Lemon Rosemary Cupcakes with Italian Meringue Icing & Balsamic Glaze Drizzle

Lemon Rosemary Cupcakes

This recipe was spawned from a collaboration with the lovely girls I babysit and
their love of the show Cupcake Wars. Read: When I babysit, I am the cameraman/
moderator/assistant baker of a mini kitchen arena showdown. I have to say, these girls are
more creative and determined with a muffin tin and and an oven than I could have ever
hoped to be at their age! This is one example of a lovely concoction we created in our
Savory Kitchen Battle- since I love combining sweet and savory flavors, this invention
became one of my favorite cupcakes!

The first part of this cupcake you’re going to want to tackle is the balsamic glaze. Now, you
can be lazy/smart and buy it ready made in a squeezy bottle at a “nice” grocery store, or
you can be even lazier and not walk to the store, and attempt to make it yourself, like me.
Also, there is just something so satisfying about making something turn from a liquid to a
delicious gooey syrup all by yourself!

Balsamic Glaze


½ cup vinegar
1 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp soy sauce

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to lowwww and
simmer, stirring often, until thick and syrupy- about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let
cool. Note: Won’t look super syrupy in the pan, since it’s still hot. Will thicken nicely as it
cools! Stick it in the fridge while you make the rest of this recipe.

balsamic glaze

Actually I have something to confess…. I got a little over zealous with my first batch and
burnt it to tar. The second time around I was a bit timid and took it off the heat TOO early,

so it was a liiiiittle more liquidy than I would have liked, but still completely delicious.
Cooking vinegar… mmm, stinkay! Now on to your….

Lemon Rosemary Cupcakes


½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups flour
2 TBS finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
The zest of one lemon
The juice of aforementioned lemon
½ tsp vanilla
2/3 cup milk

I find it more efficient (and prettier) to bake if I measure out and prepare some ingredients
beforehand. Thus, I left the butter and eggs out to soften at room temperature while I finely
chopped my rosemary and zested/juiced my lemon into separate small bowls.

lemon zest

Zesting used to be intimidating to me until I did it… just shred off the yellow and stop when you hit the white- that stuff’s bitter!

lemon zest and rosemary


I then lined a 12-muffin tin with paper baking cups and measured my dry ingredients into
a bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, and the chopped rosemary. Now you’re ready to get

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter on high for
about 30 seconds. Add your sugar and vanilla, and beat another two minutes or so until it’s

Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Then comes the part that’s way easier when you
have two avid young cupcake-fiending kitchen assistants to help you out with their many
hands- alternately add the flour mixture and milk to your buttery mixture, beating on low
after each addition til just combined. Why you’re always supposed to do this, I don’t know,
cause I never did it as a kid- but by my current ripe old age I’ve heard “when cooking you
can wing it, when baking you must follow directions!” enough times to get the picture.

Now stir in the lemon peel and lemon juice with vivacity!

Fill your paper cupcake liners ¾ full. I had enough batter left over to a) lick spoons, bowls,
and mixers til I was ill, and b) make another cute little cake in a springform tin that I found
in a drawer! Never knew what those were all about, but it came in handy (lined with butter
first, of course).

Now stick your cupcakes and other random leftover-batter-creations into the oven for
about 20-22 minutes (until a wooden pick or knife comes out clean-ish, blah blah blah. I
personally prefer if it comes out with sortof soggy crumbs on it, because if you wait til it’s
too clean, your cupcakes are going to be dry!)

cupcakes baking

While your cupcakes are baking, you will be making….

Italian Meringue Icing


3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract

This is going to sound scary, but after mastering it with a couple young’uns I realized it’s
actually not! AND you don’t even need a candy thermometer.

Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form.. about 2 minutes.

In a small saucepan, dump your sugar, ¼ cup water and salt. Cook over medium heat until
sugar starts to dissolve, stirring frequently. Then bring to a boil, and cook without stirring
for 2 minutes… sounds frightful right? NOT stirring that sticky mass of pan-destroying
sugar? But don’t worry!

When your two terrifying minutes are up, turn your beater on high and whip those egg
whites while adding your boiling sugar to the bowl in a thin stream, until its all added. Beat
at high speed until stiff peaks form again. This will take about three hours. Just kidding,
but do be patient and wait til you have the right consistency! Stir in your vanilla extra, and
voila! (Don’t forget to fill your sugar-pan with hot water as soon as you’re done so it softens
up the leftover sugar and makes cleanup effortless!)

You can now remove your probably-done cupcakes from the oven and let them cool on wire
racks, or the burners on your stove cause they work pretty much the same way, (or if you’re
lazy like me, or in a rush because you’re having a Kitchen Cupcake Challenge, put them in
the fridge for a bit).



While my cupcakes cooled, I took a cheese grater and sliced up some more lemon peel for garnish… my ghetto version of a lemon twist. Pictured here with my balsamic glaze in a jar.

I like to put my icing in a ziplock bag and snip the corner with scissors, then pipe something
that resembles a pile of dog doo on top of each cupcake. Then using a spoon, I dipped into
my balsamic glaze and drizzled a few artful droplets across the icing.

finishes cupcakesfinished cupcakes

While it’s no lie that I am not a fan of inedible garnishes, these were so pretty. Also they are edible, they’d just make your cupcake taste really gross. I must say, these were a hit at the birthday party I went to that night!

  • http://www.alanabread.com Wai_alana

    wow, this looks special. i adore cupcakes, lemon and rosemary but have never come close to considering throwing them all together. lovely photography, too!