Friday, January 13, 2012

Lemon-Limoncello Cupcakes

After I successfully made homemade limoncello, I decided I needed to bake with it!  I found this delicious looking recipe on the Brown Eyed Baker and decided to try it out.  These cupcakes are lemon-limoncello cupcakes, lemon curd filling, and limoncello frosting.  The flavor is a little out of season, but I was too impatient to wait for summer, so deal with it!

The most difficult part of these cupcakes was the filling.  I've never made a curd filling before and apparently you have to be very careful.  You first heat the lemony stuff in a saucepan, and then you temper the eggs with the hot lemony stuff, and then add it all to the saucepan until it thickens.  The ultimate goal here is to end up with a filling, not with cooked eggs.  I ended up with something in the middle.  It tasted like lemon filling...but if you looked closely, you could definitely see the cooked eggs.

I added the filling to my cupcakes by cutting out a little who and then using this nifty little frosting gun that my sister got me for my birthday!  It was perfect for the filling!

For me, these cupcakes were a letdown.  But KEEP READING.  OTHER PEOPLE LOVED THEM.  So, here's the deal.  These cupcakes have buttermilk in them.  I've never really smelled buttermilk before and it never occurred to me that it might smell nasty.  It does.  It is terrible smelling.  I actually thought that it may have gone bad.  It hadn't.  That's just the way buttermilk smells. 

So, I baked these cupcakes and then had to spend a while assembling them, and the whole time I was cutting out holes, and adding in filling, and frosting, etc., all I could smell was the buttermilk.  It literally made me sick to my stomach.  I thought they smelled so disgusting that I actually almost through them all away because I couldn't imagine inflicting them on the people I worked with.  But I didn't.  I decided instead to inflict just one on one of my good friends (a test dummy, of sorts), and then if she liked them, I would put them out for the masses.

My test dummy ate one, told me they were delicious, and then asked if she could have another one for later!  So, good news!  I'm the only one who didn't care for these cupcakes!  I got compliments on them all day!  Apparently I am just too picky! 

I would recommend that you not bake these cupcakes in the winter, though, if you happen to live in the Midwest.  I liked the idea of a fruit garnish, but finding enough fresh fruit that wasn't nasty was a little difficult.  I ended up doing two different garnishes: raspberries and strawberries.  I think they are cute, but they would probably be better in season!

Cupcakes - (Yield 1 Dozen)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons limoncello
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the limoncello and beat an additional minute.
  5. On low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  6. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix on low speed just until incorporated.
  7. Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.
Lemon Curd -
Zest of 2 lemons
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  1. In a heavy medium saucepan, stir together the lemon zest, juice and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk.
  3. Whisk the lemon mixture into the eggs to temper them.
  4. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, and let cool completely.
Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting -
2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon limoncello
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (I didn't sift it cause I am lazy, and things turned out fine)
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the limoncello and beat for an additional minute.
  3. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth.
Assembly -
  1. Cut a hole into each cupcake (I used a knife)
  2. Fill the holes with lemon curd filling.
  3. Frost and decorate!

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