I´m happy to be having a few incredible spring days. After a lot of shower and humid days, we´re having clear skies, perfect weather, the kind of days you want to last and last. Really. That´s the feeling.
I´m no cupcake baker. I´m all for bundt and layer cakes. So this was a real challenge. Lemon immediately came to mind, but then what? Fresh blueberries, that are popping up plump and dark, with the first sweetness in them. Not a new flavor combination idea, but the fresh berries in the frosting looks so pretty. I mean, cupcakes have to have some sort of prettiness to them.
The cake part has some white chocolate, which really makes them moist and deepens tremendously the flavor of vanilla.
Ever since I closed the coffee shop, I suddenly realized that the more I bake the more everything will just lie around the house, taking up counter space and even living room space. So I´m starting a list of happy takers of baked goods. One of those recepients, until they get sick of eating sweet things or put on a few pounds and start seeing me as the evil baker, is one of my weavers, you know, from my now only job. So I made half the batch the way you see them here, and the other half filled with dulce de leche and topped with melted chocolate. I didn´t photograph them because they are ridiculously simple, not even a ganache involved. But it goes to show that this cake recipe admits endless flavor combinations.
The fresh blueberries in the frosting are made by processing them and adding a tablespoon of lemon juice and water. If you have frozen blueberries, you don´t need to add liquid, the ice will melt and be perfect. And they give the cream cheese frosting the most wonderful lilac color.
I like this frosting, I really do. Can´t have a carrot cake without it. But in cupcakes it tends to be too sweet. It´s all about the ratio of cake and frosting. That´s why I don´t particularly eat cupcakes. But the lemon curd cuts nicely through it and the extra blueberry puree spooned on top, adds another sharp and fresh note.
I think they are perfect for spring. And my happy testers agreed.
WHITE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
from The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook, by Jennifer Appel
½ cup chopped white chocolate
½ cup chopped white chocolate
½ cup water
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 24 muffin molds with paper cups.
Over a pot with boiling water, melt chocolate and water. Reserve.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, a mix until well combined. Add vanilla.
Add dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with buttermilk in two additions.
In a clean bowl with dry, clean beaters, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. With a spatula add to the cake batter in two or three additions, mixing gently until no streaks of white remain.
Carefully fill muffin cups to ¾ of their capacity.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until springy and tester inserted comes out clean.
Let cool completely on wire rack.
from Flour, by Joanne Chang
1 cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbs cream
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
A few drops vanilla extract
In a medium heavy saucepan, heat lemon juice, butter and cream, just below the boiling point.
In a large bowl mix to blend eggs, yolks and sugar. Gradually add hot lemon mixture, mixing well. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat until it thickens and leaves a path in the back of the spoon. Be careful not to burn the bottom.
Remove from heat, add salt and vanilla and let cool. Cover and refrigerate. It keeps for 5 days refrigerated.
BLUEBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Note: if using frozen blueberries omit the water
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 Tbs water
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 cup butter, at room tº
2 cups cream cheese, at room tº
3 to 4 cups confectioners´ sugar
Process blueberries with water and lemon juice. It will take a few minutes.
In a large bowl mix butter and cream cheese. Beat until very smooth. Add 10 Tbs of the blueberry purée.
Add 1 cup sugar and beat well. Keep adding confectioners´ sugar, ½ cup at a time until the frosting is thick enough to spread. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
To assemble cupcakes:
With a small spoon or melon ball scoop, take out a piece of cake the size of a small walnut. Discard. Pipe or spoon some of the cold lemon curd, filling the hole completely.
Using a piping bag with a wide, plain tip, pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes.
To serve, spoon some extra blueberry purée on top of the frosting.