lemon raspberry cupcakes

Surprises are funny, you either love ’em or you hate ’em.
Scratch that. That’s not true at all.  It just sounded like a good hook for this post.
Personally, I’m in the middle.

Sometimes, I like to be in the know.  For example, I set
different ringtones for different people. It takes the anxiety out of
texting. I know whether to stop and reach into my bag on a crowded
escalator, whether to start whistling and
pretend it never went off, or whether to go into full-on panic mode. Do other
people do this? Discuss.

filled with raspberry jam

Other times,  I love to be surprised — like when I bite into one of these seemingly simple cupcakes and discover that they’re filled with my favorite raspberry jam.
One thing’s for sure, I love to surprise people.  On Friday, I organized a surprise birthday dinner for my friend Erin’s 16th birthday.  I told her I wanted to go shopping with her at Bloomies (I bought a pair of shoes for the cause 😉 — but I had actually invited ten of our closest friends for a big surprise dinner at Maggianos. There were a few times that my plan was almost went awry — like when she suggested we go to the mall instead of Bloomies, when I almost asked her in P.E. class what she was going to wear to her surprise dinner (god Erica…), and when the hostess almost led us to our own table for two at Maggianos.

However in the end, the surprise worked out perfectly, and the look on her face when she saw all of our friends was priceless.

Do you like surprises?
With love,
Erica

Lemon Cupcakes:
Ingredients
1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant lemon pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, beat together the cake and pudding
mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and water. Beat
for about two minutes until well combined.
Distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells; about 3 tablespoons of batter per well.
Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes
spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin
tins for about 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients
2 (8) ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
juice of one lemon

Using a mixer, blend the butter and cream cheese together until well combined.
Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated.
Finally, mix in vanilla and lemon juice.

To Assemble
Ingredients
Your favorite raspberry jam
Fresh raspberries

Once cool, core each cupcake with an apple corer or a pairing knife.  Fill with raspberry jam.  Frost with lemon cream cheese frosting and garnish with a raspberry.

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

vanilla bean ricotta donuts

This is the ideal brunch recipe.  When you’re lazy, sleepy, and expected to whip up a storm, these come together in one bowl, and are done and dusted within 20 minutes.  Unlike Aunt Jemima’s, these emerge from the kitchen to ohhs and ahhhs.  Plus they look oh-so-elegant when served with chocolate sauce and lemon wedges.





I imagine whipping these up on a hazy Sunday morning, wearing an adorable, little striped robe and sheepskin slippers.  There would be sunflowers on my windowsill in a little glass vase.
There would be frothy lattes in Antropologie teacups and music would be playing from a creaky record player.  I’d sprinkle these with powdered sugar, and the air would smell like lemons and vanilla. 



I know these kinds of things exist somewhere, I’ve seen them on Pinterest. 



But in reality, I don’t own an adorable striped robe, nor a creaky record player. In reality, I don’t have jars of sunflowers on my kitchen window sill, rather, I have half a batch of buttercream leftover from my attempt at making a s’mores flavored cupcake. 
 
In reality, I eat these on Tuesday afternoons standing up at the kitchen counter. With a jar on honey in one hand, and my iPhone in the other. 
In reality, I am wearing my dad’s “Old Guys Rule” shirt. 

It’s OK. No problem-o.  Life’s not supposed to happen like it does on Pinterest. 
No one in their right mind has the energy to go pick sunflowers before their first mug of coffee.  Life’s not supposed to be that sensible. I burned my mouth four times eating donut balls that were too fresh from the pot.  Did I learn my lesson? No. I’d totally do it all over again.  See? Nonsensical.
  
I guess life’s kind of nonsensical like that.  It’s messy, fun, and sweet… kind of like these sinfully quick, deep-fried balls of dough dunked in honey. 


