Fresh lemon — including the juice and the peel — is one of my all-time favorite ingredients, in part because it’s just so versatile. It can be the star of the show (as in this recipe) or a brilliant supporting actor (as in so many of my everyday dishes). It’s indispensable in fish dishes and pairs beautifully with all sorts of vegetables, raw and cooked. I also reach for it regularly to brighten up soups, stews and sautes. The great thing about lemon peel, also known as the zest, is that it adds intense lemon flavor to a recipe without all the acid that is found in the juice. I use grated lemon zest in scrambled eggs and creamy pasta dishes and combine it with chopped herbs as a finishing touch for braised meats.
There are several ways to make sure you squeeze the maximum amount of juice from your lemon. First, soften up the fruit by rolling it on the counter and pressing down as you do. Second, heat it, either by microwaving it for 20 seconds or so or by stashing it in the oven at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes. Finally, cut the lemon in half crosswise and juice it.
These muffins are quite rich, better suited to dessert than breakfast (though they would indeed be a delightful morning splurge on a special occasion). Made with juice and zest, their deep lemon flavor is complemented by the raspberries.
LEMON RASPBERRY POUND CAKE MUFFINS
Start to finish: 45 minutes (15 minutes active)
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
1 pint raspberries
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
Heat the oven to 325 F. Line a cupcake tin with 8 paper cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add half the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Beat in the cream and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Add the remaining flour mixture, beating just until combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them halfway. Press 4 raspberries gently into the center of the batter in each cup, then top with more batter, filling the cups just up to the tops of the liners. Bake the cupcakes on the oven’s center shelf until golden on top and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool completely.
While the cupcakes are baking, make the glaze. In a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar and remaining lemon juice until smooth. When the cupcakes are cooled, drizzle the glaze over each cake.
Nutrition information per serving: 300 calories; 150 calories from fat (50 percent of total calories); 16 g fat (10 g saturated; 0.5 g trans fats); 120 mg cholesterol; 120 mg sodium; 36 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 20 g sugar; 4 g protein.