Almost-Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Frosting

Almost-Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Frosting

I am a firm believer that "from-scratch" baking is best, but I developed this recipe using a white cake mix to save time; you'll never know the difference!  A diehard lemon fan, I wanted a cupcake that was tart and lemony, not overly sweet with an artificial flavor, and frosting that was creamy, bright, tart, and light.  I tried using left-over lemon curd in the frosting and it worked beautifully.  Fresh lemon zest and juice lend tartness and a true lemon flavor.  These cupcakes will bring a ray of sunshine into your kitchen!  Makes 18 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

Place 18 cupcake liners in cupcake pans.  ( I used paper baking cups in the picture.)

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.

1 box white cake mix

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 whole eggs

1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice

3/4 cup water

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

Place all of the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and blend on low speed until no dry particles remain.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl and stir through the batter to make sure it is evenly mixed.

Using a #20 (1 5/8 ounce) scoop portion the batter evenly among the cupcake liners.

Bake, turning the pan half-way through, for 18-23 minutes, or until a tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.  Cool for a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. 

Use a piping bag and large plain or star tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Cupcakes may be frozen, then frosted after thawing.

For the Lemon Curd Frosting:

4 ounces butter, softened

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup lemon curd (homemade or purchased)

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract

6 cups sifted confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

2-3 Tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Combine the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until well combined at medium speed.  Add the lemon curd and beat at high speed, scraping down the bowl several times.  Add 2 cups of confectioners sugar along with the pinch of salt and beat until completely smooth.  Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix on low until well incorporated; increase speed and beat until very smooth (it will be a bit stiff).  Reduce speed to low and add 1 Tablespoon of the lemon juice at a time until the desired consistency of the frosting is achieved.  Frost cupcakes.  Leftover frosting may be refrigerated or frozen for later use, just beat it well before using.


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