Yes, the fresh fruit atop today’s offering sets the marker for raspberries, but do you really expect to encounter a perfect ribbon of sweet berry preserves when biting into the soft vanilla cake, past the creamy lemon frosting? Well, you do now, but before reading this paragraph and seeing today’s picture, it would’ve been quite the pleasant surprise, wouldn’t it?
Discovery or not, the latest treat features a double dose of early summer’s splendid archetype, the raspberry, as well as silky lemon curd that compliments its sweet tartness perfectly. All this is housed in a soft vanilla cake that contributes just the right amount of sweetness and wraps the package in a nice bow..
Pastry chef Bill Yosses developed the variety for his New York shop, and the July 2004 issue of Food & Wine reported on the effort. Yosses surprises his patrons with a vibrant reservoir of raspberry preserves laid in when the top is cut away then is covered again with the excavated cupcake. Evidence of the project is then obscured beneath a creamy pour of lemony tartness. Very neat, very crafty. Hey, this is the way we take care of business in New York. You got a problem with that?
Of course, the berries adorning each cupcake advertise the fruit’s presence, but the uninitiated may not be prepared for the exuberant burst of summery celebration lurking just below the surface. Even those familiar with the arrangement may not remember the experience being quite so…intense.
Naturally, frozen raspberries are available year-round now and are quite creditable, but they still lack the beautiful range of flavors berries bring when first burst forth on bushes. This is summer’s gift to eaters, reminding them of just what they’ve been missing for eleven months, now back triumphantly.
Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon Cream and Raspberries
For the lemon cream:
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon finely-grated lemon zest (*1)
- 1 stick, plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- pinch of salt
For the cupcakes:
- 3 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup milk, divided
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 and 3/4 cups, plus two tablespoons, cake flour
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 stick, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup, plus two tablespoon, sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup raspberry preserves
- fresh raspberries, for garnish
Start by making the lemon curd. In a small saucepan, whisk the eggs with the sugar, lemon juice and zest. Place the saucepan over a medium flame and whisk constantly until the sauce thickens, but still is pourable, about six minutes.
Transfer to a blender and let cool for five minutes. Add the butter and salt and blend until smooth, about a minute. Transfer the cream to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Move on to the cupcakes. First, preheat an oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites with two tablespoons of the milk and the vanilla. Whisk in the remaining milk.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and the baking powder. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter, sugar and salt until fluffy. Reduce the motor speed to low, then add the dry ingredients in two batches, following each addition with half the wet ingredients. Increase the speed back to medium for a moment, until the batter is just combined.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, until each is 4/5 of the way full. Bake for twenty minutes until golden. Let cool on a rack for five minutes, then move individual cupcakes to the rack to finish cooling by themselves.
Slice the top off each cupcake, a section about 2/3 of the cupcake’s diameter. (*2) Spread with about a tablespoon of the raspberry preserves, then replace the “lid.” Pour a little of the lemon curd over each cupcake, until the seam is covered. This way, nobody sees what we just did, right? Garnish with fresh raspberries and serve.
1 – For the zest and juice, I’d suggest using Meyer lemons, as their mild taste profile still retains its lemony vigor, yet is delightful.
2 – Instead, I cut a “cone” into the top of each cupcake, going to a diameter and depth of about half the cupcake. This way, the preserves lace the cupcake much more deeply and fully and it’s not all “lost” in the first bite or two.