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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oatmeal Pie Cookies

Last week in honor of National Education Week our PTA ordered a catered lunch for us.  My boxed lunch came with the most perfect Oatmeal Pie cookie I'd ever had.  A few days later I wanted another one and set out to find the recipe.  

After searching online forever I was about to give up when I decided to browse through this local church's cookbook that my mom gave me several years ago.  And miraculously, I found a recipe that I thought would work for the cookie part.  It was simple and I had all the ingredients already.  With the addition of cream cheese frosting it was as good or better than what I was aiming for.  I have to give out credit to Julie Hoffner from St. Luke's for this one.

Quaker's Best Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 24 cookies (12 sandwich cookies)

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups old fashioned Quaker oats

Heat oven to 375.

Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and spices; add to butter mixture, mixing well.  Stir in oats.  Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet.  Flatten out batter for a flatter cookie.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Cream Cheese Filling

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Halloween Spider Cake

This cake was made for my kid's halloween party.  I went with the spider so the Jehovah's Witnesses could still partake in it.  I made this using my soccer ball Wilton pan (also used for the Hydrangea cake).  It's proven to be quite the multi-tasker.  

Everytime I make black frosting I always wonder why I started.  I used a chocolate frosting recipe to begin with but it still took the entire jar of black coloring.  It was really easy besides that.  Cherry sours for the eyes, candy corn teeth and licorice legs.  The kids were really impressed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nutella + Brownies= happiness

Lately I've been on a nutella kick.  So naturally I've been lookng up all the nutella recipes I can find.  The first I've tried (of many I'm sure) is from Giada De Laurentiis.  

Gianduja Bars


Brownies (I just used Betty Crocker's Supreme Brownie mix) 
1/4 cup nutella  
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts  
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of white chocolate and milk chocolate)


Bake the brownies as directed on the package.  Remove from oven and spread with nutella. Sprinkle the brownies with chopped hazelnuts. Top the nuts and chocolate chips. Put brownies back into the oven and bake for 5 to 7 minutes until the chocolate is starting to melt. Transfer the brownies to the refrigerator and let cool until the chocolate hardens, about one hour. 

Friday, October 3, 2008

Strawberry Jam

New attempts: Jam.

It was pretty simple actually. People seem to be somewhat impressed when I give them a jar of jam and tell them it's homemade but really it was one of the easiest recipe that I have made lately.

What I was most impressed with was the idea of canning itself. I always watched my grandmother can basically everything when I was little and thought it was such an ordeal. But using the oven to heat the jars was the trick. Then they were all sealed and my grandmother was impressed.

Now if only I had some bread to make toast...

Strawberry Jam
2 cups sugar
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

Combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the strawberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, until the strawberries release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly. Cook until a small amount of the juice gels on a very cold plate. (I keep one in the freezer.) Pour carefully into 2 pint canning jars and either seal or keep refrigerated. Use immediately, or follow proper canning guidelines below.

To sterilize jars, before filling with jams, pickles, or preserves, wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up, without touching, on a tray. Leave in a preheated 175 degree F oven for 25 minutes. As a rule, hot preserves go into hot jars and cold preserves go into cold jars. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies, and preserves must be clean. This includes any towels used, and especially your hands.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I promise I still bake

I moved and my computer refuses to accept internet connections at my apartment.

Things I'll have to update when it does:
*My first fondant cake
*My "naughty" bachelorette cake
*A few cookie recipes
*Magnolia's Cupcakes

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake with Ganache

Everything a chocolate cheesecake should be.

Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake with Ganache
~Barefoot Contesssa

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the filling:
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee
1 3/4 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

For the ganache:
1/4 pound semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust:
Place the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and cinnamon in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until combined. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, chop the bittersweet chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add the espresso and stir until just melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.

To make the filling:
Cream the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and almond extracts and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, and the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.
Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door opened wide for 1 1/2 hours. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature, until completely cooled.

For the ganache:
Finely chop the semisweet chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add the cream and stir until just melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving. Drizzle the ganache over the top of the cheesecake.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Summer Fruit Crisp

OK, another fruit dessert. It started out being a crostata. I made my pastry dough, put it in the fridge, cooked several other things, and by the time I got it out to roll the kitchen was 95 degrees and it just wasn't going to happen. So my Summer Fruit Crostata became a Summer Fruit Crisp. I think it was for the best really because the combination with Breyer's vanilla ice cream (the kind with the little vanilla bean specks) made everyone very happy.

