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.