Lemon cupcakes are one of my favorite sweet treats to make during the summer. They’re easier and less involved than pies and tarts (no, I don’t want to cut cold butter into flour when it’s hotter in my apartment than it is outside, thank you!) and the citrus keeps them feeling fresh.
I adapted my go-to vanilla cupcake recipe by swapping out some of the milk for lemon juice, and packing a hefty hit of lemon zest in with the sugar. “Creaming” the zest and the sugar helps release the essential oils from the zest and adds another layer of lemon flavor to the batter.
I topped these with a dense cream cheese frosting, but if you wanted a lighter option, you could use mascarpone and heavy cream frosting instead. Note that by “lighter,” I meant “not as dense,” and not “less calories.”