Growing up, I was a picky eater, especially when it came to tree nuts. I avoided them during my childhood and teenage years simply because they looked "gross" to me. Each Christmas, my father would get a jar of mixed nuts wrapped up in a bow. He'd offer them to me to give a try and I'd turn him down. Though nuts were frequently found in the cupboards and in desserts at family get-togethers, I was so frustratingly picky I wouldn't give them a chance.
Not a single one.
I visited an allergist for the first time after my tongue swelled up like a balloon after eating fresh kiwi in a middle school Beginning Foods course. As long as we were there, my mother and I decided to test for a slew of random foods, animals, and plants. Most notable was my allergy for cats (already known) and, surprisingly, tree nuts. In fact, my arm grew so angry red and swollen, the allergist immediately wrote me out a prescription for adrenaline. I was severely allergic to most tree nuts and never knew it.
Since that day, I've landed myself in the emergency room ICU from a single, accidental bite of an "oatmeal raisin" (macadamia nut) cookie. I've developed the early symptoms of an allergic reaction when I'm in a room where other people are eating pecans just from breathing in the microscopic pieces hovering in the air. I've interrogated many bakers and cooks what exactly is in the food they make hoping that, unlike a particular lady and a "chocolate cake" incident (Oh, hazelnuts are a nut? Whoops.), they'll let me know what to avoid.
In a twisted piece of fate, the fact that I was such a frustratingly picky eater growing up may have saved my life.
Even so, I've always been inexplicably drawn to almonds. I remember moments of guilty pleasures when I'd sneak a few chocolate covered almonds from the cupboard before my parents came home from work. Though I am supposed to avoid all tree nuts as a precaution towards cross contamination, I am technically (and oddly) not allergic to almonds. If you pay attention to the sheer number of almond recipes on this website, you may think of me as either rebellious or an unnecessary risk taker.
However, if I wasn't a bit of a rebel, these cupcakes wouldn't exist and oh boy am I glad they exist.
Almond Butter Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream are dark, gorgeous, and unexpected. The cupcakes are made with almond butter, which lends a texture to the cupcake that is both light and dense, while just barely sticking to the roof of your mouth. Frosted with a rich mocha buttercream, the flavors compliment one another immensely, making it impossible to eat just one. The almond flavor in these cupcakes is very real (no almond extract involved), which sets them apart from other almond cupcake recipes.