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A lemon drop is a cocktail that is made with vodka, lemon juice and sugar. They are bright and refreshing, and since the acidity of the lemon takes the edge off of the vodka, they’re very easy to drink. These cupcakes are inspired in part by lemon drop cocktails and in part by summer strawberries – making them a sort of adult strawberry lemonade cupcake. There are lots of fresh strawberries in the cupcakes and quite a bit of vodka, too. I really like these as a bit of a grown-up alternative to classic cupcakes and cocktail-inspired cupcakes are usually a big hit at parties.
The cupcakes themselves are very moist and fairly sturdy, as cupcakes go. This means that the strawberries remain suspended in the cupcake batter and don’t all sink to the bottom. The cakes actually look gorgeous when they’re unfrosted and you can see bits of berry sticking out all over. The cupcakes are also not too sweet, thanks to the fact that they don’t include an excessive amount of sugar and because the vodka doesn’t lend any additional sweetness. This gives the berries another chance to stand out. Only a bit of lemon zest is included in the cupcakes and it doesn’t make a big impression on its own, although it does allow the cupcakes to tie in very well with the frosting.
The buttercream frosting has lemon zest, lemon juice and a bit of vodka. I’d say that you can get a hint of the vodka even with the lemon in the frosting, but it is very subtle. In fact, you don’t get more than a hint of the vodka in the cupcakes themselves even though there is about a 1/2 cup in the recipe. If it is necessary for you to leave it out, you can replace it with milk if you have to, but I don’t think that anyone at the party will get tipsy from these, even if they eat the whole batch. I used Ciroc vodka for these cupcakes, but feel free to use any brand that you like.
English muffins don’t come in with too many flavor options beyond plain and sourdough, although whole wheat do seem to pop up more and more often these days. The one real flavor that english muffins come in is cinnamon raisin – and it’s a good one. When the spicy muffins toast up, the cinnamon scent and flavor is released from the bread and the raisins become hot and sweet. They’re not as versatile as the go-with-anything plain variety of english muffin, but when they’re spread with butter, cinnamon raisin is a fantastic breakfast treat.
These are very easy to make at home. The english muffin dough is a no-knead batter that is mixed up and allowed to rise for just a short period of time. Once it has risen, the dough is dropped in big spoonfuls and cooked on a skillet or griddle. This allows both the top and the bottom of the muffin to take on a golden color, while the center cooks through and still remains chewy and soft, the perfect texture for toasting.
This recipe calls for nonfat milk because it tends to produce slightly holier muffins. The higher the fat content in the english muffin, the tighter the crumb. Low fat milk works pretty well, but if you compared a whole milk muffin and a nonfat muffin, you’d notice a difference. All that said, both will taste good. If you want to experiment a little, try using other dried fruits in place of the raisins, like currants, cranberries or blueberries.
Bread pudding is a great dessert because it is fairly easy to make and is a great way to use up a half loaf of leftover bread that is just a touch past its prime. That said, it’s also delicious enough that I’ve been known to run out to the store to buy a fresh loaf just to make some.
Most bread puddings have a custardy base made of milk and/or cream and eggs, similar to the mixture that french toast is soaked in before cooking it. For this bread pudding, I wanted to try something a little different and added some cream cheese into the basic custard mixture, adding a little bit of that tangy cream cheese flavor to the dish. I was inspired to give this a try when, during a dinner out, one of my dining companions just couldn’t decide between a mini cheesecake and homemade bread pudding We ended up getting both for the table and splitting them, and it was apparent that the textures and flavors would be very complementary, as both are often creamy and mild desserts on their own.
The finished bread pudding tasted like a very mild cheesecake, with just a hint of cream cheese flavor mixed in with a strong vanilla flavor, and had a slightly firmer texture than some of the softer bread puddings I’ve tried. The cream cheese blended in very well into the rest of the milk-egg mixture and had no problems being absorbed by the bread cubes that make up the base of this dessert. I would opt for white bread, or a bread like challah or brioche for this pudding, as a whole grain bread will add enough of its own flavor that the dessert will loose some of its cheesecake essence (although it will still be rich and tasty).
Since this is a fairly plain bread pudding, I would serve it with a few spoonfuls of cream anglaise or other custard sauce, or pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you opt for the ice cream route, serve the bread pudding warm. Otherwise, it is good both warmed and at room temperature.
Mother’s Day is a big brunch holiday. It falls on a Sunday, so there is ample opportunity to sleep in, and going out to brunch takes a lot of the “what should we do today?” question out of the occasion. Restaurants are packed for Mother’s Day brunch, so it is bound to be less expensive and more relaxing to stay home, eat and relax (and open Mother’s Day presents!). Since you’re eating in, there will probably be plenty of time to fuss with a fancy meal, but keep in mind that your mmom probably just wants to spend time with you, so it might be a good idea to choose dishes that are not high-maintenance and/or can be made in advance.
A Cheesey Egg Casserole is a rich, tasty brunch dish that can be made in advance. The casserole can be halved for a small group, but the leftovers taste great, too, if you decide to make the whole thing. A fritatta or crustless quiche can be an easy to prep option, and one that gives you lots of freedom as to what to include in it. Eggs-in-Toast need to be made at the last minute, but look very cute if it’s just you and mom for breakfast.
Sugar Donut Muffins taste very decadent, and better than many storebought donuts. Coconut Scones, Strawberry Scones and Meyer Lemon Scones are also nice munching options, and recipes for full-sized scones can be used to make minis by cutting each piece in half and reducing the baking time. For a richer brunch pastry, Easy Cinnamon Bun Bread is a great option that requires almost no babysitting. Classic MonkeyBread might be even better than cinnamon buns, but is best for serving to a big group, as it is so easy to share.
Don’t forget that a good pot of coffee, fresh oj and some champagne will really finish of the breakfast
Hi everyone. I’m taking a couple of days off, so I’ll leave you with this picture to hold you over until I get back. I’ll update with the recipe soon. Promise.