Friday, May 1, 2009

Rainy Day = Lemon Cupcakes + Orange Chocolate Muffins

It rained all last Monday night. And I mean rained. There was thunder and lighting and really heavy, heavy rain. Our power even went out for an hour or so, but it came back on around 8. So the next morning, Tuesday, I got up and was getting ready to go to work when I received a phone call. It was my team leader, and she informed me that school was going to be closed for the day due to weather. I politely thanked her for the information and then proceeded to whoop with delight. I even ran around the apartment a few times out of joy. I know...I'm as bad as the kids. And I'm sure Jacob appreciated the celebration, since he still did have to go to work. Sorry, Jacob. :)
But I was glad.

Since my day unexpectedly opened up, I took the opportunity to do some baking I had actually wanted to to Monday night, but the power going out threw off my schedule. I decided to make some lemon cupcakes with lemon swiss meringue buttercream. And to make it a little more interesting, I filled them with raspberry whipped cream. Then I made some orange chocolate muffins. Both of these goodies, I got from other bloggers. I post the link and recipe below.

I am still working on finding how to make a really good frosting. I overwhipped this one, so it was a little disappointing for the final texture, but it did have a better flavor than my last attempt.

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
from The Humble Gourmand

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking powder
pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
cup sugar
zest of 2 lemons

large eggs
cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Combine butter, sugar, and lemon zest in large mixing bowl. Using an electric stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and much lighter in color. (This is the key to moist and fluffy cupcakes, so make sure to beat well, at least 5-10 minutes.)
3. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. In a third, small bowl, combine the buttermilk and lemon extract. (The recipe's ingredients didn't say anything about lemon extract, so when I got to this part on the recipe, I threw in a teaspoon of lemon extract.)
4. Add the eggs one at a time to the mixer, making sure to fully incorporate the first egg before adding the second.
5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in the following order: add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, 1/2 of the wet, another third of the dry, the rest of the wet, and the rest of the dry. Mix until just combined and finish with a spatula. (If you overmix after the dry ingredients are added, the cupcakes will not rise properly and the texture will be chewy and dense.)
6. Bake in the top third of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
7. Let cool completely before topping with the lemon buttercream (recipe follows).

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

7 egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
2 c. sugar
½ c. water
1 lb. unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tsp. lemon extract

1. Combine the egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a water bath and heat to 110F, making sure to stir the sugar and egg whites with the whisk attachment. At 110F, the sugar should be somewhat dissolved and the mixture should feel hot to the touch but should not burn you. Remove from the water bath and whip on high speed to medium peak.
2. Add the butter in small clumps (about 1½” cubes) and whip until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, and holds together.
3. Add the lemon extract and whip to combine.

Orange Chocolate Muffins
from SeaSaltWithFood

Grated zest of 2 Oranges
Juice of 1 Orange
About 3/4 Cup Buttermilk
2 Large Eggs
3 Tbsp Honey
1 Stick (8 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
1/3 Cup Sugar
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped or
1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I used chocolate chips, but if I do it again, I would chop the chocolate myself of use mini chocolate chips. Mine sunk to the bottom a lot.)

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400˚F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. (I made 6 jumbo muffins.)
2. Pour the orange juice into a large glass measuring cup or a bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.
3. In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough - the batter will be lumpy and bubbly, and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the chocolates. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
4. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. If you want to top the muffins with decorating sugar, sprinkle on the sugar after the muffins have baked for 10 minutes. When fully baked, the tops of the muffins will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

These muffins didn't rise very much for me, and I was really trying to not over mix the batter. When I try it again, I will preheat the oven to 450, and then when I put it in, turn it down to 400. Also, I might add a little more baking powder to the mix and try even harder to not over mix it. Practice makes perfect, I guess. I just haven't practiced enough.