Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunshine Cupcakes

Oh how I love Spring!! When it starts to get warm and it's the perfect weather to sit out on the screened in porch and read a book I just get so excited. Since we are just transitioning from Winter to Spring, I thought Sunshine cupcakes would be the perfect name! I chose a fluffy vanilla cupcake with lemon curd filling and whipped cream cheese icing. My husband, who doesn't like lemon, thought they were great! He said the lemon curd filling was not too tart but not too sweet. I sent them to work with him the next day and everyone seemed to love them. They were gone pretty quickly so that's got to say something! Here's the recipes I used. The icing is a light whipped icing but the cream cheese makes it sturdier than the regular whipped cream icings. It pairs so well with the fluffy cupcake and the lemon filling and makes a light Spring/Summer cupcake!

Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 large eggs, seperated, at room temperature

2 tablespoons of vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (I used unbleached and it worked out just fine!)

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of salt (I used iodized table salt)

1/2 cup of milk (I used 2% reduced fat)

1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners.

2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter for about 2 minutes until soft. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time beating after adding each one. Add the vanilla extract and beat until everything is combined.

3. In a seperate bowl combine the flour (I wasn't sure so I went ahead and sifted it first), baking powder and salt.

4. With the mixer at a low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk until combined.

5. In a small bowl with cleaned mixer on high, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula stir a small amount of the whites into the batter to lighten it up. Then fold the remaining whites in until combined. Do not overmix!

6. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. **Remember, check with toothpick at the lowest time first to keep from overcooking.** Cool cupcakes in pan for about 15 minutes then remove from pan for about 15 minutes before filling or icing.

While the cupcakes were cooking, I got to work on the icing and filling. Here is the magnificent lemon curd filling recipe I used. I highly recommend it!!

Lemon Curd Filling

1 0.25 ounce packet of unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cups of warm water

2 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

3 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter at room temperature

1/3 cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1. In a medium bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the warm water and let it sit for a few minutes to soften. (Don't let it sit too long or the gelatin sticks to the bottom of the bowl.)

2. Beat the egg yolks in another small bowl and set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan combine the sugar and cornstarch, then gradually whisk in the water and gelatin. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and boils. Boil for about a minute, then remove from heat and pour a little into the egg yolks. Beat together then gradually add back into the gelatin mixture. Return to the heat and simmer for about a minute. 4. Remove from the heat and beat in butter and lemon juice until smooth. (I was so excited and in such a hurry that I started filling the cupcakes right away but it was too runny. It really should refrigerate for a little while to thicken up first.)

Whipped Cream Cheese Icing

1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese at room temperature. (I used the low fat cream cheese and it worked just fine.)

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon of almond extract

2 cups of heavy cream

(Optional) I added a couple drops of yellow food coloring and it made a perfect sunshine color! Also, I shaved lemon zest on the top of each cupcake.

Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth. While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.

If anyone decides to make these please tell me all about it!! What is everyone's absolute favorite cupcake? I would say mine had to be a dense, moist red velvet with thick cream cheese icing. YUM! I think the best one I ever had was at CUPCAKE in Charleston, SC. If you are ever in Charleston and have the urge to have an amazing cupcake and a cup of coffee, you should definitely stop in. Here's a picture of their red velvet cupcake so you can be tormented like me! You're welcome!

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