For days I was thinking about making a new cupcake and couldn't figure out which kind to make. I was thinking of all the different flavor combinations there are and then it hit me when I was zesting an orange. The smell of the citrus was amazing and fresh. I'm not a huge fan of super sugary desserts and there is nothing lighter and more refreshing than lemons. From there I wanted to think of ways to enhance the flavor of the lemon. I have always been a fan of lemon meringue pie; the amazing texture of the filling and the wonderful tart lemon flavor. That was when my Lemon Dream Cupcake was born. I decided to bake a lemon cupcake and remove part of the center with an apple corer. Then I filled it with a strawberry coulis (we will talk about that later) and lemon curd. Topped it all off with a lemon cream cheese frosting, a slice of strawberry and candied lemon peel. It was heaven on a plate!
There is no shame in my game, I took the help of a boxed cake mix. Sometimes I make my own and sometimes I don't. I figured with all the amazing touches I was adding to these cupcakes, I would take the help of the cake mix. I used a Betty Crocker Lemon Cake Mix. I follwed the directions on the back of the box:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the cake mix, 1 1/4 cups water, 3 eggs and 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I didn't use oil, I substituted 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce). I added 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon zest to give it a little lemon boost. Beat it on low speed for 30 seconds and then on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Then I poured the batter into the pans. I decided that instead of making 24 regular sized cupcakes, I would make 12 regular sized and 6 jumbo cupcakes. Put them in the oven and bake them for 18-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let them cool completely before you do anything else with them. Resist the urge to eat them right now...even though you know you want to....
Make the easiest cream cheese filling e-v-e-r. This is so simple and delicious. I am always so surprised when I see people buying frosting because it is super simple to make and tastes WAY better. The stuff in the store is also loaded with artificial ingredients and trans fat. I challenge you to find a store bought frosting that doesn't have trans fat...they don't make one!
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
- 1/4 cup of butter (half a stick)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 5 cups confectionery sugar
This is where you take out your Kitchen Aid stand mixer. It is my favorite kitchen tool. If you don't have one don't sweat it, you can use a hand mixer :)
Beat the cream cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla on medium speed until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar in two batches of 2 1/2 cups at a time. Mix it on low speed or you will be covered in powdered sugar and a nice big mess on your counter too! As soon as the frosting is done put it in a container and stick it in the fridge. You want this to be super cold for when you frost the cupcakes.
Don't let the name intimidate you. Coulis is really a fancy pants name for fruit syrup. We are going to make a strawberry sauce that will knock your socks off. This is a very good thing to know how to make; this can be used on waffles, pancakes, french toast, cheesecake etc.. So go put your fancy pants on and let's make some coulis.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 5 1/2 cups strawberries fresh or frozen (I used fresh)
Cut the stems off the strawberries and cut them in quarters. Put the strawberries, sugar and water in a pan and bring it to a boil.