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Nurse’s Week Cupcakes

May 11, 2011

Nurse’s Week occurs from May 6-12 every year. May 6th is national nurse’s day and May 12 is Florence Nightengale’s birthday. Every year I make a treat for my mom’s OBGYN practice to celebrate her nurses. I have made many different cupcakes and cakes. This year my mom really wanted to honor the logo for the day:

I got really inspired by the hand/heart logo and I went through a lot of different ideas about how I wanted to tackle this. I finally decided to make my favorite Lemon Meringue Cupcakes and then make 4 different designs. I really love to bake. Though this was a gigantic amount of work, I had so much fun making these treats and I can’t wait for the nurses to enjoy them tomorrow.

Sarah’s Lemon Meringue Cupcakes:

The first step is to cream 2 sticks of butter (room temperature) with 2 cups of sugar. You know it’s ready when the butter and the sugar mixture looks like a puffy cloud!

Next add 4 eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Then add 3 tablespoons of freshly grated lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. This is my favorite Vanilla Extract. I like to buy the gigantic bottle at the Williams Sonoma Outlet, it’s only $10 there which is a serious steal!

Next you alternate adding dry and wet ingredients. The dry: 3 cups of flour, 1/2 salt (I like kosher or sea salt), 1 teaspoon of baking power. The wet: 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of buttermilk 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (I like to steal my lemons off my neighbor’s tree… Sorry Simon). Add them in 3 batches beating after each addition. You definitely don’t want to overmix. Just wait until the ingredients are incorporated. Once you are finished, scrape down the side and make sure the batter is well mixed. For instance:

Check out all of that lemon zest hiding on the beater!! Scrape everything to be sure you aren’t leaving any thing behind. You want all that good stuff in your cupcakes not left behind in the bowl!

I like to use an ice cream scoop to scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. It makes for cupcakes that are all the same size.

Look at how beautiful that batter is!!!

Once you have filled all of the liners you will have a little left over. This is seriously the most delicious batter, grab a spoon and dig in! 

Once you finish scooping the batter tap the pans on the counter to get out any excess air. It makes the cupcakes bake evenly. Put the cupcakes in a 325 degree oven for 25 minutes, be sure to rotate the pans halfway between cooking.
While the cupcakes are baking I put all of the dishes in the sink. Since I baked these this morning, I made a cup of tea and an english muffin and put my feet up. If it was late afternoon or evening I would have made myself a margarita or poured a glass of wine. For me, Baking is an indulgence and I don’t bother myself with worrying about the cleanup. Baking for my family and friends brings me joy and I like to enjoy the process. Enjoy the perfume coming out of your oven and tackle the dishes while the cupcakes cool 🙂

A Bismark Tip

Usually I make a homemade Lemon Curd to fill the cupcakes. However, the focus on these cupcakes was very much their decorations. So I used my favorite store bought lemon curd to fill the cupcakes. The best way to do this is is to use a Bismark tip. Attach the tip to your piping bag and then fill with the lemon curd. Stick the tip into the center of the cupcake and then as you remove it squeeze the lemon curd into the center of the cupcake. If you do not have one of these tips, you can cut a hole in the cupcake and then fill the center. Either method will produce a delicious product.

After this I spread a little curd across the tops to create a nice lemony glaze!

Ok so I did not take a lot of pictures of making the fondant decorations. You have to work quickly with fondant so it isn’t easy to take pictures unless you have someone else helping you. I bought my fondant from Michaels. I rolled it out with powdered sugar and used food color gels to tint it. I used an exacto knife to cut the shapes and then circular fondant cutters to make the polka dots and the fondant discs.

Now for the frosting!

Whisk 8 egg whites, 2 cups of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tarter in a mixing bowl.

Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until the sugar dissolves the mixture is warm to the touch. Then put the bowl into your standing mixer. Use the whisk attachment and set the speed on low and gradually increase it to high. Beat until stiff peaks form, then beat in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Frost the cupcakes immediately.

And Voila!

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