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Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Pound Cake Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

These Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting are a delicious and light springtime treat.  Since blueberries impart a delicate flavor, I was little concerned the stronger flavors in this cupcake (i.e., the lemon and cream cheese) would overpower it.  I started testing to ensure all of the flavors would be balanced without one overpowering the others.  My first couple versions were not balanced.  The lemon was too strong or the only flavor in the frosting was cream cheese.  Eventually, I created the recipe below.  The lemon cake is fragrant and airy; the blueberry filling is sweet and fresh; and the blueberry frosting is absolutely gorgeous with the natural purple coloring from the added blueberry filling.  I especially like the subtle taste of cream cheese which offsets the sweetness of the frosting. 

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Ingredients for Lemon Cake
Ingredients for Blueberry Filling
Ingredients for Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Equipment for Making Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Frosting
Making the Lemon Cake
Lemon Pound Cake Cupcake Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 350°F/178°C. 

Add flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.

Place butter and cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer).  Beat on medium speed until combined.  You might need to scrape down the bowl a couple times to ensure the cream cheese is completely mixed in. 

Next, cream together the cream cheese mixture with the granulated sugar on medium speed by adding small amounts of sugar at a time until it is fully incorporated. The mixture should gain some volume and change colors to be almost white.

Add the eggs in 3 additions and fully incorporate after each addition. 

Add the flour in 3 additions and mix until just incorporated.  Finish by adding the vanilla and lemon zest.  Mix to combine. 

Preparing the Cupcake Pan

Place a cupcake liner in each depression of a cupcake pan.  This will allow each cupcake to bake without sticking to the sides of the pan. 

Use a large ice cream scoop or two large spoons to fill each cupcake liner ¾ full with batter. 

Baking the Lemon Cupcakes

Place the cupcake pan in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  If your oven heats inconsistently, rotate the pan from front to back halfway through baking.  When testing the cupcakes for “doneness,” I usually test a few different cupcakes in different parts of the pan to ensure all are baked. 

Lemon Pound Cake Cupcakes Cooling

Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Giving the cupcakes a few minutes to cool in the pan allows the cake to be moved without falling apart.  The cake structure sets as it cools. 

Making the Blueberry Filling

Line a small bowl with a paper towel and add the smaller quantity of blueberries (i.e., 1½ oz of wild blueberries) on top of the towel.  The paper towel will wick away the extra moisture.  We don’t want a lot of excess juice for the topping because it leaves splotchy purple marks on the frosting. 

Making Freeze-Dried Blueberry Powder

Place the freeze-dried blueberries in a resealable bag and use a rolling pin to crush the berries into a fine powder. 

Making Blueberry FIlling

Add the larger amount of frozen wild blueberries (i.e., 2 cups/255g), tapioca flour, sugar, freeze-dried blueberry powder, lemon zest, and lemon juice into a medium saucepan.  If you are using corn starch instead of tapioca flour, place the corn starch in a small bowl, add a small amount of water and stir to create a slurry.  Then pour the slurry into the saucepan.  Cornstarch has a tendency to stay in clumps if added to the mixture and it doesn’t taste good to bite into a clump of cornstarch. 

Cook over medium heat until the berries have thawed.  This should happen within a couple minutes since they are so little.  Use a potato masher or your spatula to smash the blueberries while cooking.  This will help to release the moisture from the berries to create a sauce.  Continue cooking while stirring occasionally until the mixture begins to boil and thickens slightly.  This should take approximately 5 minutes.

Cooling Blueberry Filling

Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl to allow it to cool.  If you want the blueberry filling to cool quickly, pour the mixture onto a baking sheet and spread it into a thin layer.  Cool until it reaches room temperature.  It will continue to thicken while it cools. This filling could also be made ahead of time and left in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Tapioca Flour vs Cornstarch

Both cornstarch and tapioca flour can be used to thicken liquids, but there are a few important differences. 

  • The first difference (and in my opinion, the most important) is taste.  The more I bake, the more I realize I dislike the flavor of cornstarch.  A lot of people say it is flavorless, but I disagree.  I much prefer the flavor of tapioca flour (i.e., no noticeable flavor at all). 
  • The appearance of the final product differs as well.  Cornstarch tends to make a mixture murky and matte.  If the mixture is frozen and then thawed, it also has a tendency to get spongy.  Tapioca flour on the other hand will produce a mixture that is glossy and more transparent.  If the mixture is frozen and then thawed, it will retain its texture.  
  • Cornstarch stands up well to high heat and long cooking times.  Tapioca flour will lose its thickening ability if subjected to heat for too long. 
  • If using tapioca flour instead of cornstarch, use half the amount specified.  In other words, if a recipe calls for 2 tsp of cornstarch, only use 1 tsp of tapioca flour. 
Why Frozen Wild Blueberries?