Here is my recipe, I think, I threw it together pretty fast.

1 lb black plums
1 lb peaches
1/2 pint blueberries
zest and juice of one orange
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Peel the peaches and cut into wedges along with the plums. Add in blueberries and toss with orange zest, juice, sugar, and flour. Pour into baking dish.

Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the fruit. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Cherry Pie

With the 4th of July coming up I didn't really give a lot of thought to any patriotic themed desserts. However, randomly last night while watching Sabrina, I wanted to make a cherry pie. I can't remember what the connection was to Audrey Hepburn and cherry pie or if there even is one. So cherry pie does seem very American and I added some stars to end up with a semi-patriotic dessert after all.

I got the recipe from my 1950's Better Home and Garden cookbook. It should perhaps be renamed "How to be a Good Housewife" since that seems like what it was written for. It has a lot of good cooking tips though and apparently a good basic cherry pie recipe.
Cherry Pie:
2 cups cherries (either canned or frozen)
1/3 cup cherry juice
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon butter, softened
red food coloring
Drain the cherries and reserve 1/3 cup of cherry juice. In a large bowl combine sugar and flour. Mix in cherry juice, almond extract, butter, and small amount of red food coloring (I used gel since that is what I had on hand but liquid would work as well). Add in cherries and allow to sit while pie pastry is made.
Perfect Pie Crust:
1 1/2 sticks very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan.
I nearly made a lattice top for the pie but then found a star cookie cutter and then cut out stars with the remaining dough (which was a lot). Only 38 stars...I'll try to be more aware of US history next time I bake.

Cheesecake Brownies

I had a box of brownie mix, the good kind with Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. That would have been boring so I made cheesecake brownies:
Cheesecake Brownies
I used Betty Crocker Original Supreme Brownie mix.

Cheesecake Topping:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 bar (.75 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare brownie mix as directed on box. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and butter in large bowl until creamy and smooth, using electric mixer at medium speed. Add eggs, cream and flour, beating just until combined. Add the vanilla extract. Pour cheesecake mixture over the chocolate layer.

Place chocolate in microwave-safe cup. Microwave in 20 second intervals until melted, stirring between each.

Drizzle melted chocolate over the cheesecake layer. Drop pan on counter to burst any air bubbles in the cheesecake layer.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cheesecake layer is set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Then chill several hours or overnight before cutting into 2-inch squares.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Peach and Raspberry Crisp

My favorite fall dessert is Ina Garten's Apple Crisp.

My new favorite summer dessert: Ina Garten's Peach and Raspberry Crisp.
After the first bite I knew it was great. Then when my next bite included a raspberry it was more like love.

Peach and Raspberry Crisp
~Barefoot Contessa
4 to 5 pounds firm, ripe peaches (10 to 12 large peaches)
zest of one orange
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups plus 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pint raspberries
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place them in cold water. Peel the peaches and slice them into thick wedges and place them into a large bowl. Add the orange zest, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the raspberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid, add 1 more tablespoon of flour. Pour the peaches into the baking dish and gently smooth the top.
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the peaches and raspberries. Bake for 1 hour, until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator and reheat in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until warm.

Course II Cake

So here is my finale cake from my 2nd Course of cake classes. It's a little silly I'll admit. We HAD to use a certain pan and include lots of flowers. And place the little birds just so, which seem very old school Disney movie to me. What is that banned in the USA one??

Anyhow, the cake was originally supposed to include roses, apple blossoms, daisies, rosebuds and chrysanthemums. It looked very much like a cake someone would pick up from a bad grocery store on the way home when they forgot it was their wife's birthday. There were some other variations but I just made up my own and used pansies, daffodils, and violets. Not too bad for my first basket weave I think. I don't know though, basket weave also seems a little bit 1993 wedding to me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Key Lime Tarts

Finally a non-chocolate dessert!

I tried these out for Amy and Owen's housewarming party. Luckily I made them the night before and found out that as the recipe originally stated, paper liners weren't the best to use since it was impossible to even peel them. So I re-made them with aluminum and it turned out better. They were still disappointing looking though. The centers sort of sunk in and they were weird looking around the edges. I tried to fancy them up with sugared Key lime slices on top.

Notes from my experience:
*I never saw any "Key lime cooler cookies" so I just used another type of key lime cookie I found in the store. Since they were round I broke them up, mixed with a two tablespoons of melted butter and pressed them down into the bottom of the liners.

