Lemongrass, Ginger & Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

Let me tell you right now, I don’t know if I can ever top this cupcake recipe. The cake is moist, delicious, and perfumed with luscious vanilla bean, biting with snappy ginger, and syrupy with aromatic lemongrass.

The frosting, and I do not make this claim lightly, is the best buttercream you will ever taste. It’s silky smooth, not too sweet, it will totally melt when it is too warm in the summer and harden a little when it’s cold, because…well, it’s mostly made of butter. Oh, and there’s more vanilla bean, as well as some Meyer lemon in there for good measure. Oh yeah.

Lemongrass, Ginger & Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

Lemongrass, Ginger & Meyer Lemon Cupcakes. This is cupcake perfection.

This is not health food.

Vicky and I had an awesome day making these, as well as Blackberry Mojito cupcakes, blackberry mojitos, a DIY body scrub, and an unbelievable mess. She is more the cupcake maker and decorator among us, while I am a neurotic baker who is never without my digital scale. We go together so nicely.

And because we had so much fun on our baking day, you can be sure there will be plenty more sugar coming your way on this here blog.

Vicky, of the cupcake team

Vicky had only made the shortening/powdered sugar variety before. Pish posh.

The rest of those recipes will be coming at you in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, this is our masterpiece. It is loaded with not good for you things, and they are quite an undertaking to make, but they are absolute perfection. On second thought – you might just want to double batch this thing, because they go fast.

Lemongrass, Ginger & Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

Yield: Makes 12 frosted cupcakes

Ingredients

For the garnish:

  • 1 Meyer lemon, rind removed in 1/2-inch wide by 1-inch long strips
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • Sugar

For the syrup:

  • 4 stalks lemongrass
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water

For the cupcakes:

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 5 oz by weight (or 1 1/2 cups sifted) plain cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp crystallized ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, each stick cut into 8 pieces

For the frosting:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 lb (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, each stick cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice (regular lemon work too if you can’t find Meyer lemons)
  • 1 tsp Meyer lemon zest

Instructions

For the garnish:

  1. Lay down a large piece of parchment paper and sprinkle sugar generously on top. Dip lemon rind strips in the egg white, and lay them skin-side down on the sugar. Sprinkle the tops generously with sugar, making sure both sides are well coated. Set aside to dry overnight.

For the syrup:

  1. Combine water, sugar and lemongrass in a medium-large saucepan. Simmer 15 minutes, making sure sugar is fully dissolved.
  2. Steep at room temperature at least an hour, preferably overnight.

For the cupcakes:

  1. Set your oven rack to the lower middle, and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter the heck out of a 12-count, 1/2 cup size muffin pan. If you like, you can use muffin cups or cupcake wrappers, but only if they’re really pretty.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla bean scrapings in a small bowl. Separate the egg/milk mixture into 1/4 cup and 3/4 cup portions.
  4. With the paddle attachment attached to your stand mixer, in the attached bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and crystallized ginger. Mix on low speed just to blend, about 30 seconds.
  5. Still running on low speed, add the butter one piece at a time. Continue to mix until small, sandy clumps about the size of peas, 30 to 40 seconds after all the butter is added.
  6. Add 3/4 cup of the egg/milk mixture and mix on low speed until just incorporated, 5 to 10 seconds.
  7. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the last 1/4 cup of the egg/milk mixture in a slow, steady stream, about 30 seconds.
  9. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, especially the bottom. Lots of stuff gets stuck down there.
  10. Beat one more time on medium-high speed until thoroughly combined and the batter looks a little curdled, about 15 more seconds.
  11. Divide the batter equally between the muffin cups.
  12. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes are light golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 16-20 minutes.
  13. Remove from the oven and immediately brush generously with hot lemongrass syrup.
  14. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  1. Combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer.
  2. Bring an inch of water to a simmer in a pan slightly smaller than the mixing bowl, and place the bowl on top.
  3. Whisking gently but constantly, heat the mixture until it is thin and foamy and it reaches 160 degrees on the instant-read thermometer. This takes a bit, but don’t skimp. Make sure it gets there, but not over.
  4. Place the bowl back on the stand mixer. Beat the egg mixture on medium-high with the whisk attachment until it is light and airy, and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stop the mixer and add the lemon juice and lemon zest.
  6. Set the mixer to medium and begin adding the butter, one piece at a time, waiting until each piece  is fully incorporated before adding the next. It will look kind of weird in the middle of this process, like you ruined it or something, but when you get to the end, it magically comes together.
  7. After all that buttery goodness is in there, crank it up to high and beat for one more minute until it is light and fluffy. You can cover and refrigerate up to 5 days.

Lemongrass, Ginger & Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

And so pretty too

To color it up:

  1. Make sure the cupcakes are completely cooled before frosting. The frosting should be on the low side of room temperature.
  2. To make the swirly color effect on the frosting (it is optional), we mixed a little ivory and golden yellow gel food coloring into the frosting.
  3. For the accent color, we used a leaf green gel food coloring. Using a piping bag, we painted four vertical lines evenly around the inside of the bag. Use a very light hand in applying the color to the bag, at least if you’re going for a subtle look.

And there you have it! A cupcake that takes quite a bit of effort, but every ounce of it is rewarded. This cupcake is so light and delicate and complex and mind-blowing that other cupcakes, while more brightly colored, pale beside it.

This is a hardcore cupcake recipe. If you make this thing, tell me about it, and send me pictures! Any questions on the techniques here, ask away in the comments section!

Comments

  1. Cool looking cupcakes…AND the flavor combinations are awesome. Lemongrass??Genius!!

    • Natalie Webb says:

      Thanks Miryam! Just the lemongrass syrup by itself is a must make. I am going to be using the leftovers in plenty of cocktails.

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  1. […] This is not health food. {Read on!} […]

  2. […] is the same perfect cupcake and frosting base as we used for the Lemongrass, Ginger & Meyer Lemon Cupcakes back in March (we did make these on an 80-degree day – in March – in Chicago, so summer […]