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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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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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Macarons, Macaroons

Macarons. Macaroons. However you say, or pronounce it, this is one delicious little cookie. And terribly intimidating. Airy meringue shell with a creamy delicious filling.  I tried my first macaron in Las Vegas at Payard’s Patisserie. Little pieces of heaven! And so beautiful. I almost didn’t want to eat it. But of course my sweet tooth won that battle.

I’ve been wanting to make them ever since but have been utterly terrified. It seemed so much could go wrong and I’d be disappointed. Then, I discovered one of my favorite pastry bloggers, Tartelette, had a tutorial. And it’s a great tutorial! You can find it on the first page of her blog. I highly, highly recommend reviewing her tutorial. I’m not going to go into the detail that she does, and this was only my first time making them. She’s been making them for a very long time!

But first, let’s take a moment to discuss the spelling. According to Wikipedia, Macaron is the French spelling, but still pronounced like Macaroon. But in the US, a macaroon can also be the coconut cookie (which I am not a fan of. Coconut and I don’t really get along well). To distinguish the two, many have adapted the French spelling to avoid confusion. Now that we’ve had our history lesson, let’s talk about how to make this delicate cookie. It isn’t as hard as it looks, as long as you carefully follow the directions.

Step one, take your separate your egg whites 24 to 48 hours before making your macarons. This is to help dry out the egg whites to make your meringue fluffier.

Recipe, courtesy of Tartelette

  • 3 egg whites (100 grams)
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 200 g powdered sugar
  • 110 g blanched almonds, whole or ground

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the egg whites to a foam and gradually add the granulated sugar until you achieve a glossy meringue.

2. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar and pulse them until they are finely ground.

3. Add the almond mixture to the meringue. Fold quickly at first to help break up the meringue. Count the strokes and slow down as it becomes more mixed. Tartelette states that it won’t take more than 50. For my first attempt, I went all the way to 50. 40 wasn’t enough, and 45 would have been just right. When you test a small amount, it should flatten completely on its own. If it doesn’t, it needs a little more folding.

4. Fill a pastry bag and fit it with a small, plain tip. Pipe a small amount onto a sheet pan lined with either silpat or parchment. Pipe a small amount so that when it flattens it turns out to be about 1.5 inches. This is another area where I messed up. I made mine way too big! I didn’t realize how much they would spread. Not necessarily a bad thing, just that I wanted small, delicate macarons. Next time!

5. Let macarons rest at room temp for about 1 hour to harden the shells. Preheat oven to 300F. Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool completely. Fill.

Filling, Raspberry Mascarpone, Courtesy of Tartelette

  • 4 oz mascarpone, room temp
  • 2 to 3 TB good raspberry preserves

Whisk together. Using a small piping bag, pipe a little filling on half the shells. Top with the other half. Eat, and enjoy! And practice, practice, practice! Overall, my first time went pretty good. Not great, but good. It wasn’t a disaster and they were quite tasty. Can’t wait to make them again! Thank you, Tartelette for providing such a great tutorial! It made the first time much less intimidating!

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