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I consider myself a fairly competent amateur baker, and I have made some really delicious things, but every once in a while I surprise even myself. That’s how I feel about these Lightly Lavender Lemon Meringue Cupcakes I made this weekend. I’ve wanted to frost something with simple meringue ever since I tried this recipe a few weeks ago. The meringue was so pretty and glossy, and the flavor was lovely on its own. Perfect for a spring cupcake. We all know lemon is a time honored companion for meringue, so figured that would be a safe bet for my main flavor. Last year, I had lavender in lemonade so I decided to make that the “something special” that would take these cupcakes up a notch. Honestly, I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever made, and my taste testers RAVED about them. I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys, and I hope you love them as much as I do.
- 1 box King Arthur Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 tbsp veggie oil
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup of milk
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp lavender extract (optional)
- 2 tsp chopped or pulverized lavender buds
- 1 jar of lemon curd (I used Wilkin & Sons, Ltd)
- 5 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
Special equipment: Kitchen torch
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Combine cake mix, butter, veggie oil and eggs in mixer until combined.
- Mix in zest, milk, extract and mix until thoroghly combined
- Fold in chopped buds.
- Fill cupcake liners
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow cupcakes to cool.
- Using a knife or a cupcake corer, create a hole in the center of each cupcake.
- Transfer lemon curd to ziplock bag and clip off one corner. Use to fill cored cupcakes.
- In a double boiler, heat 2 inches of water in the lower pot. When water boils place top pot over boiling water carefully so that the boiling water doesn’t touch the bottom of the upper bowl.
- Combine egg whites and sugar in top bowl.
- Whisk gently over heat until mixture become slightly more opaque and the sugar has fully dissolved.
- Transfer the mixture to a mixer and whip on high for 10 minutes until it doubles in size and reaches stiff peak stage.
- Pipe your meringue onto your filled cupcakes.
- Toast meringue lightly (and carefully) with kitchen torch.
- I’ve doubled the amount of lavender called for in my first trial. Lemon is a strong flavor, and my first batch only had the passing hint of lavender. Don’t over do it though; too much lavender will leave your cupcakes tasting like soap.
- I recommend chopping or pulverizing the lavender buds before incorporating them into your batter. A whole lavender bud in a single bite can be off putting for a lot of people. I usually crush mine with a mortar and pestle. Same flavor, just a little more diffused throughout the mix.
Some days I really love Pinterest. It’s perfect for getting any vague half formed creative ideas to actualization. That was the situation I found myself in this weekend, I found this recipe while I was idly surfing Pinterest for recipes to use up the left over fruit in the fridge.
- 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated lemon zest
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I used fresh)
- 1 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350*F and line a 9″x 5″ loaf pan with parchment paper (or lightly grease with butter).
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix until well combined.
- While slowly mixing, add flour mixture and milk in two batches (some flour, then some milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk). Stop mixing as soon as it’s just combined.
- Rinse off the blueberries (if using fresh) so they have just a bit of moisture on them, then, in a small bowl toss the blueberries and 1 T. flour. This flour coating will help prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of your loaf while baking.
- Add the flour coated berries to the batter and gently but quickly stir, by hand, to combine.
- Immediately pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in the pan for about 30 minutes, then move to a wire cooling rack with a baking sheet below (to catch the glaze you’re about to add).
- Prepare glaze by simply whisking together the melted butter, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla, then pour glaze over the loaf. Allow to set a few minutes, then enjoy!
- Now let me start out by saying that this is a pretty good recipe. However, I thought that this was going to be a little more cake and a little less bread. Completely my fault, but a little disappointing none the less. Now that being said, Andy inhaled half the loaf within three hours of me taking it out of the oven.
- This is very much a bread you have to be very careful not to over mix your batter; a few gentle folds and leave it alone the second it comes together. I gave it a few turns too many, and after it baked, I could tell.
- The only other thing I wanted to comment on was the note in the recipe that said the icing shouldn’t be applied to the bread until the day it was to be served. Seeing how it set up overnight I get the recommendation, but if your house is anything like mine, there is a strong likelihood that it won’t all get eaten in a single day. Was the icing better on the first day? Absolutely, but it was still perfectly good the day after.
And the doughnut recipes continue! Before I get into the baking stuff, can we talk about how to spell doughnut? Is it indeed “doughnut” or is it “donut”, I’ve seen it both ways and while I prefer the former simply because I feel like it is more descriptive ( a nut shape made of dough), I feel like the latter is much more popular. Thoughts? Anyone? Anyway, back to the good stuff. Allow me to present what has probably been my favorite doughnut recipe so far, Lemon Donuts with Grapefruit Glaze by Style Me Pretty.
- For The Donuts:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup good olive oil
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp lemon extract
- 1-2 tsp grated lemon zest (depending on your tastes)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- For The Glaze:
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 6-8 tbsp fresh grapefruit juice
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and grease your donut pans with coconut oil spray.
