Starry Almond Mini-Cakes

It occurred to me yesterday that I have to empty my kitchen before I move out in one week, so we decided to poke around for items to use up. Unfortunately, using up the items in my cabinet meant shopping for more items to cook them with, so I'm not sure if we really succeeded in our mission. The food that resulted from the mission, however, was a huge success. We decided to do a dessert so that we could use these amazing little star-shaped tins that my mom recently gave to us, and also because we invited friends to bring their leftovers for dinner and one can only eat so many frozen vegetable dishes in one meal. You can bake almost anything in the star tins -- brownies, cookies, muffins, cakes -- but we wanted something simple and delicate, something deserving of such a lovely shape.

We chose a recipe from Epicurious for mini almond cupcakes because, though it isn't apparent from this blog, almond is pretty much my favorite flavor ever. I've been a marzipan addict for years, and for a while I wouldn't drink a Starbucks drink without a shot of almond syrup. Anything with that sweet, exotic flavor completely floors me. This recipe looked simple and fit our "get these in and out of the oven in 30 minutes" time constraint.

So not only was this one of the easiest baking recipes we've tried, but it was without doubt one of my favorites. If you like almond, you'll love this, and maybe even if you don't. The cakes were spongy and moist, but still light and fluffy. The recipe calls for the perfect amount of almond, and there are still hints of vanilla. We served with them with powdered sugar, which worked out wonderfully. These would be perfect with tea, or even alongside heavier desserts. I don't say this about many baked goods, but I know we'll be making this exact recipe again. The cakes were really, truly so so so good.

The recipe on Epicurious makes only enough for 12 mini cupcakes. We tripled the recipe and it made enough for 9 individual cakes, probably about 12 regular-sized cupcakes.

1 stick plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
9 tbsp all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting molds
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp almond paste
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush cupcake tin or cake tins with melted butter and lightly dust with flour, knocking out excess flour. In a small bowl, stir together flour and salt in a small bowl. Beat softened butter and granulated sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in almond paste and vanilla until combined, then beat in egg until combined. Add flour mixture gradually, mixing until just combined. Divide batter among tins or muffin cups, spreading evenly, then transfer to a baking sheet (not necessary if using muffin pan). Bake cakes until just firm and edges are golden, about 15 minutes. Cool, and dust tops with confectioners sugar just before serving.