24 May 2010
Cute and easy cupcakes
Despite the fact that I am beginning to think I have given you the impression lately that the only tool in my kitchen is a muffin tin, I pulled it out again.
This time, however, I used it for cupcakes. It was really an excuse to make a good cream cheese frosting. I tried to make cream cheese frosting in a rush a few weeks ago and didn't let the cream cheese sit out long enough to come completely to room temperature. What I ended up with was frosting that looked like it was made with cottage cheese instead of cream cheese.
This time, I also found myself in a hurry, so, I confess, my shortcut was a boxed cake mix. But I'm forgiving myself because this post isn't about some delicious must-have cake recipe. It's just about dressing up something simple and fun with a couple of items in your pantry. A lemon, cream cheese and strawberry jam made this a memorable dessert.
I started with a white cake mix, added about one tablespoon of lemon juice and the zest from three small lemons. Once cupcakes were completely cooled, I loaded a piping bag with jam and inserted it into the center of each cupcake, giving each one a little shot of strawberry jam hidden inside.
The frosting is simple enough, as long as your cream cheese isn't cold. I let mine set out on the kitchen counter for about two hours. If you research cream cheese frosting recipes, you'll see that some call for added butter and others don't. I'll say this, the added butter makes them richer and can also give your frosting a bit better structure, I think, but for this busy day, I opted for cream cheese alone.
Once I dumped two boxes of cream cheese into the mixer with the whisk attached, I added about a third of a cup of strawberry jam and a third of a cup of powdered sugar. Mix on medium until the icing comes together smoothly. Taste and add more powdered sugar if needed. If you plan to pipe the icing, you may want to remove any large fruit chunks, so they clog the tip. Much like a butter frosting, this icing gets a little tough to work with when it gets too warm. If it's too loose, just pop in the fridge long enough to firm up, so it's easier to work with.
Frost them and top them with a strawberry slice and mint leaf. The best part of this little cupcake is that it would be heavenly with just about any cake and you could use any fruit jam. Think about raspberry chocolate, blackberry chiffon or orange vanilla. Pull out the muffin tin and get piping.