Last weekend I watched The Hunger Games. [Spoiler Alert] Yes, I cried during Rue's death, and my throat clenched up when Katniss thought, for a brief moment, that Peeta had died...and realized that her feelings for him were deeper than she knew. This movie hit every mark, spot on. (Pardon the pun.) If you've read the The Hunger Games, please don't be afraid to see the movie, I don't think you will be disappointed.
I can think of only a handful of movies that have lived up to their novels; The Last of the Mohicans, Atonement, Out of Africa, and yes, Harry Potter, were as brilliant on screen as they were on paper. And I can happily add The Hunger Games to that list! I cannot wait for the next two films! Really, I can't wait. I hate waiting on movies, and TV shows. (Did you know that season 3 of "Game of Thrones" doesn't start until March 2013? That's just wrong.)
This has absolutely nothing to do with cupcakes. I just wanted to share my rare over-the-top enthusiasm for a novel-turned-movie. I can now speak to you of lemons and buttercream.
For the cupcakes, I used the same recipe that I used here. (It's my go-to lemon cupcake recipe.) I love these cupcakes because they're so rich and moist...some lemon cupcakes can be bland and dry. Plus, their tops remain nice and flat, which is prime real estate for frosting. Butter, confectioners' sugar, and lemons. That's my idea of The perfect frosting. This lemon buttercream frosting is as simple and basic as a favourite pair of jeans. (Which, by the way, may be tighter after a few of these cupcakes and frosting-coated finger licks. You've been warned.)
BTW, if anyone has seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I would love to hear if it measured up to the book! I'm still on the fence about seeing the movie.
Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting
yields about 24 cupcakes
for the cupcakes
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons grated lemon zest (about 4-5 lemons)
1 cup ( that's 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 room temperature eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup buttermilk (allow it to sit at room temp. for about 20 minutes)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
for the frosting
1 cup (that's 2 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (have an extra 1/2 cup on hand, just in case)
1/4 cup half & half cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line muffin tins with paper (this recipe will make about 24 cupcakes).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking Powder, and salt; Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand-mixer (or any large mixing bowl if you're using a hand-held), combine the sugar and lemon zest. Use your finger tips to rub the zest into the sugar until it's moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, using the paddle attachment, beat on med-high until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 1 minute per egg. Scape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the almond extract.
In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and lemon juice.
Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared tins (about 3/4 full for each).
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or the tops spring back when lightly touched and a small knife inserted into a center cupcake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven allow the cupcakes to cool completely in muffin tins before frosting.
Prepare the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Slowly begin adding the sugar, and beat until well combined. Beat in the cream, vanilla, and salt. Once combined, turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for about 3 minutes straight. Turn the mixer down to low and add the lemon zest and lemon juice. Beat for another 3 minutes until the frosting is fluffy and light. [Note: If the frosting looks too thin, add that extra 1/2 cup of sugar. If it's too thick, add a splash of cream, and beat to combine.]
Decorate the cooled cupcakes as desired! [Note: Because I used a piping bag, I started to run out of frosting before all the cupcakes were covered. So for about 8 cupcakes, I simply spread the remaining frosting, using a small off-set spatula.]