Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place 24 cupcake liners in cupcake pans.
In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add the eggs one at a time. Add the almond extract and food coloring.
In a separate bowl, combine the absinthe and heavy whipping cream. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
Turn the mixer to the lowest setting, and then add the almond meal, flour mixture and absinthe mixture, alternating the ingredients, starting with the dry and ending with the dry. Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are fully combined. Add the currants, cherries and poppy seeds, and fold by hand into the batter.
Fill the cupcake liners with 2 1/2 ounces of cupcake batter. Bake for 21 minutes. After cooling, frost with the Port Wine Black Currant Swiss Merengue Buttercream.
For the black currant preserves: Combine and dissolve the currants, grape juice, sugar and pectin in saucepan. Cook on medium to high heat, stirring constantly. When the mixture reaches a boil, continue to cook for 2 minutes. Cool in the refrigerator.
For the buttercream: Dissolve the sugar, egg whites, salt and vanilla bean seeds over a double boiler. Lightly whisk until the egg white mixture is hot to the touch. Pour the hot whites into a room-temperature mixing bowl and whip with a whisk attachment on high until stiff peaks form and the mixture is double in volume.
Cut the butter into 2-inch pieces. Change to a paddle attachment and slowly add a few pieces of butter at a time. Continue beating until the mixture begins to look light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Reduce the speed to low. Add the vanilla extract and continue to beat on LOW speed for 45 seconds. Once thoroughly combined, slowly add the port wine and 1/2 cup black current preserves, and then beat on medium to high speed until all ingredients are fully combined, an additional 45 to 60 seconds.
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This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy The Cake Mamas, Cupcake Wars, 2011
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