One 8 ounce package of cream cheese at room temperature
6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest, plus more for garnishing
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup icing sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup creme fraiche
Make the frosting:
In a medium bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the butter and 1 tbsp of the lemon zest and beat until incorporated. Beat in the honey, vanilla, 1/4 cup of icing sugar, and salt. Cover and refrigerate until firm but spreadable about 1 hour.
To make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another medium bowl with a hand-held mixer at medium speed, mix the honey with the ricotta, vegetable oil, lemon zest and vanilla; mix in the eggs and egg yolk. Mix in approximately one-third of the flour mixture just until incorporated, then whisk in half of the creme fraiche until smooth. Scrape down the side and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Fold in the remaining flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the remaining creme fraiche until well incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes, until the cupcakes are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool completely. Frost the cupcakes and garnish with lemon zest.
Renee adapted this recipe from Joanne Chang, Food and Wine Magazine.