moon and stars cupcakes

My baking job this week was a huge treat: our old playgroup (from six years ago!) gathered to celebrate a third baby girl on the way for our good friend J. Not only are we playgroup friends, but J and I have actually known each other since 7th grade, and we were good friends all through high school, college, and into adulthood. It's been a lot of fun having kids the same ages and living near each other.

It was a small shower - 5 women and 6 little girls - and I thought cupcakes might be better than a cake. I wanted something light, so I chose lemon cupcakes and vanilla buttercream with just a hint of lemon extract. To amp up the girlishness, I tinted the frosting with just a hint of pink. But to make them extra special, I topped them with moon and stars sugar cookies, decorated with yellow and pink royal icing, and brushed with luster dust for a special shine. They came out just as I pictured!

I attached the some of the stars inside the crescent moons, and the rest, I baked on top. I couldn't decide which was cuter.

See the shine of the luster dust? I love that!
I gambled, serving lemon cupcakes to small kids whose palates tend to run toward simple chocolate and vanilla, and true to form, the lemon taste was too strong for a few of them. The adults, though, all raved. These Lemon Drop Cupcakes from Coconut & Lime were light and lemony, and I'm glad the lemon in the frosting was subtle, because it complemented perfectly to let the cupcakes' flavor shine through. You could see bits of lemon rind in the cake, which I liked. They came out exactly as expected based on Rachel's comments, but I'd say I prefer the slightly richer, almost softer, texture of a buttercake. Still, these were a hit, and I'm happy I tried a new recipe!

One more note: Rachel pairs these with something like a 7-minute frosting. I'd like to try that next time; in this case, I was afraid it would set up too quickly to pipe onto the cupcakes.

Lemon Drop Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes. (I made 1 1/2 recipes and got 21)
1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 ounces) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) oil
1/4 cup (2 ounces) lemon juice
2 eggs
zest of two large lemons

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake tins with cupcake papers. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside. In another bowl, mix the sour cream, sugar, oil, lemon juice, eggs, and lemon zest. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix well. Fill 2/3 of the way full (I use a big #16 cookie scoop so they come out pretty evenly sized). Bake for about 15 minutes. The cupcakes will spring back when pressed lightly with a finger. Let them cool for about 5 minutes and then remove them from the pan so they don't get tough on the bottom. Cool completely, and then frost with the frosting of your choice.

I used vanilla buttercream but substituted lemon extract for the almond extract. The lemon-vanilla sugar cookies were topped with Antonia74's royal icing.


Sandra Dee said…
Brilliant :-) And so cute, too......
Dawn C. said…
These are beautiful! The colors are great and they are so cute! I love the star/moon combo. Now I just need an occasion to make these :)
rachel said…
thank you so much for this inspiration . . . just what i was looking for! Love your blog :)

I linked to you in this post.