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Entries in lemon (20)

Friday
Jun282013

Sparkling Lemon Drop

Sparkling Lemon Drop

The sun has a longstanding history of becoming oppressive in late June. The humidity in the air swells as I walk outdoors in the afternoon heat, wishing I had something to fan myself. Living in the heart of the Midwest, I am continually astounded at the extreme cold and heat I experience each year, spanning a temperature range of 120 degrees between January and July. Perhaps that's why when summer finally arrives—heat, humidity, and all—I close my mouth against complaints about the soaring humidity and learn to embrace the beautiful weather instead.

Enjoying the summer heat would feel incomplete without a tall glass of fresh lemonade.

Sparkling Lemon Drop

Last Wednesday, after a long day in the middle of an even longer week, I decided that my glass of summer lemonade could wait no more. As I rooted around in the refrigerator, I came up with a single lemon, not nearly enough to round out the pitcher of lemonade I had dreamed of all afternoon. Instead of shutting the refrigerator door with a sigh (as I so often do), I found another use for the lemon. With a little club soda and liquor, the lemon transformed itself into a sparkling cocktail.

With the spirit of that tall glass of lemonade alive in my new drink, I put my feet up and gladly sipped it down, the evening sun shining brightly through the window.

Sparkling Lemon Drop

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Sparkling Lemon Drop

Sparkling Lemon Drop takes the classic summer lemonade and turns it into an adult cocktail. A squeeze of lemon juice is mixed with a shot of vodka and a touch of orange liquor to round out the citrus flavor. A pinch of sugar brings out sweetness while the addition of club soda makes it bubble and pop. This cocktail is lovely on hot summer afternoons, when the day is long and the weekend is too far away.

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Wednesday
Mar272013

Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes

The first signs of spring are arriving—slowly, ever so slowly, but surely. Living in the Upper Midwest, you might guess it to be the middle of winter if you took a peek outside my living room window. With twelve foot snow piles dotted around the buildings and snow drifts so tall it is difficult to see around intersections when driving a car, it certainly does not feel like the first day of spring has already come and gone. Just a few days ago, Mother Nature dropped the temperatures into negative digits once more; I have become so accustomed to the cold that I don't even wrap a scarf around my neck or reach for a hat before walking out the door.

It is hard for me to imagine that April is right around the corner.

Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes

There is a ray of hope in all this snow, however, and it comes in the form of sunshine. Growing ever stronger, the rays are bright and warm in the sky, melting the snow and brightening the early morning hours even when the air is cold. When the light begins to fade at eight o'clock in the evening, I can scarcely believe my eyes (eight o'clock!). These small signs assure me that spring is near, even if it feels so far away right now.

When I was perusing the shelves of my local supermarket last weekend, I noticed that raspberries were on sale. While I know winter berries are not as vibrant in color or in flavor, I could not help but add a couple pints into my cart. After surviving on citrus fruits and apples since the advent of fall, I needed a little sweetness in my life in the form of a red, ripe berry.

Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Inspired by one of my favorite cupcake recipes, I swapped out the blueberries for red raspberries and a hint of lemon. A simple cream cheese frosting ties the flavors together. As with most of the sweets I bake in my kitchen, I feel they should be shared with others who may find a bit of happiness in a big bite. I took them to a gathering of friends and watched them disappear over the course of the evening. As I saw people reach for seconds (and thirds), I felt certain you would fall in love with them just as effortlessly.

In many ways, I feel as if this cupcake represents the transition between two places, between winter and spring. While the seasonal lemon is bright and fresh, ripe raspberries will be here sooner than I dare to believe—the merging of two seasons.

Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes are vibrant, fresh, and perfect for the arrival of spring. A vanilla cupcake batter is infused with lemon zest, lemon juice, and few handfuls of red raspberries. The sweetness of the cupcake is countered by the tart fruits and the bold tang of the cream cheese frosting. Decorated with a few fresh raspberries, these simple cupcakes become a sophisticated dessert destined to be shared.

One Year Ago: Arborio Rice Pudding
Two Years Ago: Orange Scones

Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Yields about 18 cupcakes

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes
3/4 cup (169 grams) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (76 grams) sour cream (or plain, non-fat yogurt)
1/4 cup (59 ml) vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (175 grams) cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces or 255 grams) fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes). Add the butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Gradually add in the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the milk and lemon juice, stirring until batter is uniform and smooth. Gently stir in the raspberries.

Fill baking cups about 2/3 full and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack, and allow to cool to room temperature before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups (500 grams) powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the salt and vanilla. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. If frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Likewise, if the frosting is too stiff, add milk until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

Before serving, pipe or spread frosting on top of cooled cupcakes and decorate with a few fresh raspberries, if desired. If cupcakes will sit out more than a day, keep refrigerated in an airtight container to help preserve them. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday
Mar032013

Lemon Pudding Cake

Lemon Pudding Cake

Cake is synonymous with joy, laughter, and togetherness. While warm cookies may accompany an afternoon snack or ice cream may be a treat for a weekend celebration, cake is for the moments we want to remember, the milestones we want to imprint on our minds and hearts. A frosted cake rests on a kitchen table, dotted with glowing candles and melted wax, as everyone gathers to sing a spirited, off-key version of Happy Birthday to the guest of honor. Towering cakes are sliced by a bride and groom as they feed each other their first mouthfuls as husband and wife. Cake celebrates life, marking the passing of another year. Cake is a representation of love, of hopefulness and togetherness.

Cake is served on the best days of your life.

Lemon Pudding Cake

There are two cakes that have etched themselves so thoroughly on my heart, that are entwined so deeply in my memories, I am certain I could not forget their taste if I lived for a thousand years.

The first of the cakes is chocolate glazed banana cake. It is a simple cake, no frills or fuss, but somewhere between the ripe bananas and rich glaze there is the feeling of home. My mother would unexpectedly make this cake for my sister and me during the heat of summer. After playing outside in the sun, our faces pink and our lungs breathing quick, we would bound inside and smell this cake in the oven, which spiraled out scents that made our mouths water. There was no rhyme or reason to when my mother would make this cake, which made the moment of discovery that much more prized. My father kept the cake in the refrigerator, cutting out cold pieces for his daughters to enjoy after a long summer's day.

Lemon Pudding Cake

The second cake is one my mother has made over a dozen times. Since I was very young, I would insist on having strawberry shortcake drizzled in chocolate syrup for each and every birthday. The night before my big day, I would stay up late to watch my mother prepare the cake from scratch, mesmerized by the mixer as it beat egg whites into a flurry. As soon as she placed the cake in the oven, she would send me off to bed to have sweet, strawberry-filled dreams. I adored this cake then and I adore it now. I cannot imagine a birthday passing without digging into a big slice.

While there are very few cakes that insert their way into my heart like these two cakes have, this Lemon Pudding Cake may soon become one of them. I already have plans to make this cake for my citrus-loving mother as soon as Mother's Day rolls around.

Lemon Pudding Cake

Lemon Pudding Cake has a bold, tart lemon flavor with an unexpected texture. The cake is primarily a mixture of milk and freshly squeezed lemon juice (with a tad of butter and a touch of flour), folded together with whipped egg whites. While it bakes, the cake separates into two distinct layers. The top of the cake bakes up like a souffle and the bottom develops into a glorious lemon pudding. The varied textures and bright citrus taste turn this simple, unremarkable looking cake into one that will forever remain etched in your heart.

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