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living the sweet life

Mini Lemon Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Living in Los Angeles, every day kind of feels like spring. Some days are warmer than others, but there’s not a huge difference. Also, living out here, I was lucky to avoid the “April Showers” since, you know, it almost NEVER rains here. And now that it’s May 1, we seem to have dodged it.

Sometimes I don’t mind because it’s nice not to have the weather dictate whether you can walk or ride your bike somewhere, or if you want to go to the beach, or go for a hike. But other times, when I see pictures on Facebook of a huge incoming thunderstorm in NJ, I get a little jealous. One of my favorite things are those huge thunderstorms where the rain pours down, the thunder is loud and all surrounding, and the rain isn’t cold or annoyingly warm. Perfect for running around outside. I usually say dancing in the rain, but I don’t have the skills of “Singin’ in the Rain”, so I more prance around and just get soaked. But it’s fun.

What do you do when there are no thunderstorms or other signs of spring, other than the onslaught of allergies or slightly warmer weather? You make cupcakes.

I made these for Easter, because there’s nothing as cheery as spring as citrus, and these lemon cupcakes sure fit the bill. Plus they’re mini size, so you can totally eat 3-4 before the equal a real cupcake. At least, that’s what I told myself as I ate 3-7 of these bad boys daily. Definitely not a problem.

For some people, lemon and chocolate seems like a strange combination but trust me when I say it’s not. Especially when paired with a chocolate cream cheese frosting. The tang from the cream cheese with the richness of the chocolate and the tart lemon cupcakes.. it’s a wonderful match. And it’s not too sweet, so after eating 7 of these, you don’t feel like your brain hurts from sugar overloads.

To celebrate May 1, you should make some cupcakes. Especially since I’ve been reading that some states have gotten some snow/frost today. Mother Nature, that should SERIOUSLY be illegal. It’s May. May is supposed to be filled with beautiful flowers and light delicious desserts and these lemon cupcakes. NOT snow. But then again, I don’t have to worry about that here in Los Angeles. So while I do all of the complaining for you, the least you can do is make these wonderful mini confections.

Mini Lemon Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

makes about 25-30 mini cupcakes

 

For the cupcakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
the zest of 4 lemons
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (~3 large lemons)
3 tablespoons milk

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 8-oz block cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (up to 1 tablespoon, to taste)
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted.
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with liners.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar together until smooth. Add in the butter and vanilla, mixing until combined. Add in lemon zest. Mix in half of the dry ingredients until incorporated. Add in the lemon juice and milk, and then add in the remaining dry ingredients. Mix until well incorporated and smooth.

Add a few teaspoons of batter into each well, until 2/3 full. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean (crumbs are okay). Let cool for 5-10 minutes in pans, and then take out the cupcakes and let cool on a wire cooling rack.

While cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the sifted powdered sugar a few tablespoons at a time. Add in the cocoa powder and increase the speed to medium/medium-high to mix until smooth. If too thick, add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until it’s the consistency you want. Likewise, if too thin, add a teaspoon or two of powdered sugar at a time.

Frost cupcakes and enjoy!

[source: barely adapted from How Sweet It Is, here and here]



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