Tag Archives: cupcakes

celebrate with citrus cupcakes

Last weekend we gathered with friends to celebrate the forthcoming birth of a new family. The party [yes, party. this was not a baby shower. and yes, boys were invited.] was co-hosted by myself and two lovely ladies, all of us brought together by our shared bond to Joe and Erin, the parents-to-be. The event was in the works for two months.  Dozens of emails were passed between the three hostesses as we planned. The only request from Erin was that there be no diaper decorations and no silly shower games. No problem.

We decided to throw a simple summer party and to decorate using colors inspired by the nursery; shades of blue, yellow, and green.  There was fruit-laden sangria and homemade lemonade, pulled-pork sandwiches and corn straight from Erin’s family’s farm. The weather was kind, overcast and cool with only the slightest spattering of rain. We sat outside sharing stories and laughter as candlelight flickered across happy faces long into the night.

Also, we ate cupcakes.

[To see more images of the evening, visit the AHPhoto blog.]

I love an opportunity to make cupcakes, and an outdoor summer party seemed to be the perfect occasion. A quick email to Erin verified that she had no preference for cake flavor, which was lucky because I had already decided that chocolate wasn’t an option. It just didn’t fit in with the party decor, which is a perfectly valid excuse I assure you.

And so I was left thinking about vanilla and lemon. It is no secret that I am a fanatic for citrus-flavored sweets, with four lemon cakescitrus sconeskey lime butter cookies, and coconut lime bars all listed on the Bella Eats recipe page. I should probably apologize for giving you yet another citrus dessert…but I won’t. You just can’t go wrong with citrus, and that requires no apology.

The cake itself is actually a modification of an old favorite, borrowed from the Lemon Mousse Cake I made for my own birthday a few months ago. It is a chiffon cake, made light and spongy by the egg whites folded into the batter just before baking. The addition of lemon and orange zest brightens the flavor, but it is the swirl atop the golden domes that truly stands out. The meringue buttercream seemed to be a hit, although it is the most unusual frosting I have ever tasted. A finger swiped across the side of the mixing bowl produces a dollop of ultra-creamy spread that melts as soon as it hits the tongue. At first the taste buds are overwhelmed with the flavor of butter, which then melts away to become a bright pop of lemon, that then fades to the slow warmth of Grand Marnier. It is a three-step process using each third of the tongue – front, middle, back – in succession, with each flavor forming its own distinct statement. And it isn’t too sweet, so you could easily eat several cupcakes without causing your teeth to ache.

Not that I would know that…

The frosting shapes beautifully, and despite my fears did not melt in the warm and humid evening air. A summer winner, for sure.

Sunshine Citrus Cupcakes

cake modified from the greyston bakery cookbook, pg. 46,  frosting from gourmet

makes 18 standard cupcakes

Cake Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, seeds discarded

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened slightly
  • 1/3 cup orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Cake Method:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350º. Line 1 standard muffin tin with 12 liners, and another with 6 liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks, butter, milk and vanilla.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt to blend.  Add the lemon and orange zest and blend with your fingers to separate clumps. Add the egg yolk mixture and stir until well combined.  Set aside.
  4. In a clean dry bowl, using clean dry beaters, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks.  Lower the mixer speed to medium and gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating the whites until they hold stiff peaks.  Stir about one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten.  Gently fold the remaining whites into the batter, in two batches, to blend thoroughly.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans, filling each muffin cup 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted near the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Set the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool.  Remove the cupcakes from the pans and allow them to cool completely on wire racks.

Frosting Method:

  1. Heat whites and sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and a thermometer registers 160°F. Remove bowl from heat and beat mixture in standing electric mixer on medium-high speed until thick, glossy peaks form. If mixture is still warm, continue beating until cool. (this takes about 10 minutes)
  2. With mixer running, add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add liqueur and lemon juice, beating on high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 10 minutes. If buttercream begins to separate, beat on high speed until smooth.

Assemble:

  1. Use a pastry bag to pipe frosting over cupcakes once they are completely cool. Keep refrigerated until ready to consume.

Congratulations Joe and Erin, we are so excited to meet your baby boy!

blueberry hill cupcakes, and a happy 4th to you!

The 4th of July is upon us already!  I’m not sure why 2010 is in such a hurry to rush on by, but I do wish that she would slow down just a bit.  I had big plans for this week, some favorite salads and cocktails and desserts to share with you before the holiday weekend ahead of us.  But, well, time flew.

I did manage to share one dessert with you, and here is a second.  The first was somewhat healthy, this one is not. Both are delicious, and either would make a nice addition to your picnic, bar-be-que, or party.  How to choose…

I am keeping things short and sweet today, because I have family in town!  That means wandering shops on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, stopping for gelato, lunch on a patio, pampering with my Momma, vinho verde on the back deck, sausages on the grill.  And that’s just today!  Oh, the weekend we’ll have.

