I decided to fight off scurvy with these fresh, sunny lemon cupcakes. I’ve just recovered from a pretty gnarly cold and I was craving something citrusy that would wake up my sleepy tastebuds, numb from days of herbal tea, cold medicine and bland foods. Tony’s been going ape shit on Irish breakfast tea with lemon lately, so we’ve had a surplus of organic lemons around the house. I decided to take advantage of their chemical-free rinds by candying some to top these cakes.
For the cake, I used the same recipe as I did for the fancy meringue-topped cupcakes I made Hannah Aitchison. It’s a simple lemon yogurt recipe, and if you have lemon oil on hand instead of extract it makes a mouth-puckering difference in taste. I used extract for Hannah and oil for these and- sorry Hannah- but this batch was better. I went with lemon buttercream as opposed to lemon cream on these. It was much less time consuming because I didn’t have to make lemon curd and the buttercream keeps for a few days where as lemon cream is only pretty and good for a few hours. The fresh-squeezed lemon juice cut through the sweetness of the frosting and really made these as sour and lemony as I was hoping for.
The candied peel took a little time, but it was a simple process and it looks cute. I’m not too into it as a candy per say, but it is edible and weirdly enough, it makes a nice breath freshener. Teno refuses to even try it, he just throws it on the floor and licks the frosting off the cupcake.
I found a million different instructions online for candying lemon peel (or any citrus fruit) but a lot of them involved making a TON of simple syrup and then for whatever reason saving that syrup for “later use.” I don’t know what I would ever do with two cups of lemon simple syrup so I read all the instructions I could find and picked the parts that made the most sense. I’ll post that after the buttercream recipe.
For the lemon buttercream you will need:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix it all up ’til it’s fluffy and white. You may need to add milk or more lemon juice to make it spreadable, or to adjust how lemony you want it.
And here is how I candied the lemon peel, if you have a simpler or better-tasting way to do this leave a comment about it!
- First, use organic lemons. Unless you’re the Toxic Avenger you do not want to eat whatever is in un-organic lemon peels. Ew. I peeled about 4 lemons using this method, but I think you could candy 5 or 6 lemon’s worth without increasing the amount of sugar and water.
- Then, use a vegetable peeler to peel long, thin strips of peel (peely peel peel, let’s say the word “peel” some more!) I made my strips sort of fat, which resulted in less tasty candy, make them thin if you can.
- Fill a medium sauce pan about 3/4 full of water and add 1/2 tsp salt, throw in the strips of lemon peel and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. (I read that this makes the peel softer and less bitter.)
- Drain and repeat the exact same steps one more time.
- Drain again, and rinse the peels with cold water.
- Place the peel back in the saucepan and add 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water.
- Heat over a medium flame, stirring occasionally and keeping and eye out so the sugar doesn’t caramelize. You just want the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to thicken. It takes about 30 minutes, the peels will be very shiny and will look like candy.
- Have waxed paper waiting to plop them on and let them cool. I tried to curl mine at that point and they refused. But after they cooled they were more pliable.
I was SO close to just putting Lemonheads on these. You can take the girl out of Joliet but you can’t take the Joliet out of the girl…