lemon-cloud-cupcakes

When I was first married, I became mildly obsessed with New York City.  Right after college, quite a few of my friends moved there, and I was envious of their lives in the glamorous city (Of course, they are always quick to tell me how glamorous their lives weren’t.).

I would watch You’ve Got Mail over and over—not for the story, but for sets and locations.  Nora Ephron really portrayed an idyllic New York in that movie.  The special features on the DVD even had a map to all the cool sites around the city.  Of course, the food places were all I remember.   I still want to go to Zabar’s for a black and white cookie and to Gray’s Papaya for a fantastic hotdog.

Around the same time I had this obsession, I watched an episode of Martha Stewart Living that introduced me to the The Doughnut Plant, where they make fresh doughnuts from scratch out of organic ingredients every day.  When I get back to New York one of these days, I will get off the plane and take a taxi straight there.

Though my infatuation with New York is more rounded out after all this time, I must say that I am dying to get one of the cupcakes everyone’s been buzzing about for the last few years.  Was it the Magnolia Bakery that started that big trend? or was it someone else?   Sadly, I have never had a true New York cupcake, but today, I thought I’d attempt to make something that I think comes close.

These are moister than the strawberries and cream cupcakes I posted last September, because I added sour cream to the batter.  Also, I thought I’d add a little something in the middle, as is the new way to make them now (One must be hip when making cupcakes).

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Some people had trouble with the frosting on those strawberry ones, and today I wondered, were they using real butter?  Please.  Use real butter.  We can’t have these tasting like something from a grocery store, now can we?

lemon cloud cupcakes

1 1/2 cups (185g) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup (60g) sour cream
3/4 cups (170g) milk
lemon curd (click here for the recipe)
lemon cloud frosting (recipe follows)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees * (180 degrees Celsius). Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.

2.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth, about a minute on medium speed.  Add in sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes more. With mixer on medium-low, add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add in vanilla and lemon zest.

4.  With mixer on low, add in a third of the flour mixer, followed by half of the milk and the sour cream.  Add in the next third of flour, the remaining milk, and finally the remainder of the flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Use a rubber spatula to fully incorporate the mixture, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

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5.  With an ice cream scooper, divide up the batter evenly among the paper liners.  (I use a scoop that holds 1/3 cup, which works perfectly.) Tap pans on the counter to remove any bubbles.

6.  Bake at 350 (180 degrees celsius), or until a toothpick inserted into the center ones comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.  Let cool in pans for at least ten minutes before removing to a cooling rack.  Let cool completely before decorating.

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7.  Reserve 1/3 cup of the lemon curd and set aside for the frosting.  Use a melon baller to scoop out a small hole in the center of each cupcake.  Spoon out remaining lemon curd into the holes.  (I used a pastry bag to do it, but also found that spooning it out works just as well, and is less of a hassle.)

8.  Put lemon cloud frosting into a large pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (I can never find the big round tips to go with the big pastry bag, so I actually just used the pastry bag without a tip).  Pipe frosting onto each cupcake, starting at the edges, and swirling around to the center.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Or freeze so you don’t eat them all in one sitting.

lemon cloud frosting

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (110g) plus 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup (35g) lemon curd
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup (250mL) heavy cream

1.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for about a minute.  Add in 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar and the vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  (Or you could do this by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon.)

2.  Transfer mixture to a small bowl and add in zest and lemon curd.  Whisk until smooth and all large lumps are gone.

3.  Beat the cream on high until stiff peaks form.  With the mixer on low, add in 1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar and whisk until just combined.

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4.  Fold the two mixtures together until smooth, being careful not to deflate the whipped cream.