It was a good summer dessert. I'm sure I'll make them again with more tweaking to the recipe.

Key Lime Tarts

24 Key Lime Cooler cookies
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice, preferably Key lime
1 teaspoon lime zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Fill 1 muffin tin with aluminum foil baking cups and spray cups with cooking spray. Place 1 Key Lime Cooler cookie in the bottom of the cup, flat side down.
Prepare filling. Beat together cream cheese, egg, sugar, lime juice, and zest until well mixed. Fill the cups to the top. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove tarts to cool. Garnish with tiny mint leaves or lime zest.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake

~another Paula Deen chocolate recipe

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

3 cups sugar

6 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup cocoa

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch bundt pan.

Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Add eggs two at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. In another bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and cocoa. Add one half of flour mixture to creamed mixture, beat well, add remaining half of flour mixture, and continue to beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Do not open the oven while baking!

*This is a decent chocolate pound cake recipe. After a day or so it was fairly dry though. Still tasty, but a glass of milk was a necessity.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

Another Paula Deen recipe...I was in Target and saw a "Chocolate Celebration" special edition of her magazine and had to buy it because of this recipe.

I took them to work the next day and everyone loved me.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix

For Filling:
1 (3.4 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup sour cream

Prepare cake mix following cupcake directions. Let cupcakes cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine pudding mix, cream, confectioner's sugar, milk, and sour cream. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

To fill the cupcakes you can do it several ways:
1. The recipe suggested using a squeeze bottle that has a long narrow tip (you can find these at Michael's, etc.).
2. I used a mechanical pastry bag (looks like a cookie press) that I got for Christmas from Williams-Sonoma. It has a special tip just for filling cupcakes.
3. It can probably be done with a regular pastry bag and large tip.

After filling the cupcakes spread chocolate ganache evenly over each cupcake.

Chocolate Ganache

6 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups confectioner's sugar

In medium bowl, combine chocolate and cream. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until chocolate is melted and smooth (about 2 minutes total). Gradually whisk in confectioner's sugar until smooth. Let mixture cool until it reaches a spreadable consistency (about 30 minutes).

*Instead of spreading the ganache on, I just dipped the cupcakes into in it, swirled until it was covered. It looked more like a Boston cream pie this way and it's a lot easier. This ganache is good. Someone at work said it tasted like the chocolate frosting from Krispy Kreme. I'll have to use it with other things from now on.

Mystery Mocha Cake

I've also had a version of this cake called Hot Fudge Cake. That is a more logical name for it since after it is baked it has a layer of "hot fudge" on the bottom.

A few Sundays ago it was rainy so I decided to go used book shopping in Winston and found Paula Deen's dessert recipe book. This was one of the first recipes I opened up to and decided to make it a few days later with dinner. It was pretty simple to make. The longest part was actually making the coffee to pour over it in the end. It did seem strange to make the batter, then pour sugar (brown and white) and cocoa over it, and then pour the coffee over it. Despite its appearance I figured that anything with chocolate, coffee, and butter could not be bad. And I was right, it was very tasty. It needed some vanilla ice cream though since it is served warm. Even after I put the small amount of leftovers in the fridge, it was still really good cold the next day. A very good recipe for any chocolate lover.

Oh, and I didn't get any photos since it got eaten pretty quickly.

Mystery Mocha Cake
~Paula Deen
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 one ounce square semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square pan.

Mix together the 3/4 cup granulated sugar, flour, and baking powder.

Melt together chocolate and butter in a saucepan and add to flour mixture. Add milk and vanilla, mixing well. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cocoa, and brown sugar. Sprinkle over batter. Pour coffee on top of this and do not stir. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cake should have a chocolate syrup base on the bottom. This cake is best when served warm.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Strawberry Galette

Since it is May I thought I needed to try out some new strawberry recipes. This one I got from Martha Stewart. Her recipe included a basil cream but I just made my own whipped cream which turned out really great. The recipe takes a little extra prep time. I made the dough the night before just to have it ready and did the rest the next morning. Also, the original recipe called for a pound of strawberries. I had bought 2 quarts and one was more than enough for the galette. The only thing I'd change for next time would be to make it larger. I used my tart pan to cut the dough so it was more like 8 or 9 inches instead of 10. The strawberry design didn't turn out as good as Martha's pic but I by the time I got to that stage of the recipe I was in a hurry to finish it before lunch and wasn't too concerned. It got good reviews but there wasn't enough to go around! Also, I'm a little bit in love with this whipped cream recipe.

