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Friday, June 29, 2012

Lemon mini cakes and Mocha brownies

I have been craving lemon all summer, and who can blame me? Lemon is your classic summer citrus, whether it's lemonade, a squeeze of fresh lemon in your afternoon iced tea,  blueberry lemon bread with a lemon glaze - you name it.

Last week for me it was lemon cookies with a lemon glaze. This week it's lemon cupcakes, drizzled with a lemon syrup, and topped with lemon buttercream frosting.

That's a lot of lemon for you.

Mark (my stepdad) and my mom hosted a summer business dinner for Mark's company last night. Of course I jumped at the chance to make desserts - a good excuse to blog. I'm at three days this week already (pretty stellar when you look at my blogging habits over the past year)! Because I knew that my mom would make a killer dinner with the help of Grill Master Mark, I opted to make bite-sized desserts - easy, passable, and hard to turn down. I wanted to continue my baking-with-lemon streak, and I had yet to make a lemon cake, so I decided on lemon "mini cakes" with lemon buttercream frosting and, for the chocolate lovers, mini chocolate brownies with whipped mocha frosting.

Lemon Mini Cakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting, modified from the Barefoot Contessa

For the cake:
2 sticks butter, softened
2 C granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temp.
1/3 C cup lemon zest (3-6 lemons)
3 C flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t kosher salt
1/4 fresh lemon juice
3/4 C buttermilk
1 t vanilla extract

For the syrup:
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C fresh lemon juice

For the frosting:
1/3 C butter, softened
3 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 t fresh lemon juice
1 T lemon zest
2 T milk

Preheat the oven to 350. Thoroughly grease 2 mini muffin pans and set aside. To make the batter: With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest, and beat until well-combined.

Combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to combine thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together your lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately to the sugar mixture, stirring in between additions and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Once thoroughly combined, plop spoonfuls of batter into your mini muffin pan.  Bake about 17 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. 

Allow to cool for 15 min., the remove from pan, loosening each cupcake by moving around the circumference with a knife. To make the syrup, heat 1/2 C fresh lemon juice and 1/2 C sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved. Spoon syrup over baked cupcakes.

To make the frosting, combine all ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add milk as needed. If it is too runny, add powdered sugar as needed. Frost mini cupcakes and garnish with a small sliver of lemon peel, as pictured.


The mocha brownies pictured above are always a tremendous hit. Make them for any occasion; they're always a crowd-pleaser. The brownies are chewy and chocolatey, but the frosting really makes the brownie. Light, whipped, chocolatey mocha goodness. it's probably the best frosting I've ever had. And it came from the Pioneer Woman, so you know it's gotta be good! Get the recipe here.

Happy Summer!


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