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Vanilla Mini-Cakes with Lemon Curd and Strawberry Jam Buttercream

April 20, 2011

My newest kitchen obsessions are mini-cakes or upside down cupcakes, layered with some sort of gooey goodness with the frosting just covering the tops.  To me, they combine the perfect size and cuteness of a cupcake with the appeal of a layered cake.  And the start of another Easter dessert idea.

When I think of spring desserts I automatically think of lemons and strawberries.  Unfortunately in New York, neither is available locally grown in late April so I have to play with the ingredients a bit.  Lemons are the easy part…I mean as long as its yellow and tart I can always whip it up into a curd.  Which, much like nutella, once you have tasted it you will pretty much always have it in the fridge somewhere for when the craving strikes (you know, 2 or 3 times a day).  Strawberries just aren’t the same though.  After being spoiled on home grown strawberries my entire childhood, the plumped up, tasteless variety in supermarkets just don’t cut it.  Strawberry jam is about as close to home grown as I’m getting these days.  However adding a little jam to a butter and confectioners sugar buttercream creates a rich treat thats very buttery (obviously), sweet with a subtle taste of strawberry and a beautiful pink hue.  A very nice complement to the tart lemon curd and delicate vanilla that makes up this cake.

whisk together sugar, lemon juice and egg yolks

keep whisking over a pot of simmering water, it will foam and turn a light yellow

and keep on whisking until it thickens to the consistency of a sour cream
*not pictured-you will strain the curd, then add butter and lemon zest

the curd will continue to thicken as it cools until it becomes yummy and spreadable

beat together butter and confectioners sugar

Add in heavy cream and strawberry jam

assemble the mini-cakes by cutting each cake into 3 layers

filling each layer with lemon curd

and frosting the top with the buttercream

until you have a whole bunch of these little gals

Vanilla Mini-Cakes with Lemon Curd and Strawberry Jam Buttercream
Yields about 12 mini-cakes


1/2 recipe of Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes, baked and cooled

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh squeezed (and strained) lemon juice, juice from about 2-3 lemons
5 egg yolks, at room temperature
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup strawberry or raspberry jam, strained first if using a chunky or seeded variety


1. For the Lemon Curd: Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine sugar, egg yolks and lemon juice in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth. Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit on top of the saucepan without touching the water.) Whisk constantly until the mixture becomes thick like sour cream (it will get a little foamy and turn a light yellow before it thickens). This will take approximately 10 minutes (but could be longer so don’t stop until its thickened!). Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Stir in the butter, a tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next.  Add the lemon zest.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.  Allow mixture to cool completely in the refrigerator.

2. For the Strawberry Jam Buttercream: Cream the butter in a large mixing bowl.  Add all the confectioners sugar at once and continue to beat until the mixture smoothes out (it will be a bit of a powdery, dry mess for a minute or two).  Beat in the heavy cream.  Beat in the jam.

3. To assemble the mini-cakes: Remove the wrapper from each cupcake and cut into 3 even layers, you may also need to even out the top of the cupcake if it has too much of a dome.  The cupcakes will be served upside down so the original top will now be the base. Spread a layer of lemon curd on the base, top with the second layer, spread more lemon curd on that layer and finish with the last cake layer.  Frost the top with the buttercream.  Keep cakes covered at room temperature until ready to serve.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2011 5:33 pm

    This may be a dumb question and clearly I’ve never worked with lemon curd before but… while straining it, do you save the lumps and toss the liquid or save the liquid and toss the lumps?

  2. April 20, 2011 5:50 pm

    You want to keep the liquid and discard the lumps 🙂

  3. April 20, 2011 8:01 pm

    One of the cutest things I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t wait to make these. Very pretty!

  4. April 21, 2011 12:22 am

    Those look so good, I’m going to probably attempt these soon. 🙂 I have never made lemon curd before though! O.O Love the pictures.

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