Alex’s birthday celebrations ended up taking 3 days. 3 because her party had to be on a Sunday, we hosted playgroup on Monday and celebrated her birthday, and her actual birthday was on Tuesday. I did not go crazy with the food all 3 days, of course, but I did make cupcakes for playgroup, which I wanted to share, and of course I promised to let you know what we did with the tropical fruit sauce for the seafood and pork on Sunday.
Do you remember that Lime Cilantro Chicken with Tropical Fruit Salsa that I made when my sister came to visit? The salsa recipe made copious quantities, and so Josie suggested I freeze what was left for Alex’s birthday. So I simmered that salsa, blitzed it with an immersion blender, simmered some more to thicken and reduce, added guava and pepper jellies, and then added lime juice and mango and kiwi chunks. It worked out perfectly and was a great way to use up the extra salsa.
So about those cupcakes… I told you all that I was so in love with that lemon cream that I wanted to use it in a dessert for Alex’s birthday playgroup, and so I used it as frosting for a lemon cupcake. I decided to put serviceberries into the cupcakes since I had picked them up at the farmers’ market the previous Saturday. Serviceberries are a berry that is in season, around here anyway, in June (hence, some people call them juneberries) and although they look a lot like blueberries, they are not as intense until cooked (at least not the ones sold at this farmers’ market–my sister tells me she bought some in Columbus that are quite intense). They also have a single seed, like a stone fruit, although it is edible.
The lemon cream topping was awesome on these cupcakes. It may be that it was a waste of berries as the sweet tart cream kind of overwhelmed their flavor, although they still made for a nice visual presentation. The topping perfectly complemented the sweet cake below it. I highly recommend this combination, although of course they must be eaten soon after frosting.
2 1/2 cups (315 g) AP flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
4 oz cream cheese, softened
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 T lemon zest
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups berries of choice
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 muffin tins (for a total of 24 muffins) with paper liners. Spray lightly with oil.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and cream cheese on medium until well blended. Add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and beat to combine–be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2, alternating, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on low. Fold by hand at the end to make sure it is all incorporated.
Fill the muffin cups 1/3 full. Drop a few berries (5-8 for blueberry sized berries, for example) into the batter and press gently. Fill the remaining batter into the cups to cover the berries, for a total of 2/3 full for each cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, with only a few crumbs attached. When cool and ready to eat, frost with lemon cream.