Improv Cooking Challenge: Lemon Trifecta Cupcakes

.  Dum. Dum. Dum.

It's ICC time, ladies and gents!

This time around, Kristen, from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, handed the ICC participants these two ingredients...

Lemon and Sour Cream

Not gonna lie, these two ingredients kind of threw me for a loop.  Lemons?  Easy.  You can find an abundant amount of recipes that use this tart little fruit.  But sour cream?  Okay, I can think of a few things here or there, but for one reason or another, I had the most difficult time brainstorming some type of goodie I wanted to make with these two ingredients combined.  I realize most of you are laughing right now at my lack of creativity.  Boo.

Anywho, I finally came across a recipe I had to try over at AllRecipes.com.  The recipe was actually called Lemon Cream Cupcakes, but I had to switch up the name since I adapted the recipe and added in additional lemon flavors.  See, I try to be creative!

And let me tell you, these are cupcakes packed with a citrusy punch!  Whew, are they ever.  But a lemon cupcake, lemon curd filling, and thick lemon icing will do that to ya.  So if you're not a lemon fan, stop reading this post, oh, now.  Because this is a bright, sunshiney, lemony recipe.

But where's the sour cream, hello?  Be patient, be patient.  I'm getting there.  The sour cream is masterfully 'hidden' in the actual batter, making these cupcakes puff up beautifully yet maintaining an [outrageously] soft, pillowy interior.  From what I can remember, I can't recall tasting a cupcake remotely close to the texture this one has.  The insides of this cupcake are truly pillowy, so light and tender.  I really can't think of another way to get this point across.  Just believe me on this one.

And the extra doses of lemon flavor from the lemon curd [is anyone else as obsessed with lemon curd as I am?!] and lemon icing is wonderfully fantastic.  A complete dessert rounded out in lemony goodness.

Well I guess that's all I have to say about January's ICC concoction.  If you're a lemon fan, you'll die for this cupcake.  And if you're not...well, check out my other posts [wink, wink]. 

Can't wait to find out next month's ingredients!  .

P.S. like the name of these cupcakes?!  Well I must give credit where credit is due, so thank you Mr. Nelson for the catchy title ☺

My Notes:
  • I must admit that the lemon in the actual cake is not very prominent.  But because of the lemon curd and lemon icing, I felt like this subtleness was very complementary.  Also, these are the kinds of cakes that are best the day they are made because that's when they're most soft and light.  However, they're perfectly good the following day(s), too, but they'll be a bit more dense [funny how that happens...].
  • I decided to double the original recipe's icing ingredients [reflected below] because when I made the frosting, I couldn't imagine it frosting all of the 30 cupcakes.  This worked out perfectly because it turned out to be just the right amount for a good helping of the icing on each cupcake.  I will forewarn, that you probably don't want to over-ice the cupcakes [is this possible?!] since the icing is rather lemon-flavor strong.  Also, I found when I put on a bit too much icing, it started to drip down the sides of the cupcakes.
  • The original recipe also instructed you to fill each cupcake liner with 1/4 cup of batter, but I'm a huge no-muffin-top proponent when it comes to cupcakes, so I filled each liner just to about 3/4 full [this might actually be 1/4 cup but I didn't measure it, so I'm not sure?].  But the cupcakes rounded out beautifully, so I was very pleased!
    Adapted from AllRecipes.com

    3-1/2 c. all purpose flour
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 c. butter, softened
    2 c. sugar
    3 eggs
    2 tsp. grated lemon peel
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    2 c. sour cream

    Lemon Icing:
    4-1/2 c. powdered sugar
    4 tbsp. lemon juice
    1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
    2 tbsp. milk
    6 tbsp. butter, softened

    1 (10 oz.) jar lemon curd

    1. Heat oven to 350°F and line standard muffin tin with liners.  For the cupcakes, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.  In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar (about 3 minutes).  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly combined.  Beat in lemon zest and vanilla extract until combined.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, alternating with sour cream (batter will be thick).
    2. Fill liners with batter until about 3/4 full.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan before removing to wire rack.
    3. For frosting, in a medium-sized bowl, beat together powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and milk.  Add butter and beat until smooth.
    4. Once cupcakes are cooled, use a paring knife to cut out centers of cupcakes, saving the tops.  Add in enough lemon curd to fill the holes and top with saved cake pieces.  Frost cupcakes as desired.
    Yield: 30 cupcakes


    1. Oh, gosh, these look fabulous! Triple lemon zingers...that middle bite would be my favorite :)

    2. I'm with Liz on that one! A stuffed cupcake middle is like a well kept secret!

    3. Yum! I do like lemon quite a bit, and having the lemony filling in the middle sounds fantastic! Thanks for the great idea.

    4. The description of the cupcakes makes me want to have one! Or two! I found you through the Improv Challenge. You have a beautiful blog - following you!

    5. Jess these look fabulous!!!!

      I love participating in the improv challenge because seeing what my fellow bloggers turn out is just pure inspiration.

    6. Jess

      I LOVE LOVE the way you described these muffins! I can almost taste them now.

      Lemon is one of my favorite flavors, but I have never had lemon curd. Sounds like I need to remedy that.

    7. I love the name of these cupcakes~it's so fitting! They look beautiful, and they sound perfect! I stopped by from the Improv Challenge!

    8. WOW these look amazing! The lemon curd would reduce me to whimpering sounds of pleasure :) Great sue of the ingredients!

    9. I love the lemon surprise in the middle.

    10. Hi Jess!

      I would be so pleased with these cupcakes too! They look perfect especially with the tiny flecks of lemon zest in the creamy frosting! You have done well with this recipe! YUM!

      So nice stopping by to visit with you!
      Kindly, Lorraine

    11. Wow! These look awesome! I love your trifect...lemons, lemons, and more lemons! And I am equally obsessed with lemon curd! Great job with this challenge! : )

    12. that filling looks delicious! I can't wait to try them

    13. Delicious looking, great ICC entry.

    14. I would probably eat all around the edges just so I could save that lemon curd middle for the last bite. What a great recipe!!

    15. I would choose lemon over any other flavor. I would be in heaven with these!!

    16. I love the lemon middle! You ended up with a great lemon/sour cream combo. :)

    17. Oh, lemon curd! I could eat that stuff with a spoon, right from the jar. Must try this recipe. Lemon in wintertime always cheers me. :)

    18. Wow - the curd filling made my mouth water! Your cupcakes look fantastic - great pick!

    19. You had me at lemon and sour cream! I'll have a dozen, please! :D

    20. Beautiful and very delicious looking cupcakes.
      I also love your combination of flavors

    21. Delish! A great improv recipe. Thanks for sharing on Crazy Sweet Tuesday!


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