I hope that yours is just as lovely.  What are your plans?  (I really do want to know!)

Perhaps you could make these cupcakes?  Lemony and chock-full of bright bursts of blueberry, they absolutely scream summer.  You’ll love them, I’m sure.

Blueberry Hill Cupcakes with Blueberry Glaze

cupcakes from bon appetit, glaze from bella eats

I’ve heard good things about the frosting that accompanies this recipe on bon appetit, but wanted something lighter and with a bit of color.  I bet a lemon buttercream or a lemon glaze would also be really delicious.

Also, my “glaze” originally started out as a full-blown buttercream frosting.  I frosted one cupcake, but found the very sweet topping to be very overpowering.  The cake itself is so delicious that you really want to let it shine.

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk or low-fat yogurt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries, frozen for 4 hours

Glaze Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons blueberry puree (about 1/2 cup blueberries, pureed and strained if desired…I did not strain)
  • 4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick), room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350* F.  Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.  Sift flour and next 4 ingredients into a large bowl.  Whisk the melted butter and oil in a separate, medium bowl.  Add eggs; whisk to blend.  Whisk in buttermilk, milk, vanilla extract, and zest.  Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just to blend.  Stir in frozen blueberries.
  2. Divide batter among liners.  Bake cupcakes until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 23-27 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks; cool.
  3. Beat butter in electric mixer with whisk attachment until creamy.  Add about 1/2 the sugar slowly.  Add 2 tbsp of the blueberry puree and continue whisking to blend.  Add the last of the sugar and whisk to blend. Taste, and add more blueberry puree if desired.  You want the consistency to be like a loose buttercream; easy to spread but also easy to control (you don’t want it running down the sides of your cupcakes).
  4. When the cupcakes are nearly cool, brush them lightly with the glaze.  You will find that the glaze will harden nicely in about an hour.
  5. Keep stored at room temperature in an air-tight container.

perfect summer cupcakes

Let’s talk about cupcakes.  Really, really, good cupcakes that don’t need too much of an explanation.  Why?  Because its a three-day weekend dear readers, and I have a date with my husband and some good friends at the bowling alley in an hour!

I want you to have this cupcake recipe today though, just in case you want to make them for a 4th of July party, summer picnic or barbeque, a little girl’s birthday party or just because you have a craving for some chocolate this weekend.  They would be well-received at any event, as they were at our barbeque last Saturday.

cupcake 4

Many thanks to the lovely Tara, whose family is filled with a bunch of chocolate fiends, and whom I knew would pull-through for me when I asked “What is your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe?”.  Pull-through she did, even helping me out as I pondered the type of frosting to use.  You see, as I’ve mentioned before, my dessert of choice for any outdoor event in the middle of a hot Virginia summer typically involves lemon.  After realizing this problem, I decided to go with chocolate for our barbeque, but was worried that a chocolate on chocolate combo would be too heavy and rich.  Tara agreed, and supported my idea of going with a berry-flavored buttercream, a la Love and Olive Oil.  Now, if only I could learn to decorate my cakes as beautifully as both of these ladies do…

cupcake 2

The cupcakes were delicious – rich and moist with a delicate crumb and perfectly domed tops.  The tang of fresh raspberry puree’ whipped into sweet buttercream frosting complimented them wonderfully.  The combination was so good, in fact, that they caused a dear friend of ours to eat the two cupcakes sent home with her that were meant for her 3-year old daughter.  Shhhh…I won’t tell, no worries.  I can’t say that I wouldn’t do the same thing.

For those of you celebrating, have a Happy 4th!

cupcake 6

Chocolate Cupcakes

original recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook (One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes) with adaptations suggested by Tara at Seven Spoons

makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1-1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tbsp
  • 1-1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups warm water

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix in the eggs, yolk, milk, sour cream, oil, vanilla and warm water. Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes.
  3. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3s full. I actually over-filled mine a bit, and still had enough left over for 2-3 additional cupcakes. Next time I’ll probably plan to make 30 cupcakes total with this recipe.
  4. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, for 20-27 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Mine took 26 minutes, but like I said, they were slightly over-filled.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

inspired by Love and Olive Oil

I made two batches of this frosting for 24 cupcakes and had about 1/4 of it left.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 5 tbsp fresh raspberry puree, strained
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Cream the butter in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy.   Slowly add 1 cup of the sugar and beat until smooth.
  2. Slowly add the raspberry puree and mix until combined.
  3. Add remaining confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until well incorporated.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and continue to beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

The frosting can be made the night before, but do not refrigerate it.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

cupcake 7