First off, for those of you who don’t already know, I’m a finalist for a Martha Stewart American Made Award! Not only is this an honor, but it is also an amazing opportunity. The winner will be selected based on VOTES and will be honored at the American Made event in New York City AND appear in Martha Stewart Living Magazine. On top of that, Keep It Sweet Desserts would get $10,000 to help grow the business. It couldn’t get much better than that.
Please help me by voting EVERY DAY from now through September 24th! I’ve been doing pretty well so far, but can use a little extra push in the contest. Your support means the world to me. For those of you who have been voting, tweeting, facebooking and emailing, thank you a million times over!
Now, onto cupcakes. These lovelies were just one of the desserts that we enjoyed to celebrate my husband’s 29th birthday. His birthday is today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATT!!!!!!), but we had our families over to celebrate on Sunday night. Dinner was all about the meat: hot dog appetizers (full-size, not mini); burgers; and two different cuts of steak. There was also a side of mashed potatoes, tomatoes and mozzarella and a chopped salad. To my vegetarian friends, please know that we bought high quality meat that came from well-treated animals.
And yes, Matt did eat all of the different items we served. I, however, had my once-a-year cheeseburger and lots of salad on the side.
Lucky for me, my meat-loving husband also loves dessert. I like to take credit for his refined sweets palate and discretion over worth-it desserts but he should also get credit for the quality of all of the Keep It Sweet Dessert cookies and bars. He is an MVP taste-tester. But I digress.
As for the birthday desserts, it was a menu of all things Matt loves: Yellow layer cake with chocolate buttercream frosting, warm salted chocolate chip cookies AND warm chocolate chip cookie cheesecake (Thank, MOM!) just out of the oven, and finally these Mini Lemon Cupcakes with Perfect Silky Buttercream.
While I would never request a lemon dessert for my birthday, I’m glad that Matt did! These cupcakes were the perfect balance of lemon flavor without an intensely sweet or overly sour note to them. If anything, Matt thought there could have been a little more lemon in the frosting, but I really wanted it to just compliment the cake, not overtake it.
- 1 cup + 3 tablespoons (5⅛ ounces) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ cup plain greek yogurt (I used fat free)
- ¼ cup milk (I used skim)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about ½ of a lemon)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (5⅝ ounces)
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- ½ cup egg whites (I used 3 extra-large but pasteurized egg whites work fine)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1⅛ cups (2¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
- ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
- <1/8 teaspoon table salt
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees; fill mini cupcake tins with 36 cupcake wrappers; set aside
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; set aside
- In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla; set aside
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on high speed for several minutes or until light and fluffy; at this point you can’t really overbeat the batter, you want to get as much lightness at this stage as you can; scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating at medium speed for one minute after each; scrape the sides of the bowl with the spatula
- Reduce speed to low and slowly add ⅓ of flour mixture and then ½ of wet ingredients; repeat with ⅓ of flour mixture and remaining wet ingredients; add remaining flour mixture and remove from mixer immediately (there should still be lumps in the batter)
- Gently fold batter so that you can no longer see any dry ingredients but there are still some small lumps; do not overmix
- Evenly distribute batter into cupcake wrappers; I find this easiest with a medium cookie dough scoop or small ladle
- Bake cupcakes for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from a center cupcake; do not overbake
- Set cupcakes aside to cool and prepare frosting
- Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk attachment, whisk, spatula and candy thermometer with a paper towel and vinegar to clean (if any grease is on these items your meringue will not work)
- Place egg whites and sugar in mixing bowl over pot of simmering water; water should not be high enough to touch mixing bowl
- Whisk mixture slowly but constantly until temperature reaches 160 degrees F, about 5-10 minutes
- Remove from stove and attach bowl to electric mixer with whisk attachment
- Put mixer on low to medium speed and whisk until meringue is shiny and thick and bowl has cooled down to room temperature; if bowl does not cool and meringue has formed, you can put an ice bath under the mixing bowl while it is mixing
- Once ready, replace whisk attachment with paddle attachment and add cubes of butter one at a time mixing on low speed until the mixture is light and creamy; if mixture gets lumpy, keep mixing for several minutes; if it gets runny, place bowl in fridge for 10 minutes before continuing to mix
- Stop mixer to scrape sides of bowl and continue to beat on low speed for another minute
- Add lemon zest, vanilla, and salt and mix on medium speed until the SMB is light and creamy
- Frost cupcakes as desired (I prefer piping for swiss meringue buttercream)