:: valentine treat time ::

We sure need another excuse for baking and eating treats don't we?! Hooray for red and white (and pink!) holidays!

I'm inspired by the darling way these cupcakes are decorated. Just look at all the variations using just white frosting and red and white sprinkles. I'm printing the photo above and pasting it in my recipe binder. These cupcakes might even be prettier than they taste. EXCEPT...they're almond flavored - one of my all-time favorites. Wow! A cupcake with almond paste in it? Oh, yummm. (I might have to bake these...in spite of the 'hate-to-cook' post that I wrote last week.)

Almond Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 sticks (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3-1/2 ounces (1/2 package) almond paste
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

3. In another medium bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, almond paste, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the milk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating just until blended. Stir in the vanilla.

4. Spoon half of the batter into a ziplock bag. Snip a 1/4-inch corner from the bag and fill the liners two-thirds full. Repeat with the remaining batter. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the baking pan, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool completely.

Recipe and images from Love to Cook/Kitchen Kneads store - Logan, UT and marthastewart.com