Baker’s Delight: Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

As promised, here is the lemon cupcake recipe! We really enjoyed these. I still want to tweak the frosting a little bit but it’s really good. Don’t skip the lemon curd, it’s excellent and it will make more than you need which is a happy bonus.  You can print all of these recipes here.

LEMON CURD
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

Zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt

Combine lemon zest, sugar, butter, eggs, lemon juice, and salt in a saucepan.

Cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate – place plastic wrap on surface of curd while it cools.


LEMON CUPCAKES

2 1/2 c. cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
5  eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
2/3 c. buttermilk
Zest of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.

Into a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time until just combined. Add vanilla and lemon extract and zest. Add buttermilk and dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks before filling and frosting.


RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6-8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Using a hand-held mixer beat cream cheese and butter together until light and smooth. Add vanilla extract and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time until thoroughly incorporated and desired thickness is reached.


TO ASSEMBLE:
Remove a small amount of cake from the center of the cooled cupcake and spoon in the chilled lemon curd. Use a pastry bag or Ziploc bag to frost the cupcakes. Store finished cupcakes in the refrigerator.

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Holiday Treats: Truffles & Sugar Plums

(Alaina) I’ve made these truffles a few times but they seemed extra good this year – I think the original recipe might be from Taste of Home but this is my variation on it. The not-too-sweet Raspberry Cream Truffles are a beautiful addition to any goodie tray and would make perfect gifts! You do need to refrigerate them so keep that in mind.

The truffles were easy to change up – I dipped some in dark chocolate, rolled some in coconut and some in almonds. You could also dip them in white chocolate or milk chocolate or roll them in cocoa powder. For a different flavor, try another kind of preserves – I’m thinking strawberry with melted white chocolate chips instead of the semi-sweet chocolate chips would be delicious! It’s very important to refrigerate them for the specified amount of time before rolling them. I used a holiday mini muffin cup for each chocolate – it made for a pretty presentation.

RASPBERRY CREAM TRUFFLES
Print This Recipe

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips melted
1 c. crushed graham crackers or vanilla wafers
1/2 c. seedless raspberry preserves
finely chopped toasted almonds, coconut, cocoa powder, or melted chocolate (dark, milk, or white)

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the melted chips, wafer crumbs and preserves. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until easy to handle.

Shape into 1-in. balls; roll in almonds, coconut, and/or cocoa powder or dip in melted chocolate. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes about 3-3-1/2 dozen.

(Stephanie) In the hopes of finding a different and slightly less sweet treat for the holiday season, I set out to find and test a Fruit and Nut Ball recipe. In my researching, I discovered that these tiny sweets are also called Sugar Plums. And to be honest, I quite like that name.

I initially had some trouble with this recipe being too corase to stick together. I added a bit of orange juice and a little extra honey and still had troubles. You know what the secret is? Using a food processor. The recipe didn’t specify this method, but some quick research showed many other recipes do. It’s too difficult to get the fruits and nuts fine enough to become one mixture. Once I dumped it in the food processor, it worked perfectly. So my advice, use a food processor if you don’t want to be frustrated.

As I didn’t have dates, I used a combination of dried cranberries and dried cherries. Any combination of dried fruits should work. I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of flavors and love that these will keep for so long. I hope you enjoy these healthier, sweet treats (bonus, they are naturally gluten free!).

SUGAR PLUMS (or Fruit and Nut Balls)
(from Saveur Magazine online)
Print This Recipe

2 c. whole almonds
1/4 c. honey
2 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 c. chopped dried apricots
1 c. chopped dates
1 c. confectioner’s sugar or toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange almonds on baking sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Cool and chop.

Meanwhile, combine honey, orange zest, and spices in the bowl of a food processor. Add chopped nuts and chopped fruits. Pulse to combine. Mixture should be thick and stick together.

Pinch off rounded teaspoon size and roll into balls (rinse hands often as the mixture is very sticky). Roll balls in powdered sugar, ground toasted coconut, or finely ground nut meal. Makes 60-70 balls.

Store in an airtight container in single layers divided by wax paper in refrigerator for up to a month.

Weekend Fare: Raspberry Crumb Coffee Cake w/Maple Frosting

This coffee cake is so delicious and goes along with the raspberries for this week. The combination of raspberry, cinnamon, vanilla, and maple is scrumptious. What a perfect recipe for weekend brunch, overnight company, or just because. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

RASPBERRY CRUMB COFFEE CAKE w/ MAPLE FROSTING
(adapted slightly from Emeril Lagasse)
Print This Recipe

1 teaspoon butter
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 stick plus 4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease an 11 by 7 by 2-inch rectangular pan with the teaspoon of butter. In a saucepan, combine the raspberries, 1/2 cup of the sugar and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the mixture for 3 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the water and cornstarch together. Stir the slurry into the fruit mixture. Cook and stir the mixture for 4 minutes. Remove the pan and cool completely.

 In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream 8 tablespoons of butter and remaining 1 cup of the sugar. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. In a small mixing bowl, sift 3 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately to the butter mixture. Mix thoroughly. Mix in the vanilla.

 In a small bowl, combine the remaining butter, remaining flour and brown sugar together. Using your hands, combine the mixture until it resembles a fine crumb-like consistency. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread the fruit mixture over the batter. Drop heaping spoonfuls of the remaining batter over the fruit mixture, about 1-inch apart. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the entire pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

 In a mixing bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, maple syrup and milk together. Set aside. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before drizzling glaze over top. Cut into slices and serve warm.