A Hint of Lemon Cupcakes

A Hint of Lemon Cupcakes
I adapted a yellow cupcake recipe to incorporate a hint of lemon flavor. I think it adds a freshness to the cupcakes, but without a strong lemon flavor and complements the vanilla. One drawback to the dessert party is that some desserts that on their own would be very tasty,  but when surrounded by superior desserts suffer in comparison.  This was one of those.  They were good, but just not as exciting as other desserts.

I used the basic buttercream frosting for this recipe as well as the filling for the vanilla macarons. Otherwise the frosting recipe makes enough for at least 24 cupcakes, depending on how generous or stingy one is with the frosting.

Lemon Yellow Cupcakes

Adapted from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski

makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
1/3 cup whole milk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on medium-high speed just until no traces of flour remain, about 20 seconds; do not overbeat.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full, using a large scoop is ideal. Bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream and serve, using a star tip and pastry bag, if desired. Decorate with sprinkles.

Vanilla Buttercream

Adapted from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160 F on an instant-read thermometer), about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature , and holds stiff peaks (the mixture should not look dry), about 6 minutes.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter is added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more. Add the vanilla flavoring and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use right away.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
These were delicious.  They were light and moist with a nice cinnamon flavor.  I’m generally not a fan of snickerdoodle cookies, they are usually too bland for me.   These cupcakes are far superior to their cookie cousins.  I do prefer most things in cupcake form.

The frosting is a seven minute frosting.  It is similar to  a marshmallow but with a fluffier texture, contains no gelatin and is very pipe-able.  It does need to be eaten within about a day or it starts to soften and lose structure.  I’ve made this with a hand mixer, but it is much, much easier with a stand mixer so that the eggs can be whipped hands-free and the boiling hot and dangerous syrup can be controlled with two hands.

I had some leftover frosting and thought I would add it to hot chocolate, since it reminded me of marshmallows.  I think this was the worst idea I had in a long time.  It was disgusting in hot chocolate.  It didn’t melt, but the sugar dissolved and then the remaining egg parts cooked into little egg bits.  Yuck!  Don’t ever try it.  In hindsight, it is obvious that it was a bad idea.  I’m always careful when I temper eggs in custards so they don’t cook, why would I think to do this?

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (Ateco No. 809 or Wilton No. 1A), pipe frosting on each cupcake: Hold bag over cupcake with tip just above top, and squeeze to create a dome of frosting, then release pressure and pull up to form a peak. Using a small, fine sieve, dust peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

Seven Minute Frosting

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites, room temperature
Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.
As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.

Graham Crackers

Graham Crackers
These were chewy and had a great taste.  The broke into pieces easily and didn’t crumble.  I had some trouble rolling these out and needed a significant amount of flour to prevent them from sticking.  I also could not form them into a nice rectangle, but I think “rustic’ is perfectly appropriate also, especially since I broke them up for use in the S’mores Brownies.  It was also exceeding difficult to transfer to the baking sheet as a large cookie.  When I make this again, I will divide the dough into smaller portions and roll it out in smaller pieces, making it easier to transfer and not worry about making it two big pieces.

Graham Crackers

adapted from Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake by Elizabeth Falkner

8 ounces (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbl) whole wheat flour (not white whole wheat)
4 ounces ( 3/4 cup plus 1 tbl) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cold water
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
4 1/1 ounces by weight (1/4 cup plus 2 tbl) honey
2 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces by weight) unsulfured dark molasses
1 large egg

In a medium bowl, stir together the whole wheat and all-purpose flours and set aside.  In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and water until the soda dissolves.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 to 20 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and slightly paler.  Add the honey and molasses and continue to mix for 30 seconds to 1 minute.   Add the egg and mix for 15 to 20 seconds or until incorporated.  Add the baking soda mixture and mix for about 30 seconds, until combined.  Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 to 30 seconds.  Then add the remaining flour mixture and mix for 15 to 30 seconds or until combined.
Divide the dough in half (about 13 ounces for each half) or into smaller pieces and place each on a sheet of plastic wrap.  Shape each piece into a block or flatten into a disk.  Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.  You can also freeze half or all of the dough for up to 1 month.
Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 325 F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Check to see that your dough is firm enough to work with.  It should be a little sticky but still hold together.  Lightly dust the work surface with flour.  Unwrap half of the dough and knead it a few times on the floured surface.  Dust a rolling pin with flour and then roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12 x 9 inches and 1/4 inch thick or into a rustic shape about 1/4 inch thick, adding more flour to the work surface as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.
Transfer the dough to one of the prepared.  Bake the dough as a single piece and then break it into randomly sized shards after it has cooled.  You can also cut the dough into a dozen 3 inch squares or any other shapes.  Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the color of graham crackers.  The cookies will puff during baking but will flatten as they cool.  Let the grahams cool completely on the pans on cooling racks before removing them.  They keep for 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature, or they can be frozen for up to 1 month.