Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Added on by Caroline Zhang.

Commencement at Harvard last semester was at the very end of May, but the weather was more like March. In spite of cold and wet, Clover, one of the restaurants in the square, had set up a lemonade stand on the side of the road. An employee was wrapped up in a raincoat against the drizzle, valiantly if somewhat unsuccessfully trying to sell various flavors of lemonade to the passing elderly alumni, who were far more interested in finding a hot cup of coffee than sampling iced lemonade. 

I'm back now, in Cambridge, and it's already getting getting a little chilly (though I've been assured by several people that low 70s is not cold at all).

Somehow the summer has passed in a blink, and I find myself wishing for a few more blazing hot days, for a bit more summer. I recall days in an air-conditioned office more vividly than the summer heat, sitting in front a computer more than sitting out in the sun, almost as if I haven't quite defrosted from the winter.

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Anyways, these cupcakes are reminiscent of those lazy summer days, of more carefree summers when I would go to the pool almost everyday and had the time to read Georgette Heyer novels back to back, going through a hefty stack of books every week.  

I don't necessarily want those days back, the boredom, the ways the days began to blend into each other. But it's nice to think about those summers.

The whipped cream and chiffon cake base in these cupcakes make them as light as air, letting the flavors shine through without being weighed down by excessive buttercream and sugar. They're the perfect summer cake, light and fluffy, sweet, and brightly flavored.

Caroline


Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Yields: 15 cupcakes | Cake batter adapted from cooks.com

Ingredients
For the Lemon Chiffon Cake
1 cup cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated
½ cup vegetable oil
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup water
pinch of cream of tartar

For the Raspberry Lemon Curd
½ cup fresh raspberries
¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
zest of two lemons, grated
⅓ cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
¼ cup butter, cubed
pinch of salt

For the Raspberry Whipped Cream
½ cup fresh raspberries
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions
For the Chiffon Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Whip the egg whites in a clean glass or metal bowl on medium speed until frothy. Whisk in the cream of tartar. Whip the egg whites on high speed until they form stiff, glossy peaks. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, vegetable oil, lemon zest, vanilla, and water.
  4. Fold the the dry ingredients into the egg/oil/water mixture.
  5. Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Fold the batter into the remaining egg white mixture.
  6. Spoon the batter into muffin tins lined with cupcake liners. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For the Raspberry Lemon Curd

  1. Push the raspberries through a fine mesh strainer over a cup or bowl. Discard the pulp.
  2. Heat the raspberry juice and lemon juice in a saucepan until it begins to simmer.
  3. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in the hot lemon/raspberry juice.
  4. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over low heat it begins to thicken and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the butter and salt. Let cool thoroughly.

For the Raspberry Whipped Cream

  1. Push the raspberries through a fine mesh strainer over a cup or bowl. Discard the pulp.
  2. Heat the raspberry juice, lemon juice, and sugar over medium low heat. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Let cool thoroughly, then refrigerate for at least one hour.. 
  3. Whisk the cream cheese and raspberry juice together. 
  4. Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the cream cheese mixture and whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. 

Assembly

  1. Cut a cone-shaped hole in the center of the cupcakes. Be careful not to pierce the bottom. 
  2. Remove the cone. Spoon or pipe 1-2 teaspoons of the raspberry lemon curd into the hole. Cut off the tip of the cone and replace the other half on top of the whole. 
  3. Frost with the raspberry whipped cream. Repeat for the other cupcakes.