The sweet and light tartness of lemon cupcakes are a tasty summertime treat for your kids. Adding a smooth and flavorful lemon curd, a creamy spread made with lemons, butter, eggs and sugar, can really take your cupcakes over the top. Typically, you fill the lemon curd in the cupcakes after they come out of the oven. However, you can also bake it right into the cupcakes, adding the curd before they go into the oven. This gives the cupcake a richer lemon flavor and a denser texture. You can make lemon cupcakes either way, based on your preference.
The Lemon Curd
To make lemon curd, first cream room-temperature butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. You'll want to use 3/4 cups of sugar for every six tablespoons of butter. Using that ratio, slowly beat three whole eggs into the mixture, and then add about 1/3 to 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Pour the mixture into a heavy, non-reactive saucepan, such as a stainless steel or anodized aluminum pan. Reactive materials like copper can discolor the curd and make it taste metallic. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally until it begins to thicken and you can spoon it. Remove from the heat and let it cool -- it will thicken further as it cools. Consider making the lemon curd at least a few hours in advance of making the cupcakes to give it a chance to thicken.
You can make any flavor of cupcake you would like to, keeping it mind that you want to choose a flavor that will complement the lemon curd. You could make lemon-flavored cupcakes, vanilla, or even strawberry cupcakes. Use your favorite cake recipe or pick up a box cake batter from the grocery store, saving you some time. Place cupcake liners into the cups of your cupcake tin and pour in your batter three-fourths of the way up. How you bake the cupcakes depends on the type of lemon curd cupcake you want to make.
Lemon Curd Filled Cupcakes
Bake the cupcakes according to recipe or box instructions. Once cooled, pierce the cupcakes several times with a bamboo skewer. Fill a pastry bag with the lemon curd and insert the tip of the bag into a cupcake. Squeeze gently to fill the cupcake with no more than a tablespoon of lemon curd, stopping when the cupcake begins to expand. Alternatively, you can core at the center of the cupcakes, with either a knife or a small apple corer. Spoon the curd into the hole until it is flush with the top of the cupcake. Once you have filled your cupcake, cover it with frosting of your choice, such as a light, whipped cream frosting or a lemon-flavored buttercream frosting.
Lemon Curd Baked Cupcakes
If you want to bake the curd into the cupcakes, fill the cups of your cupcake tin halfway with batter, then add a tablespoon of lemon curd and more batter on top. The cupcakes may need more time to cook the addition of the curd, which adds more liquid to the batter. The result, however, will be super moist and dense cupcake bursting with lemon flavor. Top the cupcakes with a frosting of your choice once they have fully cooled.