Back to school… with cupcakes!

Back to school!

Every year for the first day of school my mom would have a whole batch of warm, home-made chocolate chip cookies waiting for me when I got off the bus. Being tired and usually exceedingly crabby, cookies made the day a little bit better for me AND everyone else around. Since I knew my mom was not going to be making cookies for my brother and sister (they’re twins), I knew they deserved to have the same treat and decided to make them the Lemon Gem cupcakes from Vegan with a Vengeance. Granted, I didn’t make cookies, but who wouldn’t be cheered up by a dozen bright and glowing cupcakes?!

When the batter smells good, you know the cupcakes will rock!

As said before, the cupcakes I made were from the ever-amazing Vegan with a Vengeance. I don’t know how any vegan cannot love Isa or Terry. I will admit, making these was just a little self-serving. I had been eye-balling the recipe for a while, had all the ingredients laying around, and I love citrus-y cupcakes so much. I won’t re-post the recipe because it’s not my place to do so, but I do have a lot of pictures!

First of all, when making the batter the first thing you notice is that it smells amazing. How could it not though, with lemon zest and juice? It was such a pretty color as well!

Enough to make you smile

They looked like little round suns when I pulled them out of the oven! They were fragrant enough that my brother, sister, and dad all individually descended from their rooms (no small feat!), into the kitchen, to comment on how they were making the house smell great. As the nights were just starting to get cooler, having a warm, comforting and lemony-scented house is a thing to be cherished. Just like the recipe said, they really do not rise a ton, so filling the tins pretty full is necessary. However, given that the recommended frosting is more like an icing and slightly runny, I would have filled them even less had I known. Something about these cupcakes make them appealing without rising a ton anyhow.

All dressed

I made the lemon frosting, which as said was more like an glaze/icing than a frosting. I should have known though, given the picture of these located in the center of the book. The glaze was still great and was packed with lemon flavor, perfect for the cupcake, and would even be great on a regular vanilla cupcake as well. It was simple and perfect for these cupcakes. I think it would even be fantastic drizzled over a bundt (perhaps the pina colada ones from My Sweet Vegan??) or pound cake.

Great on their own even!

Then, to put the finishing touches on the cupcakes, I look lemon peels and candied them to place on top, following this recipe that I found on epicurious:

  • 1 organic lemon, washed well
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • First, I cut pieces of the peel away from the lemon in long strips, trying to cut as close to the peel as possible, to avoid the pith. After this, I added the peels with 2 cups of water to a saucepan, and brought it to a boil. You then drain this, add another 1 cups of water, and repeat. You do this once more after this. This functions to remove any of the bitterness from the peel, soften it, and allow it to later absorb the sugar. Then, you add your 2 cups of sugar to the pan along with another cup of water, whisking until the sugar is fully dissolved. Adding the peels, you bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, allowing the peels to simmer until they are translucent and soft. This will take around 15-20 minutes. You then drain the peels and let them cool, coating them with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.

    I will admit, I was munching on these before they even made it onto the cupcakes, they were so tasty. Despite being slightly time consuming, they were definitely worth it and made the cupcakes look that more fancy.

    I loved these cupcakes, and so did my sister in particular. They were extremely full in flavor, and besides the glaze, they were not TOO sugary. It is something different from your traditional chocolate or vanilla cupcake with chocolate or vanilla frosting, and I think they are far more cheery and elegant – a cupcake I would bring to cocktail party. They were perfectly moist and were not overly lemon-y. I had one to round out my breakfast, and they were even awesome in the morning alongside coffee. I would make them again in a heartbeat, even the candied lemon peels as well. If I was looking for a thicker frosting, that could easily be done as well while still making it lemony, or simply vanilla as the cupcakes themselves have quite a flavor. I would turn to this recipe again, and am even interested in trying it with different frosting combinations!

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