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Friday, April 6, 2012

sakura cupcakes

It's hanami in Japan, y'all!
That means lots of eating, sake drinking, and cupcake eating under the cherry blossoms with your friends.

It also may include, but is not limited to:

indulgent, bordering on obsessive picture taking
learning how to communicate in a (for some very drunken) communal language
finding previously unseen beauty in nature

But, for me, one of the best things about cherry blossom time in Japan is eating cake. 
Most notably cherry blossom-flavored cake.
(like this lovely sakura mont-blanc cake on the bottom-left hand side)

So, this year for hanami, I decided to make sakura cupcakes. 

sakura cupcakes

A tender and light cake topped with cherry buttercream icing and cherry blossom shaped marshmallows!
Luckily, if you aren't able to find sakura (cherry blossom) flavored extract, almond extract is very similar.

makes 12-15 cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond or sakura extract
1-2 tsp juice from maraschino cherries jar (optional)
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
cherry buttercream icing (see recipe below)
cherry blossom shaped marshmallows, or chopped maraschino or dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter cupcake tins or line with cupcake liners.
Stir baking powder and salt into flour.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Add the almond extract and cherry juice (if using).

Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with one the flour. Stir just until the flour is incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15-25 minutes, depending on the size of your cupcakes.

cherry buttercream icing

1/2 cup butter, softened 
11/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar
a dash of salt
11/2 tsp sakura or almond extract
1-2 tablespoons milk
pink food coloring

Beat butter and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer until the color of the mixture lightens slightly. Add cherry or almond extract, salt, and 1 tbsp milk and beat until light and smooth. 
If the icing is too stiff, add remaining milk. 
Tint half of the icing with pink food coloring, and decorate cupcakes in pink and white, 
topped with a marshmallow or chopped cherries.

decorate simply

or more elaborately!
Most of all, I love that each cherry blossom is unique. 
(And tasty!)


  1. So lovely!!!
    You are genius!! Beautiful cherry blossoms, tasty cupcakes on a warm sunny day, it's perfect!

    1. Thanks!! It's always fun making cupcakes to share. I hope you had a nice hanami weekend, too!