Spring and Sunshine: Gluten-free Super Lemon Cupcakes

I cannot wait for spring to be here.  Here in Virginia, we have been getting little teases of spring - a sprinkle of sunshine, temperatures in the 60s, longer evenings....but then the 30 degree mornings come and slap us us back into reality.  Although fall is my favorite season, spring comes in a close second.  I love the perpetual sunshine, occasional rain shower, and warmer temperatures - warm but just cool enough to require a nice worn-in leather jacket.  Every time we get a little taste of spring weather, I begin to crave flavors - bright citrus, crisp veggies, and subtle hints of vanilla. Maybe even some iced coffee for good measure.

Today is a gorgeous pseudo-spring day here in Virginia.  The sun is shining, there is a crisp breeze in the air, and the smell of lemony goodness if billowing out of the kitchen.  Tomorrow is my roommate/bff/bridesmaid Kelly's birthday - she is the big 23!!!!! For her birthday, she requested lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd and topped with cream cheese frosting so of course, I obliged.  I love lemon cupcakes and I think they are lovely when made gluten-free with some almond meal.  I made the lemon-curd from scratch and it was insanely easy. Why don't I do this more often?! Seriously, whip up a batch just to have on hand to mix into Greek yogurt, top pancakes with, or just eat from the container.

Enough rambling - get outside and enjoy the weather. And if it isn't sunny where you are - whip up a batch of these cupcakes. They're like little bites of sunshine.

Gluten-free Super Lemon Cupcakes

Makes approximately 12 cupcakes.

adapted from Karina at Gluten-free Goddess.

For the cupcake:

105g almond meal/flour
35g sorghum flour
105g cornstarch (or whatever starch you have on hand)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (Note: I actually was out of baking soda! Baker's sin, I know. So I just doubled the amount of baking powder)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 egg whites + 1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
Lemon Curd: see Joy the Baker's recipe - just sub lemon for the tangerine! I recommend making this before the cupcakes so it has time to cool!
Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 packages of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
a small squeeze of fresh lemon
approx. 2 cups powdered sugar (use your judgment and taste buds - make it as sweet or not sweet as you like!)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. You already have your lemon curd cooling, right?
2. Mix all dry ingredients, including lemon zest, together in mixer until they are incorporated.
3. Add in lemon juice, eggs, vanilla, honey, and oil. Mix to combine.
4. Line cupcake pan with liners, fill liners about half way full.
5. Bake cupcakes 20-25 minutes, turning pan half way through.  They're done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
6. Let cupcakes cool completely! It's hard, I know.
7. Using a small, sharp knife make a circular/squarish cutout, about the width of your middle finger in the center of the cupcake. Remove the cutout and push down with the end of a spoon.  This "cone method" creates a little hole in the center of the cupcake for the filling.  Alternatively, you can fill the cupcakes using a piping bag and a filling tip if you have one (I really need to get one!).
8. Put the cooled lemon curd in the cutout center using a spoon.  Fill until the curd is just spilling over the top of the cupcake.
9. Make your cream cheese frosting!  Beat together the softened cream cheese, desired amount of powdered sugar, squeeze of lemon, and vanilla until creamy.
10. Frost and enjoy!
P.S. Come join in the fun on Facebook!