These Strawberry-Lemonade Cupcakes are just the right combination of tart and sweet. And even though the standard-sized cupcakes look prettier, I think these cupcakes in mini-size are the way to go… just the right icing to cupcake ratio in each bite… plus, then you get to eat more of them with less guilt.
What You Need:
To Make 20-24 Standard Cupcakes (6-8 dozen minis):
For the Lemon Curd:
1-2 Tbsp. Lemon Zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2-4 lemons)
6 egg yolks (reserve the whites for icing and cake)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter (cut into chunks)
For the Cupcakes:
White Cake Mix
2 egg whites + 1 whole egg (reserve the yolks!)
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup milk (whole milk preferred)
1/4-1/2 cup lemon juice (from 2-4 lemons)
2-3 tsp. lemon zest
Optional: 1/4-1/2 cup pureed strawberries (if you add the strawberries, decrease the milk by the same amount)
For the Strawberry Lemonade Icing:
4 egg whites (yolks used in curd)
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cup) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup lemon curd (see above)
1/2 cup pureed strawberries (about 1 cup frozen)
*Grand total, in case you’re not keeping track, is:
– 7 eggs
– 5 sticks of butter
– 4-8 lemons
I start with the lemon curd because it needs to set in the refrigerator for a few hours before you can use it as a filling.
(To see the longer, tip-filled version of this recipe, click the Lemon Curd Recipe here.)
Place the yolks from six eggs into the bottom of a small saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Whisk to combine, and set over medium-low heat.
Stirring constantly, allow the mixture to thicken. This takes me about 10 minutes. (And you really do have to stir constantly.) You know it’s ready when it coats the back of your spatula.
Remove from heat and add the butter a few chunks at a time, stirring until the chunks melt each time.
Once all of the butter is added and melted, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (to get the zest out, and any other various not-smooth bits).
Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon curd to prevent a skin from forming.
Allow the lemon curd to set up in the refrigerator at least 3 hours to overnight. It keeps for about one week in the refrigerator.
Make the Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees (F) and line cupcake cups with cupcake papers.
Whip the two egg whites and one whole egg in the bowl of a stand mixer for about a minute. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on medium for two minutes.
*Please Note: If you choose to add strawberry puree to the mix, you need to reduce your milk by the same amount.
Scoop the batter into prepared cupcake cups. I like to do 1/4 cup for standard cupcakes, and 1/2 Tbsp. for minis.
Bake standard cupcakes for 15-20 minutes. Minis bake for 12-18 minutes.
Remove from the pans and let cool completely.
Make the Icing
(Click the following link for my complete tutorial on making this kind of icing, Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing.)
Combine remaining 4 egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or other heatproof bowl. Set over a pot of simmering water, and whisk until the mixture gets to 160-degrees. (This takes 5-15 minutes depending on how cold the egg whites are to begin with, how simmering your water is, etc.)
When they reach 160-degrees, whip the egg whites (with the whisk attachment) until a stiff peak forms- this takes again 5-10 minutes, depending on the strength and speed of your mixer.
Switch stand mixers to the paddle attachment. Add the butter, cut into chunks, lemon curd and strawberry puree.
*I usually use frozen strawberries that have been defrosted, then use an immersion blender to puree them.
Mix, starting with medium, because this will turn to soup, and if you turn it up too high, will splash out all over you. When it begins to come together again, turn it up to medium-high and mix until it is soft and fluffy. (The time on this varies from 4-10 minutes, again depending on your mixer, the temperature of your butter, the temperature of the egg whites, etc.)
Both times I made this recipe, it curdled a little. I finally figured it out. When you add the lemon curd, it may work better to keep the 1/2 cup out of the fridge to add to the icing. I think that taking the curd straight from the fridge makes it too cold.
What I did to fix it when it did curdle (it looks like cottage cheese got caught in the icing):
– Take 1/4-1/3 cup of the icing out of the bowl.
– In a heatproof measuring cup, microwave the 1/4 cup icing for 20-30 seconds, until it is soupy and warm to the touch.
– Slowly drizzle the warm, melted icing back in while you run the mixer. It may take 2-3 minutes. Eventually, it will get creamy and yummy.
Decorate the Cupcakes
To fill the cupcakes, load a piping bag with the “bismarck tip” #230 and the chilled lemon curd.
Be aware, that even when it’s “set,” it’s still very thin, even a bit runny sometimes, so be careful not to just load the tip and lay it on the counter, or you’ll have a mess on your hands.
Insert the tip about halfway into the cupcake. Squeeze lightly. Click the link to see all of my Tips on Filling Cupcakes.
Using a piping bag loaded with Tip #1M and the Strawberry-Lemonade Icing, make a swirl on the top of the Cupcake. Start from the outside edge and swirl towards the center.
Click this link to see my tutorial on How to Make a Cupcake Swirl.
I added some cut-off straws to a few of them… just to be cute. I don’t know if I love them, though.
The cupcakes… those I do love.
Keep them in the refrigerator. The lemon curd must be refrigerated.
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