Lemon cupcakes with whipped cream cheese frosting; decorated with fresh raspberries and homemade candied lemon peel (cut into tiny hearts).
While I hope to start making my own cakes/cupcakes from scratch soon. This lovely lemony version comes from <gasp> a box mix. I tend to have the best luck with Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines. This is BC. I also have a great recipe for frosting, but I was in a hurry and like using the "whipped" varieties since many contain fewer grams of fat per serving.
Prepare lemon cake mix according to directions or swap egg substitute (such as Better 'n Eggs or Egg Beaters) for whole eggs and unsweetened (no sugar added) applesauce for oil.
Divide into muffin/cupcake tins using cupcake liners for convenience and portability. Typical box mixes will yield approximately 24 cupcakes.
Bake according to package directions, testing with a wooden toothpick/skewer for doneness. Do not overbake.
When finished, set cupcakes on a rack to cool completely before frosting.
While cupcakes are baking, examine raspberries -- separating the firm and nicely shaped from those that are soft. You want firm raspberries. GENTLY rinse raspberries and set them on a paper towel that has been placed over a cookie cooling grid (to let air circular) and let them dry completely to avoid drips or color run on frosting.
Wash lemon VERY WELL and using a vegetable peeler, shave a thin layer of peel - avoiding the pith (white part). You can create curls or use a small (fondant) cutter to create shapes. In a microwave safe glass bowl combine sugar and water and microwave until granules of sugar are no longer distinguishable.
Add lemon and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes (on 9 or 10), checking frequently to ensure that it does not overflow or burn. Carefully remove the sugared peels from the syrup and lay them on parchment paper or silicone tray liner to prevent sticking. Let them sit to cool and dry.
- I used two disposable wooden skewers to remove them from the hot syrup.
- Remaining sugar syrup could be used to sweeten tea with a lovely lemon undertone.
- If not using the syrup for another purpose, immediately rinse the bowl with HOT water to remove all traces or it will became hard or semi-hard (depending on just how hot your microwave got it.
Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with a prepared frosting of your choice.
I used whipped cream cheese frosting, but you could use white, vanilla or even lemon -- though I thought that would be overpowering in this case. Obviously, homemade cream cheese frosting would be AWESOME here.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, pipe a swirl of frosting starting from the outer edge and going in, being sure to create a nice peak at the center to hold onto your raspberry.
Add your raspberry on top of the swirl and push down gently to nestle it in the frosting. Garnish with a piece of the candied lemon peel.
Tip: If you want to reduce the calories and fat even more, just put a large "kiss" of the frosting in the center and top with the raspberry. I cut back to this for the last 6 cupcakes, and they were just as tasty -- just a little less rich.
Because you are using fresh raspberries, you will need to refrigerator any remaining cupcakes. Failure to do so results in a quick deterioration of the fruit on top.
I hope no one is disappointed that these aren't 100% from scratch. My family loves them anyway. As the old adage goes, the secret ingredient is love...
I figure that all the time and care that goes into preparing them in a healthier way and creating a thoughtful presentation makes up for the "box cheat."