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 to admit, I may have gone a little overboard with this recipe for red wine and blue cheese deviled eggs. It all started with my pickled beet deviled eggs. They came out so pretty–so yummy–I started experimenting with different colors and flavor combinations. That led to the idea of using red wine to color the eggs. And what goes better than red wine than good cheese?
–Chocolate comes to mind, but that would be pretty gross in an egg.
This recipe is easy to do and really eye catching on a serving platter. I used a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon with a little juice to dye the eggs—which resulted in a subtle red wine and fruit flavor which pairs beautifully with the cheese. You could really take this up a notch by using more wine; just make sure it’s drinkable wine because it will influence the flavor of the eggs.
Red wine and blue cheese deviled eggs are definitely going to be on my entertaining short list from now on. They are great for conversation and so crazy delicious. Trust me on this one. They were our favorites out of 10 really good recipes I experimented with.
Red Wine & Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs
Yield: makes 1 dozen deviled eggs
Tip: Adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water when you are boiling the eggs helps them peel easier.
Crack egg shells, and roll them gently on the counter. Carefully peel under running water and set aside.
In a high-sided food container, add peeled eggs, wine, juice, peppercorns and bay leaf. Refrigerate overnight. Remove and pat dry on paper towels. Cut in half with a sharp knife and pop the yolks into a bowl.
Mash yolks first. Then mash again with mayonnaise, blue cheese, vinegar, salt and pepper. Fill egg whites with yolk mixture and garnish with a sliver of fresh apple that has first been dipped in lemon juice (to prevent browning).
Do you want even more elegant deviled egg recipes? Check out these:
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!
Easter is around the corner and I’ve been searching for Easter dessert recipes to get me inspired! This collection of creative Easter recipes blew me away so I’m sharing them here with you. These recipes welcome spring with beautiful pastel colors, eggs, bunnies and chicks. They are perfect for an Easter dessert, event or a fun project with the little ones.
Top right (above): Robins Egg Speckled Cookies from The Miniature Moose
Top left (above): Speckled Easter Cupcakes from Urban Bakes
Middle right (above): Flower Pot Cookies from The Gunny Sack
Middle left (above): Cadbury Mini Eggs Layer Cake from The Gunny Sack
Bottom (above): Easter Egg Nest Macaroons from Yummy Healthy Easy
Top left (below): Mini Easter Carrot Cakes from Food Faith Fitness
Top right (below): Green Tea & Honey Cake from Love and Duck Fat
Middle left (below): Bird, Chick or Duckling Cookies from Bake and Bait
Middle right (below): Chocolate Easter Bunny Cake from The Cake Blog
Bottom left (below): Lil’ Chick Cookie Cups from The Gunny Sack
Bottom right (below): Egg Cartons and Coconut Cupcakes from Handmade Mood
I hope this collection of spring-inspired Easter desserts got you ready to cook up some lovely desserts to celebrate this time of year. Check back next week for more inspiration as I begin this new series highlighting some of the best recipes from blogs I love on Love and Duck Fat.
Discussion: Which one of these dessert would you like to make for Easter? Do you have a favorite Easter dessert?
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.
Spring is here, and even though I’m in South Florida, I feel the change. Not so much in the temperature (we only turned on the heat for a few days this winter), but from what I see around me in the tropical flowers and fruits. Our mango and starfruit trees are full of miniature-sized versions of fruit that will ripen in the summer. The air is warm, but not unbearably humid like South Florida summers can be. The produce isles at the grocery store are stocked with spring favorites: asparagus, radishes and Brussels sprouts.
It’s funny how infectious the excitement for spring can be. I see it in my Facebook feed; all of the northern folks clamoring for some sunny rays after yet another snowstorm. In tribute to spring, I created this asparagus salad with shrimp and grapefruit with citrus vinaigrette. It’s fresh and light, with the perfect balance of subtle sweetness, acid and crunch.
I’m not sure what I love more about this salad. Is it the taste or the beautiful mix of colors on the plate? Pink grapefruit, red-rimmed radishes, purple baby lettuce, bright green asparagus and pink Key West shrimp vie for attention both in appearance and texture. Enjoy it with a cold glass of homebrewed iced tea for the perfect lunch to celebrate spring with friends or loved ones.
I have to give a special mention to the shrimp I used in this recipe. They hail from my hometown, Key West. It’s hard to find Key West pink shrimp—even in Miami. These wild shrimp are sweet and tender and usually more abundant in winter months. If you see them in the store or on a restaurant menu, be sure to try them out.
I hope you enjoy this recipe for asparagus salad with shrimp and grapefruit as much as we did! Happy spring from Love and Duck Fat!
More refreshing salads:
Yield: 2 servings
Note: recipe calls for 6 shrimp per serving (photo shows 3).
Place the shrimp on a paper towel to dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over high heat, and add the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan. When the butter foams; add the shrimp to the pan. Sear the shrimp on one side for 1-2 minutes, and then flip to the other side for another 1-2 minutes, until they begin to curl and the centers become opaque. Remove shrimp from the pan and set aside to cool.
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Set aside a bowl of ice water. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the water and immediately plunge into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
Carefully remove the outer skin from the grapefruit with a knife. Cut out the grapefruit segments by cutting in-between the membranes. Once the segments are removed, set them aside. Squeeze the juice from the outer skin and the remaining membrane into a bowl. You should have about 4 tablespoons of grapefruit juice.
Add about ½ teaspoon of salt and fresh pepper to the grapefruit juice. Whisk in remaining olive oil. Taste for seasoning.
Arrange the salad mix, radishes, sliced onion, grapefruit segments and asparagus on a plate. Top with the shrimp. Spoon the citrus vinaigrette on top.