Blueberries, like all fruits, have a season where they taste best.  If you are making this recipe during berry season, the fresh berries will likely be sweet and full of flavor.  Outside of berry season, the flavor of fresh blueberries is not very good.  Frequently, they barely even have a taste (i.e., hint of blueberry). 

This is where frozen blueberries come in handy.  Frozen blueberries tend to be sweeter and more flavorful than fresh blueberries because they are picked when they are ripe and immediately frozen.  Fresh blueberries are frequently picked before they are fully ripe and then shipped to grocery stores. 

There is also a difference between wild blueberries and ordinary blueberries.  The first difference is the size.  Wild blueberries are significantly smaller (and in my opinion, much cuter) than ordinary blueberries).  This difference in size means that the wild blueberries have less water in them and offer a more intense blueberry flavor. 

If you aren’t able to find frozen wild blueberries, that’s not a big deal.  This recipe can be made with normal frozen blueberries.  Use the same process, you just might need to cook the filling a little longer or add a very small amount of extra tapioca flour to thicken the mixture. 

Making the Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

Add the cream cheese and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Beat them at medium speed until completely combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the vanilla extract and salt.  Mix to combine. 

Next, add the sifted powdered sugar in 3 additions and mix on low speed until incorporated.  I always sift my powdered sugar when making frosting so I don’t have clumps of unmixed sugar.  The sugar clumps make the flavor inconsistent (i.e., if you bite into a clump, it just tastes sweet instead of the flavor of the frosting) and gives a lumpy appearance.  The bumps can also create blockages in piping tips, which can affect your decorations. 

Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

After the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to high and beat for 1-2 minutes to incorporate air, increase the volume, and break up any sugar or cream cheese lumps.  Add the blueberry filling and beat until combined. 

Transfer the blueberry cream cheese frosting to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip (e.g., 1M). 

Decorating the Lemon Cake Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

When the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a cupcake corer to remove the center of the cupcake. Then, use a spoon to fill the center with blueberry filling, pipe a swirl on top of the cupcake, and sprinkle a few thawed wild blueberries over the top as a decorative garnish.

Storing the Lemon Cake Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Lemon Pound Cake Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Cupcakes are best the day they are baked, but they can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days.  Ideally, add the fruit immediately before serving so it doesn’t dry out or become shriveled while in the fridge.  Allow the cupcakes to come to room temperature before eating.  If you eat them straight from the fridge, the frosting will be hard and a little crumbly. 

I love the combination of the bright lemon flavor paired with blueberries.  The blueberry filling and blueberry topping ensures the flavor of blueberry is present and the blueberry filling adds a gorgeous natural color to the frosting.  These Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting taste like spring!

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Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time18 mins
Decorating Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 12 cupcakes

Equipment

  • Stand mixer with the paddle AND whisk attachments (or hand mixer with large bowl)
  • Measuring cups and spoons AND/OR digital scale
  • Whisk
  • Microplane zester or a box grater
  • Silicone spatula
  • Cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners
  • Large ice cream scoop (i.e., fits approximately 4 tablespoons or ¼ cup) or 2 large spoons
  • Rolling Pin
  • Medium saucepan
  • Potato masher
  • Sheet pan
  • Strainer
  • Piping bag with decorative tip (or a resealable zip top bag)
  • Scissors
  • Cupcake corer
  • Small spoon
  • A few bowls in varied sizes

Ingredients

Ingredients for Lemon Cake

  • 1 cup (146g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp (4g) baking powder
  • tsp (0.75g) salt
  • ½ package (4oz/113g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick (133g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large (150g) eggs
  • ½ tsp (2.5g) vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp (2g) lemon zest

Ingredients for Blueberry Filling

  • 2 cups (9oz/255g) frozen wild blueberries
  • ¾ tsp (2.5g) tapioca flour OR 1½ tsp (4g) corn starch
  • ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (17g) freeze-dried blueberries, whole (place in a resealable bag)
  • ¾ tsp (1.8g) lemon zest
  • tsp (8g) lemon juice
  • cup (1½oz/43g) frozen wild blueberries (place in a small bowl lined with a paper towel)

