I first heard about Meyer lemons while I was still in Japan and there was no way to get a hold of them (not without selling an arm or leg, anyway). I never even looked for them last year, figuring they would be difficult to find in my tiny hometown. But when January rolled around this year, I kept an eye out for them. I didn’t obsess over them, which is why I didn’t actually see any of them until the middle of February, when I was looking to replenish my regular lemon supply. There they were, a cute little bag of Meyer lemons, just hanging out next to a display of very unpretty blood oranges (seriously, those blood oranges looked like they’d been around the block a few times, like they were the street gang of the citrus world). I couldn’t resist those adorable golden-yellow lemons, so they came home with me. And they sat in my fruit basket on the kitchen table while I tried to figure out what to do with them.
You can do lots of things with Meyer lemons. The internet is exploding with things you can do with Meyer lemons. I knew I wanted to bake with them, but bake what?
First, I tried cookies. You know those failed lemon sugar cookies I mentioned in yesterday’s post? That was the result. I kept meaning to get a picture of those poor, decrepit cookies, but I never got to it. They came out so spectacularly bad that I just didn’t want anything to do with them.
Naturally, my thoughts turned to cupcakes. It usually does when baking is involved.
So, the search the began. I wanted something simple but tasty, something light and good for pre-spring. I wanted a straight-up lemon cupcake, without other strong flavors to interfere. Because they’re a cross of lemons and oranges, Meyer lemons are sweeter, and they stand on their own just fine. I wanted a cupcake that would just highlight the flavor of the lemon, using both zest and juice.
Here’s what I got:
I used this recipe, which included white chocolate buttercream frosting. I am not overly fond of white chocolate, nor did I want to buy any just for this. So, I went with plain buttercream, because when it comes to frosting, plain buttercream is just plain awesome.
The only other change I made to the recipe was to use less sugar. I’ve been playing around with that recently, reducing sugar amounts in my baked goods. Not by a whole lot – in this case, just a half-cup for a double batch – but it can make a difference in calories. Also, the buttercream came out really sweet, so it was nice to have a cupcake that wasn’t overly sweet on its own.
This was exactly what I wanted: light, spring-y, and highlighting the unique flavor of these sweet lemons. The ricotta was a nice touch, making for a denser crumb without adding any heaviness. Not a bad cupcake to welcome March and the approach of spring!
And it’s nice that the Meyer lemons didn’t all go to waste. I made a double batch of these and instead of the two dozen I expected to get, I ended up with more than three dozen. Oops. Fortunately, Geordie’s co-workers are good sports about eating whatever and however many cupcakes I send in. He took most of them to work, and none came home, which is always a relief to me. I may love to bake, but I certainly don’t want to be stuck eating three-dozen cupcakes between the two of us!
Next time I get my hands on some Meyer lemons, I’m totally making some lemon curd with them. I’d also like to try them in a savory recipe or with a roasted chicken. I can understand why people get so excited about them – they’re an interesting alternative to the average lemon or orange.
And that’s that! Happy baking!