Monday, July 15, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Baking with fresh summer berries is the one thing that's always on my summer bucket baking list... and the one thing I overlook each and every summer (along with homemade pie crust)... usually in favor of all things and everything ever s'mores.

But did you know? July 10th was National Blueberry Muffin Day! How did you celebrate? Tell me there were muffin-shaped cake pops and purple party streamers. Can I tell you how I celebrated those berry-studded muffins? Because I totally didn't.

I baked blueberry cupcakes instead! 

Sometimes finding the inspiration for baking comes simply from wanting to do the things I love. Like frosting sugary swirls onto cupcakes or baking with bright colorful blueberries. It's the little things.

For these, there was absolutely no baking daydreaming involved... which is totally a thing I am constantly doing. Somedays I just want to brown butter. Other days, just give me a reason to bake with rainbow sprinkles. Just let me live my life.

Today was simple. I just wanted to zest some lemons!

I cannot be the only one out there who loves zesting citrus and these warm, sunny, summertime days are perfect for baking little lemon cakes. Just look at the flecks of lemon in these fluffy cakes and cream cheese frosting!

These soft, cakey lemon cupcakes are full of lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, and bursting tangy-sweet blueberries... and they are one of the best cupcakes I have ever made. Just the buttery, vanilla, sugary-sweet lemon scent alone of these berry cakes baking in my tiny apartment kitchen had me nearly ripping the door off my oven to eat the blueberry batter with a spoon.

Which is why baking with lemon is a once a year thing... because I'm completely obsessed. It's real! Two years ago I made lemon raspberry cupcakes. One year ago I made cakey lemon bar brownies. Lemon pound cake at Starbucks? Just stop. It's my weakness, even more so than the pumpkin spice scones.

I'm still not sure where the self-control came from to let these cakes cool long enough to frost. Side-by-side with a vanilla bean peanut butter cup-stuffed cupcake I would choose one of these lemon blueberry dreams everytime. That's love. They are decadent, summery, and absolutely irresistable.

And serve chilled? I can't even.

You could definitely frost these with a vanilla buttercream frosting instead. Vanilla + lemon is always a good way to live. But what made these one of the best cupcakes I've ever had was the sugary lemon cream cheese frosting. I'm not usually a fan of cream cheese frosting and will always and forever frost my cakes with a buttercream if I can, but this pillowy cream cheese frosting full of lemon zest and freshly-squeezed lemon juice reminded me a little of lemon supreme pie, one of my favorite pies with its thick layer of creamy lemon cheesecake. 

Frosting that reminds me of cheesecake? It's love.

And to top it all off? Sparkling blueberries- fresh blueberries tossed in sugar and sprinkled on top. Summer baking. We're doing it!

On a side note, unfrosted... you could totally get away with calling these cakes muffins. 

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes 

Printable Recipe

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
1 cup fresh blueberries

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 large lemon
Additional blueberries for garnish

Prep. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour; set aside.

Whisk. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

Mix. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice. With the mixer on low, gradually mix in half of the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the milk. Mix in the remaining half of the flour mixture until just combined.

Bake. Use a spatula to gently fold in the prepared blueberries. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Beat it. When cupcakes are completely cooled, make the frosting. Combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until well-combined and smooth. Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until totally incorporated, increase speed to high, and mix until smooth and fluffy.

Frost! Frost your cupcakes (I used a Wilton #1M piping tip for these cupcakes). Garnish with fresh blueberries tossed in granulated sugar.

Tip: store extra cupcakes in the refrigerator. The cream cheese frosting tastes even better when served chilled and the fresh berries will keep longer.

Makes 18 cupcakes

Source: Annie's Eats. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip S'mores Cookies.

This July, I'm wishing I was that girl who lived her summer to the max: long days by the sparkling pool, late nights by a cozy campfire. Short sundresses and sun-kissed, beach-blonde waves. Road trips, pie-baking, and grilled banana bread (it's really a thing!). Beachy drinks and totally burned s'mores. You know... adventures in unknown places, taking chances, and doing everything ever on a bucket list. That girl.

But really? I'm that girl who crushes graham crackers into her chocolate chip cookies, spends $23 on kettlecorn at a summer flower festival, and is content just to have seen fireworks on the 4th (just barely... as I was leaving work at 10 PM)... not to mention the inside of a gym three days a week (running! Purple shoes! I'm doing it!) and every new episode of True Blood this season.

Which I haven't decided if I'm in love with or not... because: Bill.

Also: Ben.  

Can we go back to that crushed graham crackers in our chocolate chip cookie thing? Because let's live summer right and, if nothing else, bake campfire dreams into our cookies.

These are the softest chocolate chip cookies ever and were totally inspired by my love for all things s'mores + my favorite cookies everchocolate fluffernutter gobs: soft, puffy peanut butter cloud cookies topped with just-melted marshmallows and a rich chocolate ganache glaze. Honestly, if I could at any moment recreate a recipe from the last three years of baking, it would be these. And I should! They're like peanut butter cup s'mores... without the graham cracker. And the peanut butter cup.

But this is summer. This is July (even if there are pumpkins at Michaels already). We're definitely going to need some graham crackers in our business.

What makes these cookies so soft? The graham crackers! 1 cup of all-purpose flour is replaced with 1 cup of crushed honey graham crackers... making these the softest, buttery-rich chocolate chip cookies. Several days later they were still soft. Cookie perfection! Don't even get me started on the cookie dough. Irresistable/I can't even deal/someone please put this in an ice cream. 

Then two minutes before they were done baking, I smashed 4-5 mini marshmallows on to and baked them until soft and puffy. 

Then I straight stole this soft, rich chocolate glaze with those chocolate fluffernutters in mind.

Chocolate sprinkles = love

Could we smash chocolate caramel Ghiradelli squares or leftover Valentines hearts on top? Yes/love/please don't judge me. 

Because yeah. I'm also that girl who still has chocolate Santas, heart-shaped chocolates, and too many to Peeps talk about. 

P.S. I love these cookie bottoms. Those mini chocolate chips! I don't bake with them enough.

Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip S'mores Cookies

Printable Recipe

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Mini marshmallows for topping

Chocolate Glaze
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-6 tablespoons of milk, depending how thick you want your glaze

Prep. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or spray with baking spray; set aside. 

Mix. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the flour, crushed graham crackers, salt, and baking soda and mix thoroughly. Fold in the chocolate chips. 

Bake.Using a small cookie scoop, scoop dough into rounded tablespoons and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and gently press 4-5 mini marshmallows into the center of each cookie. Return sheet to the oven and bake for another 2-3 minutes, until just melted. Be careful not to burn them! 

Cool. Allow cookies to cool at least 5 minutes on the baking mat before removing to wire racks to cool completely. 

Glaze it! When completely cooled, make the chocolate glaze (or smash a chocolate candy on top). To make the glaze, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Slowly stir in the powdered sugar, gradually adding the milk as needed to get the desired consistency (ideally you want it thin enough to drizzle... about the consistency of molasses. I kept my glaze as thick as ganache here and spread it with a spoon). Spoon a small amount over each cookie. Glaze will set slightly when cooled.

Source: Cookies adapted from Eat My Shortbread. Glaze from the fluffernutter chocolate gobs.