- In a large bowl, combine butter, oil and sugar and whisk until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add in eggs, vanilla extract, lemon extract, lemon zest and milk and whisk until smooth.
- Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and whisk just until combined. Batter will be thick.
- Spoon batter into a large disposable piping bag or freezer bag. Cut off the end of the bag so your opening is about ½-3/4” wide. –Pipe batter once around each doughnut hole – the batter shouldn’t quite fill the hole as they’ll expand and rise.
- Bake for 7-8 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from the doughnut pan to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl (not too deep as you’ll want to be able to dip your doughnuts), combine powdered sugar, and 6 tbsp of fresh grapefruit juice for the glaze.
- Add an additional juice if needed. You want your glaze to be thin enough to evenly coat your donuts, but thick enough that it will set and become dry to the tough.
- When donuts are completely cool, dip tops of doughnuts into the glaze and overturn so the glaze runs down the sides. Set aside for the glaze to set.
- As I bake more, I find myself getting picky about certain ingredients – in this case, extracts. All I could find was imitation lemon extract, and that just wasn’t going to cut it for me. I substituted fresh juice and additional zest to make sure the cake still had the tart lemon punch, but it wasn’t quite enough. I found the end product good, but not great.
- Texturally, these were by far the best recipe to date; they were nice and dense, but not gummy or chewy. I think they would have been a little dry without the glaze, but with it, they were almost perfect.
- Andy thinks I am crazy, and that these were fine the way they are; he backed up his assertion by eating 8 doughnuts the day I made them. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
Now that the weather is warmer and the evenings are longer, Andy and I have developed the habit of lingering at the table after dinner. Where the winter months inspired us to quickly clear the table so we could retire to the snuggley warmth of the couch, where we could bury ourselves under fluffy throws and warm kitties; we now sit back pour another glass of whatever and discuss our day, our weekend plans or whatever we happen to be thinking about. As a nod to these wonderfully laid back evenings I’ve been sprucing up our evening beverages with handfuls of fresh fruit or herbs. While our flavor combinations have been a bit more traditional, I am very excited to add these recipes to our weekly rotation:
To a large pitcher of lemonade add 2-3 cups of chopped strawberries and a handful of chopped basil. The longer this lemonade sets the more the basil flavor will infuse with the beverage!
To a small pitcher of lemonade add 1 cup of slightly mashed blackbarries. You can smash these by hand or with a spoon, but the more you smash them the more the color will infuse in your lemonade-pretty!
To a large pitcher of lemonade add in 2 cups of grapefruit juice and fresh slices of grapefruit. Give this one a taste when your done-as you may want to add more sugar if you feel it’s too tart.
To a large pitcher of limeade (or lemonade) add one cucumber, thinly sliced, and a handful of chopped mint leaves. This one is similar to the Strawberry Basil lemonade in that the mint flavor will become stronger the longer this beverage sets.
Serve in a tall glass with a straw, and keep an iced tea spoon (a spoon with a really long handle) on hand for getting every last bit of delicious fruit from the bottom of your glass.
Images and recipes from here.
One of the most difficult parts of dieting is trying to figure out how to incorporate some of your favorite dishes into your new limited calorie allowance. I am a huge fan of breakfast for dinner. There was a six month run my senior year of college where my roommate Rebecca and I made pancakes at least twice a week. My pancake intake has gone way down since then, and I have been lucky enough to find some caloric short cuts that still allow for the occasional short stack. A few weeks ago I received the monthly newsletter from The Foley House (the B&B where Andy and I honeymooned) and it included a decadent recipe for lemon ricotta pancakes topped with buttery spicy apples. The topping alone was almost half my daily calories so I set the recipe aside, out of sight, but unfortunately not out of mind. So I made some healthy substitutions, ditched the topping and here is what I came up with.
- 1 cup egg beaters
- 1 cup egg white beaters
- zest from 2 lemons
- 2 tbsp of Splenda
- 1 1/3 cup low fat Ricotta
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flower
- Non-stick cooking spray
In a bowl whisk together the egg beaters, the ricotta, the sugar, and the zest, add the flour, and stir the mixture until it is just combined.
In a separate bowl use an electric beater to beat egg white beaters and a pinch of salt at high speed until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the egg whites into the first mixture.
Heat your griddle until it is hot enough for water droplets scatter when dripped on the surface. Use a 1/3 measuring cup to pour batter onto the griddle, cooking pancakes 1-2 minutes per side.
Serve pancakes plain or with sliced fresh berries.
Makes 15-20 pancakes
The verdict: Delicious, the egg whites make these pancakes taste more like thick crepes than a traditional pancake, but I will most assuredly be making these again. Maybe next time with blueberries added to the batter.