 1/2 cups whole pitted sweet cherries, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon luxardo cherry liquor (optional)
pinch of salt
Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1/2 cup white chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt
5 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
Almond Brown Butter Crumb
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sliced almonds
*Fresh cherries for garnish
Brown Butter Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line your mini cupcake pan with paper cups.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the 6 tablespoons of butter. Add the remains 2 tablespoons to the bowl of your stand mixer. As, the butter melts and begins to bubble, the milk solids will rise to the top. Continue to cook the butter until the milk solids turn brown, fall to the bottom and begins to have a nutty aroma. Keep a watchful eye and be careful not to burn the butter. When brown remove from the heat and let sit to cool for at least 5 minutes..
Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, beat the reserved butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add brown butter and vanilla continue to whip until light and fluffy. .
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add eggs to the butter mixture one at a time and beat until fully combine and the volume has increased. Then, alternatively add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture (beginning and ending with flour) and beat until just combined.
Spoon batter into mini cupcake pan and fill 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Then, move to a wire rack to cool.
Cherry Filling: In a small sauce pan over medium heat add the cherries and water. Cover the mixture and let cook until the cherries release their juices and become soft about 8-10 minutes.
Then, mix together the sugar and corn starch. Remove the cherries from the heat and stir in the sugar and corn starch mixture.
Return the pan to the heat and cook on low. Heat the mixture until thicken and all of the corn starch has been cooked off, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt and luxardo. Make sure to do this on low heat so that the filling will not thicken too much before all of the corn starch has cooked off.
If your sauce does thicken before the cornstarch taste is removed. Add a little water and continue to cook until thick and no cornstarch taste is left.
Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Add egg whites and sugar to a heat proof bowl and simmer over a pot of water, whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
Transfer the sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so).
Once your meringue has reach stiff peaks and the bowl no longer feels warm, switch to the paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed. Begin to add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture. Mix in vanilla bean paste until incorporated.
Almond brown butter crumble topping: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. As, the butter melts and begins to bubble, the milk solids will rise to the top. Continue to cook the butter until the milk solids turn brown, fall to the bottom and begins to have a nutty aroma. Keep a watchful eye and be careful not to burn the butter. When brown remove from the heat and let cool.
Mix together the brown butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt together with your hands until it forms the texture of wet sand and forms crumbs. Mix in the almonds and place on a cookie sheet lining with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until it begins to brown.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with the pastry tip of your choice with the buttercream.
Pipe a swirl of buttercream leaving room in the middle for the filling. Fill the buttercream with cherry filling. Then, top with streusel and fresh cherries.
makes approximately 4 dozen mini cupcakes