Falling off the blogging radar (i.e. – not really having time to blog) means that over the last few months, I haven’t been participating in the various blogging challenges that I usually join in with. One of my favourites is Baking with Spirit, hosted by Jan over at Cake of the Week. (Would saying that it’s my favourite make me sound like an alcoholic?) After missing several challenges, I was all set to participate last month – I’d set aside time and had recipe ideas and everything – but had forgotten to consider that crème de framboise might be a little difficult (read: nigh on impossible) to come by in rural NZ. After that total fail in planning on my part, I was terribly excited when this month’s alcohol of choice turned out to be “Limoncello.” I love the stuff.
I actually don’t know if limoncello is any easier to find in rural NZ than crème de framboise, but I circumvented the issue by making my own over the weekend (and I’ll post the recipe soon). Yesterday was the birthday of one of my labmates so I had her round for dinner and decided that limoncello cupcakes would make an excellent celebratory end to the meal. Lemon cupcakes with limoncello drizzled over them after baking (you wouldn’t want any of it to bake out…) and topped off with a cream cheese and white chocolate icing (with limoncello added, of course) and all washed down with a small, digestive glass of limoncello – now that’s a great way to bring some sunshine into what was a cold and tempestuously grim weather day.
This post actually should have gone up yesterday evening, but the aforementioned foul weather won out and we were treated to a powercut for most of the evening (though thankfully not until after dinner had been cooked), so my plan to blog (or do anything else requiring electricity, like… writing a thesis) had to be abandoned. Instead, we huddled under blankets, polished off a few more of these cupcakes and drank limoncello and G&Ts by candlelight. Hopefully my late entry will be forgiven – sorry Jan!
I used home-made limoncello, which isn’t too sweet, so these have a very lemony flavour, but this may vary depending on the limoncello that you use. I just went for simple two-tone icing to fancy the cupcakes up a bit, but they can also be decorated with lemon zest or white chocolate shavings (or both). They are best eaten the same day or the next day, but will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container. Whilst not super alcoholic (by my standards), do remember that none of the alcohol gets baked out in this recipe, so perhaps not ideal for children.
For the cupcakes:
100ml whole milk
125g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
200g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
About 90ml limoncello
For the icing:
Yellow gel food colouring (optional)
150g cream cheese, softened
35 ml limoncello
150g white chocolate
To prepare the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C. Line a muffin tray with 12 paper cases or set out silicon muffin moulds.
2. Zest and juice the lemon and set aside, separately. Stir ½ tsp of lemon juice into the milk and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the butter with an electric whisk until creamy. Add the sugar and lemon zest and whisk together until light and fluffy.
4. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs together with a fork. Add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 tbsp at a time, whisking well after each addition.
5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl and stir together. Fold ⅓ of the flour mixture into the butter with a large metal spoon or a spatula, followed by ⅓ of the milk mixture. Alternate adding the remaining thirds of flour and milk mixtures, and on the last addition fold together until nearly incorporated. Add 3 tsp of lemon juice and stir well.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared paper cases or silicone moulds. Bake for 25-28 mins until golden and the tops are just firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 2 mins in the tin or moulds before turning out onto a wire rack.
7. Whilst still hot, poke holes in the top of the cupcakes (I like using pointy chopsticks for this) and spoon about 1½ tsp of limoncello over the top of each cupcake – do this slowly so that a maximum amount of limoncello soaks into the cupcake rather than running over the top and down the sides. Allow to cool fully.
To prepare the icing:
8. Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, prepare the icing. If you want to pipe the icing onto the cupcakes (as opposed to spreading it over), prepare a piping bag with your chose piping tip (I used a Wilton 1M tip). If you want two-tone icing, paint three stripes of yellow gel food colouring up the inside of the piping bag. Set the piping bag in a tall glass (this will make it easier to fill) and set aside.
9. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and limoncello until smooth.
10. Melt the white chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t reach the bottom of the bowl), stirring regularly until the chocolate is smooth. Add to the cream cheese and whisk together until the icing is smooth. Either spread the icing over the cupcakes with a knife or transfer to the prepared piping bag and pipe onto the cupcakes.