Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ryan's Birthday Cupcakes (Lemon Filled Vanilla Cupcakes with 7 minute frosting)



It is becoming a tradition in our family for me to bake a birthday cake for everyone's birthday. I really enjoy this - another excuse to bake! And, I think they do too. It allows them to pick whatever cake/pastry they want for their birthday. And, have it homemade. So far, only one person has picked to have a cake from a store.

This month, Ryan is the first to have his birthday. The original plan was to have a white layer cake with lemon curd filling. This was the cake my mom has had for as long as I can remember (but the bought from a store version), and Ryan loves the flavors, so it's what he picked. Unfortunately, due to a family illness, we had to cancel his birthday party. I didn't think it was fair to cancel the cake though, so I made him cupcakes instead.

I have had this lemon curd recipe for a long time. I can't even remember where I got it. I wanted to experiment with the vanilla cake, I haven't yet found one I love that is all purpose. I really enjoyed this cake, but it is a bit delicate. I also wanted to try something different - 7 minute frosting. I wanted to evoke the texture and flavor of lemon meringue pie. I think I succeeded. Next time I will take a blow torch to the tops.

Yes, the picture does look a bit messy, but it does illustrate a good point - this is great fluffy sweet frosting, almost like marshmallow fluff and meringue combined. However, you need to let it set. And setting takes a while. If you try to eat or cut before it sets, you get a river of frosting. But, I think you can see the tasty lemon filling.

Lemon Curd

3 eggs
2-3 lemons, juiced and zested (you should end up with about 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1 T. lemon peel)
2/3 cup sugar
4 T. butter, at room temperature

In a saucepan set on low to medium heat, add eggs, lemon juice, and sugar. Heat gently, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches about 160 degrees, or becomes very thick, about the consistency of sour cream. Take off heat and add butter and lemon zest.

Cool for 10-15 minutes. Strain and refrigerate until used. The lemon curd can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Vanilla Cupcakes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teas. vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teas. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour 12 muffin cups.

In a bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla. Beat 3/4 cup flour, followed by 1/4 cup milk. Add vanilla, salt, and baking powder. Stir in the remaining flour, followed by the remaining milk. Make sure batter is smooth, but it will be a little thick.

Place in muffin cups and bake 12-15minutes until golden brown. Cool 10-15minutes before starting to fill. While cooling, prepare your frosting.

7 minute frosting

3 egg whites, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 t. cream of tarter
2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt

Bring 1 quart of water to boil in a sauce pan. Decrease heat to medium to medium high. In a heat resistant bowl (stainless steel or glass), combine the eggs, sugar, water, and cream of tarter. Place the bowl over the simmering water and begin whipping with a hand mixer on high speed. Continue beating for 5-7 minutes, until triple in volume, and mixture feels warm to your fingers. Remove from heat and add the extract and salt, beat for an additional 1-2 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before using.

Assembly:

Make a small hole in the cupcakes, you should ideally want about 1 T. lemon curd per cupcake. The easiest way to do this is with a teaspoon, removing any cake in a small circle. Fill with chilled lemon curd.

Gently top with frosting. If you don't want to pipe the frosting on the cupcake, the best method is to take about 2 T. of the frosting and place it directly on top of the lemon curd, gently moving the frosting to cover the cupcake without disturbing the lemon curd.

Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving (or your cupcakes will look like my picture)!

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