It's warming up outside, and while it's not quite time to turn off the oven yet, icebox desserts are always welcome. Today I have such a simple little treat for you — one you can eat with a fork or straight out of the paper, if you don't mind a smear of cream here and there: Three-bite lemon cupcakes, sprinkled with coconut and topped with bright berry. And all with no baking!
Do you love icebox cakes? I do (I'm writing a book about them!) and I think there's something both retro and special about them. Icebox cakes and cupcakes involve a kind of magic, a sumptuous melding of cookie and cream with a result that is far more than the sum of its parts. It's cake without baking, dessert with no oven.
Take, for instance, these little three-bite cupcakes. They require only a few ingredients, and they come together with very little work. But then, in the refrigerator they transform into a little piece of cake, tangy and bright with real lemon, sprinkled with coconut and topped with a colorful berry. You're not eating cookies with cream on top; you're eating cake. See — magic!
As I've said, these are very easy. They are also easy to adapt. Use the lemon cream as the base, but if you don't like coconut, for instance, you could sprinkle these with chopped candied lemon peel or white chocolate shavings instead. Or double up on the lemon and drizzle them with warmed lemon curd!
Lemon Cream & Coconut Icebox Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes
2 ounces cream cheese, very soft 2 cups whipping cream 1/3 cup powdered sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 large lemons, zested and juiced (about 1/3 cup juice) 72 Nilla wafers (from 1 box) 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes 24 raspberries, fresh or frozen and defrosted
Whip the cream cheese until very soft in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a large bowl and hand mixer). Gradually whip in the cream. When it has been smoothly combined with the cream cheese, add the powdered sugar, salt, and lemon zest (about 2 tablespoons). Whip until the cream forms firm peaks, then slowly beat in the lemon juice. Continue beating until completely combined. The cream should still hold soft peaks.
Place a Nilla wafer in a cupcake paper (I used regular-sized cupcake papers) or in a ramekin. Smear about a tablespoon of cream on top of the wafer. Smear cream on another wafer and put it on top, then repeat once more, for a total of three layers. Sprinkle coconut generously over the stack. Repeat until you've used up all the wafers and cream. Top each with one raspberry.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until the stack has softened into a cakey texture.