With love, 
Erica  





P.S.
If you do happen to have an adorable, little striped robe and a creaky record player, I respect you.

http://blog.nuji.com/


Ingredients
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
8 oz (1/2 lb) ricotta, whole or skim
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Canola oil, for frying (or another oil with a high smoke point)
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Deep-fry thermometer

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add sugar, eggs, ricotta, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Mix until just combined.

Pour the oil into a deep, heavy pot. Leave at least two inches of space at the top for safety. Using a deep-fry thermometer, heat the oil over medium until it reaches 325-375 degrees F.

Fry a test doughnut: Using a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, drop a scoop of batter in and turn it occasionally. It should take 3-4 minutes to turn golden brown. Carefully remove and cut in half to check if it’s cooked all the way through. Test another if needed.

Fry the remaining doughnuts. Don’t overcrowd the pot; fry in batches. Place doughnuts on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.  Depending on how big you scoop them, this should make around 12 donuts. 

Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve warm with honey, jam, or melted chocolate.


Adapted from A Cup of Jo


© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

little bites copycat blueberry muffins

I read Mindy Kaling’s book over the summer, and I literally laughed out loud through the entire book. One of my favorite quotes was:

“One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about.”  

Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

While reading this, I immediately thought of my friend Emilia. She shares my love of running, baking, and meticulous gift wrapping (her tape and paper collection is bigger than mine — which is slightly scary …in an awesome way).  Oh, and just like me, she prefers fresh, zesty lemon to deep, rich chocolate.  She was the inspiration behind these lemon crinkle cookies.

Emilia and I take the subway home together every day from track practice, and we always whip out our phones and compare recipes on Pinterest (we also share a bit of an addiction to Pinterest…).  I often bake little treats to eat in the locker room after track (after 10 x 100 m dashes, we can all use some butter and sugar!).  The other day, we were discussing what I should bake for practice that afternoon, and eventually settled on these teeny-tiny blueberry muffins.

I whipped these up when I got home, and I was amazed when I took my first bite — they tasted exactly like Etenmann’s Little Bites!!! In lower school, my dad used to pack my lunch for me every day in a Hello Kitty lunchbox.  He would always pack a sandwich (either salami or jelly-cream cheese) and a little bag of blueberry Little Bites mini muffins.  The taste of blueberry Little Bites brought me back to the days of nap-time and Legos.  These tiny muffins whip up in matter of minutes, and are the perfect thing to sneak in your purse or backpack when you need a “little bite” of something delicious. 😉

What did you eat for lunch in elementary school?

With love,
Erica

Ingredients 
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

glaze:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter; melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar; sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon warm water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs, lemon extract and vanilla, beating to combine. 
 
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Fold in the blueberries. 
 
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full. 
 
Bake the muffins for 5-8 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean. 
 
In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, lemon extract and water. Whisk until smooth.
 
When muffins have cooled slightly, dip the muffin crown into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. At this point, you can leave them as is or go for the double dip. I glazed my muffins twice.
 
Serve warm, or cool on a rack and wrap airtight. Muffins will keep at room temperature for about a day.
Adapted from My Baking Addiction

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

lemon crinkle cookies

I made these cookies over the summer, and I fell in love.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t do a post on them.  I tried to squeeze all of the cookies onto one baking sheet, and they all baked together into one, big, ugly lemon crinkle cookie.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed my big, mess-of-a-cookie wholeheartedly — and vowed to always use two baking sheets.

I made these for my lemon-loving friend Emilia.  She is sensible, cheerful, and full of sunshine — just like these lemon cookies.  She has always been there to accompany me on runs and she shares my love of wrapping presents.  On Friday, we spent about two and a half hours sitting on the floor of my bedroom wrapping presents and making little gift tags.  She’s also super sweet and gives the best advice (hello, these cookies are rolled generously in powdered sugar).

