Limoncello Lemon Cupcakes

I’m not a big lemon fan in baked goods, but my good friend is so I decided to give these lemony lemon cupcakes.  What I do for my friends?  Also, this recipe included Limoncello, a lemon infused liqueur from Italy, so why wouldn’t it be good?

This is a lemon cupcake with a lemon curd filling and a lemon frosting.  If you hate lemon, don’t make these.  I don’t love lemon, but these were good.

Cupcakes

Preheat the oven for 350˚F.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

Beat butter, cream cheese, and sugar on medium speed in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy.  

Add the eggs individually, mixing after each egg.  Add limoncello and beat lightly.  There are a few brands, but this is the smallest bottle I could find.  I found lots of lemon vodkas, lemon rums, etc. I don’t know alcohol, so you may be able to use these.  If you do, let me know how it works.

On low speed, add flour mixture alternatively with the  buttermilk. Start and end with the four mixture.  Ever wonder why you do this?  I always did, and I recently asked the bakers at King Arthur Flour.  You start and end with flour because there is usually more flour than wet ingredients.  You add them alternatively to prevent the mixture from being shocked by all the flour or all the liquids at once.  This will shock the air bubbles right out of your baked good.  The air bubbles are key to your baked good.

Add the lemon juice and zest and mix just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins.I got 14 cupcakes out of this batter.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Curd Filling:

Curd filling is made by heating up a egg mixture and cooking the egg yolks without scrambling eggs.  The lemon juice in this curd and present in most curds helps thicken and strengthen the proteins in the curd.  I guess most curds have butter that also helps with this process, but this curd did not.

In a medium saucepan, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar.

This was really tart, so I would recommend adding some more sugar.   Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  While that mix is heating up, whisk the egg and egg yolk together.

Now, you will temper the eggs.  What does this mean?  This is a way to heat up eggs for a curd filling without making scrambled eggs. Read carefully. I made this and almost had scrambled eggs.  The key to tempering eggs is to add small amounts of the lemon sugar mixture into the egg mixture.  Stir constantly to prevent the hot liquid from heating up one section of the eggs and scrambling that section.  Keep adding the sugar mixture until it all has been added.

Return filling to heat and stir until thickened and no longer runny.

Here is the filling after the eggs were added.

Here’s the thickened filling.

Frosting:

Beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.  Add the limoncello and beat for another minute.  Reduce speed, and slowly add powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.  Taste, add more limoncello if you like a stronger lemony flavor.  If the icing is too thick, add more limoncello or water.  If the icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar.

Assembly:

I put the filling and frosting into pastry bags to make it easier to assemble.

Use a knife to cut out a small hole in the center of each cupcake.

Eat the center or throw it away, whatever you would like.

Pipe the filling into the center.

Pipe the frosting (I used a star tip) on top.  You can also use a plastic bag with a small cut made on one of the corners.  You don’t want to just use a knife to spread the icing on because it will pull up the filling and mix with the frosting.

Enjoy!  You can decorate with a candied lemon peel or berries or leave it plain as I have.  

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