I used to have room in my kitchen (and in my life) for a cupcake holder, a plastic container that could hold one singular frosted cupcake. It had prongs to keep the cupcake upright so that even a frosted cupcake would stay intact if tossed into a bag and toted across the city. Sadly (I guess?) there aren’t that many circumstances where I need to carry one decorated cupcake (tell me, what circumstances are those, exactly?) and there isn’t space in my apartment for a full-sized sofa, let alone an extraneous single-use vessel. (That’s right: I own neither hat boxes nor shoe bags.)
And yet sometimes I find myself longing to transport not one but a group of fanciful cupcakes to a party or a picnic. The whimsy of a personal-sized cake, complete with frosting, cannot be denied. And it’s not like it’s that easy to get a full-sized cake or, heaven forbid, a pie to a get-together unscathed (and if you do, you then have to worry about slicing it gracefully). Cupcakes are easy to distribute to a group, requiring no forks, plates, or requests for “only a small slice for me please.”
My solution, then—for cupcakes that are decorative, delicious, and easy to take to a party sans speciality carrier—are these Berries and Cream Cupcakes. Instead of getting frosting on top, they each have a pocket of lemony cream cheese flecked with sweet-tart raspberries in the center. The tangy, berry-filled cream cheese gives the dessert fruit danish vibes and keeps the cupcakes interesting (because even when cake is buttery and tender, it gets a bit monotonous without a little help from something tangy and creamy). The cream cheese middle also makes any additional component, like frosting or sprinkles, irrelevant.
All of which means that these cupcakes are self-possessed and self-contained, ready to be tucked into any old Tupperware (or just the tin it was baked in!) and transported to wherever the summer may take you.
1 1/2 cups
whole egg, + 3 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons
unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
Heat the oven to 350° F and line a twelve-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Make the cake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or working with electric beaters and a large bowl), beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the egg, beating to combine, then add the yolks one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and lemon juice.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the yogurt mixture, until no dry streaks remain.
Make the cream cheese swirl: In a medium bowl, use a wooden spoon or a sturdy rubber spatula to beat the cream cheese until light and smooth, with no lumps. Add the egg white, sugar, and salt and mix vigorously to dissolve the sugar and break up the egg white. Reserve 12 raspberries, then coarsely chop the rest. Fold into the cream cheese mixture along with the lemon zest.
Using an ice cream or cooking scoop, place a dollop of cake batter in each muffin tin, followed with a heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat process so that you have four layers—cake, cream cheese, cake, cream cheese—in each muffin tin, then gently swirl together with a paring knife, offset spatula, or skewer. Halve the 12 remaining raspberries, then place two halves on each cupcake, cut side down. Press gently into the cupcake.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cupcakes are golden brown and a tester comes out clean.
Let cool completely in muffin tin. Cupcakes can be made 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.