Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lemon Blossoms

My husband is a dentist. You wouldn't know this by looking at this blog, since I mostly post about (and prefer to make) sugary, delicious sweets. But he is one, and he makes sure I still take care of my teeth even if I like to eat candy (a lot) and cookies, cheesecakes, brownies.... now I'm hungry.

So my hubby went to dental school in Cleveland, Ohio at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. We loved it in Cleveland and made a lot of friends. These friends also loved to have lots of parties (pretty much any time a spouse had a birthday or there was a holiday of some sort or someone was pregnant). And I was known for bringing Lemon Blossoms. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that the guest list went something like this: We'll invite blah, blah, blah, oh, and Carissa so she can bring her lemon blossoms. Well, maybe not really, but I know they were thinking it. :)

Technically, this recipe was introduced to me by Celeste, who made it for a church potluck and saw these babies disappear in a matter of minutes. And she was introduced to them by none other than Paula Deen. I actually saw the show where Paula made them and even though I'd made them countless times, I still wanted to see her make them. It was so fun!

You will love the light lemon flavor of these little cakes. The glaze, once it sets, makes these taste almost like a donut hole, but so much better! I made these again recently for a potluck and my kids made sure they got some before they were gone. My 2-year-old literally popped all three of hers in her mouth at the same time and then cried when I told her they were all gone. Looks like I have another batch coming soon, this time just for the family!

Your lineup. All pretty basic.
You will also need mini muffin pans. I have two, and it makes the process so much faster, but it's up to you.
Your batter. You want it to be thick so don't be alarmed that it's not runny like usual boxed cake batter is.
I use two small spoons to get it into the pans. One for scooping, the other for sliding it off the spoon. And you really only use a small amount. These rise really well. I'm guessing about a teaspoon, maybe a little more. No more than halfway full. And notice how liberally I sprayed the Pam (it works best for me). You don't want these suckers to get stuck in the pan! 
All ready to go! Notice they are only half full.
When they are done, they will have risen to the top and are golden brown on the edges. If they are underdone, they will fall apart in the glaze, but you don't want to burn them either.
For your glaze, you want to sift your powdered sugar, then add your lemon zest. Use a microplane, like this, or if you don't have one, use the small side of your cheese grater. Just zest the yellow parts, the white parts are bitter.
After you've zested, roll the lemon on the counter to release the juices. I have a fancy juicer thing and it's been super handy, but you can juice your lemon any way you want. Please please please don't use bottled juice. Fresh is best!
Ahh.... yummy glaze. It doesn't look like a lot, but it is plenty for your cupcakes.
I start by dipping the tops into the glaze...
... and then spreading it around the entire cupcake. If you need more, just dip your fingers in and go for it. It's a messy job, but someone's gotta do it.
Let them dry completely. If you put them in a container still moist, they will stick together. I leave mine out overnight and then put them away in the morning (before the kids get up so they can't sneak any!). My batch usually makes about 80 little lemon blossoms.

Lemon Blossoms
submitted by Carissa, recipe by Paula Deen

18 1/2-ounce package yellow cake mix
3 1/2-ounce package instant lemon pudding mix
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 lb confectioners' sugar (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray miniature muffin tins with vegetable oil cooking spray (Pam works best). Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour a small amount of batter, filling each muffin tin half way (a little more than a teaspoon). Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Turn out onto a tea towel.

To make the glaze, sift the sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, zest, oil, and 3 tablespoons water. Mix with a whisk until smooth.
With fingers, dip the cupcakes into the glaze while they're still warm, covering as much of the cake as possible, or spoon the glaze over the warm cupcakes, turning them to completely coat. Place on wire racks with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips. Let the glaze set thoroughly, about 1 hour (mine actually sit overnight because 1 hour has never been long enough), before storing in containers with tight-fitting lids.

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