Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

It was a Sunday, we were going to dinner at a friend's house, and at the last minute I offered to bring dessert. Luckily I had everything on hand for these cupcakes, and they turned out just as I imagined. I knew there was a reason I bookmarked this 6 months ago and looked at it at least once a week!

The best way to describe these cupcakes is that you get the best of two worlds - cake and pie. And who doesn't like lemon?! It was just the right amount of sweet and tart, and I loved the little "surprise" of lemon curd on top of the cupcake. I didn't have a kitchen torch to brown the meringue, so I just stuck them in the oven with the broiler on until they were sufficiently browned. I think they turned out delicious!

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
from Martha Stewart
makes 24 cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Lemon Curd (see below)
Seven-Minute Frosting (see below)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

To finish, spread 1 tablespoon lemon curd onto middle of each cupcake. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip (Ateco #828 or Wilton #8B) with frosting. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip slightly and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Hold a small kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches from surface of frosting, and wave it back and forth until frosting is lightly browned all over. Serve immediately.

Lemon Curd
makes about 2 cups

8 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Seven-Minute Frosting
makes about 8 cups

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites, room temperature

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.

As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies

The other night some ladies from my church got together to make some centerpieces for a conference we were having. I wanted to make them a treat for helping out, so I headed to the computer for a recipe. I've had this oatmeal cookie recipe bookmarked for awhile, and decided to give it a go.

These cookies had great flavor, were moist, chock full of oats, and I loved the combination of cranberries and walnuts. Delicious!

Oatmeal Cookies
from Joy of Baking

1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries, cherries, raisins or chocolate chips (optional)

To toast nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and toast nuts for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop into pieces. Set aside.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until incorporated. Stir in the nuts, oats, and dried cranberries or chocolate chips.

For large cookies, use 1/4 cup of batter (I like to use an ice cream scoop) and space the cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Then wet your hand and flatten the cookies slightly with your fingers so they are about 1/2 inch thick. Bake the cookies for about 12 - 15 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until light golden brown around the edges but still soft and a little wet in the centers. Remove from oven and let the cookies cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 20 - 24 large cookies