Ingredients for Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • brick (3oz/85g) cream cheese
  • ¾ stick (6Tbsp/85g) unsalted butter
  • tsp (7g) vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp (3g) salt
  • cups (6oz/171g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • Tbsp (40g) blueberry filling

Instructions

Making the Lemon Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/178°C.
  • Add flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  • Place butter and cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer). Beat on medium speed until combined. You might need to scrape down the bowl a couple times to ensure the cream cheese is completely mixed in.
  • Next, cream together the cream cheese mixture with the granulated sugar on medium speed by adding small amounts of sugar at a time until it is fully incorporated. The mixture should gain some volume and change colors to be almost white.
  • Add the eggs in 3 additions and fully incorporate after each addition.
  • Add the flour in 3 additions and mix until just incorporated. Finish by adding the vanilla and lemon zest. Mix to combine.

Preparing the Cupcake Pan

  • Place a cupcake liner in each depression of a cupcake pan. This will allow each cupcake to bake without sticking to the sides of the pan.
  • Use a large ice cream scoop or two large spoons to fill each cupcake liner ¾ full with batter.

Baking the Lemon Cupcakes

  • Place the cupcake pan in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. If your oven heats inconsistently, rotate the pan from front to back halfway through baking. When testing the cupcakes for “doneness,” I usually test a few different cupcakes in different parts of the pan to ensure all are baked.
  • Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Making the Blueberry Filling

  • Line a small bowl with a paper towel and add the smaller quantity of blueberries (i.e., ⅓ cup of wild blueberries) on top of the towel. The paper towel will wick away the extra moisture. We don’t want a lot of excess juice for the topping because it leaves splotchy purple marks on the frosting.
  • Place the freeze-dried blueberries in a resealable bag and use a rolling pin to crush the berries into a fine powder.
  • Add the larger amount of frozen wild blueberries (i.e., 2 cups/255g), tapioca flour, sugar, freeze-dried blueberry powder, lemon zest, and lemon juice into a medium saucepan. If you are using corn starch instead of tapioca flour, place the corn starch in a small bowl, add a small amount of water and stir to create a slurry. Then pour the slurry into the saucepan. Cornstarch has a tendency to stay in clumps if added to the mixture and it doesn’t taste good to bite into a clump of cornstarch.
  • Cook over medium heat until the berries have thawed. This should happen within a couple minutes since they are so little. Use a potato masher or your spatula to smash the blueberries while cooking. This will help to release the moisture from the berries to create a sauce. Continue cooking while stirring occasionally until the mixture begins to boil and thickens slightly. This should take approximately 5 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl to allow it to cool. If you want the blueberry filling to cool quickly, pour the mixture onto a baking sheet and spread it into a thin layer. Cool until it reaches room temperature. The filling will continue to thicken while it cools. This filling could also be made ahead of time and left in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Making the Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Add the cream cheese and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat them at medium speed until completely combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla extract and salt. Mix to combine.
  • Next, add the sifted powdered sugar in 3 additions and mix on low speed until incorporated. I always sift my powdered sugar when making frosting so I don’t have clumps of unmixed sugar. The sugar clumps make the flavor inconsistent (i.e., if you bite into a clump, it just tastes sweet instead of the flavor of the frosting) and gives a lumpy appearance. The bumps can also block piping tips, which can affect your decorations.
  • After the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to high and beat for 1-2 minutes to incorporate air, increase the volume, and break up any sugar or cream cheese lumps. Add the blueberry filling and beat until combined.
  • Transfer the blueberry cream cheese frosting to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip (e.g., 1M).

Decorating the Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • When the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a cupcake corer to remove the center of the cupcake. Then, use a spoon to fill the center with blueberry filling, pipe a swirl on top of the cupcake, and sprinkle a few thawed wild blueberries over the top as a decorative garnish.

Storing the Cupcakes

  • Cupcakes are best the day they are baked, but they can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Ideally, add the fruit immediately before serving so it doesn’t dry out or become shriveled while in the fridge. Allow the cupcakes to come to room temperature before eating. If you eat them straight from the fridge, the frosting will be hard and a little crumbly.

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