Lemon Cupcakes with Basil Buttercream

Baking is not my favorite.  My day job is scientific enough that when it comes to cooking I prefer to add a little of this and what I think might taste good rather than precisely measuring out ingredients..
 I also always manage to make an enormous mess and cleaning up flour that managed to flurry all over my kitchen is such a pain.  I do, however, manage to dust off the KitchenAid mixer during holidays or when I'm expecting company.  I love to provide a notable experience for my guests and the smell of fresh baked goods in the house is so inviting.  

Since I was expecting some visitors Easter weekend and they weren't due to arrive until late Friday night, I thought it would be nice to have a treat waiting for them to enjoy after their trip.  I wanted to make something that tasted like springtime so I opted for lemon cupcakes.  I'm not a fan of overly sweet desserts and as a result usually can't stand buttercream so I'm always looking for ways to tone down the sweetness of cupcake frosting. And let me tell you, the addition of the freshness of basil did just that! The flavor combination of the lemon and basil was out of this world and the cupcakes were a huge hit with my out of town guests (including a 10-year old boy)!!!

So.. do yourself a favor and make these immediately!!!  :)

Lemon Cupcakes with Basil Buttercream 


Lemon Cupcakes
(adapted from friedbluetomato)

3 cups self-rising flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks room temperature unsalted butter (1 cup)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 room temperature eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup whole milk (divided)
Juice of 1 lemon (divided)

Basil Buttercream Frosting
(adapted from tattooedmartha.com)

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup basil leaves (torn)
1 package room temperature cream cheese (8 oz)
1 stick room temperature unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
Basil leaves for garnish


Lemon Cupcakes

1.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2.   Line 24 cupcake pan cups with paper liners
3.   Sift the four and salt in a bowl.
4.   In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add in eggs one at a time until completely incorporated.  Then mix in vanilla and lemon zest.
5.   Carefully beat the flour mix into the butter mix a little at a time.  When there is 1/3 of flour mix remaining begin to alternate 1/2 the milk then 1/2 the lemon juice while continuing to add the flour mix then the rest of the milk and lemon juice.  Do not over mix.
6.  Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter.
7.  Bake approximately 16 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.  (While baking, prepare your frosting).
8.  Allow to cool in trays for 10 minutes before transferring them to rack to finish cooling.  Do not frost cupcakes until completely cooled.

Basil Buttercream Frosting

1.   In a small saucepan heat milk and basil on high heat until simmer.
2.   Once simmering, reduce heat to low
3.   Allow to cook and infuse for 30 minutes stirring occasionally (mixture should reduce approximately 2/3).
4.   Add milk-basil infusion to food processor or blender and puree approximately 15-20 seconds
5.   Set aside to cool.
6.   In a bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.
7.   Add vanilla and milk-basil puree stirring until mixed.
8.   Carefully beat in confectioners sugar
9.   Add frosting to piping bag or baggy with corner snipped and frost.

Hope you enjoy!!!


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