There is an Irish proverb that says “A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.”
My ancestors got that mostly right.
As for laughter, it is a scientific fact that laughter is good for you and might even cure what ails you. There is nothing like a good, belly-punching laugh. You know the kind. You get them when you are talking to your girl friends about that night in college. You get them from I Love Lucy. And they make you feel better. Each and every time.
But they forgot something very important.
How could they forget cupcakes? Cupcakes cure a good deal of things.
They are effective treatment for the times you get dumped because you bought a pair of designer shoes. They can also be used to help ease the regrets you have for kissing someone you shouldn’t have. Conversely, they are an excellent way for you to take time and over-analyze your interactions with that guy you like.
After surgery, cupcakes are an essential part of the recovery process.
They work wonders for friendships. (I bribe people to be my friends with cupcakes. It’s a thing. And I’m ok with it.)
Sometimes, cupcakes can even be a force for good and help end childhood hunger.
These particular cupcakes were made for for the Chicago Blogger Bake Sale hosted by My Daily Find Chicago and the 900 Shops on Michigan Avenue. Proceeds from the event went to benefit No Kid Hungry as part of the Great American Bake Sale campaign.
These are some serious gluten-free cupcakes. A lemon vanilla bean cupcake filled with raspberry jam and topped with a lemon merengue buttercream. They manage to be light and decadent at the same time, a balance that is hard to find in cupcakes.
- For the cakes
- 1½ cups (360 ml) milk at room temperature
- 7 large (210 grams) egg whites (pasteurized are fine), at room temperature
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste OR 1 vanilla bean scraped OR 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons lemon extract
- 460 grams ( 3¼ cups) gluten free all purpose flour*
- 2 teaspoons xantham gum**
- 450 grams (2¼ cups) granulated sugar
- 7 grams (1 teaspoon) salt
- 1½ sticks (170 grams) butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
- 85 grams (6 tablespoons) vegetable shortening
- Zest from 1 lemon finely minced
- To assemble
- 1 recipe Lemon Merengue Buttercream (recipe follows)
- approximately 1 cup raspberry jam
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 3 cupcake tins with papers, grease the tops of the pans and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together ½ cup of the mil, the egg whites, egg and vanilla
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients including the sugar on low speed for 30 seconds.
- Add butter & shortening and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the remaining milk and stir untill just moistened. Increase the speed to medium and mix for a
- minute and a half.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg/milk/extract mixture in 3
- groups, scraping down the sides before each addition.
- Gently stir in the lemon zest.
- Using a large ice cream scoop, divide the batter evenly among the cupcake papers,
- making sure that none of them are more than ⅔ full (or you could have a little bit of
- a mess).
- Bake 2 cupcake trays at a time for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the
- center comes out clean.
- Cool cupcakes on a wire rack.
- While the cupcakes bake, make a recipe of Lemon Merengue Buttercream.
- Remove the centers from the cupcakes using a cupcake corer or a paring knife, making sure you don’t go all the way to the bottom of the cupcake.
- Fill the wells with raspberry jam. I find that it is neatest when you use a pastry bag and a large, plain tip.
- You can replace the tops on the jam wells if you only fil them 2/3 full.
- Pipe the buttercream on top.
- 8 large egg whites (30g each–total 225g, or 1 cup)**
- 400 grams (2 cups) granulated sugar
- The peel of 1 lemon
- 560 grams (5 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons lemon extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- Yellow Gel Coloring
- Combine the egg whites, sugar and lemon peel in a small pot until they reach 140 degrees fahrenheit.
- Strain your sugar syrup into a clean stand mixer bowl, you want to make sure that the lemon peel doesn’t make it into the bowl. Using the whisk attachment, beat until light and fluffy (soft peaks) and the temperature is neutral – the bowl should not be warm to the touch.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter one chunk at a time until it is all combined.
- It might look like it is starting to curdle, don’t panic! It should all smooth out by the time you add the last bit of butter. If it is getting too loose, you can pop it in the fridge for 5 minutes to help it set up.
- Add small amounts of yellow gel coloring until the buttercream is the color you desire.