I was browsing Martha’s site (as usual) and found these adorable little cupcakes. I’m kind of “meh” about most cakes, but cupcakes are awesome! I love to make them and eat them! My last batch of cupcakes were really tasty and didn’t last long after I brought them to work, so I figure I’ll make another batch to bring in for my coworkers. Grant and I like to eat a couple, but we’re both watching what we eat so it’s easier to bake them and then give them away.
First I made the lemon curd. I’ve never made lemon curd from scratch, so this was a first for me. I followed Martha’s recipe, which follows as:
8 large egg yolks
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons, depending)
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks of butter, cut into pieces and cold (about 10 tbsp)
1. Combine the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar and whisk to combine. In a double boiler, stir constantly for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture thickens and reaches a nappe consistency. Nappe just means that it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. You should be able to drag your finger down through the curd on the back of the spoon and it will leave a trail behind. Here’s a picture of what it should look like (it’s not lemon curd, but a cream sauce, but you get the idea!):
Try not to burn the shit out of your finger.
2. Remove from the heat. Add the salt and stir in the butter, piece by piece until it melts. Strain into another bowl so you don’t have any little lumps in the curd. Curd is already a kind of gross word, you don’t need to add lumpy to the description.
3. Cover with saran wrap, pushing the wrap onto the surface of the curd. This will prevent a pudding skin. Let chill for at least 1 hour, up to one day.
That’s it for the curd. It was silky, tangy, not too sweet and surprisingly yellow without having to add food colouring. I was so pleased with the result that I’m probably going to make lemon meringue pie from scratch from now on.
Next, I made the cupcakes. They were pretty standard, white cupcakes with lemon flavouring. I couldn’t find buttermilk at the grocery store, so I had to make my own. Put 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into a cup measure, then fill the rest of the measuring cup with milk. Stir it and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. It’s not quite the same, but works in a pinch. Don’t use skim milk, or the vinegar will curdle it.
3 cups of flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) of room temperature butter
2 cups of sugar
zest of 3 lemons
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Whisk to combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time (easier if room temp). Add the zest and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if using a stand mixer.
3. Add the flour in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk and lemon juice (2 batches). You want to start and end with flour. Stir to combine, but don’t overmix.
4. Dole out into the cupcake pans with liners. They were about 3/4’s full. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.
Next you had to make the meringue tops. Martha uses a 7 minute frosting for the tops. Her recipe made WAAAAY more frosting than I needed. Seeing as it’s basically just a meringue, I may just make it into a pavlova… Anyway, here’s the recipe for the frosting.
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 egg whites, room temperature
1. In a small saucepan, combine the 1 1/2 cups of sugar, water and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and remove when it reaches 230 F. Again, I don’t have a candy thermometer, so I just let it boil rapidly for about 30 seconds or so.
2. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs until soft peaks form. Add the 2 tablespoons of sugar. When the syrup comes up to temp, stream in slowly.
3. Continue to beat the mixture until cool, about 7 minutes (hence, 7 minute frosting). My bowl didn’t cool completely, it was still a little warm, but it still tasted pretty good.
Now for the assembly. Put a tablespoon or so of the lemon curd on top of each cupcake. Spread it a little with the spoon or an offset spatula. Try not to get it over the edge (like I did). Next, you pipe the cupcakes with a star tip. My piping skills are crap, but I think they’re pretty cute anyway. Then you get to break out the blow torch. I had gotten a little teeny one in a creme brulee kit and had never used it. It worked a charm for this, though. Just toast the tips of the lightly, kind of like a marshmallow. This is why you use a star tip, to get the little ridges.
And there you have it. So cute! I’m going to bring these to work and see how long they last. The curd is nice and lemony, as are the cakes. It’s not too sweet and not too tart. Just perfect! These cupcakes aren’t really hard, they just have a lot of steps. It’s worth it, though! They turned out really well!