Friday, September 2, 2011

Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream

Whether you're celebrating Labor Day this year as that symbolic end of summer or you're just itching to wear white one last time, ten cents says you're planning some kind of outdoor get together to participate in the holiday! (Just kidding about the white... I am pretty sure fashion police the world over have deemed white acceptable and maybe even fierce all year round nowadays!! Yeah ok. I'll stick to food.)

The perfect Lab
or Day picnic, to me, encompasses frie
nds and family gathered around a large outdoor
feast complete with white, summery tablecloths blowing under green tre
es, the smell of smokey, grilled chicken in the a
ir and some f
orm of fluffy white cake with fresh berries. As I am settling into our new D.C. area apartment, drool
ing over the memories of Labor Days gone by and the fact that I may not have tim
e for a party such as those this year, I made an important realization. The weekend is simply not allowe
d to slip away without some celebratory form of culinary creation worthy of the holiday. And I must say, a
ll of the recent blogger challenges have really inspired me! The last America's Test Kitchen Challeng
e was just that (a challenge!) with a little bit of fun, too! And I didn't even have access to my kitchen or familiar ingredients and s
tores. So, I figured with this cupcake challenge and my need for a Labor Day treat, I could pull somethin
g out of my sleeve, this time in the comfort of my new home. And lo' and behold!! The first try with this recipe w
as a pretty great success. So much so that m
y hus
band and I may or may not have
finished almost all of them
in one day.

Before I go make another batch, I'll share this little delight with you. To me,
it encompasses the light, airy batter perfect for a summery send off, topped w
ith not-too-sweet berry goodness that leaves us wanting more fresh berries indicative of this
summertime, all while being contained in a personalized package with no n
eed for forks or plates!

With a bittersweet tip of the hat to summer, let this sweet treat usher you a
nd yours into fall and all of the cherished dishes that come with the upcomin
g season! Thanks again to America's Test Kitchen for providing the "Dish It Your Way" Cupcake
Challenge! Cupcakes are definitely a delightful way to end this challenge series! You can find out more ab
out this week's challenge here if you'd like to submit a recipe of your own. In the
meantime, give my version a whirl and let me know what you think if you do!!

Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes
makes about 16 cupcakes or 36 mini cupcakes

2/3 cup cake flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
5 room temperature egg whites (about 3/4 cup)
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
4 tbs sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

- Preheat the oven to 350. Sift cake flour and powdered sugar twice. Set aside.
- Beat the egg whites and salt on medium high for about one minute or until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until medium peaks form (not too stiff!!)
- Sprinkle flour mixture over egg mixture and fold in gently, about 1/4 cup at a time. Once incorporated, fold in zest and vanilla.
- Pour batter into lightly buttered muffin tins. (I made my own foil liners for this step with the bigger cupcakes. They are very easy to peel off once the cupcakes have cooled. But the buttered option worked as well.) Bake regular-sized cupcakes for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned and minis 8-12 minutes or so. Remove from tins and cool on wire rack for 20 minutes before frosting!!

Fresh Raspberry Buttercream

1 stick of butter
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, washed
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
about 4 cups powdered sugar

- Cream first four ingredients on medium high speed, then incorporate powdered sugar until smooth.

**This may not be very kosher but I did refrigerate a few of mine to see if they would be ok made ahead. I set them out to come to room temp for about 30 minutes and I thought they held up very well!