Sunday, May 15, 2011

Steph's Surprise Cupcakes

So it was my good friend Stephanie's birthday on Thursday and yesterday we celebrated with a trip to Medieval Times. That trip has absolutely nothing to do with these cupcakes, but everything to do with Steph's sense of adventure. Which can be directly translated to my kitchen experimentation on Friday night.

I toyed with the idea of making turkey leg cupcakes for this little fete, because I was certain there would be turkey legs involved in last night's meal. (Incidentally, there were no turkey legs to be found ... just lots of dragon blood, dragon legs, dragon eggs and other dragon delicacies.) Unfortunately, turkey leg cupcakes happen to involve a lot of work. And ingredients I didn't have on hand. Like doughnut holes and cornflake crumbs.

So instead, I decided to pay homage to Stephanie with a cupcake interpretation of some amazing poppy seed cookies she makes. (And Steph, I forgot to tell you that Bill asked me, "Do you think Stephanie made me cookies for her birthday?") My take on those treats: Lemon Cupcakes with Poppy Seed Cream Cheese Frosting.

Lemon Cupcakes
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Poppy Seed Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and lemon juice. Beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Mix until just combined.

Spoon batter into each cupcake cup, about half full. Bake until golden, about 17 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Poppy Seed Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
3 to 4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt with an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly add confectioners' sugar, beating well between additions, until you reach desired consistency. (I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea how much confectioners' sugar I used because I just kept dumping it in until my frosting was thick and smooth and delicious. I estimate it was somewhere around 3 cups, but I highly recommend eyeballing it rather than pre-measuring.) Fold in poppy seeds. Frost cupcakes.

I'm happy to report that these cupcakes were oustanding. Perhaps the best I've made in quite a while. I believe I've finally uncovered the secret to super moist cupcakes: use a half a carton of eggs! I don't think I've ever baked cupcakes that called for 6 eggs, and I was hesitant as I was adding them, but it turns out that makes a moist, delicious (if not cholesterol-friendly) cake.

As a side note, I actually adapted this recipe from a Food Network version called Lemon Cream Cupcakes. That recipe had a lemon cream cheese filling in place of frosting (and no poppy seeds involved). That sounds like another worthy candidate for baking, but I'll save it for a different day. Oh, and it also claimed to make 12 cupcakes ... and perhaps with the addition of the filling (and enormous cupcake tins) it would have. But I ended up with 12 regular-sized cupcakes and 18 mini cupcakes. Which is just fine by me because I don't feel nearly as guilty popping baby cupcakes into my mouth as I do chomping on giant cupcakes!


  1. I have to say, these cupcakes are especially good for breakfast!

  2. This is like a cupcake-ized muffin! Lemon poppyseed is a natural combination, but I don't think I've had any sort of poppyseed cake that actually had lemon IN the cake, only on top. Cream cheese frosting..mmm! As much as these are making me drool, I think these are definitely for Jackie. She loves anything poppyseed!

    Have you ever tried anything with poppyseed paste in it? It's usually in baked goods in the same manner marzipan is in bear claws.