I made these meyer lemon-raspberry lemon curd filled mini cakes using my new Wilton dessert shell pan. It is the perfect pan for these cakes because the “cavity” it creates on top of each mini cake holds more delicious filling than “coring” and filling regular cupcakes would. Served this way, each bite has the right proportion of filling and cake. These mini cakes are simple, yet elegant desserts that would be perfect to serve at a bridal or baby shower or afternoon tea.
I adapted the aptly named recipe, Perfect Party Cakes, from Dorie Greenspan and I really like how they turned out. They are moist, yet light and airy, and have a fantastic lemon flavor from the addition of both lemon zest and extract. For even more flavor and “wow” factor, I added some fresh raspberries and a whole vanilla bean to the batter to heighten the flavor.
For the filling, I made my trusty meyer lemon curd recipe. It adds another layer of lemon flavor without overwhelming the palate. Since these cakes are so light, I wanted a simple whipped cream frosting to top them. I added some puréed and strained fresh raspberries to the whipped cream, which not only tied the flavors of the entire dessert together, but also added a pretty light pink color.
Meyer Lemon-Raspberry Mini Cakes
Yields approximately 24 cupcakes or 18 mini cakes
For the Mini Cakes
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk, room temperature (I used buttermilk)
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped or 2 teaspoons vanilla paste
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
2 to 3 fresh raspberries for each cupcake/mini-cake (optional), plus more for garnish
For the Filling
approximately 2 cups lemon curd (recipe)
For the Whipped Cream Frosting
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup puréed and strained raspberries, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line muffin tins with cupcake liners. If using a dessert shell pan, spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg whites, and vanilla bean seeds or paste together. Set aside.
Combine the sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of the stand mixer and rub together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. (I combined sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of my mini food processor and pulsed 4 – 5 times until fragrant and then transferred it in the stand mixer bowl.) Add the butter to the lemon sugar mixture and with the paddle attachment, the beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes.
Add the lemon extract. While mixing at medium speed, alternately add the dry and wet ingredients, starting and ending with the flour mixture – add 1/3 of the flour mixture and then 1/2 of the buttermilk/egg mixture, followed by the next 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the remaining buttermilk/egg, and then the last of the flour mixture. Be sure that each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Once the dry and wet ingredients are added, beat for an additional 2 minutes.
Using a large scoop, fill the muffin tins or dessert shell pan with the batter, filling each well about 2/3 of the way. Place 2 to 3 raspberries in the batter and push down to submerge the fruit.
Bake until cakes are springy and a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean, approximately 18-22 minutes.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for a few minutes. Remove cupcakes or unmold the dessert shells, running a knife around the sides, if necessary, and place on the wire rack to finish cooling completely. If not assembling the dessert right away, cooled cakes can be placed in an airtight container overnight.
Before making the whipped cream frosting, place the mixing bowl and whisk attachment of the stand mixer in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes. Once the equipment is chilled, place heavy cream, vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in the cold bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Add the puréed raspberries, a little at a time, to taste, and adjust the sweetness by adding more sugar, if needed. Whisk until stiff peaks form. Store whipped cream, covered in the refrigerator until needed.
To assemble the dessert, “core” the cupcake by carefully cutting a hole in the center and fill with prepared lemon curd or fill the cavity of the dessert shell. Top with some raspberry whipped cream and garnish with a fresh raspberry.
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
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