Summer was lovely. It was filled with long days, warm nights, fireflies, cookouts, splash parks, and raspberry lemonade. You know, the kind of things dreams are made of and all that. The kind of summer I wanted my youngster to enjoy because I remember loving them just as much when I was her age. And now that summer's ended, school's back in session, and our memories are doing their best to keep the oncoming season's chill at bay, it seems like the perfect time to recapture just a taste of the past season. And what better way to do it than with cupcakes:
Those are raspberry lemonade cupcakes, a triple treat of lemony goodness blended with the sweetness summer had to offer. You start with a moist, tender cupcake that's loaded with lemon juice and lemon zest for a great flavor. Then, creamy lemon curd is tucked inside each cupcake for a hidden treat. Finally, the frosting is loaded with more lemon juice and zest and then half of it gets the raspberry treatment with an infusion of raspberry preserves (in my case, I used fresh homemade preserves — mmmmm). Then the two frostings are loaded into opposite sides of a piping bag and beautiful multi-colored ribbons of frosting are applied to the cupcakes.
I happened to be lucky enough to have a little helper in on the making and decorating of these beauties. And since she's new to piping frosting, I opted to make a small cake for her to decorate instead of an additional six cupcakes. Then, after the first dozen cupcakes were decorated, I handed off the remainder of the frosting in the piping bag to her to experiment with how that all works. She took her job very seriously:
In the end, we had a generous batch of sweet and tangy cupcakes that held just a hint of the summer adventures we've recently seen become memories. They are the perfect end to a family meal and a great treat to enjoy while you reminisce about summer, talk about the new adventures happening right now, and plan for adventures this autumn and the winter yet to come. With all that happening around the table, you really have to agree that there's really no such thing as too many cupcakes!
- 1/2 c. butter, room temperature
- 3/4 c. granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. milk
- 1/4 c. lemon juice
- Zest of 3 lemons
- 2/3 c. lemon curd
- 3/4 c. butter, room temperature
- 2 c. powdered sugar
- 3 T. heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1/3 c. raspberry preserves
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12 count muffin tin with paper liners. You can also line another 6 tins or spray a small cake pan (5-7" in diameter) with cooking spray. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld electric mixer), beat the 1/2 cup of butter and granulated sugar together on medium high speed until pale and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine.
In a medium bowl, Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on the lowest speed until just combined. Add the milk, lemon juice, and zest, beat on low until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling 2/3 of the way full. (Pour any remaining batter into the additional tins or prepared cake pan.) Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in their tins for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, fill the center of the cupcakes with about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon curd, either by cutting a small hole in the center and then replacing the "lid" after filling the cupcakes or by using a fill tip and a piping bag. Set aside.
To make the frosting, fit a large piping bag with a large open star tip and place it in a large glass, with the top of the bag folded over the edges of the glass.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 3/4 cup of butter on a medium high speed until it is smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low until combined. Add the cream, vanilla, salt, lemon juice, and zest; beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Remove half of the frosting and set aside. Add the raspberry preserves to the remaining frosting and beat for another minute until all combined.
Spoon the lemon frosting into one side of the piping bag, doing your best to get it as far down the bag as possible (a parfait spoon worked well for me). Spoon the raspberry lemon frosting into the other side. Gently squeeze from the top of the bag, piping into a bowl until the frosting starts coming out two tone. Pipe onto the cupcakes in swirl patterns of your choosing.
Store the cupcakes, covered, in the refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes prior to serving.
- Yields: 12-18 cupcakes (I opted to make a dozen cupcakes and one small cake for my youngster to decorate)
- Preparation Time: 45 minutes