These treats are a mixture of two of my favourite desserts. The sweetness of the curd works brilliantly with the cream cheese frosting – a buttercream icing would be too sweet. I have topped the cupcakes with digestive crumbs to make them even more cheese-cakey, but if you prefer you can simply sprinkle with a little lemon zest or even a few raspberries. Lemon curd has a reputation as being difficult to make, but trust me, it’s really not! It is really delicious and can be used in many other ways, such as being spread on toast or scones. This one keeps in the fridge in a sterelized jar for about two weeks, so can be made well in advance. A final note: ensure you use full-fat cream cheese for the icing – low fat doesn’t blend properly.
For the lemon curd:
225g caster sugar
For the sponge:
80g butter, softened
220g plain flour
250g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
210ml milk (preferably whole milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
125g cream cheese, straight from the fridge
250g icing sugar
80g digestive biscuits (optional)
1. First make the curd. Juice and zest the lemons.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, sugar, eggs and lemon juice over a low heat. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat to speed up the process – the eggs will scramble!
3. Strain the curd into a mixing bowl using a sieve. Stir in the lemon zest
4. Cover the mixture with cling-film, so the film is touching the surface. Allow to cool completely at room temperature
5. Meanwhile, make the sponge. Preheat the oven to 170oC and line the muffin tin with bun cases
6. Whisk together, using an electric whisk if you have one, the butter, sugar, flour baking powder and salt until crumb-like with no large lumps
7. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla extract by hand
8. Pour in half of the liquid mixture into the crumb mix. Mix thoroughly with the electric whisk on a low speed. Add the rest of the liquid and continue to mix until you have a smooth, thick batter, turning up the speed towards the end
9. Spoon the batter into the cases, so each is about two thirds full
10. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden brown and spring back if you prod them lightly
11. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin, then to cool completely on a wire rack
12. To make the topping, whisk the cream cheese and butter until softened. Sieve in the icing sugar and whisk again until smooth. Leave to set further in the fridge if necessary.
13. To assemble the cupcakes, cut out a small round in the centre of each cooled cupcake, reserving the ‘lids’ to replace later. Fill each hole with about a teaspoon of curd, and replace the lids.
14. Cover the top of each cupcake with the cream cheese frosting. For the digestive topping, if using, blitz the digestives in a food processor, or if you don’t have one place them into a plastic bag, close tightly and give them a good bash with a rolling pin until they resemble fine crumbs.
15. Place the digestive crumbs into a wide bowl. Dip the top of each cupcake into them, so the crumbs stick to the icing