When we first arrived here from Cuba my mother had to learn how to cook. I don't mean learn how to cook like in "she couldn't boil water" but more like learn how to cook dinner for her family on a daily basis. She never had to do that before, when growing up they always had a cook and if not my grandmother did the cooking. Then when she was married with two children we had a cook or either my aunt or grandmother who both lived with us did the cooking and she pretty much only made breakfast for my brother and me. However when we landed in the US of A that was a different story and even though my aunt was still with us she wanted to feed her family so she learned and did pretty well I might add. One thing that was very important however was that there always had to be dessert; my mother always felt that you haven't eaten until you've had dessert, and this was a little more complicated since for the most part desserts can take a while to make and she was a working mom. So she was ecstatic when she discovered 2 things: Jello (yuck) and cake mixes, either Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker and their accompanying tubs of ready made frosting. She could whip up a cake in no time, and then whip up another one once the first one was down to its last slice. Then she discovered that she could use those cake mixes to make cupcakes and add sprinkles on top which made it even more disgustingly sweet. Yes the woman had a sweet tooth bar none. So when I was around 10 or so and decided that I wanted to cook I went hog wild over those cake mixes cause let's face it when most kids start cooking its always sweets, rarely does a 10 year old crave Coq Au Vin or think its enjoyable to make. As I grew older and my palate (and food snobbishness) started to change I veered away from those "pre-packaged" cake mixes and their "God only knows what's in them" frostings to baking from scratch. My desserts also veered away from anything "cakey"; I had had so much of it. (We won't discuss Jello). Where am I going with this? Well last week we had our annual block party where we are all instructed to bring something (icky hamburgers and hot dogs are supplied) either a side dish, salad or dessert. Usually we are assigned something but not this year, thank goodness because I usually get stuck with the side dish category, and I decided to make cupcakes since they are "de rigueur" and I haven't made them in God knows how long. In addition I upped the ante because I had a jar of lemon curd from Trader Joe's that I bought on a whim because I can't resist "lemony" stuffs. So without further ado
Vanilla Lemon Curd Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
a scant 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 1/4 cup of lemon curd
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a handheld beater and beat on slow speed until the mixture is a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon curd together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side or the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth.
Spoon the batter into paper lined muffin tins, dividing between the 12 cups. Drop a scant teaspoon of lemon curd on top of each cupcake.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting adapted from Joy the Baker
makes enough for 12 cupcakes
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat the powdered sugar and butter together in an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment on medium low speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer speed to low. Combine the milk and the vanilla extract and slowly stream it into the butter and sugar mixture. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.