Written by Julien Heidt & Illustrated by Nicole Cischke

They say the way to a womans heart is through her stomach.

Although this is often true, it can be certain that there are some routes a bit more delicious than others. While a pricey night out to The Chop House or Gratzi may win her over, there are alternative romantic, (and more frugal), ways to make her fall head over heels.

Historically, there are many foods that have been said to increase arousal and sex drive. While the scientific validity behind such foods, known as aphrodisiacs, remains questionable, it is undeniable that these sensuous ingredients, such as chocolate, fig, and pomegranate, can act as wonderful components to a delectable dessert.

When considering what to prepare for that special someone, it is best to get the “mojoflowing by selecting the stars of your dish. Common aphrodisiacs include chili pepper, banana, almond, honey, coffee, vanilla, cherry, strawberry, and chai tea, among others. The beautiful thing about these ingredients is that they can play-off of each other in a variety of combinations to form unique flavor profiles. Whether you wish to go bold with chili and chocolate or be more subtle with fig and vanilla, there are endless possibilities.

One of my favorite recipes, Cherry Almond Vanilla Cupcakes, utilizes three well known aphrodisiacs. These sweet little treats are relatively simple to bake and are sure to impress your girl or guy.


Cupcakes

1/2 cup butter

4 egg whites

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk*

1/3 cup maraschino cherry juice

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

12 maraschino cherries, halved

1 recipe Cherry-Almond Butter Frosting

Maraschino cherries with stems (optional)


First, allow your butter and egg whites to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line your cupcake pan with paper bake cups. Once butter and egg whites are ready, mix them with the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Separately, combine buttermilk and cherry juice in a measuring cup and set that aside, as we will be using it later. After preheating your oven to 350 degrees, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for about 30 seconds. Next, add sugar, vanilla, and almond extract, (two of our most important aphrodisiac ingredients), and beat until they are well combined. We then incorporate egg whites, one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition. Alternately add our previously prepared flour mixture and cherry/buttermilk mixture to the beaten mixture, beating on low the whole time.

Finally, we spoon batter into prepared cupcake cups, pressing a cherry half into each cup to add a sweet surprise inside your cupcake.

We bake them for 15 to 18 minutes. While the cupcakes are in the oven, we can turn our attention to the frosting. To make the frosting, we beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. We then gradually add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and beat in our maraschino cherry juice and almond extract. The additional powdered sugar can be beaten in slowly. If necessary, you can beat in additional cherry juice or milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until your frosting reaches proper spreading consistency. Using a pastry bag, we can pipe our Cherry-Almond Butter Frosting over tops of cupcakes.


Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened

4 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice or milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract