Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lemon Curd Cupcakes

Lemon Curd Cupcakes

I love lemon. The sour tartness of the juice is so yummy. When I was a kid I would take the lemons out of my water or whatever drink I had and just eat the lemon wedge. Mum thought I was strange for it, Dad thought it was funny. Lemons add such a great flavor to any food, in my humble opinion. Now when I say lemons add flavor I don't mean drown whatever you're making in lemon. No, that wouldn't be bad, that's like when you eat spicy food and it's so spicy all you taste is the spice, you don't get any of the other flavors of the delicious food.

Much like the Raspberry Truffle Brownies I was staring at these for a couple of weeks before deciding to make them. Granted, the only thing that held be back one week was the fact that I didn't have any lemons and I was way too lazy to go to the store. Well, lazy and I knew if I went to the store for lemons I'd come back with so much more and I didn't want to spend extra money.

So there are a few parts to this recipe. The Lemon Curd, the actual cupcake, and the frosting. The lemon curd has to sit for about an hour and a half so let's start with that. Here's what you need...

Lemon Curd:
3 tablespoons, plus 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4-1/2 teaspoons butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (or 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract if you don't have any)

First things first, get everything together. Don't be the disorganized mess I am sometimes running around the kitchen like a chicken with it's head chopped off. So grab a saucepan (I just used my 1 quart one, since it doesn't need to be a huge pan). On a medium heat, cook and stir the lemon juice, sugar, and butter until everything it melted and smooth and the sugar is dissolved. Like this picture.

Next you're going to take a little bit of the hot mixture and pour it into the lightly beaten egg. Beat it a little bit to get the mixture to come together some. I just used a fork. Try to get it pretty well mixed together because otherwise when you put this back in the saucepan, you'll get little chunks of I did.  :-)

Pour the egg/juice/sugar/butter mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the hot mixture. Bring this to a gentle boil. You should be stirring the curd constantly as it is coming to a boil. ( I need a good synonym for mixture.)

Note: gentle boil, not a rolling boil. What's the difference you ask? Basically there should be a steady stream of bubbles coming to the surface, but the surface won't consist of ONLY the bubbles jostling it. This is a gentle boil temperature should be between 140F and 190F if you're going to gage the temperature.

See my mistake was I didn't start stirring the curd constantly when I added the egg so I got little bits of egg
floating around in my curd, no worries if this happens. I didn't notice when I was eating the cupcakes.

So your curd is at a gentle boil and you are stirring CONSTANTLY. Cook it for about 2 minutes more or until it's thickened up. Then you'll add in the lemon peel, take it off the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Then, you're going to cover and chill the curd for about an hour and a half.

This is what it'll look like once it's chilled and thickened up in the fridge for the hour and a half. While you're waiting for this you can take probably an hour break or so and do some other stuff: dishes, laundry, read a book, watch some TV. Then you can come back and start on that cupcake batter!

So for the cupcake batter, here's what you'll need...

3/4 cup butter, softened (I usually pull the butter out of the fridge 45min-1 hour before)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (you can sub in lemon extract again if need be)
1-1/2 cups cake flour (if you don't have cake flour you can use about 7/8 of a cup of all-purpose, but I recommend using cake flour. Pillsbury makes a good one)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk

First grab a large bowl and beat the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.
Actually no FIRST, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then beat the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy.

OK this is what butter and sugar should look like when it's light and fluffy. Big thing is the butter needs to be softened but not so soft that it's halfway melted. You do that, and the mixture will be more creamy than fluffy. Key words are LIGHT and FLUFFY. Remember that in any baking.

Add the eggs next, one at a time. Beating well after each addition. You want the egg mixed in really well. So your batter should look like this now...

Does it look like that? Good! Or...if it doesn't...don't worry I'm sure we can figure something out. Now add in the vanilla and lemon peel. And even though my picture doesn't show it. Mix them in!!

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then get your 2/3 cup of buttermilk ready. I added a tiny bit of extra flour, probably around an extra 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup.

What's you're going to do is add some of the flour mixture to the creamy batter and mix it in. Then add some of the buttermilk and mix it in. Alternating until it's all mixed in, but again like I've said before DO NOT OVER MIX THE BATTER!!!!

Voila! The Batter is complete!! Now time to load up the pan!

Line the muffin/cupcake cups with paper liners, or aluminum if that's what you have. Both work just fine.

So this part it really important. Only fill the cups 3/4 full. I made the mistake of thinking, "Hey I want a little bit bigger cupcakes I'll just fill them all the way full!" You'll see why in a bit...anyways don't fill them this full, you'll regret it possibly, and pop them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Here's what they look like about 8 minutes into cooking. I thought they looked nice...then I realized they just started cooking and they were starting to come over the sides of the cups already. I switched my pan around at the 15 minute mark. I do this just so in case my oven has some hot spots the heat is evenly distributed among the cupcakes as they bake. by switch I mean I turned the pan around.  The cupcakes are done when a toothpick into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Oops...they spread and decided to connect with each other. This is why you don't fill the cupcake cups up more than 3/4 full! Ahhh I was so frustrated with myself. It's ok. This can be fixed. Let the cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes then take a spatula and gently separate the parts of the cupcakes that have molded together. Wiggle the cupcakes around a bit just to make sure the tops haven't completely dislodged from the base of the cupcake. Then wait another 5 or so minute before removing them from the pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Much like in my Boston Cream Cupcakes it is highly important for you to let these cool COMPLETELY. Again, go do something else for about 30-45 minutes. Just relax or do some dishes. Then after half an hour or so you can come back and start filling the cupcakes with the lemon curd. You can do this in the exact same way as I did for the Boston Cream Cupcakes. You can use a pastry bag, a zip-lock bag with a hole cut in the corner and put a decorating tip in it, a frosting pen, or a decorating tube thing. Use a "tip 1" to fill the cupcakes, this is basically a round tip that reminds me of what the tip of a pencil or pen looks like. And what do you know, if you're frosting a cake or something this tip will allow you write words and stuff!

Just like last time, you can either use a cupcake corer to hollow out the center of the cupcake then replace the top circle once it's filled like so...

Or you can just shove the tip (works pretty well too) into the cupcake and fill it until the top begins to crack. This can take a bit of time and patience, especially if you're like me and had little bits of egg in the curd that I had to keep picking out because it kept clogging up my decorating tip. Again... I say oops :-) Oh well, it happens.

Now, finally we can get started on the frosting. We're almost done with these delicious treats! Here's what you'll need!


2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of salt (less than 1/8 teaspoon)
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2-4 tablespoons of milk

In a small bowl combine everything except the milk. Then add in enough milk to get the frosting to the right consistency so it'll be easy to frost. Drizzle, dip, use a frosting spatula, I tried all 3 ways to frost my cupcakes. With these ones, I did a combination of dipping and drizzling the frosting on. I think I had a slightly difficult time because the way my cupcake molded together because of my faux pas.

Not totally 100% pretty, but for the most part my cupcakes looked pretty good.
Minus the few cupcakes where the edges broke off and made them look lopsided and crooked.

Store these in the refrigerator in an air tight container and eat whenever you want. I would suggest eating them within a week of baking them though, you don't want them to go stale. Share with friends and family if you so choose. Or keep them to yourself!

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!
'Til Next Time!!

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