Even the biggest chocoholics out there will fall head-over-heels for these mouth-watering, refreshing lemon cookies.  Winter is the perfect time to take advantage of all of the citrus that is in season — not to mention that these cookies can put a good dose of sunshine into even the most blustery winter days. Oh, and if that’s not enough reason for you to get off of your computer and bake these now — your hands will smell heavenly after zesting all those lemons.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients:
½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoons baking soda
1-½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line light colored baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and
fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice. Scrape sides and
mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined,
excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again
briefly. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon
of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet
and repeat with remaining dough.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and
cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool
cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

From Wit & Whistle

lemon blueberry sunshine cake

This cake was sitting pretty in the freezer for about a week, and I finally decided to cut myself a piece. OH MY GOD. It was like eating sunshine in the form of a cake. I am now obsessed with the lemon-blueberry combination. These bright flavors are the perfect way to celebrate as the summer season comes to a close.

This is a supremely moist cake due to the sour cream. It has a sweet, puckery lemon flavor and is bursting with bright, juicy blueberries. I iced it with my favorite, simple buttercream, but it would also be delicious with some luscious cream cheese frosting.
This cake freezes beautifully — as a matter of fact, I enjoy my cakes best after they have been in the freezer for a day or two (or even a week!).
With love,

Erica

Ingredients

 For the cake:

2 cups plus 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs

For the filling:

1/2 cup blueberry jam  (or lemon curd)

For the frosting:
2 sticks butter, room temperature
4-6 cups confectioner’s sugar 
1/4 cup milk 
1 teaspoon lemon extract
 
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease 3, 8″ cake pans. Sift dry ingredients into medium
bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to larger bowl. Add fresh
blueberries and toss to coat them with flour. Set remaining flour
mixture and blueberries aside.
Stir whole milk, sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon
zest in small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and
sugar, until pale yellow and very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs
one at a time, until well combined. Mix in flour mixture alternately
with milk mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture. Stir until
just combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Divide batter equally among
8″ round pans.
Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean,
about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for about 10 minutes, then
invert onto racks until completely cool.

Once cakes are cool, spread blueberry jam and sandwich it between the layers.

Frost with lemon buttercream (recipe follows)

Lemon Buttercream

Beat butter in stand mixer until pale and fluffy. Slowly add the 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar. Add the milk and lemon extract. Add more confectioner’s sugar until desired consistency is achieved.

adapted from Sweetapolita

iced lemon poundcake {starbucks copycat}

I have a confession. I love Starbucks. Every time I walk past that iconic green sign, I can’t help but wander in. Even more embarrassing, the baristas at my neighborhood Starbucks know me by name, and get my favorite drink (coffee frappuccino) ready when they see me on the sidewalk. I’ve probably had so many coffee frappuccinos in my life that I could rightfully be called a coffee frappuccino connoisseur…
Alas, every time I buy one of Starbucks’ enticing baked goods, I can’t help but feel guilty that I just paid 3 bucks for something I could have easily baked at home. That’s when I had a revelation.

I don’t need to deal with sassy baristas, a long line, and high prices to enjoy all of my favorite Starbucks treats. I am taking on the challenge to recreate all of my Starbucks favorites in my own kitchen (for a fraction of the price and a little bit of homemade magic) in a new series called Starbucks Copycat.

I am starting this series off with one of my all-time favorite Starbucks classics: the iced lemon pound cake. This recipe tastes exactly (if not better than) like the Starbucks one that I have been buying for so long — light, spongy, lemon-y, and delicious. 

E-mail me your favorite Starbucks treat, I will re-create it right here in my own kitchen! I dare you!
With love,
Erica

ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix
4.3 ounce instant or cook and serve Lemon pudding mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces sour cream
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Icing
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease two loaf pans.
2. Place all cake ingredients into a mixer, beating until well combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. Divide batter between two prepared loaf pans spreading evenly. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and let cool for 15 minutes before removing loaves from pans.
3. To prepare icing, place powdered sugar into a large bowl. Drizzle in lemon juice stirring until smooth and thick. Should be a good drizzling consistency. Drizzle icing over cakes and let set for 20 minutes for a firm icing.

Inspired by Picky Palate