Tag Archives: cream cheese

Lemon Cupcakes

Do you ever feel like you’ve lost your mojo in the kitchen? I’ve had a lot of kitchen mishaps in the last month. Early in January when I was making this I left the handle of my ladle on the edge of a still hot burner. It only melted a bit and is still usable. A few days later I was making a salted buttercream and completely over salted it. A week later, after running the oven cleaner, I put my pizza stone back in the oven only to discover it was suddenly smoking profusely, causing me to run around frantically opening all windows and turn on all fans. I felt like a fool when I discovered the cause of the  smoke: a cork trivet stuck to the bottom of the pizza stone. Our house stunk for several days. And finally, I was making Guinness brownies with a Guinness glaze (from the most recent BA) and completely ruined them by pouring the glaze on while the brownies were still hot, essentially creating pudding (but still tasty).

Needless to say, my ego had been a bit bruised. I started questioning my ability to bake. Then I saw the Limoncello and Meyer Lemon Cupcakes from Tartelette. I have always, always loved lemon desserts. I don’t make them often because they aren’t my hubby’s most favorite but after all these mishaps I needed a dessert that I knew I’d love. And they turned out beautiful and incredibly tasty. So moist and flavorful.

And I didn’t screw them up or attempt to burn the house down. Mission success!

Now let’s talk about limoncello. I was first introduced to this delicious digestif when we lived in Hawaii and we met our dear friends, one is Italian, the other is German. And if you didn’t know, Europeans like their digestifs. I lived in Germany for two years and came to love the digestifs brought to you after dinner. I really wish American restaurants would pick up this delightful tradition!

I used to buy it all the time, but now we live in a out dated old fashioned  Charming Southern State and I can’t buy it. But I can buy ever clear (makes perfect sense) and therefore I can make my own. I used this recipe from Limoncello Quest (yes, that’s right, an entire website dedicated to making your own limoncello), with two exceptions. I used less sugar, about 1/2 cup less I think, and I did not wait the full 45 days the second time around. I did the first 45 days, added the simple syrup, then waited about 10 days. And it is strong but it is delightful and will warm your soul. Even got my mom hooked on it! If you ever have digestive problems or stuffed sinuses, just have a swig of this. You’ll be better in no time!

That being said, the amount of alcohol in these cupcakes is quite minor. The cake batter portion will cook out, but if you are concerned about the icing, you can easily omit it and just add extra lemon juice instead.

Lemon Cupcakes with Meyer Lemons and Limoncello

From Tartelette

Yield: 12 – 15 cupcakes

Time: 90 minutes including cooling and bake time

Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate

One Year Ago: Triple Chocolate Brownies

Meyer Lemon Limoncello Cupcakes:

Cupcakes

  • 2 oz (60gr)unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 oz(60gr) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200gr)sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (30gr) limoncello (see here or here for possible recipes)
  • 1½ cups (190gr) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup(125ml) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • zest of one Meyer lemon


1. Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the limoncello and beat an extra minute.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively to the butter/eggs mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add the lemonjuice and zest.

4. Fill cupcake tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Meyer Lemon Curd

  • zest of 2 lemons*
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (50gr) sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk

*If you cannot find Meyer Lemons, use standard lemons but add a bit more sugar.

1. In a heavy medium saucepan, stir together the lemon zest, juice and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, beat the egg and egg yolk to break them up.

2. Very slowly beat in all of the lemon mixture into the eggs to temper (this will prevent scrambled eggs). Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook stirring constantly until it thickens up, about 5 minutes (only took 3 minutes for me). Remove the curd from the heat, let cool completely. To speed up cooling, place in refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 2 oz (60gr)unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces (120gr) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15gr) limoncello (or lemon juice)
  • 1 cup (115gr) powdered sugar, sifted

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the limoncello and beat an extra minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth.

To assemble
Cut a whole into each cupcake with a melon baller or the back end of a large pastry tip. Fill each cavity with the lemon curd. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the cream cheese frosting and pipe onto each cupcake. Decorate with berries if desired.

Thank you, Tartelette!

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Mini Pumpkin Trifle with Cranberry Sauce and Whipped Cream Cheese

If you aren’t sick of pumpkin yet, it is your lucky day! If you are sick of pumpkin, never fear, you will soon be sick of peppermint. I’m planning a “12 Days of Christmas” and can’t seem to get away from the peppermint. ‘Tis the season!

