As any herb gardener will tell you, coming up with applications for your bounty of mint can be a challenge. Mint seems to produce as rapidly as rabbits. Mint julep season of course does not kick off until the first weekend in May (for the Derby), and mojito season is after that. Generally I hardly have any mint at this time of year because my perennials are still dormant. With the record-breaking warmth in March, my mint is up and beckoning for me to use it. I actually made these cupcakes this past weekend for Easter and they were received quite well.
I think lemon and mint is an absolutely beautiful match. Fresh and light, sour and sweet, these cupcakes are the perfect way to celebrate spring. The base for these cupcakes is mint-infused butter. I prefer this as opposed to chopping up the mint and baking into the cupcakes. I prefer this because 1) the mint can turn brown once baked and 2) this keeps the flavor even instead of biting into chunks of mint.
LEMON-MINT CUPCAKESwith Lemon Buttercream (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350F
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup butter , or 1 ½ sticks
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup sour cream
6 Tablespoons mint (I used 3T peppermint and 3T spearmint)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the mint-infused butter, heat 1 ½ sticks butter and mint over a double boiler. Once butter is melted, turn heat down and let sit for 15 minutes. Turn heat off and let sit another 15 minutes. Press through a sieve to remove mint leaves and let cool to room temperature
In stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Once mixture is thoroughly incorporated, add vanilla extract then begin adding eggs one at a time.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt
Alternate adding the dry mixture to the eggs, butter, and sugar with the wet ingredients milk and sour cream, starting and ending with dry mixture. Fold in lemon zest.
Using an ice cream scoop, fill lined pans with batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking with a tester.
LEMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
5 cups powdered sugar
1 cup/ 2 sticks butter, room temperature
8 oz/1 bar cream cheese, room temperature
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
1.Combine butter and cream cheese
2.Add lemon zest and juice
3.Begin adding powdered sugar, one cup at a time
If desired, add 3 drops yellow food coloring