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Author Notes: Let’s get metaphysical (sing along if you know the words, folks).
I was in a metaphysics class (in case you’re wondering: yes, it is impossible to say that particular combination of words without sounding like an asshole) and we got into a debate about what constitutes a martini. The correct answer, as the professor so rightly explained, was gin, vermouth, and either an olive or a twist of lemon.
Now, to anyone who’s been fortunate enough to read this lovely blog should already know that what I just described is, in fact, a martini, and anything else is blasphemy on a par with executing the Pope in St. Peter’s Square and starting to worship his hat.
But the reasoning she gave, that’s what gave me a little bit of the think-juice. She said this:
If changing the garnish from an olive to a cocktail onion is enough to change the drink from a Martini to a Gibson, how could a Martini be anything but gin and vermouth?
And she’s right. 100% right. Right enough to extrapolate it across the board: if changing one ingredient makes enough of a difference to change the name, then you’d damn well better believe each and every one of those ingredients matters.
Granted, that flies in the face of all the times I’ve uttered an emphatic ‘meh’ to my measuring spoons and instead elected to more or less fling fistfuls of vanilla paste at whatever happens to be going into my oven at the time. But the point remains the same. Ingredients matter, and they make the biggest difference when they’re distilled down to their purest form. Keep it pure, keep the ingredients where they belong, and that’s where flavor happens.
That’s why this week we’re going to cook the everloving shit out of a bunch of lemons and shove it inside a lemon cupcake. And we’re gonna make coconut frosting and top it with more coconut.
Because we’re purists; right? —Fresh Beats, Fresh Eats
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups AP flour
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 (1 stick) cups unsalted butter (room temp)
- 1/3 (+ 1 tbsp) cups lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons milk (2%)
- 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
- 1/3 cup greek yogurt (also 2%)
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- toasted coconut cookie thins (for garnish, Trader Joe's has some)
- toasted sweet coconut flakes (also for garnish)
Frosting & Marmalade
- 6 lemons
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces cream cheese (room temp)
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temp)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- First, the marmalade. Juice the lemons and take out the seeds, and make sure you save the juice.
- I started to cut the peels into thin strips, and then got fed up and threw them into my food processor because I’m lazy. If you have one, I suggest you do it my way. If not, slice the lemon peels nice and thin.
- Either way you slice it (see, see what I did there? This is why I’m a writer, folks. Comedy gold.), throw the peels into a large pot and cover them with cold water. Bring it to a boil and boil for a minute, then drain them and rinse under more cold water. Do it a couple more times, but don’t rinse on the last pass.
- Throw the peels back into the pot along with the lemon juice and sugar, bring it up to a simmer on medium, and let it cook for around 30 minutes, giving it the occasional stir. To test if it’s ready, put a ceramic plate in the freezer, put a little bit of the marmalade on it, and stick it back in for a couple minutes. If you can push the stuff on the plate with your finger and it wrinkles up, you’re ready to go. If not, give it some more love on the stove.
- While that’s happening, you can get to work on the cupcakes.
- Start by preheating the oven to 350.
- Get a bowl and whisk together the dry stuff: flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
- Get another bowl and do the same thing with the yogurt, milk, vanilla, and lemon juice.
- Put the butter and sugar in your stand mixer and cream them together on medium for 2-3 minutes, until they’re light and fluffy.
- Mix in the eggs one at a time, then the lemon zest.
- Next, mix in the dry stuff and the wet stuff, alternating until it’s all in there.
- Stir in the poppy seeds, put the batter in a cupcake tin, then throw it into the oven for about 30 minutes. Let them cool for 5, then let them cool some more on a cooling rack while you make the frosting.
- This part’s easy: cream together the butter and cream cheese in your stand mixer until they’re…well, creamy. Then add the other frosting ingredients and mix. Even a monkey could do it.
- Once the cupcakes are at room temperature, scoop out a tablespoon from the tops of each and fill them with that sweet, tangy marmalade.
- Frost the cupcakes, top with the toasted coconut, and stick a cookie in the top of each. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of pastry-physics the cookies get all soggy and gross if you keep them in the cupcakes for long, so you gotta put them in the day you eat them.
More Great Recipes: Desserts