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Italian Cream Cupcakes

Light, airy and rich vanilla buttermilk and almond cupcakes blended with sweetened coconut and pecans. Topped with the ultimate cream cheese and buttercream frosting with cherries and pecans.  These cupcakes will quickly become a family favorite.  Serve for the holidays or during summer months when fresh cherries are readily available.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Total Time 38 minutes
Servings 30

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 7 ounces sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the Frosting

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons shortening
  • 6 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • fresh cherries, to garnish
  • chopped pecans, to garnish

Instructions

  • heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin pan with cupcake liners; set aside.
    In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder then whisk well to combine.
    In a bowl fit with a mixer, cream together softened butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and both extracts. Beat mixture until light and creamy, about 4 minutes.
    Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
    Alternately add buttermilk and dry flour mixture beating on medium-low until done. Once done, increase mixer speed and beat until fully combined.
    Stir in coconut and chopped pecans.
    Fill each cupcake 3/5 full of batter. Bake in oven for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    Repeat with remaining batter, then completely cool cupcakes before frosting.

For the Frosting

  • I've used Russian Ball Tips to frost each cupcake.  Using this type of tip requires a lot of frosting.  If not using a Russian Ball Tip to frost and simply just applying icing with spatula or knife, frosting recipe can be halved.  
    Beat softened butter, shortening and confectioners' sugar for 3-5 minutes. Beat in 1/4 softened cream cheese at a time. Beat in vanilla extract, almond extract and a pinch of salt. Beat for an additional 3 minutes. Fill a cupcake liner bag with frosting.
    Refrigerate frosting for about 30 minutes. Use a cupcake tip (such as a Russian Cake Tip) to frost cupcakes.  Once frosted, fill the center hole with frosting by filling a pipping bag with softened frosting. 
     Top with a cherry and chopped pecans.

Notes

**Read post for tips on creating a stable frosting.
***Maraschino cherries or frozen cherries can be used if fresh cherries are unavailable.  Also, the cherries are optional in this recipe.
*****Don't like coconut?  It's alright to skip it.  Don't like pecans?  Skip it or use a nut that your prefer.