There are many bland cakes, cookies and muffins out there that look picture perfect. And it is always disappointing when that flawless look doesn’t have the flavor to back up that first impression. Then there are other dishes that don’t look too appealing, but deliver a lot of flavor and you go back for more regardless of what it looks like. These Very Cherry Almond Muffins are on the less attractive side of the muffins that I’ve made recently, but their flavor more than makes up for their looks because they are simply delicious – especially if you are a cherry fan.
The muffins taste like a cherry and almond cobbler, and they are absolutely packed with cherries. They are moist, tender and have significantly more cherry flavor than most of the cherry muffins I’ve had. This is because I reduced some cherry juice and incorporated it into the muffin batter. This syrupy juice is a dose of concentrated cherry flavor – unfortunately, although it is very flavorful, it gave the muffins a slightly purple tint because that juice was an intense red color. Eating a purple muffin – especially when I knew that the color came from natural juices and had a ton of flavor – didn’t bother me one bit. It did, however, produce a few quizzical looks from people I served the muffins to, even though any reservations they had disappeared after that first bite.
I used almond meal and almond extract to get the almond flavor into the muffins. If you have some chopped almonds, you could easily sprinkle them on top for a little extra texture, although I sprinkled mine with some sugar for a sweet, slightly crunchy topping.
I used jarred cherries packed in juice for this recipe and reduced some of that juice for the cherry syrup. Frozen cherries will work just as well as mix-ins, although you might not get any cherry juice if you opt for frozen berries. You can either buy your juice separately, or opt for a non-purple muffin and use only buttermilk instead of the cherry reduction in the recipe. Alternatively, you could add a little red food coloring to make the cherries even more purple/pink and really make them look like they’ve been infused with cherries!
Very Cherry Almond Muffins
1/2 cup cherry juice
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal/flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups cherries, coarsely chopped
coarse sugar or sliced almonds, for topping
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a small saucepan, cook cherry juice over high heat until it reduces by 50% to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in the egg, followed by the almond and vanilla extracts. Beat in cherry juice.
Stir half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, followed by the buttermilk. Stir in the remaining flour mixture just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain visible, then fold in the cherries until well distributed.
Divide evenly into prepared muffin cups and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed.
Turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool completely.