The cupcakes are actually double-raspberry – there is a raspberry jam filling hidden under the frosting. I used the same jam, instead of commonly used icing sugar, to sweeten the cream cheese frosting. I strongly dislike the mouthfeel of icing sugar-based fillings.
Makes 12 cupcakes, very generously frosted
For the cupcake batter:
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 large lemon
- 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp pure lemon extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup milk, at room temperature
For the filling:
- About 1/3 cup of raspberry jam
For the frosting:
- ½ cup seedless raspberry jam
- 1/3 cup fine, or, even better – extra fine granulated sugar
- 6 oz (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 lb (2 packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp natural raspberry extract (optional)
- A few drops of red food color (I use organic color and it takes about ¼ tsp to get the right tint)
Make the cupcakes:
Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F. Fit parchment cupcake liners into regular-size muffin molds.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine the granulated sugar and lemon zest. Rub with your fingertips to release fragrant lemon oil.
In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few seconds, until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the extracts. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the bowl as necessary, and beat only enough to incorporate the ingredients after each addition.
Divide the batter between the prepared muffin molds. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in their molds for 5 minutes on a cooling rack, and then unmold and cool completely on the rack before filling and frosting.
Make the frosting, fill and frost the cupcakes:
First, in a small bowl, combine the jam and fine sugar together, stir and let it sit for a few minutes, stirring a couple of times to help the sugar get dissolved.
In a small bowl, using electric beaters, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
In another larger bowl, using the same beaters (no need to wash them) beat the cream cheese until light, creamy, and completely lump-free. Beat in the jam-sugar mixture and extracts. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the creamed butter just until the ingredients are combined, should take less than a minute, add the color.
To fill the cupcakes, cut out a small, round, fennel-like hole with a sharp paring knife in the top of each cupcake. Enjoy the scraps right away. Spoon about a teaspoon of raspberry jam into each cavity. Don’t overfill the cupcakes; otherwise, the frosting can slide off.
Transfer the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a rosette over the top of each cupcake. Refrigerate to firm up the frosting a bit, for about 20 minutes or so.
The cupcakes can be made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Remove the cupcakes from the fridge 30 minutes prior the serving time.