On the day of my spaghetti dinner, I followed a careful hourly plan, with every task scheduled from the moment I woke up. I stayed on program until about 4 p.m., when I was about to get in the shower and I realized that I’d failed to schedule a time to make dessert.
The rest of the afternoon was a mad rush to finish preparing the meal, get myself and my apartment cleaned up, and try to erase the expression on my face that screamed, the shirt is about to hit the flan.
My brother was running a little late anyway, and Mom and Greg pitched in on the salad when they arrived. Disaster averted!
These sweet and tangy cupcakes were the perfect end to my Lunch Bunch trial run dinner. I needed a treat that would be easy to transport to work, so rather than making an authentic Italian dessert, I decided to make a cupcake with some of my favorite Italian ingredients.
I’d been interested in baking a cake using olive oil ever since I had the lovely olive oil corn bread at Il Gatto a few months ago. Pairing it with lemon was a no brainer for me. I love lemon. No matter what time of year it is, as soon as I begin to zest a lemon, I’m overcome with an overwhelming sense of spring.
I adapted an olive oil cake recipe from Cafe Fernando that demanded I overcome my irrational fear of baking a cake from scratch. The cake turned out dense and moist—a little crumbly, like a pound cake. It’s very lemony, not overly sweet, and the olive oil gave it almost a savory flavor.
The mascarpone frosting recipe is Martha Stewart’s, so yeah. It’s perfect. The texture was light and fluffy, and the mascarpone gave it a luxurious buttery tang.
Recipe below the fold.
Olive Oil Lemon Cupcakes
Adapted from Cafe Fernando
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest and rub together to extract the oil from the zest.
Add olive oil and mix on high speed until completely combined.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg is added.
Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix on slow speed.
Add half of the lemon juice and continue mixing.
Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by the rest of the lemon juice, and the remaining flour mixture, beating to combine between each addition.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the cupcakes bounce back when touched.
Makes 12 cupcakes.
Recipe by Martha Stewart
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat, or cream will be grainy). In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately.
This recipe made far more frosting than I needed to top 12 cupcakes, which is, really, not a terrible problem to have. Nonetheless, when I make it for Lunch Bunch, I will likely cut the recipe in half.
I also topped each cupcake with a few chopped hazelnuts.