My bake-a-long group is baking the Limoncello Cupcakes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook this week, and oh, there’s just so much to tell you! So fair warning, today’s post might be a little long-ish. But the luscious photos will have you drooling all the way through! (I hope. I’m trying to improve my photography skills — if you drool, my mission will have been accomplished! Please drool.)
The key ingredient in today’s recipe is limoncello, a traditional Italian liqueur. My first taste of limoncello was when I was travelling in Italy a few years ago. I had stopped over in Rome and tried my first shot of limoncello, then went to view the Coliseum by moonlight. I highly recommend it! Seeing the Coliseum by moonlight, that is. Not so much the limoncello. Why? I don’t know. It’s just not my favourite flavour. A combination of astringent and sweet, it just doesn’t make me crave more after the first sip.
Until I made these cupcakes. I totally crave these cupcakes!
But first things first. I didn’t have limoncello in the house, and I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle just to use a few tablespoons in this recipe, so…I made some!
In Which I Make Limoncello
I made this last week, and it’s surprisingly easy! You just take some vodka, stuff it full of lemon peel, let that sit for a week or more; strain it, and add in simple syrup. Bam, DONE! I used this recipe, from The Kitchn, but modifying the amounts. I used a cup of vodka and the peel of three lemons, and let it sit for a week. The liquid turned yellow within days (I totally checked it every day). After a week, I made a simple syrup from 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. sugar, and mixed it with the vodka (after straining out the peel). I chilled it overnight, and voila, limoncello!
As I had made just enough limoncello to fill a half pint jar, and the cupcake recipe only calls for 5 tbsps. or less, I still have at least half the amount left. Even taking into account the fact that the DH and I taste-tested it. (For quality control purposes only. Really!) I shall likely use the leftover limoncello for baking in the future, instead of artificial lemon flavouring. Up with whole foods! Homemade liqueur counts as a whole food, right?
In Which I Make Lemon Curd
Dorie says that you can fill the cupcakes with marmalade, dolloping a little bit in between bits of batter just before baking. I didn’t have any marmalade in the house and (can you guess where this is going?) I didn’t want to buy a whole container for just a few teaspoons, so…I made lemon curd last night! Because lemon curd is much quicker to make than marmalade, at least in my opinion!
I used Alton Brown’s instructions for lemon curd, but The Barefoot Contessa’s lemon curd ingredients. Mostly. I just left out the lemon zest she calls for. The recipe made enough to fill two half-pint jars, and one quarter pint jar. Plus a few teaspoons (ok, tablespoons!) for sampling.
In Which I Actually Make the Limoncello Cupcakes
The actual cupcakes are pretty easy, compared to some of the more complicated recipes that I’ve made from Dorie’s cookbook. There’s no special technique to making the cupcakes, aside from rubbing the lemon zest with the sugar. That’s a step that I never did before reading Dorie’s recipes, but it really does seem to get the best flavour out of citrus. Aside from making one’s fingers smell delish!
Once the cupcakes are baked, you brush them with a simple syrup and limoncello mixture while still warm, and it forms a sort of sticky glaze on top. After the cupcakes had cooled, I used a strawberry huller to scoop out the centre of the cupcake, and then filled those holes with the lemon curd. The butter cream icing is then piped on top. Dorie says to let the iced cupcakes sit outside for a little while to form a sugary, crunchy coating on the top, but I just did my usual ye-of-little-patience thing and stuck them in the freezer for a few minutes. Then…I ate them!
Being a loving wife (*pats self on back*), I braved the DH’s man-cave to bring him one of the cupcakes. Even though he had licked the batter from the beaters, the leftover icing from the mixer, and taste-tested the limoncello for me, he still enjoyed eating the actual limoncello cupcake! I think that says a lot about what a nice flavour it is.
I also packed away a couple of the cupcakes for him to take to his boss. Apparently whenever I make desserts for him to bring to work, his boss is away, and his boss is starting to joke that if it keeps happening, he’ll take it personally. So I told the DH that I had packed away two cupcakes for him to bring to his boss. Unless he only wanted one, I asked? “No, two!” he said, “Definitely two!” There was a definite twinkle in the DH’s eyes as he said it, so I suspect he might have designs on the second one. *grin* It would make a lovely, sugary afternoon pick-me-up!
And the leftover lemon curd? I turned that into lemon meringue tartlets, but I’ll talk all about that in another post; I think this one has gone on long enough!
Next Post: Probably a Salads-I-Have-Known-and-Loved post, followed by the triple-homemade French toast post (ha! It rhymes!) that I’ve been promising.
Using lemon curd for the filling is a great idea.
Thanks! It definitely bumps up the flavour!
Perfect filled with lemon curd!!!
Ooh! Nice use of lemon marmalade! Yum!
Yum. I missed this one (time) but ising lemon curd and making homemade lemoncello is brilliant. I will use your suggestions when I get to this one! Thanks!
Love your idea for the lemon curd filling! I didn’t have the opportunity to make these but may steal your lemon curd and homemade limoncello idea. 🙂 And, your pictures look fabulous!
Thanks! Totally makes my day!
Very nice. I like that you made your own curd and limoncello.
Limoncello is nice in lemon drop martinis – the simple syrup helps mellow out the flavor…Just saying 🙂
Oooh, lemon drop martinis, brilliant! I totally have to do that now! Thanks!
Kudos for making your own limoncello and curd! I wish I’d added curd to mine to bump up the lemon flavour.
Great idea making limoncello. I did buy a $20 bottle to use 1/4 cup. My husband liked these too but the extras are going to my work:)
meagan | baking in balwmer
oh yes…Italian men have a way of getting better in the moonlight and with a little limoncello on board.
Wow you get an A+ for effort on this one! Great job!!
Thanks, Kim! 🙂
Wow, that’s pretty awesome. You made limoncello, lemon curd and cupcakes and the all look really delicious.
Beautiful job, both on the cupcakes and making the
limoncello and curd.
Joyce, kitchen flavours
Wow, your own homemade limoncello and lemon curd! I would be happy to be your tester! Sounds and looks delicious!
Aw, thanks so much! 🙂 (And it was pretty tasty!)
I enjoyed reading about all the clever things this recipe inspired you to make..a little lemon curd and Limoncello ..very nice!
Thanks! I do love that everyone does a different take on Dorie’s recipes — I always look forward to seeing what everyone else does!
Cathleen | My Culinary Mission
Homemade all the way! Nice. I so wish I had went with my original plan to use lemon curd in place of the marmalade. I’m sure they were way better!
I think they’re probably good both ways! Or perhaps a little from column A and a little from column B? Perhaps a plan for next time! 🙂
OMG that lemon curd looked so divine!
Thanks so much! It tastes pretty divine too! 🙂
Wow, you went all out. The lemon curd would be a great filling. Cupcakes look great!