Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Amaretto Cherry Brownie Ice Cream Cupcakes (with Salted Caramel!)

Cherry Amaretto Ice Cream.

Roasted cherries.

Dark chocolate brownie.

Salted Caramel.

If any of those made you drool, make these cupcakes.
If they didn't, make the cupcakes anyway. You will drool.
You might also enter an ecstatic trance, moan in pleasure, and/or cry tears of joy.  You've been warned.

These came about as a result of many daydreams and fortuitous circumstances. I am absolutely in love with roasted cherry brownies and had been pining for them since the end of cherry season last year. When I saw cherries on sale for $1.59/lb. last week, I knew it was my lucky day. Then I remembered the annual Ice Cream Cupcake Contest hosted by Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious, and visions of creamy cherry ice cream danced in my head... on top of these brownies... with some sort of almond/amaretto component? And... dare I imagine it... salted caramel?! But how could I fit all of that magic into one cupcake?

That's when I happened upon a little place called The Pink Spot. This charming little place sells coffee drinks, sandwiches, pastries, and their very own ice cream. I gazed longingly at all of their delicious-looking flavors and then, on a whim, I asked if they had anything like cherry ice cream. The lovely person at the counter said "Oh yes, we have some Cherry Amaretto in the back! I'll go and get one for you." 

My dream had come true. Creamy, dreamy amaretto ice cream with chunks of real cherries throughout. Absolute perfection.

The pint was filled to the top... until I opened it, with the best intentions of taking a photo and putting it right back in the freezer, of course. But I tasted a tiny bit that was stuck to the lid, and then grabbed the nearest spoon and dug in. It was that good, people.
I highly recommend trying this ice cream if you're in the area, or making your own amaretto cherry ice cream. If neither of those is possible, a store-bought amaretto ice cream or cherry ice cream should work very well. These would be stellar even with plain ol' vanilla.

Amaretto Cherry Brownie Ice Cream Cupcakes 

Roasted Cherry Dark Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes
Makes about 18 cupcakes

1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and halved
2 1/2 cups (1 lb) dark chocolate, chopped in pieces
1/2 cup salted butter
4 eggs
1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
In a small roasting pan, combine the fresh cherries and 1 tablespoon sugar.

 Roast for 10 minutes, or until the cherries start releasing juices. Remove cherries from baking pan and place in the refrigerator to cool down.

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cupcake tins or line with paper liners.

In a double boiler, melt together the dark chocolate and butter until smooth. Remove from heat. Try not to stick your face in the pan and eat it all right now.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla and almond extracts until well blended. Add the melted chocolate and mix until incorporated. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Stir in the cooled, roasted cherries.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until no indents remain when tops are gently pressed (I didn’t time them, but I would recommend that you start checking around 10 minutes). Do not overbake! These are best when slightly under-baked.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

1/4 c (60 ml) water
1/2 c (100 g) sugar
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 c (60 ml) heavy cream
1/2 tsp fleur de sel or sea salt
1/8 c (30 ml) sour cream

Combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan with tall sides, stirring to combine. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 350F on a candy thermometer or is amber-colored and aromatic, about 7-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the cream and salt over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until salt has dissolved, 2 to 5 minutes. Remove the cream from the heat and set aside.

When the caramel has reached 350F, remove it from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Carefully add half of the hot cream to the caramel (it will bubble) and whisk quickly to combine. Add the remaining half and whisk to combine. Whisk in sour cream.

Cool the caramel completely and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

To assemble:
Top each cupcake with a small scoop of Cherry Amaretto ice cream. Drizzle salted caramel over top. Place a fresh cherry on top for garnish. Eat immediately before the ice cream melts!

It doesn't get much better than this.


Sara said...

Oh my gosh, these cupcakes look so decadent and delicious - wow! :)

Scoopalicious said...

First of all, I love your intro! Second, the roasted cherries sound amazing. Third, I wish I lived near you so you would make these for me!

Thanks for entering and good luck!