Lemony Sunshine Cupcakes (easy peasy!)

photo source

Today is the feast of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marta, visionaries at Fatima.

A few years ago I created these Lemony Sunshine Cupcakes for the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and they were so easy and yummy, I am creating them again today.

As you know, it was at Fatima, during Our Lady's apparitions, that the miracle of the sun occurred, and thus images of the sun are often used as symbols of Fatima.

I saw the recipe for these Sunshine Cupcakes made on the Food Network as the winner of a recipe contest. We all love lemon desserts at our house, so I knew these cupcakes would be well-liked. I hung on to the recipe and the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima seamed like the perfect opportunity.

The cupcakes did not disappoint. They are very lemony, and though I'm a huge cake snob, they tasted pretty darned good for a doctored box mix. I love the lemon curd in the very center, and the shortbread cookie crust. They are really sort of a mini cake tart, if ever there was such a thing. The cake is moist and tangy, but perfectly complimented by the gooey lemon curd and the sweet, crunchy crust. I altered the recipe only in that I used all the crumb mixture for the crust because I wanted the tops to be bright yellow and sunny, with the spot of curd unobstructed.

Lemony Sunshine Cupcakes
makes 18 cupcakes

Printer version

1 1/3 cups shortbread cookie crumbs, (I used one bag Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies or you could use Lorna Doone)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 T. unsalted butter, melted

For the batter:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or canola or sunflower or safflower)
1/4 cup water
1 small box (3.4 ounce) instant lemon pudding
1 (18.25 ounce) box lemon cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist)
1/3 cup lemon curd (store bought or homemade)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard muffin tins with 16 cupcake liners; set aside.
Place shortbread cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a medium bowl; stir until well combined; set aside. Place a slightly heaping tablespoon of shortbread cookie crumb mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Use your fingers or the bottom of a small glass to firmly pack crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Reserve remaining shortbread cookie crumb mixture for topping. (I used all of it in the bottoms.)
In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time and mix just until combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add vegetable oil, water, and the box of lemon pudding. Mix until combined. Add cake mix and beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Batter will be thick.
Use a 1/4 cup spring loaded ice cream scoop and place a level scoop full of batter into each muffin cup.
Scoop the lemon curd into a small sandwich-size resealable bag. Squeeze the curd to 1 corner of the bag and use scissors to snip a 1/4-inch piece from corner of bag.
With a damp finger or the end of a wooden spoon dipped in water, make a shallow indentation into the center of each cupcake. Pipe 3/4 to 1 teaspoon lemon curd into each indentation. Sprinkle tops of cupcakes evenly with remaining shortbread cookie crumbs (if desired).
Bake for 21 to 23 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking, until edges of cupcakes are lightly golden brown.
Serve cupcakes warm from the oven or at room temperature.

Pin It


  1. But today is also an Ember day - a day of fasting and penance. :-(

  2. I'm not certain if your sad face is for me --- sinner that I apparently am {wink} or because you can't enjoy a cupcake today.

    I am only faintly aware of Ember Days -- I'm 50 years old and I may or may not remember them from my youth. Apparently my parish does not mark them on our parish calendar, as they are not mandatory according to current Canon Law. That said, we can all use more penance so I'm glad you mentioned them.

    My family rarely celebrates feast days with dessert during Lent, but this is a special feast for our family, as are all days of Our Blessed Mother.