Monday, April 25, 2011
After the delicious lemon cookies that I baked last week, I stil had some leftover lemons and lemon drops. I decided that my contribution to the Easter dessert table would be lemon cupcakes. A quick online search for lemon cupcakes turned up this Lemon Drop Cupcake recipe on the Better Homes and Gardens website. With the frosting colored a light Springy yellow and topped with a Peep, these were a festive addition to the buffet. They were pretty enough to serve as a center-piece!
Before I began mixing up the little lemon cakes, some prep work was in order. First, the butter and the eggs should be set out 30 minutes prior to making the batter to allow them to come to room temperature.
Also I grated the peel off of a lemon using my wonderful new Pampered Chef microplane grater.
Then using my new super sharp utility knife, I cut the lemon in half. This knife is crazy sharp, it just glides through fruits and vegetables.
Finally, I have a juicer! The Pampered Chef Juicer is dishwasher safe and a durable reamer strains juices for less pulp. The clear 8-oz. base has standard and metric measures, a non-skid ring, and an easy pour spout. I realize that I am shamelessly promoting my PC products in this post, but I really do love my new juicer. : )
Finally, I "set up shop" next to my mixer. I had everything at the ready, the room temperature eggs and butter, the combined dry ingredients, the lemon juice mixed with milk, the lemon zest, and the sugar.
Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds, then add in sugar and lemon peel. Beat again until combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition.
Next, add the dry ingredients....
alternately with the lemon juice/milk mixture. Beat until just combined after each addition. You really want to beat this as little as possible. Over-mixing after the flour is added strenghthens the gluten bonds in the flour and will toughen the cupcakes. We're going for a light, tender product here, so less is more in the mixing department.
The original recipe called for limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur) or suggested substituting for the limoncello with more milk. I didn't have any limoncello, but I didn't want to skimp on the lemon flavor either, so I added fresh lemon juice to the milk. The addition of lemon juice will make the milk thicken and curdle. That's okay. (I often substitute for buttermilk in recipes by adding lemon juice to regular milk.)
If you can't find limoncello at your local store, you can always make your own! Check out THIS recipe for homemade limoncello at La Buona Cucina.
Scoop the batter into paper lined muffin cups until each is 3/4 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes until the cupcakes spring back when touched. Cool completely on a cooling rack.
As you can see in this picture, my cupcakes sunk down a bit in the center rather than puffing up on top. Fine by me, because this resulted in a nice little well in the center of each to hold more frosting!
I mixed up a batch of lemon frosting (recipe below) and piped it onto the cupcake with my big decorating tip. I sprinkled some of the cupcakes with crushed lemon drops and some with candy sprinkles. I really liked the idea of the crushed lemon drops to add a nice crunchy lemon punch. If you're serving them immediately, then topping with lemon drops would be alright. But as they sit, the lemon drops dissolve into the frosting. I made these the night before and by the next day, the crushed lemon drops were non-existent. Next time, I think I will stick with candy sprinkles, fresh lemon zest, or even candied lemon slices for a garnish.
I placed a Peep atop each creamy, lemon frosting nest. Mmmm.
Lemon Drop Cupcakes from Better Homes and Gardens
Makes: 20 ( 2-1/2-inch) cupcakes
Prep: 40 minutes
Bake: 18 minutes
Cool: 45 minutes
Stand: 30 minutes
3/4 cup butter
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur) or milk (I subbed with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of milk)
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons finely shredded lemon peel
1 recipe Lemon Frosting
1/2 cup lemon drop candies, finely crushed, or Glazed Lemon Slices
1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line twenty 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup combine milk and limoncello; set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and lemon peel; beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.
3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out batter in cups.
4. Bake about 18 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks.
5. Up to 1 hour before serving, generously spread or pipe Lemon Frosting on each cupcake. Place crushed candies on a plate. Roll the edges of the cupcakes in crushed candies to coat. Or top cupcakes with a Glazed Lemon Slice. Makes 20 (2-1/2 inch) cupcakes.
Lemon Frosting: Allow 1/3 cup butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a large mixing bowl beat butter, 1/3 cup shortening, and 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating well. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Gradually beat in 2 cups additional powdered sugar. Beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until frosting reaches a spreading consistency. Makes about 2-1/3 cups frosting.
Glazed Lemon Slices: Slice 2 small lemons into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Remove seeds. Roll slices in sugar to coat well. Coat a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Arrange lemon slices in a single layer in skillet. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side or until sugar dissolves and lemon slices appear glazed (do not let brown). Transfer to a piece of foil; cool completely. Roll cooled slices in sugar again before using.
Make-Ahead Directions: Store unfrosted cupcakes in a single layer in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or store unfrosted cupcakes in a single layer in an airtight freezer container in the freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw cupcakes at room temperature before frosting.
Servings Per Recipe 20 ( 2-1/2-inch) cupcakesCalories350, Total Fat (g)14, Saturated Fat (g)7, Monounsaturated Fat (g)4, Polyunsaturated Fat (g)1, Cholesterol (mg)59, Sodium (mg)150, Carbohydrate (g)53, Total Sugar (g)42, Protein (g)2, Vitamin C (DV%)2, Calcium (DV%)4, Iron (DV%)4, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet