Love and Duck Fat has over 100 recipes at this point, and not a single cupcake. Until now–with these spring-inspired blueberry cupcakes with lemon curd filling and blueberry cream cheese frosting. I admit; I’ve shunned the pretty little cupcake so far.
I’ve managed to make some cakes. There are several chocolate cakes, an apple cake and even a few upside-down cakes in my roster. I’m proud of those cakes. Cakes are imposing. They are a big accomplishment to pull off for a beginner baker like me.
Not that cupcakes aren’t difficult to do…they just don’t have the dignity a cake possesses. Eating one doesn’t require you to cut open the whole thing to take your one little slice—cut just so. They are perfectly portioned out (usually a little heavy on the frosting for me) and so damn trendy.
Let me take that back, cupcakes are actually a little passé. They are everywhere. Aren’t cake pops the thing now? Or is it gourmet doughnuts? Cronuts?
Who really cares. Because when presented with a perfect little cupcake, I still want to devour it.
In the case of these blueberry cupcakes, I thought of making a cake version first. Except I have a full-time job now, and a toddler and a blog. I needed to make something a little more forgiving. It’s one thing to screw up a few cupcakes. Screwing up a whole cake when I barely have time to sleep is not an option.
Cake decorating is a talent that eludes me, despite plenty of fine art training. Cupcakes make for good decorating practice because I can mess up most of them and still have a few that are photo-worthy. They also taste pretty damn good.
The cake in these blueberry cupcakes is perfectly-moist and loaded with vanilla bean specks. A few fresh blueberries in the batter burst when you bite into them. The frosting has a ton of blueberry cream-cheesy flavor, and is naturally colored. When you take a bite, you get a mouthful of fresh lemon curd filling that is not too sweet—or too tart. It’s delightful. The whole experience screams, “spring.”
I wonder if this blueberry cupcake with lemon filling and blueberry cream cheese frosting will remain my single cupcake recipe? Or have I opened the door to a flood of cupcake creations? I’m honestly a little concerned. Don’t be surprised if I start making donuts to stave off the cupcake flood. I already have a donut pan saved in my Amazon cart.
Yield: About 16 cupcakes
You can make this recipe easier by using a store bought lemon curd (find it in the jelly section of your supermarket). I've included a lemon curd recipe if you prefer to make it from scratch.
Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C.
Split vanilla bean down the middle. Using the back of your knife, run the knife up the cut in the bean, scraping the seeds out of the bean. They will clump together, Add the tiny seeds to the sugar in a small bowl.
Use the back of a spoon to break up the vanilla bean clumps and mix them thoroughly into the sugar. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Stir in the vanilla bean sugar.
Add the butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes, The texture should look like a very fine crumb texture.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla extract.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, beating on medium speed until just combined,
Slowly add the milk while mixing on low speed.
Fill cupcake liners just over half full. Drop 2-3 blueberries in each.
Bake for 15 minutes and test with a toothpick to see if they are done. If not, bake a few minutes more. They should not brown.
Remove cupcakes from tin and allow to cool.
In a very small saucepan, cook frozen blueberries over medium heat until they soften. Mash with a spoon and cook another 2-3 minutes more on low heat, allowing the juice to evaporate until a thick paste forms. Do not let it burn. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until combined and fluffy. Add blueberry powder and blueberry paste.
Add 3 cups of confectioners sugar and mix until well combined.
Add more sugar if necessary, until the mixture is creamy and spreadable.
Zest the lemons with a zesting tool or vegetable peeler. If using a peeler, scrape the back of the skin to remove any white.
Add the zest to a food processor with a steel blade.
Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is finely chopped.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter. Beat in the sugar mixture. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the lemon juice and salt and mix well.
Pour into a 2-quart saucepan and cook on medium heat until thick while stirring constantly (about 10 minutes). It should remain just below a simmer.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Using a melon-baller or small spoon, scoop out the middle of each cupcake. Fill with a spoonful of lemon curd. Frost with blueberry frosting and garnish with fresh blueberries.
I have a background in art (check out my oil paintings here), and still get a little excited every year when Pantone releases their color of the year. The Pantone color of the year for 2014 is called, “Radiant Orchid.” It’s a shade of purple with a little touch of pink. The folks at Pantone describe Radiant Orchid as, “magical, warm and intriguing—one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”
Come to think of it, there’s an orchid blooming in my backyard that matches perfectly.
While I’m not usually a purple person, I do have to admit I like THIS purple. It’s a fresh color for spring and I could see it paired with a palette of pale green, gold and white.
You can find this color in everything from fashion to home goods and paint colors (well, it IS a paint color) this year; including desserts! I rounded up some of my favorite, gorgeous purple-y desserts from across the blogosphere in shades of Radiant Orchid to celebrate this beautiful color in time for spring.
Top left: Vegan Radiant Orchid Alfajores from Vegan Miam
Top center: Blueberry Pie with Purple Crust from Delight Dulce
Top right: Purple Ombre Mini Cakes from Glorious Treats
2nd row, left: Purple Ombre Cake with Blackberry Compote from Oh Sweet Day
2nd row, center: Pantone 2014, Radiant Orchid Paint Chip Cookies from Bake at 350
2nd row, right: Purple Sweet Potato Mont Blanc from Little Accident in the Kitchen
3rd row, left: Lavender Rose French Macarons from I Sugar Coat It
3rd row, center: Purple Candied Apples with Tutorial from The Kitchen McCabe
3rd row, right: Swirly Sugar Cookies from Heather Sweets and Treats
Bottom left: Grape Jello Shot Cupcakes from That’s So Michelle
Bottom right: Lavender Panna cotta from Eva Tenova
I hope this collection of 2014 Pantone color of the year desserts inspires you to take on this color in your cooking, wardrobe or home. What do YOU think of Radiant Orchid? I’d love to know!
Tea is popular in this household. That’s an understatement. Tea is an obsession in this household. We have a very large drawer full of at least 30 kinds of tea, plus 5 or 6 tea-brewing devices and an electric tea kettle. We have a “tea station” where we make our daily selections, stocked with all of the fancy accoutrements. Honey, measuring spoons, mesh filters, towels and aerators are all present and accounted for. That’s why making this spring green tea cake with layers of honey sponge was such an event in this household.
I’m a black tea girl, preferring a loose leaf Earl Grey or Breakfast Blend with a little honey and milk. My husband drinks a whole pot or two of strong green tea a day. When I brought up the idea of a green tea cake recipe; he latched onto the idea and piped in with a few suggestions. The cake has an airy green tea mousse layered with honey-drenched sponge cake. The pale green color of this tea and honey cake almost screams spring. The flavors and textures are light; reminiscent of a tiramisu.
The bright, vibrant green color of matcha green tea is alluring and complex. This finely milled powder is the center of the Japanese tea ceremony. We all know it’s loaded with healthy stuff, but it can be a challenge to drink, which is why we had a perfectly good tin of matcha tea powder waiting to be made into dessert.
This is the first time I made a sponge cake and it was easier than I thought it would be. The batter mixed easily and the cakes came out of the oven perfectly. The mousse was a challenge for me, despite having made chocolate mousse many times in the past. The first recipe I used called for gelatin powder and all I had were sheets. The substitution didn’t work and I ended up trying to “fix” the mousse. In the end, I remade the mousse from scratch. Don’t you hate when that happens?
The first batch didn’t go to waste. I’ve been enjoying dollops of green tea cream on top of my Earl Grey. Aren’t I fancy?
The final cake was as beautiful as it was delicious. I decorated the top with lots of matcha tea. This may be a little too much tea for some. I recommend using just a little; applied with a stencil. You can also decorate the cake with pistachios, honey brittle or piped mousse as an alternative.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F/ 65 degrees C.
Coat 2 8" cake pans with butter or cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the sugar and continue to beat on high speed until the eggs increase in size by 4x and the color is pale yellow. When you lift the whisk, the mixture should fall in ribbons.
Combine 5 tablespoons of the honey with 2 tablespoons of warm water, reserving the rest. Quickly add to the egg mixture until just combined.
Working in batches, add the flour to the egg mixture, mixing gently until just combined. Do not over mix at this point.
Divide the batter between cake pans. Carefully tap the cake pans on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes, then open the oven door and bake another 5 minutes. The texture of the cakes should be spongy.
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the cake pans and cool completely.
Sprinkle gelatin powder over cold water into a bowl. Allow to soften for 1 minute. Add boiling water and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Allow to cool slightly.
In a mixing bowl, stir together sugar and green tea powder. Add whipping cream and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until cream is stiff and forming peaks. Add the gelatin mixture and beat until completely blended. Place into the refrigerator to cool completely; about 30 minutes.
Using a bread knife, carefully cut sponge cake layers in half. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons of honey with 1 tablespoon warm water. Arrange the bottom cake layer on a cake stand. Lightly Brush with honey mixture. Add a layer of mousse. Alternate each layer, brushing the sponge layers with more honey.
You can make the cakes ahead; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until assembly.
We recently went on a week-long trip to Puerto Rico, leaving a whole bunch of bananas sitting on the kitchen counter at home. We returned to find a whole bunch of very ripe bananas that needed to be used quickly or face the compost heap. Four bananas went into this tasty banana bread and two more ended up in the caramel on the top of this amazingly delicious banana bread upside down cake. It’s the best banana bread we’ve ever had and I’m excited to share the recipe!
If you read along in this blog (thank you if you do), you know I’m fond of upside-down cakes. They are easy to make and adapt well to all seasons. Living in the subtropics of Miami, we have access to all sorts of fruit. In my yard alone, there’s a papaya, coconut, starfruit, mango and sapodilla tree. Two of my favorite cakes to make with local fruit are this starfruit upside-down cake and kumquat upside-down cake.
The marriage of banana bread and upside-down cake was meant to be. Why isn’t this a thing? You end up with moist banana bread with a buttery-rich banana nut topping– similar to a Bananas Foster. It’s perfection. If you are in the mood for something really luxurious, add a bit of rum to the caramel topping. The alcohol cooks out in the oven, but the rum adds a little extra flavor. You can even take the recipe a step further and throw in some pineapple with the bananas.
I was limited in the ingredients available when I made this recipe, and walnuts were missing from my pantry. Given a choice between pine nuts or pumpkin seeds; I went with the pumpkin seeds. They worked out nicely, giving the cake a bit of crunch. Walnuts or pecans would still be my first (and second) choice.
Of course, you can make this easy banana bread upside-down cake recipe without nuts at all-it’s really up to you. However you make it, it’s a delicious treat the whole family will love—even the ones who don’t usually like banana bread. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did and I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
You can make the entire cake in an 8-inch cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a skillet, use a buttered 8-inch cake pan. You will need to make the topping on the stovetop and carefully pour it into the cake pan while it’s still hot.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/ 180 degrees C.
Melt the butter in an 8-inch cast iron skillet or saucepan. Add the brown sugar and orange juice or rum. Stir until the mixture begins to boil and the sugar is melted. Remove from the heat. If you are using a cake pan, immediately pour the caramel into the bottom of the pan.
Once the caramel is cooled, arrange the sliced bananas around the outside edge of the skillet in a pinwheel design. Sprinkle nuts in the middle or arrange them in a design as well.
In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and mashed bananas and mix until well combined.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and slowly add the wet ingredients. Add the vanilla. Stir in the nuts.
Carefully spoon the batter on top of the caramel layer and spread smooth. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out smooth.
Allow the cake to cook in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully flip the pan onto a serving platter, being careful not to burn yourself on the hot caramel that may leak out.
Banana bread recipe adapted from lkadlec’s Best Banana Bread
What says, “St. Patrick’s Day” better than Guinness beer…in a cake…drenched with Bailey’s Irish Cream?
Don’t scoff. You know you want to try it.
My goal here was to create a triple chocolate Bundt cake so moist you could eat it without icing or frosting and that’s exactly what this cake is. It’s even better if you warm a piece up before you eat it. Its chock full of dark chocolate chips that get all gooey-melty (my eyes roll up in my head just thinking about it).
You can make this triple chocolate Guinness cake with a lot of beer taste or just a little. It’s up to you to add 1 or 2 cups to the batter. With 1 cup of beer, you can barely taste it. If you know it is in there, and think about it, you get a little malty, dark beer aftertaste, which goes nicely with the chocolate. With 2 cups, you can smell it and taste it–wonderful for beer lovers like me.
If you really want to go over-the-top, drench a piece of cake with Bailey’s Irish Cream Anglaise. I insist you not skip on the Bailey’s because it makes such a big difference. You get that delicious boozy flavor, taking a homemade cake to 5-star-restaurant status.
Crème Anglaise is a fancy French dessert sauce that’s pretty much the same thing as ice cream before its frozen. If you reverse that process with your favorite store-bought vanilla ice cream flavor, voila! You just made Crème Anglaise. It’s as easy as letting ice cream melt and stirring in a few tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish Cream. Everyone will be impressed for your efforts.
I won’t tell if you don’t.
This triple chocolate Guinness cake with easy Bailey’s Irish Crème Anglaise is a really lovely way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, or any day. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.
Spray Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray or use a paper towel to rub the inside of the pan with neutral-tasting oil.
In a heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate on low heat, stirring constantly. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave. Stir until smooth, and then scrape the chocolate into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Allow to cool slightly so the chocolate is still warm but not hot.
Add the oil and sugar to the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth. Beat in the egg.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Sift if necessary to remove any lumps. Add half of the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, half of the beer and half of the buttermilk. Whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry and wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake in the lower third of the oven approximately 45 minutes or until a tester comes out with crumbs. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, and the turn out onto a cooling rack.
Allow ice cream to melt at room temperature or warm in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir in Bailey’s Irish Cream. Serve on the side, drizzle on top of cake.
Recipe adapted from Food & Wine Magazine’s Double Chocolate Bundt Cake (contributed by Kate Neumann)
Have you ever stayed up at night because you couldn’t stop thinking about cake? I have. Maybe it’s because I’m over-tired. Maybe I’m obsessed. I have a list of cakes I want to make –at least 20 of them, and this one made it to the top. A perfectly rich chocolate coconut cake paired with coconut meringue buttercream frosting. What could be better for a coconut and chocolate lover?
There are a few things I love about this cake (besides how amazingly good it tastes). You see, it looks incredible from the outside. Even without cutting it open, this cake tells you how good it is before you even take a bite. But then you cut through the coconut shavings and fluffy white frosting and see the chocolate. It kind of makes my knees shake. Unlike a heavy German chocolate, this cake has a light-as-air meringue buttercream that melts in your mouth. The coconut flavors are layered throughout, yet the coconut is still understated. You taste it on the backend, after the chocolate and the frosting, and it lingers a little until your next bite.
I’ve made this chocolate cake recipe a few times (see chocolate espresso cake and chocolate cake with mousse filling and port wine frosting). It’s a damn good recipe. This time, I adapted it by adding coconut milk, coconut oil and I cut the sugar in half. I don’t need that extra cup of sugar in my life and neither does this cake. It stays moist for a long time, and I think it gets better by the day.
Did I mention the frosting is phenomenal? The recipe is from Brown Eyed Baker and it is yummy to the extreme. In fact, everyone in my house at the time was eating finger-fulls of it. Paired with the crunchy, barely salted coconut flakes, it is mind blowing good. In an adult way. It’s not overly sweet. This is a sophisticated icing that takes itself seriously. I’m not kidding. If you had some, you would just nod your head in agreement and say, “Yes, that makes perfect sense.”
I’m happy to add a Swiss buttercream recipe to my cake accumulation. Now that I feel somewhat comfortable making cakes, I felt this needed to be my next challenge. After making a French buttercream, the Swiss was a cinch. Yes, I had to stand there at the mixer for longer than I wanted. Yes, the whole thing curdled on me and I thought all was lost. But we made it back from the abyss and it was all worth it. Because this week, we eat cake.
Yield: 8 servings
Preheat oven to 350°F/177°C.
Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans. I use a paper towel to smear the butter around, and then tilt the pans over the sink to make sure the flour covers every bit of the pan. You can line them with parchment on the bottom, but my cakes came out fine without.
Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, blend together the coconut milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Using an electric mixer on a low speed, slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients. Once combined, mix in the hot coffee.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until they are done and a wooden cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 30 minutes, and then remove them from the pans to cool on a wire rack.
Using a small heat-proof bowl (or double boiler), whisk the egg whites and sugar together. Place over a saucepan with an inch of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Heat the mixture for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until is hot to the touch and the sugar is completely dissolved (rub the mixture between your fingers to make sure).
Transfer the egg white mixture to a mixing bowl and whip on medium-high speed for another 6-8 minutes. It should be a stiff white meringue that is cool to the touch. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 4-5 minutes.
At this point, the frosting should be smooth and glossy.
If the frosting curdled like mine did the first time, try separating out about a cup of frosting and heat it in the microwave for about 20 seconds or less. Slowly pour back into your bowl while beating on high. This will usually work like a charm to save a meringue buttercream.
Now that your frosting is light and creamy, add the vanilla extract, salt and coconut milk. Give it another whip on medium speed until the frosting is smooth. If it looks separated, just keep whipping until it comes together.
Use this frosting within 30 minutes, or store at room temperature for 1 day. Whip again with an electric mixer if stored.
When cool, level the cake tops if necessary. Place one cake layer on a stand and frost with a generous amount of frosting, spreading it to the edges and leveling with a spatula. Place the second cake layer on top. Cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) and refrigerate 15-20 minutes.
Mix the frosting a little, then add the remaining to the cake and spread evenly. Using your hand, press the shredded coconut into the icing.