I thought. And I thought some more. At first I was thinking, flowers? Lavender? But that didn't work; I wanted something fruity and summery and refreshing, and after almost a whole month of thinking, I finally figured it out: everyone likes raspberry lemonade in the summer, right? So if I could somehow capture that in ice-cream-cupcake-form, it would be delicious! I went about looking for recipes, but wasn't too pleased with any until Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen posted a recipe for Sour Lime Cakes, and I thought, well, how hard can it be to adapt that to lemon? (After thinking about this for a little while and getting excited, I read in her post that she actually adapted a lemon recipe to make the lime one, which made my idea seem even better, if slightly less original.) I then started searching my usual recipe haunts--Recipezaar in particular--for a delicious-looking raspberry frosting. When Recipezaar didn't come up with anything that seemed right for my vision, I went back to the Cupcake Project, but while there were lots of raspberry-related posts, nothing seemed to be frosting. I then returned to Technicolor Kitchen and was very glad I did, because back in November (before I started blogging and reading other blogs) she'd posted a cupcake with Raspberry Cream, which looked like the perfect consistency for my plan.
I found all this maybe two days ago, which gave me very little time to actually execute my plan. Originally, I'd hoped to try out a few recipes so I could change one if I didn't like it, but as the contest ends tomorrow (!) I was now in a hurry. Luckily, I've used recipes from Technicolor Kitchen before, and they've come out wonderfully--I was not afraid of the recipes turning out badly, just that my plan may go horribly wrong. Luckily for me, it didn't, and I would now like to give you another picture-heavy post (recipes included, of course) and make sure I've done everything else to enter the contest successfully.
I'm starting with the final product: each cone contained a raspberry at the bottom (inspired by those novelty ice cream cone things you could get at an ice cream truck when you were a kid, with the gumball at the bottom--Screwballs, they were called). On top of that was a layer of vanilla ice cream, which was scooped in very carefully with a very small spoon--I was terrified of breaking the cone! Two more raspberries, crushed this time, went on top of that, and then another layer of ice cream. On top of that went a nice layer of the raspberry cream frosting and two mini-cupcakes complete coated in the frosting, held together with a toothpick, and they actually came out looking like scoops of nice cream! YAY! (That was, of course, my goal.) I'll be honest here, though: I meant to top them with another raspberry. I forgot, though, because by the time the whole thing was assembled the ice cream was starting to melt and drip out of the cone and I wanted to be able to eat it like a cone of ice cream instead of dropping it in a bowl and eating it with a spoon. It was messy, yes, but it definitely worked--I ate mine over a bowl but didn't have to put it down. (Mike volunteered to eat the cross-section, and he ate his in a bowl. He seemed equally satisfied, so form probably wasn't particularly important. And yes, we did have to cut an ice cream cone in half to do this.)
This is Mia, my favorite little kid. She got to be our guinea pig (notice I remembered the raspberry on hers). She seemed quite happy with her special dessert (everyone else just had normal cupcakes), so these cones are great for both kids and grown-ups alike! (I've been babysitting Mia since she was two--she's almost eight now! Boy, do I feel old.)
So, if you want to make some of these yourself, here are the recipes! Don't double them! (I doubled them. I don't know why I always do this. I ended up with 55 cupcakes. Unless you want 55 cupcakes [granted 24 of them were mini] then don't double the recipes.)
Sour Lemon Cupcakes
Adapted from Technicolor Kitchen, link above!
-1 cup unsalted butter, melted (not softened! actually melted!)
-1 1/2 cups plus 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
-1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
-1/4 cup lemon juice
-Zest of one giant lemon (or two normal-sized lemons, I don't know if giant lemons are a normal thing to have but my grocery store had them for some reason)
-2 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
-2 tsp baking powder
1. Preheat the oven 325 degrees F.
2. Get all your ingredients out and in one place. Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl and sift together (or stir with a fork for a while). You'll want everything prepared because everything has to be sort of speedy once the butter is melted.
3. Cut the butter into small pieces (along the tablespoon lines) and toss it into a large microwave-safe bowl (everything else will be added to this, so large is important!). Cover with wax paper and microwave in 30-second increments, taking it out and stirring after each one. (I think it took me four or five 30-second cycles for the butter to be completely melted, and as I said, I doubled this so was melting two cups of butter--the point here is that it won't take all that long.)
4. Add the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and yogurt to the melted butter and stir until everything is combined. Add the flour and baking powder mixture in small amounts, stirring each pile until smooth before adding more (it probably isn't necessary to do it in bits, but I find it much easier--I'm not sure if it affects how the cupcakes come out, but mine came out fine). The batter will be thick and sticky and smell like lemonade.
5. If you forgot to preheat the oven, then heat the oven now. It's probably fine; the oven should heat in the amount of time it takes to fill the cupcake pan.
6. If you're using cupcake liners, put them in the cupcake pan. If you're using butter and flour, then butter and flour the cupcake pan. If you're using a baking spray (such as Baker's Joy, which works wonders) then spray the pan. Fill each cupcake-hole (is there a name for these?) to about 2/3 full with the batter.
7. For mini-cupcakes, bake for 12-15 minutes. For full-sized cupcakes, bake for 18-20 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and let cool. (I let mine cool overnight--partially because I didn't want the frosting to melt when I put it on, and partially because by the time all the batches came out of the oven it was 1am and I wanted to go to bed, not make frosting.)
Step 3. I would love to tell you that this is a delicious hollandaise sauce or something. I really would. But in reality, it's four sticks of butter, melted in the microwave. I'm almost disgusted at the idea, but the end result makes it completely okay.