But one last  pumpkin post. Yes, it is technically after Thanksgiving and we are supposed to have moved on from said pumpkin. In my defense, I had these made long before Turkey Day, but in true holiday fashion, was just too darned busy to sit down and actually write. Somehow the week before Thanksgiving I had more commitments lined up than I cared for. Too often the holiday season blurs by us without being able to sit back and enjoy the finer things.

Like pumpkin.

The previous post was all about pumpkin bread. That recipe made two loaves, which I would have gladly eaten every last bite, but really don’t have the budget to go out and buy all new clothes in the next size up. And, as previously mentioned, I was hosting a bunch of ladies for our November social. I was in charge of the bread and dessert, everyone else brought the soup. Since the week was already beyond busy, I needed something quick, easy, and tasty. Cute didn’t hurt either. Enter the Mini Pumpkin Trifle.

I’ve found that when you get a bunch of women together, they don’t eat much. Well, dessert anyhow. Even though you know that we all want to devour dessert. Or is that just me? If so, I’m ok with that. I like my dessert. But for this occasion I kept it small and easy to eat.

It started as just some pumpkin bread with a little whip cream on top. But no, I had to add more to my week. I thought it needed some color. What goes great with pumpkin? Cranberry sauce of course. But then I worried there was no texture. It needed a crunch. And what goes with cranberry and pumpkin? Ginger shortbread.  And that is my life, adding more to my schedule than I probably need to. But hey, that’s what women do best, right? Right.

And look at how cute they turned out! I’m not sure if I was more excited to eat the dessert or use the dishes. Complete with mini spoons!

While this dessert has four components, it doesn’t need all four, and each part is very easy and can be made ahead of time. The first is the pumpkin bread from the previous post. I kept one loaf out, froze the other and then thawed it out on the counter. Tasted just as fresh as day one.

The next part is cranberry sauce. This is the same cranberry sauce I use at Thanksgiving every year. I left out the cornstarch and instead smashed the cranberries which thickened the sauce. It can be made two days in advance. Maybe more but I’ve never tried!

I took a shortbread cookie from Martha Stewart. The recipe calls for cutting out the shortbread into shapes, and since I just wanted small slices of shortbread, I knew this would work great. I added ginger until the taste was right.

Must smell good….my pup was very curious!

And the whip cream – insanely easy. I wanted to use Mascarpone, but had some cream cheese leftover from something (who knows what, that seems like an eternity ago!). Either would work great.

So there you have it. Four recipes all combined into one great little dessert. Assemble however you see fit. Since my dishes  were so tiny, I just did one layer of each, but if you have bigger bowls more layers would be great. I assembled several hours before my event and chilled. The less you need to do before guests arrive, the better.

Yield: Depends on your serving size. Will make around 20 small dishes.

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Brioche & French Toast

Difficulty: Easy!

Pumpkin Bread

Cranberry Sauce

Adapted from Emeril (bam!)

  • 2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange (fine zest)
  • 1/4 cup Port (any sweet wine will work, in a pinch you could use cranberry juice but hold back on the sugar if it is sweetened)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (add more later if desired)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Add all ingredients to pan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and smash cranberries. Sauce will thicken. Let cool and chill for later use.

Ginger Shortbread

Adapted from Martha Stewart

*Note: the original recipe calls for cranberries in the cookie. You could probably skip the sauce and just make these cookies as is and it would still be great I’m sure. The ginger was very subtle, so if you like a stronger ginger taste, add more. Best if made at least one day in advance.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Butter an 8×8 (or 9×9) baking pan and then line with parchment overhanging.

2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in mixer about three minutes. You want light and fluffy, but not too light and fluffy.

3.In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and ginger. Add to butter mixture and mix until dough ball forms. Press into prepared pan.

4. Bake until slightly golden on edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool and cut.

Mascarpone Cream

Mascarpone Cream

  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese or cream cheese (cream cheese should be at room temp, but not mascarpone)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using electric mixer, beat cream, mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl until peaks form. Can be made a few hours ahead, but should be day of.

