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Lemon Cupcakes Recipe & Video

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These Lemon Cupcakes have a surprise waiting inside, a small pocket of lemon curd. I just love how lemon curd has this ability to be tangy and sweet at the same time. And it's absolutely delightful in these cupcakes, this burst of lemon playing off both the buttery sweetness of the vanilla cupcake and the richness of the lemon flavored whipped cream frosting. You can garnish the tops with colored sprinkles, pearl sugar, fresh berries, or even a candied lemon slice.

This Lemon Cupcake begins with a vanilla cupcake batter that is so easy to make. A dump cake really - just mix the dry ingredients together, add all the wet ingredients, and mix until smooth. Once the cupcakes have been baked and cooled, a hole is made in the center of each cupcake and filled with a small dollop of lemon curd. Lemon Curd is a thick, soft and velvety cream that has a wonderful tart yet sweet citrus flavor. It is made with eggs, sugar, freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter and it is similar to a lemon filling or custard in that it is cooked on the stove. You can make your own (recipe included) or you can use store bought. If using homemade try to make it at least a day before so the lemon curd has time to thicken and be well chilled.

A cupcake always needs frosting and for this Lemon Cupcake I have simply used a lemon flavored whipped cream. The lemon flavor comes, again, from lemon curd. The trick to making this frosting is to use heavy "whipping" cream, that is cream with a 36-40% butterfat content. And you also need to chill the ingredients, bowl, and whisk as this ensures that the cream will reach its maximum volume when beaten. Now, you could just cover the cupcakes with a thin layer of frosting using a knife or offset spatula, or, if you want swirls of frosting, use a piping bag fitted a plain or decorative tip.

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Lemon Curd

White Cupcakes

Yellow Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes

 Chocolate Cupcakes

Lemon Frosted Lemon Cake

Vanilla Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and lightly butter or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat  the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add the butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and sour cream (or yogurt). Beat the wet and dry ingredients together, at medium speed, until the batter is smooth and satiny, about 30 - 60 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. 

Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, cut about an 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) hole into the center of each cupcake, using a melon baller or a small spoon. Then spoon (or pipe) a heaping teaspoon of lemon curd into each indentation.

Lemon Curd: In a stainless steel bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. 

Cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate until cold (preferably overnight). The lemon curd can be made several days (up to a week) in advance.

Lemon Flavored Whipped Cream: Place your mixing bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes. Then place the cold heavy cream and sugar in the cold bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Then add the cold lemon curd and beat just until stiff peaks form. Spread frosting on each cupcake with a knife or spatula, or if you want to pipe the frosting, use a large plain or decorative tip. These cupcakes are best eaten the day they are made but they can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 12 cupcakes

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Vanilla Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (120 ml) sour cream or plain yogurt, room temperature


1/2 cup (120 ml) lemon curd (store bought or homemade) (recipe follows)

Lemon Curd:

3 large eggs

1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons)

1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon zest (outer skin)

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar

4 tablespoons (55 grams) room temperature unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Lemon Flavored Whipped Cream:

1 cup (240 ml) cold heavy whipping cream (35-40% butterfat content)

1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar

2-3 tablespoons cold lemon curd

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