Step 4. Batter! Yet again, I didn't remember to take a picture until I'd already put one batch (consisting of 12 mini cupcakes and 12 normal-sized cupcakes) in the oven, so this isn't the full amount, but since I doubled the recipe you probably still won't have this much. Also, I know you're not supposed to eat batter due to it having raw eggs in it and stuff, but this is some delicious cupcake batter.
Step 6. I used Baker's Joy for the mini-cupcakes (since they would be going in the ice cream cone and the wrapper would be a kind of gross thing to bite into) and cupcake liners for the normal-sized ones. I don't think I got a great picture of the liners, but they're PLAID! If you don't know me then you don't know how much I love plaid, but it's pretty much the best thing ever. And I found it on cupcake liners. AWESOME.
Raspberry Cream Frosting
Also adapted from Technicolor Kitchen, also with a link above.
-8 oz plain frozen raspberries
-2 cup heavy or whipping cream
-1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp confectioner's sugar
-1 1/2 tsp almond extract
-A small container (mine was 6oz) of fresh raspberries
1. At least a few hours before you want to make the frosting, place the frozen raspberries in a bowl and let sit at room temperature to thaw. (I let them sit out for a while, and then refrigerated them overnight.) Don't strain them or anything; you want the juices.
2. Pour the thawed raspberries (with their juices!) into a small saucepan. Place on the stove on medium heat. Cook the raspberries until they release the rest of their juices, mashing them as you go (I used a slotted spoon and it worked wonderfully). This will take about 6-8 minutes.
3. Now the cooked raspberries have to cool, so if you're in a hurry, put the pan in an icewater bath--just make sure none of the water gets into the raspberries. The icewater will cool them in about 15 minutes.
4. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl (I used the same bowl I thawed the raspberries in) and pour the raspberry-mush into it. Using a rubber spatula or a spoon or whatever suits your fancy, press the raspberry-mush against the mesh, stir it around, scrape the edges, etc. until most of the juice has left the mush and is in the bowl. You won't get all of it; I ended up with a soft squishy ball of raspberry seeds and skin and a little juice after playing with it for 15-20 minutes, and a lot of my efforts were pretty pointless, giving me only very small amounts of liquid. So I guess the point here is: don't obsess over this! Just get as much of the juice out as you can and it's okay if there's still some in the strainer.
5. Add the confectioner's sugar and almond extract to the raspberry juice and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
6. Make whipped cream! I use my KitchenAid (with the whisk attachment) for this. I'm not sure how to do it without an electric mixer of some sort--if you have a handheld electric one that will work fine too, but I think if you used an egg beater or just a whisk it would take forever. The end result should be pretty stiff peaks of whipped cream.
7. Fold the raspberry juice/sugar/almond extract mixture into the whipped cream. I did this in small amounts too, but I think that would be unnecessary if you don't double the recipe. How long you spend folding it will affect how uniform the color is, but probably not the taste--I tried to keep some slightly darker pink areas and a few white streaks, but once I frosted things with it everything sort of blended together.
8. Chill until ready to frost the cupcakes. I recommend frosting them as close to serving time as possible, since whipped cream can lose its form if left alone for too long, but unless you're keeping them around for days you're probably okay. BUT! Do NOT frost the cupcakes until they're completely cool! Otherwise the frosting will just melt off of them, and that would be really sad.
9. When you frost the cupcakes, top each with a fresh raspberry. (This seems completely unnecessary, and it probably is, but it takes the cupcakes from looking like normal cupcakes to ADORABLE cupcakes. And it's so easy! So it's worth it.)
Step 2: After probably 2 minutes of cooking and a little mashing. There's already a lot of juice there!
Step 3: In the icewater bath, all mashed up. I was actually sort of surprised to see how many seeds there were--I think that is why I don't eat raspberries more often.
Step 7: This is after I'd folded a tiny bit of the raspberry juice into the whipped cream and poured a little more in to keep going. I only took this picture because it looked like my whipped cream was bleeding profusely and I found that amusing. I have a sort of sick sense of humor.
Also step 7: Yeah okay it still sort of looks bloody, but there's plenty of folding left to do. Don't worry, it came out a nice pretty pink color.
Step 9: You saw the Raspberry Lemonade Ice Cream Cupcake Cones up at the top, but this is what happened to the rest of them (well, okay, the rest of them are on my kitchen counters without frosting because I made way too many cupcakes and I'll have to give them to people). While Mia enjoyed her cone, all the grown-ups ate these "normal" cupcakes instead.
So, if you want to make the cones, the only extra things you'll need are the cone and the ice cream! The vanilla was perfect--I got it at a local farmstand-type ice cream place. It would be easy to play around with the flavors, but you don't want anything too strong--the raspberry and lemon flavors are the important part. As for the normal cupcakes: they were SUCH a great summer dessert. The raspberry cream is light and airy and complements the fairly dense cake perfectly. Each has a little bit of sweet and a little bit of sour--I made the frosting a little bit sweeter than the original recipe called for because they'd be going on a sour cake, and it came out wonderfully. And seriously--don't the little raspberries on top make them look so adorable?
Okay, so: if my creation comes out in the top three of the contest, I will be (a) thrilled because I'll win an Oxo gift pack and (b) begging all of you to go vote in the public-voting part so I can win the ice cream maker. I have no idea what my chances are of getting that far, but I'm warning you in advance that it might happen.
Now, go make some cupcakes and enjoy the wonderful weather!
UPDATE: It turns out that while doubling the cupcake recipe was a little on the silly side, doubling the frosting didn't make nearly enough to cover all of them--it seems that keeping the cupcake recipe as is and doubling the frosting would be the way to go. I have therefore EDITED THE FROSTING RECIPE to show an amount that will cover all the cupcakes (and probably leave you with a little left over, but that's not really something to complain about).