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Chocolate Macarons

I finally attempted macarons again. While my first attempt wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t amazing either. And these cookies are quite intimidating. So much can go wrong. But when they turn out well, they taste amazing. This time I used a recipe from David Lebovitz, but still mostly used Tartelette’s technique.  And my second attempt went much better. Overall they looked better, the size was better, and they tasted better. They were just a wee bit lopsided. But they have feet and they puffed up. Oh, and they were lumpy. Yes, I made an incredibly dumb mistake and didn’t sift my almonds after processing them. Luckily, the lumps didn’t come across in the mouth, just in looks. This really is a cookie where practice makes perfect. The texture this time was much better. Very airy, a little crispy, and then the creamy center. What a great little cookie!

Chocolate Macarons with Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling

Chocolate Macarons From David Lebovitz

Yield 15 cookies

  • 1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered almonds, sifted!
  • 3 TB (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg whites, room temp, 48 hours
  • 5 TB (65 gr) granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or silpat) and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready. Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor. Then sift!

3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.

4. Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. Should take about 50 strokes.  When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).

5. Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart. I actually used a scoop this time and it worked well. The batter was thick and lumpy because I didn’t sift!

Some of them cracked on top and I’m not sure why….

6. Let rest at room temp for about 30 minutes so the shells can harden, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet. When cool, fill with strawberry cream cheese filling.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling, Adapted from Tartelette

  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temp
  • 3 TB strawberry jam or preserves

Stir to combine. Pipe onto half of macarons and top with the other half. Keep refrigerated.

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

I don’t even know where to start with these. “Oh My God, so Good”. “The definition of yumminess”. “Little bites of Heaven”. All of these describe these cookies, yet just don’t seem like the right words. I do know that these are my new second favorite cookie, being second only to The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever. They aren’t even really second. They are more like 1b. I had no idea I would like these so much. I’ve had whoopie pies before, I’ve had pumpkin before, but these just blew me away! I actually had to make two batches and the second batch was even better than the first because the icing was better. And they turned out much prettier the second time.

The second batch with smooth filling.

The first batch I used mascarpone for the filling. I had 8 oz of mascarpone and only 4 oz of cream cheese. So I went with the mascarpone. Now, I’ve learned this painful lesson before but apparently it wasn’t painful enough the first time because I did the same thing again. Do not let mascaparone come to room temperature the same way you would with cream cheese. It becomes grainy and starts to separate. Cream cheese does not do this but I just wasn’t thinking apparently. Thankfully, they still tasted amazing even with the less than pretty icing. See the graininess?

The first batch with the grainy icing.

I also made them too big the first time, which explained the initial confusion over making 2 1/2 dozen verses the 4 dozen the recipe said. Again, my mind just wasn’t clear this day! The next day I made a half batch since the first batch was devoured in a very short period of time by my husband’s students. So the grainy icing didn’t matter too much! The first day I used a scoop that was about 1 1/2 TB. The second day I made them with the 1 TB scoop. This size was much better. The bigger ones were quite big, too big for whoopie pies in my opinion.

I got the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker who got it from a friend, but several commenters said it was the same recipe from Matt Lewis, which is also credited on Martha Stewart’s Whoopie Pies. So this recipe has been around the block, and with good reason. The flavors are very intense and feel as though you have the holidays melting in your mouth. These could even be your Thanksgiving Day dessert, with a bowl of cinnamon ice cream? Oh yeah. Now we’re talking.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

The cookies:

  • 3 Cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TB cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (if you don’t have turbinado, just use all granulated)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 cups chilled pumpkin (about 1 1/2 cans)
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.

3. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the oil and sugars together until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until well combined. Add the vanilla.

4. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix until combined and fairly smooth.

5. Using a tablespoon scoop, scoop level amounts of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. These won’t spread much, but keep them about 1 inch apart.

6. Bake about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool slightly before moving to a cooling rack.

The icing:

  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups powered sugar
  • 3 TB maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1. With a mixer, whip the butter until smooth.

2. Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth.

3. Add the sugar 1 cup at a time and mix until fluffy.

4. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and mix.

To assemble:

Here again a piping bag will be your friend. No fancy tips needed, no coupler, just the bag. It makes filling the cookies much faster. To assemble, flip half the cookies over once they are cool. Pipe about a tablespoon of filling in each.

The cookies halves.

Then simply place the top on the cookie and press lightly so the filling spreads to the edges. And then eat!

Note: Since these have a cream cheese center, make sure you chill them.

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