Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

I’m still playing catch-up on posts, but I’ve almost finished all the ones from my Grandma’s birthday weekend… which was going on 3 weeks ago now, but who’s counting?! For the actual party that we threw, my Mom and Dad and Aunt and I had taken on the great task of providing all the food. We had a very rough idea of how many guests we’d be expecting, but given that it was a much older crowd, and not really around a mealtime, we didn’t know how much everyone would eat. That being so, we settled on a hefty list of appetizers, and divided up the work so we all played a part in the preparations.

The morning of the party was such a happy time for me – I was in my favorite place (the kitchen), with the people I love, doing  what I love. For several hours we listened to Pandora (my Dad’s favorite new discovery), chatted about everything and nothing and lots in between, had some moments of peaceful silence, lots of laughs, and fortunately almost no arguing. In the end, we turned out some pretty remarkably delicious eats, my contribution to which was predominantly dessert. Not surprising, right?!

Since we were making all finger-foods, I wanted to make something that was small and manageable, and could be eaten in just a couple of bites. I’ve been on such a cupcake kick lately, so that seemed just  the thing to do. I looked around for a summery recipe to try, and this one stood out immediately for all of it’s lemony, blueberry glory. Once I’d shown my family the pretty photos of the finished product (over at Annie’s Eats), they were totally sold.

I ended up making about 4 dozen mini cupcakes, following the recipe exactly, except probably adding a handful or two extra of blueberries. They baked up beautifully – with nice little round tops, and fresh blueberry oozing everywhere, but despite the soft blueberries they held their shape really well. Since it was so hot that day, the icing didn’t ever really set, but that was okay because I didn’t have a pastry bag or anything fancy, so I went for a more “rustic” look (read: lazy) and plopped a blueberry on top of each dollop of frsting. I think they actually ended up looking pretty adorable, and they tasted amazing. The cupcakes had really good structure and held up well we picked up and bitten into, but were tender and not too crumbly, with the perfect balance of tart lemon and subtly sweet blueberries. The creamy frosting was literally the icing on the cake, and brought the whole package together in one perfect little bit. I will definitely be making these again.

Mostly everything we made was completely gone by the time all the guests left, but the cupcakes were probably the first to go. As the only sweet option, they seemed to be in high demand! There were a couple of family members who didn’t get to try them earlier in the day, so when I noticed just two remaining I grabbed them and we shared teeny tiny little bites amongst ourselves, taking care to be sure that everyone had at least a little taste. If you can just picture, please, several grown adults cutting a MINI cupcake into quarters… this is exactly the scene that played out, but believe me, they were totally worth it! One of the older guests – a very spunky, outgoing woman whom I’d never met, found out that I baked the cupcakes and came over to tell me she’d had FOUR. And she was looking for MORE! I couldn’t help but laugh… really a woman after my own heart.

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes
adapted from Annie’s Eats

For the cupcakes:
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
¾ cup cake flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Zest of  1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. lemon juice
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. milk, at room temperature
1 cup fresh blueberries

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 large lemon

Additional fresh blueberries, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

1) In a medium bowl, combine the ¾ cup all-purpose flour, the cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk together and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and lemon zest.  Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Blend in the milk.  Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.

2) In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.  Using a spatula gently fold the berries into the cake batter.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full.  Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

3) To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. (I used a large, unlabeled star tip to frost these cupcakes.) Garnish with fresh blueberries.

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