Tender, almond-scented vanilla cake is the base for these adorable cherry pie cupcakes, adorned with a piped lattice topping. We provide a quick homemade cherry pie filling, but you can also use store-bought pie filling to speed up the process. Whether you’re baking for a birthday, bake sale, or just to share with friends, these pie cupcakes are cute as can be!
To make the filling: In a small pot, combine the frozen cherries, sugar, and lemon juice. Cook over medium-low heat until the cherries begin to release their juices and soften, about 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir together the water and cornstarch until smooth.
Once the cherry filling has reached a low boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture. Return the cherry filling to a low boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove the cherry filling from the heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Set aside to cool to room temperature while you prepare the cupcake batter.
To make the cupcakes: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment or working in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat (“cream”) together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes at medium speed.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk, egg, egg white, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, beating gently to combine. Gently beat in half the milk mixture. Mix in about half of the remaining flour, then the remaining milk. Stir in the last of the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again, at low speed, until smooth.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan; a muffin scoop works well here.
Bake the cupcakes for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the middle cupcakes comes out clean.
Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and as soon as you can handle them, remove them from the pan and transfer to a rack to cool. Allow them to cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting: In a small, microwave-safe bowl stir together the brown sugar and water. Heat at 15-second intervals until the brown sugar is dissolved; this is the brown sugar syrup.
In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and 2 teaspoons of the brown sugar syrup. Beat at medium-high speed until smooth. If the frosting seems thick, add an additional teaspoon of the brown sugar syrup until it is a spreadable consistency.
To assemble the pie cupcakes: Use a teaspoon scoop or paring knife to scoop a shallow, bowl-shaped hole out of the top of each cupcake; aim to leave a border about 3/8" thick around the outer edge of the cupcake. Enjoy the hollowed-out pieces of cake as a baker’s snack!
Portion a heaping tablespoon of the cherry pie filling into the hole in each cupcake; a heaping teaspoon scoop works well here. Gently spread the filling to the edges of the hole, still leaving the 3/8" border around the outer edge of the cupcake exposed.
Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitting with a plain (round) tip about 1/8" in diameter. Create the lattice top by piping 3 or 4 lines across the filling, beginning and ending on the bare outer edge of the cupcake. Rotate the cupcake, then pipe 3 or 4 intersecting lines across the filling at a diagonal angle.
Transfer the remaining frosting to a piping bag fitted with a rose petal tip; we like Ateco #103. Position the tip so that the larger opening is closer to the surface of the cupcake and pipe a loose squiggle border around the outer edge of the cupcake; this resembles a crimped pie crust. Serve the cherry pie cupcakes at room temperature.
Storage information: Store the assembled pie cupcakes, covered, at room temperature for several days.
The viscosity of store-bought cherry filling will vary. If necessary, mix in a tablespoon or two of water to reach a consistency that is smooth and will lightly hold its shape when adding to the center of the cupcakes. Avoid adding so much water that the filling becomes runny.
Both the filling and frosting can be made in advance: Store the cherry pie filling, covered, in the refrigerator for several days. Store the frosting, covered, at room temperature for several days before assembly.
Why Indonesian cinnamon? It’s known for its mild and less spicy cinnamon flavor, which is preferred for this frosting. It helps add a golden brown color to the frosting to recreate the look of perfectly baked pie dough.