This past weekend I took some time off to be with family to go skiing. It's a spring break tradition we started when I was younger and have kept it up since. This year's destination was to Red Lodge, Montana. It's a small tourist town with the quaintest little main street you've ever seen, surrounded by mountains perfect for skiing or snowboarding (and hiking in summer).
The weather was perfect. It was bright and sunny with little wind and I couldn't have asked for anything better. With few clouds, the view from the top of the mountain was unbelievable. The mountains and country seemed to extend on forever. My sister thought she could easily see far enough to reach into the next state. I agreed.
Though the sun was shining, I still bundled up like I was headed into the arctic for the next year. Three layers on the bottom, five on the top, and a neck warmer that covered everything but the tip of my nose (which was the only part of me that sunburned, by the way. Call me Rudolph). Though, it was worth it. There are few things more exhilarating than skiing down a mountain as fast as you can.
After a long day on the slopes, nothing seems better than a plate full of food. The main street is full of original shops and restaurants, including Bogart's (our favorite restaurant). Order the giant plate of nachos. And a margarita (or two). It's the best you'll ever have.
The town is also home to the Montana Candy Emporium. It is a renovated movie theater turned candy shop. It sells just about every discontinued or old-timey candy you can imagine, holding it all in rows of barrels. With vintage signs and paraphernalia, this place is really a sight.
We stayed in a small cottage at the base of the mountain. Even though it was without internet (gasp), we found a way to entertain each other. Sometimes it just feels good to get a break from technology and reality, for just a little while.
These cupcakes are light and subtly sweet. The vanilla almond cupcake has vanilla tones with sliced almonds right in the mix. The cake is barely sweet to allow the almond to shine. The frosting is a basic vanilla frosting with a hint of almond extract to cut the sweetness. The flavors in this cupcake really shine—neither the vanilla or almond outshine each other. These cupcakes are perfect for afternoon tea.
Vanilla Almond Cupcakes
Yields 12 cupcakes
Vanilla Almond Cupcake
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line or grease a cupcake tin.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sliced almonds, and baking powder. Beat 1/3 of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Alternatively add the flour mixture and milk to the wet ingredients, blending until smooth after each addition.
Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until combined. Add the milk and extracts. Keep beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.