Cupcakes are dainty pockets of sweetness, all pink and pastels, topped with cute decorations capable of turning elegant women into girly giggles and pools of mush upon sight. That is, cupcakes created by an experienced hand, which I’m not. As you can see from the durian-like appearance of the cupcakes in this post, my decorating skills still have some way to go before eliciting the same amount of gushing that these cupcakes probably do.
I discovered Cupcake Bakeshop a few years ago, and immediately fell in love with cupcakes. Well, more like the cupcakes that Cheryl developed, combining flavors in ways that I had never thought would go together. There was a Chocolate Tarragon cupcake with a Tarragon Cream Cheese frosting, Papaya-Coconut cupcakes with Ginger-Lime Cream Cheese frosting, or, for the more daring, Wasabi White Chocolate cupcakes with Plum Sake filling. I mean, even if you weren’t a cupcake fan prior to reading her blog (as was the case with me), the innovative combinations of flavors that she showcased in her creations were truly stunning. Although the blog has since ‘closed’ (and sadly so), you can still find all her recipes at this page.
Among her different concoctions, the one recipe that really caught my eye was for a batch of lemongrass cupcakes. I love the tangy fragrance and mellow notes of cooked lemongrass, and this recipe really doesn’t disappoint. Each bite packs a punch of lemongrass notes, leaving you craving for more. I wanted to pair this flavor with a calamansi lime frosting, but I was unable to find the fruit. On a whim, I decided to go with a matcha buttercream frosting, which turned out a little too subtle for the lemongrass. While both flavors didn’t collide, the lemongrass was far more distinctive which overpowered the subtle, earthy nuances of the matcha frosting. You might want to try this lemongrass-coconut frosting that Cheryl suggests in her original post, or you might get inspired (like I did), and develop your own flavors.
Lemongrass Cupcakes (adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop)
Makes 24 cupcakes
1½ cups whole milk
1 to 2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped (depending on the intensity of flavor you prefer)
Bring the milk and lemongrass to a gentle simmer for about 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the liquid cool until just slightly warm.
Transfer all the lemongrass solids and about half the milk into a blender and pulse for about 30 seconds. If you don’t have a blender, omit the milk and grind the lemongrass solids into a coarse paste in the food processor and add it back into the milk. I found that this approach improved the texture of the final cupcake.
Transfer the processed lemongrass and milk back into the pan and let it cool fully before using.
1 cup lemongrass milk
1 teaspoon lemongrass, tender part only, chopped finely
2 sticks/ 230 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
A pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C. Beat the butter at high speed with an electric mixer until soft, then add the sugar and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, waiting for the previous egg to be incorporated before adding the next.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl, and add the chopped lemongrass to the milk.
Start adding all the flour and the milk to the butter/sugar mixture in batches, alternating between the flour and the milk and waiting for the previous addition to be fully incorporated before adding the next.
Scoop the batter into cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Matcha buttercream frosting:
1 stick/ 115 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons light whipping cream
1 tablespoon matcha powder
1½ to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Mix the matcha with the cream to make a paste. In a separate bowl, beat the butter briefly, until it achieves a thick, paste-like texture.
Add the matcha paste and the sifted sugar to the butter and continue to beat the mixture until smooth.
Pipe or spread each cupcake with the frosting.