So, the move went well but it has left me exhausted. We are settling in at the place and I feel like I have to do everything at once. Since that is not really a good idea, I am taking it slow. So I thought it was time for another blog post. This recipe is a few weeks old but I just got down to editing the pictures. I am yet to do any baking at the new place and I think this was the last major baking I did before the move.
I do my homework before baking anything. Baking is the only area in which I really follow a recipe/method. Even if I am making up my own recipe, I take care that the dry to wet proportions are correct and the leavening agents are just right to do the job. So one gorgeous morning (a couple of weeks ago, before the rain gods lashed out at Texas), I was craving tangy and sweet lemon cupcakes with some sort of berry frosting, maybe even with cream cheese in it…ooh!! It is a classic combo and shouldn’t go wrong, right?
Well, long story short, it kind of did. The recipe I used was a cross between my strawberry cupcakes and fresh orange muffins recipes. But the lemony batter (which tasted amazing and smelled even more amazing) rose too much in the oven. Some of the cupcakes spilled over and the tops of the others were cracked, almost like muffins. So my hopes of having perfectly baked and frosted lemon cupcakes were dashed.
There I was, picking at the browned cupcake bits, and I had already softened the butter and cream cheese for the frosting. Well, nothing like a failure to get your creative juices flowing, right? I looked around and found I had the perfect components for cheesecake parfait.
I could layer bits of lemon cupcakes, fresh strawberries and some cream cheese topping. Isn’t that purtty?!!
You could go about a couple of ways with the cream cheese topping. I detoured from a classic cream cheese frosting recipe by reducing the amount of powdered sugar it needed and flavoring part of it with a scoop of my strawberry jam. Cream cheese frosting typically needs a lot of sugar so that it can hold its shape and doesn’t end up being too runny. But you can get away with reducing the sugar slightly for this parfait. Just chill the cream cheese topping well before piping into the glasses and refrigerate leftovers immediately so that they don’t become too runny. If you want a more pudding or mousse like texture, fold in some whipped cream.
As for the cupcakes, I don’t think the recipe itself is a failure. The flavor and texture were perfect and some cupcakes did turn out just as I envisioned. I think I just needed to fill all the cupcake liners only half-way instead of the usual 2/3rd-way full the next time. That way, this recipe should yield at least 15 cupcakes.
You can use store-bought cake or cupcakes in this recipe or even some crushed–up sugar cookies. In that case, you can add some lemon juice and zest to the cream cheese topping to get the lemon-strawberry flavor. Or maybe not. You can simply come up with your own parfait. Whatever. But this lemon-strawberry parfait is super cute and so easy, I had to it here.
I am giving the recipe for the lemon cupcakes as well. Despite the not-so-impressive looks, the cupcakes did taste awesome. I will update the recipe in case I bake an even better version.
LEMON STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE PARFAIT
I have given the lemon cupcakes recipe first, scroll down for cheesecake parfait recipe.
LEMON CUPCAKES (Makes at least 15 cupcakes)
You will need:
- All purpose flour – 1 1/2 cups
- Baking soda – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Butter – 1/2 cup, softened at room temperature
- Sugar – 1 cup
- Eggs – 2, large
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- Milk – 1/4 cup
- Lemon juice – 3 tbsp (juice of 1 large lemon)
- Lemon zest – from 1 lemon
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg.F and line a cupcake pan with liners.
- Sift the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one and the vanilla extract and beat till incorporated, at least 2 minutes.
- Mix the milk and lemon juice in a cup. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the bowl, alternating with the milk-lemon juice mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix till just combined and fold in the lemon zest. Do not overmix, the batter will be thick and spongy.
- Fill cupcake liners halfway full (you will get at least 15 cupcakes or maybe even more) and bake for 18-20 minutes or till they pass the toothpick test.
- Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. You can store the cupcakes in an airtight container for one day at room temperature, but do refrigerate for longer durations.
LAYERED CHEESECAKE PARFAIT (Makes 4 large servings or 6-8 smaller servings)
You will need:
- Cream cheese – 8 oz, softened
- Butter – 4 tbsp, softened
- Powdered sugar – 1 1/2 cups
- Strawberry jam – 2 tbsp (strawberry preserve or puree will work too)
- Fresh strawberries – 8, chopped
- Lemon cupcakes – 4, cut into thin rounds or small chunks
In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low-speed, add the powdered sugar half a cup at a time until smooth and creamy.
- Finally, fold in the strawberry jam and adjust thickness with more sugar if needed.
- Refrigerate for half an hour so that the cream cheese topping firms up a bit.
- To assemble the parfait, layer dessert glasses or bowls with a few pieces of lemon cupcakes, followed by chopped fresh strawberries. Pipe or spoon the strawberry flavored cream cheese mixture on top. Refrigerate till ready to serve.
- Just before serving, garnish with a slice of fresh strawberry or lemon wedge and enjoy!
This is such a refreshing dessert to try this summer. It is by no means light, because of the cream cheese in it. But it’s totally worth it!
The lemon cupcakes pair really well with the fresh berries and the delicious cream cheese topping. Try it and let me know how you like it.
I am sharing this over at Angie’s amazing blog link party at The Novice Gardener.