Lemon Cream Raspberry Cupcakes With Lemon Buttercream

These are very moist and delicious but not terribly lemony. Very good with a topping of a layer of raspberry jam and lemon buttercream.

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Servings: 48

Prep Time: 01:00

Cook Time: 00:15

Cupcake Ingredients:

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. grated lemon zest*

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt if using unsalted butter or just a dash if using salted

2 cups sour cream

Lemon Buttercream Ingredients:

2 tablespoons two tsp. dried egg whites whisked into one-half cup warm water**

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt if using unsalted butter or just a dash if using salted

1 cup butter at room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable shortening***

1 tsp. finely-grated lemon zest*


1FOR THE CUPCAKES: In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add lemon oil and vanilla; mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream (batter will be thick). Fill foil-lined muffin cups enough batter to fill less than 1/3 of the muffin tin. (You want these to be small. And foil cupcake liners work much better than paper ones, as they are easier to peel off. A quick spritz of baking spray makes them even easier.) Bake at 325 degrees F with a convection oven or 350 degrees F for a regular oven for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

2FOR THE BUTTERCREAM: Place the egg whites, fresh or reconstituted, in the bowl of your standing mixer. Place the corn syrup, sugar and water in a medium saucepan, stir until sugar dissolves, cover the pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, then uncover and cook to the soft ball stage, 240-245 degrees. Or, the way I do it is to boil it in the microwave in a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup for about 5 minutes on high. A candy or instant-read thermometer is pretty handy for this; otherwise you have to keep dripping some of the mixture into a saucer of cold water and decide if it's a soft ball or not—a total pain.

3While your syrup is cooking, begin to beat the egg whites on low speed. When they are foamy add the cream of tartar (for fresh whites) and salt. Gradually increase the speed and continue beating until soft peaks form. Then, slowly and CAREFULLY, pour the hot syrup directly into the middle of the whites as the mixer continues beating. This isn't the way the recipe says to do it, but in my experience it works well as long as you have a thin enough stream of the syrup. (Just watched an episode of Martha Stewart's TV show in which she made meringue this way and was pleased to see that she poured her syrup into the bowl using this method.)

4Continue to beat for 20 minutes, until the meringue is very billowy but still quite warm. Beat in the vanilla and the lemon juice. Take the bowl off the mixer and put the base down into a big bowl of ice water and let it sit until it's completely cool. DON'T TRY TO HURRY THIS STEP! If you add the butter before the meringue is cool you'll have a MESS. I check the temp right in the middle of the bowlful with my instant-read thermometer and don't proceed until it reads about 70 degrees. (Most recipes will tell you to keep beating the meringue until it's cool, but that takes a long time, usually well over 30 minutes, and I find that after about the 20-minute mark the meringue starts to deflate. So just letting it sit and cool seems better to me.)

5Once the meringue is cool, start beating in the butter and shortening bit by bit. It's worth the effort and an extra dirty bowl to beat the butter and shortening together before adding it to the meringue. Add the lemon oil to your butter/shortening mixture, or add the zest at the end. You should end up with a creamy, fluffy, not-too-sweet frosting that will spread beautifully. I'm willing to go to the trouble of making this buttercream because of the way it tastes.

6ASSEMBLY:For the finished cupcakes, spread a thin layer of raspberry jam over the top of each cupcake and then frost with the buttercream. If you want to be really fancy, put a fresh raspberry on top of each cupcake. Because you make these small, there's plenty of room for the frosting within the bounds of the cupcake liner.

Additional Notes

*Or 1/8 tsp. lemon oil if you're not using fresh lemon juice, which is PERFECTLY FINE. Lemon oil is available online from Amazon and from baking supply websites such as King Arthur Flour. It is EXTREMELY strong, so don't use more than I recommend.

** I use Deb El brand, found in most grocery stores. If you use fresh egg whites you'll need 3-4 whites, enough to equal ½ cup, plus 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar. The dried egg whites are kind of expensive, but you don't have to worry about whether or not they'll get hot enough to kill salmonella, and you don't have to use up the yolks. They have an extremely long shelf life.

***I usually use the non-hydrogenated Spectrum brand.

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