Lemon and I go way back.
Not only is lemon meringue pie my favorite pie, it’s also one of my all-time favorite desserts. Not just any lemon meringue, however. My grandma’s (duh). Hers was the best for two reasons: the crust and the meringue. Any idiot can make lemon curd, which is the filling for the pie. Well…maybe that’s not true. Making sure you cook it to the proper thickness can be tricky. I dealt with a few slightly runny pies before I learned my lesson. But not everyone makes a good pie crust. (Perhaps that should read “not everyone makes a pie crust.” If you are going to go through the fuss of making a pie like this, you had best be making a homemade crust to put it in. The end.) The meringue is awesome because instead of just egg whites and sugar, it uses marshmallow creme. So it’s all fluffy and sticky-sweet once it’s baked. *sigh*
The various lemon-flavored versions of Girl Scout cookies have also been popular with me. This spring we stopped and bought some cookies at a table some girls were running at Ralph’s. One of the troop moms and I were having a discussion about how the names of the cookies are different out here than they are in Wisconsin. Then I realized there weren’t any of the lemon sandwich cookies I liked. In true L.A. fashion, said mom got a bit snarky and goes “turns out you were the only person who liked those.” Okay then. I’m sure that’s false, but whatever…moving on.
In Italy last year, Hol and I drank limoncello (and lemon creme) amongst the ruins of Pompeii. Alright, technically we were in the gift shop adjacent to the actual ruins. And technically, there was a terrible thunderstorm going on, so there was no desire on either of our parts to dawdle around muddy, two-thousand year-old streets sipping booze. But it sounds quite nice to say “we drank limoncello amongst the ruins.” The stuff is damn potent, but damn good. I bought a bottle home for the family to try and my Dad was, surprisingly, an instant convert.
Now that I’ve spent thirty minutes writing about how much I love lemon-flavored items (Barcardi Limon being one exception. Freshmen year of college permanently turned my stomach against any fruit flavored rum or vodka, a fact I unfortunately neglected to remember a few weeks ago during an afternoon where I downed a bit too much pineapple vodka ;) ), I might as well explain where I’m going with this…dessert for Easter lunch tomorrow.
Since there are only three of us, we’re keeping things pretty simple: some ham, German potato salad, and green beans. The year of being perpetually on-call for holidays continues this weekend, and I decided that if I had to be stuck close to home on the first nice weekend in a month, I should make a putzy dessert to go with our rather easy meal. To me, that means check out Brown Eyed Baker for a cupcake recipe. (I had been itching to make the Irish Car Bomb ones again, but I was on call and sick on St. Pat’s, so their revival waits for another day.) I thought of lemon immediately…it’s spring, it’s sunny…”let’s have something light and fresh.”
So I settled on these little babies. As she proclaims, they actually are quite easy. I had Ali help by zesting the lemons and then juicing them so I could use as much fresh lemon juice as possible (we got 2/3 of a cup out of three lemons, a little shy of the necessary 3/4 cup). But otherwise, I managed to make the cupcakes, lemon curd and frosting all while doing the dishes and boiling the potatoes for the potato salad. There’s nothing terribly exotic in the execution of this recipe.
You can read her directions in the link above. I made two tiny alterations, both with the frosting. I knew I’d never use the last 2 ounces of my brick of cream cheese if I only used 4 ounces in the frosting. So I threw all 6 that were left in. Then I figured there needed to be a little extra liquid, so I just kind of poured the limoncello on without measuring. I’ve been watching a lot of Kitchen Nightmares lately, so I could hear Gordon Ramsay exclaiming “too many cooks in the kitchen” as I just kept pouring, all the while wanting to gleefully yell out “too much booze in my cupcakes!!” Anyways, I highly recommend using more than a tablespoon in your version. How the hell are you going to taste one tablespoon?! Okay, I guess I made another alteration, this time in the directions on how to hollow out the hole for your lemon curd filling. I just used a sharp paring knife and cut a nickel-sized circle about 1/2″ deep out of the center of each cupcake. So much easier than either method she describes. I tried the icing tip thing last time, and rather than core out any cake, I felt that it just sort of smushed it down into the bottom. Which was fine, but not exactly the point. Oh, and check out this nifty trick to make your own buttermilk instead of buying a bunch you won’t use. My mom has always done this when she makes homemade pancakes!
We haven’t tried the assembled product yet, but I’ve tasted [a lot] of each individual part. The lemon curd is much tarter than my lemon pie filling, but it turns out it balances the faint sweetness of the cupcake perfectly. The frosting is fabulous. The end. As all of hers always are! I also have a feeling if you’re feeling a little lazy, leaving out the filling and just making limoncello cupcakes and frosting would be a perfectly delicious alternative!
Happy Easter all!