Sunday, April 1, 2018

Triple Lemon Cupcakes

Here in Texas, the weather is sort of "on the fence"- not really spring and not really winter. It is mostly days ranging from 80 and 50 degrees. Also, the wind factor is high-indicating that the ceiling fans on the porch were really unnecessary.

Frankly, I am looking for spring days with no variance. I am hoping that the bluebonnets will sprout here and the butterflies will come out. Another thing that marks spring is that my consumption of lemonade increases. Come to think of it, I am ready to see a few of the kids' lemonade stands set up around the area.

Today's post is not a recipe for lemonade, but instead a special citrus cupcake. With the moist lemon infused cake, luscious lemon cream/curd and sweet tangy lemon syrup, I consider this cupcake the next best thing to a refreshing lemonade. If you do not have a special dessert item for the picnic table - this recipe may just become a springtime tradition.

The recipe is adapted from several component recipes: the cake-rock, the syrup-Saveur Magazine, the filling-So Good Recipes. This recipe makes about 2 dozen cupcakes.

Triple Lemon Cupcakes

Ingredients/Lemon Cream
6 oz sugar
2 large eggs
3 oz lemon juice
3 oz butter (room temp and cubed)
zest of 2 lemons

3/4 tsp lemon oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup of vegetable shortening
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest from 1 large or 2 small lemons
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cup regular flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt

3 tbs sugar
4 tbs lemon juice

Ingredients/Italian Buttercream
5 egg whites
1 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups unsalted butter (room temp and cubed)
1 tbs vanilla extract

The first component is the lemon cream. Fill a saucepan with all ingredients, with the exception of the butter. Whisk together and place over medium heat. Stir constantly as it cooks and comes to a boil. This process should change the liquid into a thick shiny substance. At this point, remove the saucepan from the heat. Add a few butter chunks and then whisk until melted. Repeat this process until all the butter has been melted and mixed into the lemon batter.

Transfer to a sieve placed over a heat proof bowl and strain out all the zest, using the back of a spoon to push the mixture through. Place the bowl in an ice bath for 20 minutes and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the cake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the top cavity edges of 2 muffin tins, each with 12 cavities. Line the cavities with cupcake papers and set aside.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the vegetable oil, lemon oil and shortening. Beat with paddle blade until it becomes smooth. Then add the sugar and vanilla extract. Blend with the mixer on medium high speed for about 3 minutes, stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the mixture is fluffy, add an egg and combine. Repeat the process, blending in each remaining egg, one at a time. Then mix in the lemon zest.

Take out another bowl and sift together both types of flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Fold 1/3 of this mixture into the lemon batter. Then stir in half of the buttermilk. Repeat the process, using half of the remaining dry ingredients and the rest of the buttermilk. Lastly, fold in the last bit of the sifted ingredients until no dry streaks remain.

Using a scoop, fill each of the muffin cavities with the batter. Each cavity should be 3/4 of the way full. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes, then rotate pans and bake for an additional 7-12 minutes. Cupcakes are done when tester comes out clean and edges are golden. Remove from oven and place pan on rack and let cool for 2 minutes. Then transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.

To prepare buttercream, fill a saucepan with 1 cup of sugar and water. Whisk together and place over medium high heat and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Let mixture cook until it registers a temperature of 245 degrees Fahrenheit, then remove from heat.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the egg whites and beat until it reaches a soft peak consistency. Then add the 1/4 cup of sugar and beat for 30 seconds. At this point, continue beating on medium speed and stream in the sugar/water mixture. Then turn the speed to high and beat for 8 minutes or until the bottom outside of bowl is room temperature. Turn the speed back to medium and drop in the butter cubes, one at a time, letting each meld with the batter before adding the next cube. Once all the cubes are beaten in to the batter, blend in the extract. At first, the mixture will look a bit like cottage cheese. Continue to beat and it will eventually come together into a thick airy frosting.

For the syrup, whisk the sugar and the lemon juice together in a small saucepan. Place saucepan over medium high heat and let come to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

To assemble the cupcakes, begin by brushing the syrup onto the surface of the cakes. Continue to brush on until no more syrup remains. Let it soak into the cake for about 30 minutes. Then use a paring knife to core out a dime sized hole in the middle of the cupcakes. Remove the filling from the refrigerator and prepare a piping bag with a plain tip. Fill the cupcakes with the lemon cream until the cream comes to the surface. Refrigerate the remaining filling.

Frost the cupcakes as desired and then pipe the top center with a puddle of lemon cream. Refrigerate cupcakes if you need to store and then let set at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

Tips and Notes:
1. The Italian buttercream can be flavored with any extract of your choice.
2. For another variation, fruit jam can be used in place of the lemon cream.
3. The flavors of the syrup and frosting develop fully after 1 day.
4. You can use 2 tsp of lemon extract in place of the lemon oil.
5. When brushing on syrup, be careful to make sure that it does not drip down the sides of the cupcake papers.
6. Be prepared to run your mixer quite a long time, this is the typical process for Italian buttercream.

                                              **LAST YEAR:Spicy Date Filled Cookies**