Adding fresh lemon zest and juice to a classic vanilla cupcake lends brightness for spring. Orange or lime zest can also be used. The lemon buttercream frosting can be made a few days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator. Simply let it soften to room temperature before frosting.
I love serving cupcakes at parties. Ready-to-serve individual treats make each child feel special, and portions are kept in check. A tiny piece of cotton candy is a simple way to add visual delight.”
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a cupcake tin with 12 liners.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light in texture, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides if necessary. Add the lemon zest, juice and vanilla, beating one more time to incorporate.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add half the flour mixture and half the milk to the sugar mixture and blend just until combined. Scrape down the sides, then add the remaining flour and milk and mix until the batter comes together uniformly.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Cupcakes should be firm but springy to the touch and slightly golden on top. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Frost each cupcake with a generous amount of the buttercream. Place a skewer in the center of each cupcake, then top with a 2-inch piece of cotton candy. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides if necessary. Add 1 cup of the confectioner's sugar, the zest and the lemon juice. Beat on medium speed until combined. Add the additional cup of confectioner's sugar, the milk, the vanilla and a pinch of salt. Beat again until smooth. Taste, adding more confectioner's sugar or a little more milk to reach the desired sweetness and consistency.