Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: 16 cupcakes
Recipe: 101/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 136

dsc_8398

     The holiday period is an excellent time to have company over, and indeed within two days we were having two different groups of friends over. I thought I would make some nice lemon cupcakes for the occasion, as there were several lemon dessert lovers amongst the guests. These cupcakes have a little something special since they are topped with a meringue that is hiding a delicious lemon curd filling. This recipe was straightforward and incredibly tasty. There was no subtleness in the lemon flavour! It was all there and these little cupcakes were a hit amongst the parties. I think that the unexpected lemon curd filling makes them even better, like a little surprise of sorts! Definitely a successful recipe that I would repeat time and time again.

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 1/2  cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1  1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake and pastry flour*
  • 2  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons lemon curd or lemon marmalade

Ingredients for meringue:

  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2  teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 16 muffin cups with large paper liners.
  2. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until smooth.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pastry flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and lemon juice.
  6. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the butter mixture in three separate additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Blend well after each addition.
  7. Spoon the batter into the paper liners and bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed. Note: the batter will be quite thick. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 10 minutes, then remove them from the tins to cool completely.
  8. For the topping, preheat the oven to 375°F and place the cooled cupcakes on a baking tray. Spoon about a teaspoon of lemon curd or marmalade on top of each cupcake, keeping the filling as close to the centre as possible.
  9. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy, then slowly add the sugar while whipping. Whip the egg whites on high speed until they hold a stiff peak.
  10. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and pipe swirls on top of each cupcake, making sure to completely cover the lemon curd or marmalade. Bake the cupcakes for 6-8 minutes, until the meringue browns slightly, and cool to room temperature.

dsc_8401

Notes from Anna:

  • To make room for even more lemon curdcor marmalade, you can spoon a little cake out of the centre of the cooled cupcakes.

Valerie

Maple Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

Cookies, Bars and Biscotti

Yield: about 5 dozen cookies
Recipe: 100/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 48                                                                                                                                  
dsc_8375

I have actually (and surprisingly!) never made gingerbread cookies, so I thought that there would be no better dessert to bring at work for the last day before the holidays than these cute gingerbread cookies. The recipe was easy to follow and I took pleasure in rolling out the dough and cutting out cute shapes to make the cookies – I had gingerbread man, tree and snowman cookie cutters. I had never used royal icing to frost any cookies or cakes, and I thoroughly enjoyed decorating the cookies with icing and sugar pieces. Decorating anything, whether it be cakes, cupcakes and now cookies, has always been my favourite part of making dessert! At first try I found that these cookies were mild and did not taste a lot like maple or even ginger, but after the second and third cookies I realized that these are simply a milder-tasting version of the traditional molasses gingerbread cookies but still taste good. These cute gingerbread cookies would please anyone during this merry time of the year. Happy holidays and happy baking!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2  1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar and maple syrup until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the egg, ginger and lemon zest. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, allspice, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three separate additions while mixing at low speed. Separate the dough in three balls and wrap them in plastic wrap to form three discs. Chill until firm, about 2 hours. Note: The dough will be very soft.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first piece of cookie dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut with a cookie cutter of any desired shape. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking trays, leaving a gap of ½ inch between them. Repeat rolling and cutting the remaining two discs. Leftover scraps from cutting out the cookies can be wrapped up and chilled in the fridge for another 10 minutes before being rerolled.
  7. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool the cookies on the trays before transferring them to an airtight container. The cookies can be decorated with icing or simply dusted with icing sugar, as desired.

Notes from Anna:

  • The maple adds some sweetness to the cookies, which are milder than traditional molasses gingerbread cookies.

dsc_8387

dsc_8392

Valerie

Vanilla Cornmeal Wedges

Cookies, Bars and Biscotti

Yield: 32 cookies
Recipe: 99/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 26

dsc_8374

     Two weeks ago I realized that I had no dessert or snacks at home, so I decided to make these vanilla cornmeal wedges to have something to munch on. The result was a funny but sad turnout. As I went to take out the pan 20 minutes after putting it in the oven, I touched it and thought that it would benefit from several extra minutes of baking. I repeated this two times. Turns out that my oven died on me that very day! So the dessert that I had so lovingly prepared was just sitting in a broken oven that wouldn’t turn on. Quite sad indeed. It wasn’t fixed for another week, so last weekend I repeated the recipe to, finally, have a snack on hand. This recipe was easy to do (both times) and although simple these wedges taste very good. I used 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract as well as all the seeds from a vanilla bean, so not only were the wedges sprinkled with delicious black vanilla seeds everywhere, but the vanilla flavour was enhanced and very fitting with the shortbread. At first bite I was surprised by the crunch of the cornmeal, as I had never baked with cornmeal and didn’t know what to expect. However, after eating many of these wedges I came to appreciated this little surprise crunch in every bite. This is a simple, fast yet satisfying recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract *
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1  2/3  cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 9-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pans and set the pans in a baking tray.
  2. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the vanilla (either paste, extract and/or beans).
  5. Stir in the cornmeal, cornstarch and salt. Mix until well blended.
  6. Add the flour in two additions, blending well between each.
  7. Divide the dough between the two pans, then press the dough using floured fingers so that it covers the bottom of the pans. Cut each pan of dough into 16 wedges.     Note: the dough will be soft.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes, until just the edges of the shortbread begin to brown. Remove the pans from the oven and while still warm, cut each pan of shortbread into 16 wedges again. Cool completely in the pan before serving or storing.

* I supplemented 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract with the seeds of a vanilla bean. Simply scrape them in the batter prior to baking.

Valerie