Try as I might, I just can't get into golf. I don't like to play it (though putt-putt is sometimes a gas) and I really don't like watching it. I do, however, get a kick out of some of the clothes golfers wear.
Some golfers have become known for things other than (or in addition to) their talents (I'm looking at you, Tiger), and Arnold Palmer is an example. He famously enjoyed a beverage consisting of half sweet tea and half lemonade, so if that combination is something you'd like, all you have to do is order an Arnold Palmer the next time you're footling at the country club.
These cupcakes were inspired by that oddly refreshing drink. The cake (which, incidentally, happens to be the softest, fluffiest, most magnificent white cake I've ever made or eaten) is flavored with lemon zest and extract, and to enhance that citrus zing, I filled each one with a dollop of lemon curd lightened up with some whipped cream. The frosting is flavored with concentrated sweet tea, and it's by far my favorite part of this treat. If you've never used tea to flavor frosting (I hadn't), I urge you to try it soon!
This batch of cupcakes is really pretty ideal for a cookout or summer potluck. If that is your intention, make the frosting a little bit extra stiff--buttercream is notorious for wilting in the heat of the sun.
Arnie Palmer Cupcakes (or, for the more conventional among you, Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling and Sweet Tea Frosting)
- 2-1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/4 cups buttermilk
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- Zest of two lemons
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1-1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, cold
- 1 teaspoon freshly-grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- 3 regular-sized black tea bags
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
First and foremost, make the lemon curd: In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, 1-1/2 tablespoons cream, and butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, 5 to 7 minutes, or until mixture just reaches a boil. Strain the curd into a bowl and stir in the zest. Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
Next, begin the process for making your frosting: Pour 1/4 cup boiling water over the 3 tea bags and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing out excess water; place tea concentrate in the fridge to cool.
Now begin your cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Thoroughly whisk together the milk, egg whites, and extracts in another medium bowl. In a large bowl, rub lemon zest and sugar together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the softened butter and beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until light and very fluffy. Add one third of flour mixture and beat for a bit on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk mixture, then beat in another third of the flour mixture until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk mixture, then the final third of the flour mixture. Beat for an additional 2 minutes until batter is well-blended. Distribute the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.
Continue making the filling: Once your curd is cool, whip the remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold this whipped cream into the curd until no streaks remain and the curd is lightened. To fill the cooled cupcakes, carve a cone shape section out of the top of each cupcake and fill the hole with a generous blob of curd. P lace the filled cupcakes in the fridge whilst you finish making the frosting.
Finish making the frosting: In the bowl of a mixer, beat the softened butter until smooth. Add the cooled tea and powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Once all the powdered sugar is mixed in, increase the speed to medium high and beat for about a minute, until fluffy. Add more powdered sugar if needed to get the proper consistency. Generously frost the filled cupcakes and serve.