Thursday, August 2, 2012

Limoncello Cupcakes - A trip to Italy

I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Italy the end of June with two of my nieces. We visited Florence, the Cinque Terre and Venice. To say I was inspired by the sights, sounds and food of Italy is an understatement. Since I have been home, I have baked three Italian inspired cupcakes.
When we visited the Cinque Terre, there was a wonderful town called Monterosso that is known for its Limoncello, a liqueur made from lemons. Many people in our tour group bought bottles of Limoncello to bring back to the States. 
Today I am going to share the first cupcake with you inspired by our day trip to the Cinque Terre – Limoncello Cupcakes filled with Lemon Curd and topped with a Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting.

Limoncello Cupcakes
Yield: 2 dozen

For the cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
4 tablespoons Limoncello
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup lemon juice
Zest of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

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.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the Limoncello and beat an additional minute.

On low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix on low speed just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between 24 muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Lemon Curd:
Zest of 4 lemons
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 egg + 2 egg yolk

In a heavy medium saucepan, stir together the lemon zest, juice and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk. Whisk the lemon mixture into the eggs to temper them. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat, and let cool completely.

Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoon Limoncello
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

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.

Add the Limoncello and beat for an additional minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth.
Assemble the Cupcakes:
Cut a hole into each cupcake with the large end of a melon baller or the back end of a large pastry tip. Fill each cavity with the lemon curd. Fill a pastry bag with a piping tip (I used Ateco #885) with the cream cheese Limoncello frosting and pipe onto each cupcake. Decorate with a lemon slice and dust with yellow sanding sugar, if desired.