Strawberry Galette

For the Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water

For the Galette

2 qts strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Make the dough: Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor to combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add ice water, and pulse until just combined (dough will still be crumbly). Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out a 10-inch round, and transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Make the galette: Cut strawberries lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Toss slices with 1/4 cup sugar and the cornstarch, and immediately arrange them in concentric circles on dough. Start 1 inch from edge, overlapping slices slightly. Fold edge of dough over berries. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Whisk together yolk and water. Brush dough with the egg wash, and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Dot berries with butter. Bake until crust is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

Transfer to a serving plate. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until firm.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hydrangea Cake

I saw a version of this cake at a bakery website in NY, Whimsical Bakehouse ( Hydrangeas are my favorite flower so I planned to make the cake at some point and thought that mother's day was a good occasion. I'm starting to realize that all my cakes turn out blue for one reason or another...hmm.

Anyhow, I used a soccer ball cake pan made by Wilton to make the round shaped cake. I only thinly iced the cake with a crumb coat and then used tip 104 for the petals. The leaf was made out of white chocolate using a leaf (it wasn't hydrangea but close enough) for a mold. The site just recommended making sure it wasn't poisonous and was washed before you used it, good advice. It wasn't terribly difficult and got good reviews from the mom and grandmothers.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie at it's purest. Quite possibly the easiest pie ever but if you add some lemon zest on top of the meringue and a twist of lemon peel, people think it's really fancy.

Lemon Meringue Pie
(slightly altered version of Paula Deen's)

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Grated lemon zest of one lemon
3 egg yolks
1 prebaked pie shell

Meringue: 5 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar

In medium bowl, combine milk, lemon juice, and zest; blend in egg yolks. Pour into cooled crust.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks from. Gradually beat in the sugar until stiff. Spread over filling; seal to edge of crust. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until meringue is golden brown

Refrigerate for at least 2 hrs. before serving.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I like to play with my food.

These were made by Owen's sister Karina for Amy and Owen's rehearsal dinner. I had to share because they were so cute. The bride and bridesmaids were made out of fondant and there was a cupcake underneath the skirts. We spent way too much time playing around with them...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wedding Cake Cookies

Monday, April 7, 2008

Meyer Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

Meyer Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes
Makes 2 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
5 large eggs, separated
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 cup plus scant 1/3 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
Meyer Lemon Curd
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Sanding sugar
24 raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla; beat to combine. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Sift together both flours, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. With the mixer on low, add flour mixture; mix until well combined. Add sour cream; mix until well combined.
4. In a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into batter.

5. Fill each muffin cup half full with batter. Transfer muffin tins to oven and bake until a skewer inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Let cupcakes cool completely.

6. Using an apple corer, make a hole in the top of each cupcake, taking care not to push the corer through the bottom; remove cake from hole. Fill a squirt bottle with lemon curd and squeeze curd into holes.

7. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch plain round tip and fill with buttercream. Pipe buttercream in a circular motion on top of each cupcake; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Pipe a dollop of buttercream in the center of each cupcake and top with a raspberry.

Meyer Lemon Curd

1 cup sugar
Zest of 3 lemons
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 cup Meyer lemon juice
5 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

1. Prepare and ice-water bath. Set a medium bowl in ice-water bath and set aside.
2. Place sugar and lemon zest in a mortar and grind with a pestle to combine and release the oils.

Transfer sugar mixture to a medium heatproof bowl along with eggs and egg yolks; whisk to combine. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until sugar has dissolved. Add lemon juice and continue whisking until mixture is thick and reaches 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add butter and whisk until well combined.
3. Strain lemon mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over prepared bowl. Cover lemon curd with plastic wrap, pressing plastic wrap directly onto surface.
4. Transfer to refrigerator until completely chilled.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy. Slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat to combine, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
2. Add vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Slowly add milk and continue beating on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.

This recipe is from the Vanilla Bakery in California. I thought that the Meyer Lemons might be hard to find and I'd have to substitute them with regular lemons but I found them at Harris Teeter. They are a hybrid between tangerines and lemons, so they are a lot sweeter. This is my first time making a curd, which sounded a little intimidating but was pretty simple. There was a lot left over so I need to figure out some more uses for it. It tastes a lot like lemon meringue pie filling if you've never had it before. Also, using real vanilla bean makes a huge difference. It's rather pricey but it gave the cupcakes and icing so much more flavor. I was very impressed with these cupcakes.