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Ricotta Lemon Cupcakes with Almond

Cupcakes aren’t just for kid’s parties anymore! Cupcake baking has turned into a million-dollar industry. Boutique bakeries focusing on producing cupcakes are opening everywhere, trying to tap into our need for this individually-sized sweet treat! 

Traditional flavors such as chocolate, red velvet, and strawberry are often available in local grocery store bakeries as well. Some bakers have begun to experiment with cupcake flavors such as German chocolate, orange creamsicle, or cinnamon-sugar donut. 

However, all of these ready-to-eat cupcakes come at a high price. Never fear! You can enjoy delicious cupcakes without breaking the bank by preparing them at home in your own kitchen.  

Read on to learn valuable tips for making the most delicious cupcakes and find cupcake recipes to enjoy.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Cupcake:

Make sure you have all of the ingredients you need before you start baking. Check the date on leavening agents, such as baking soda and baking powder, to be sure that they have not expired. Bring any refrigerated items to room temperature. 

To make cupcakes you will need a muffin tin - mini, regular, or super-size - a mixing bowl, an electric mixer or a strong arm, a rubber spatula, and measuring cups and spoons. You could also use paper liners to save on clean up and a piping bag for applying the icing, if you so choose.

Preheat the oven while you are mixing your cupcake batter. Baking them in a hot oven will give your cupcakes the lightest, most delicate flavor.

Give your cupcakes a flavor boost by adding mix-ins to your batter, such as chocolate chunks, baking chips, sprinkles, crushed cookies, chopped nuts, dried fruit, or chopped cup candy bars.

Use an ice-cream scoop or measuring cup to fill cupcake tins consistently. You could also place your batter in a zip top bag, snip one of the corners and squeeze batter into each tin. Your recipe will tell you how full to fill each tin, most recommend ½ or ? full.

If you decide to use paper liners and want to make sure they come off easily, the cupcakes need to be completely cool when you eat them. Freezing the cupcakes will ensure that the liners come off quick and easy.

Follow recipe instructions for baking times. Most recipes will recommend 350 for 18-20 minutes for regular-sized cupcakes. Minis will need less time, super-sized will need more. After your cupcakes have been in the oven for the minimum recommended time, test them with a toothpick or cake tester. It should come out clean or with tiny baked particles on it - no raw batter! Fully baked cupcakes should also spring back when you lightly press the top.

Take cupcakes out of pans immediately and let them cool on a wire rack, otherwise they will sweat in the pan. To be sure they are completely cool and ready to frost, make them the night before, place them in an airtight container once they feel cool, and then frost them in the morning.

After your cupcakes are cooled fill them! Follow recipe instructions or go out on your own. You could fill cupcakes with jam, pudding, marshmallow fluff, or icing. Use a pastry bag with a tip to inject filling or use a cupcake or apple corer to remove a piece of cake in the center of the cupcake, spoon in filling and then put a piece of cake back on top to create an even surface for frosting.

To top your cupcakes, use a piping bag with a star tip to apply the frosting. You could also use a butter knife or offset spatula to spread frosting on your cupcakes. Dipping your cupcakes upside down in ganache is also a good option. Once your cupcakes are frosted/ganached sprinkle on crushed cookies, chopped nuts, colorful sprinkles, or decorate your cupcakes with candies or marshmallows.

To keep your cupcakes moist, cover the whole surface of the cupcake with frosting or ganache, not just the center. This will seal in the moisture.

Be sure your cupcakes are completely cool before adding finishing touches. You could frost, ice, or dip your cupcakes in ganache. For a cinnamon-sugar donut cupcake, you can brush a nutmeg spiced vanilla cupcake with butter and then roll it in cinnamon sugar.

Cupcakes with filling or whipped cream topping need to be kept in the refrigerator. Otherwise, store in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature.

You can freeze cupcakes with or without frosting, although cupcakes frozen without the frosting have a better texture when thawed. Either way, put your cupcakes in an airtight container after they are completely cooled and then place them in the freezer. They will be good for about 3 months. 

When you are ready to enjoy them, set the cupcakes out on the counter for 15-20 minutes to come to room temperature. Once fully thawed, your cupcakes are ready to eat or decorate, and then eat. 


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