Soft and moist limoncello cupcakes filled with decadent lemon curd and topped with luxurious limoncello cream cheese frosting. A lemon lover’s dream.
This limoncello cupcake recipe is my gift to all the lemon lovers out there – the cake is soft and moist but dense enough to hold the decadent lemon curd in the centre.
It’s then topped with the most luxurious limoncello cream cheese frosting that’s a dream to pipe (it holds its shape quite nicely) and even better to eat – perfectly sweet and tart. It’s the ideal topping to all the deliciousness underneath it.
My lemon love affair
There is a reason I have a whole category in my blog dedicated to lemon desserts.
I love lemons the way people love chocolates. I mean, I like chocolates very much (who doesn’t?).
I just love lemons – lemon cakes, lemon bars, lemon pies, lemon curd, lemonade!
Meyer lemons most of all – they’re sweeter, more aromatic, and they even photograph better.
No lemons in the Philippines
Lemons are not organic to the Philippines (we have a local version called calamansi, which is very tart and closer in appearance to key limes) so it was only when I moved to Canada that I discovered them – you could say our love affair is fairly new.
And there’s so much to discover. A world of lemon recipes to try. I couldn’t be happier.
Limoncello cupcakes with limoncello cream cheese frosting
First up are these glorious (notice how much praise I give these cupcakes? I exaggerate not; they are very good) cupcakes made with the lemon liqueur, limoncello (which, uh, yes, I also love), filled with homemade lemon curd then topped with more limoncello cream cheese frosting.
I guess the limoncello in this recipe makes this an adult cupcake but not to worry, there’s not enough liqueur in here to make you drunk (too bad? I hear ya); but enough to give it a distinct lemon flavour that you won’t get from lemon extract or oil or even fresh lemon juice.
Something needs to be said about the frosting too.
I’m always worried about using cream cheese (I’ve thrown out too many bowls of failed cream cheese frosting) but this one held together – not only in shape and form but taste as well.
The secret? Use cold cream cheese. Not room temperature. Cold straight out of the fridge.
Give these cupcakes a shot. They might just make you a lemon lover too (yay for Team Lemon).
(Not into lemons? Try these Chewy Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies instead.)
Limoncello Cupcakes with Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 pc large eggs
- 2 tbsp limoncello
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice I used Meyer lemons
- ½ tsp lemon zest about 1 lemon
- See my recipe for Homemade Lemon Curd
- ¼ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 6 oz cream cheese cold and cubed
- 1 tbsp limoncello
- 2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar sifted
- Preheat your oven to 350F and line a standard-size cupcake tin with cupcake liners (this recipe makes 12 cupcakes).
- In a medium bowl, combine 1 ½ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat ¼ cup butter and 2 ounces cream cheese on medium speed for about a minute then add the 1 cup of sugar. Beat for another 2 minutes or until light and creamy.
- Add the 3 eggs one at a time making sure it's combined well each time.
- Then add the 2 tablespoons of limoncello. Remember to scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl.
- Switch to low speed and add a third of your flour mixture. Then half of your buttermilk. Add another third of the flour, the rest of the buttermilk and finally the rest of the flour.
- Mix in the ¼ cup lemon juice and ½ teaspoon lemon zest just until combined. Again, scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl for any rogue batter
- Scoop your batter evenly into your tins (about ¾ full).
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the ¼ cup butter and the 6 ounces cream cheese on medium speed for about 4-5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Add the 1 tablespoon limoncello and beat just until incorporated.
- Switch to low speed and gradually add the 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar. Add a little bit more at a time until you get the consistency and the level of sweetness you prefer. Beat until smooth and creamy.
- Make sure the cupcakes are completely cool.
- Using a small knife, carve a small hole (about an inch in diameter and an inch deep) into the middle of your cupcake.
- Take the extra cake out and fill the hole with a dollop of lemon curd. Don't put too much curd; just put enough so that it's level with the top of your cupcake.
- Frost and decorate as desired.
Nutritional information are estimates only.
(This recipe adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker)
Did you make these limoncello cupcakes? Tell me how it went in the comments section below. I’d love to hear all about it. If you’re into lemons like me, there are more lemony treats here.
These lemon cupcakes look perfect for summer/spring theme parties.
Absolutely! And Mother’s Day too 🙂
The difference between limoncello and lemon juice make sense – limoncello is flavored with the peel, so lemon oil – not juice. Much brighter, more fragrant flavor. Never thought of using it in baking, even though I knew that – how perfect!
And I love the cream cheese icing. Looks so creamy and rich!
Oh my, I didn’t even know that! All I know was one had alcohol and the other didn’t teehee. Thanks Anne! The limoncello really ups the flavour game of these cupcakes. Thanks for passing by! 🙂
I feel like I’ve been waiting for this recipe my whole life. I’m such a lemon lover and can’t wait to make these. Pinned for later! That frosting looks amazing!
Hi Jessica! As a fellow lemon lover (in fact, I might be the Lemon Club President lol) I’m excited for you! These cupcakes are really awesome. The limoncello just makes it that much better. Let me know how goes. Hope you like it as much as I do 🙂
Me too, me too; I’m a lemon lover! So happy to find you.
Italians are very partial to lemons and anything lemon flavored. We make our own limoncello — what a wonderful way to use some of it. Thank you for the recipe!!!
I’m not Italian but I’m seriously partial to lemon too! It’s just wonderful isn’t it? 🙂 You are very welcome, hope you enjoy these as much as I do!
I love everything about these! They’re beautiful — you’re right about them being great subjects to photograph! I think my favorite part is the limoncello frosting…or the lemon curd…everything!
These cupcakes look divine! I love all things lemon so I will have to try this one!
What’s the best way to make these ahead of time for a big party?
Hi Stacey. These are best fresh but I suppose you can bake the cupcakes first (perhaps the day before) then fill and frost them later (the day of the party).
ginger and scotch
Great tip about the cold cream cheese – this looks like a recipe my kiddies will love!
Thanks! I don’t remember now where I read it…I think from Joy of Cooking. In any case, that has saved me a whole of frosting heartache 🙂 Hope your kids like them!
These look and sound so incredible and zingy! Beautiful little morsels of yum! 🙂
Thanks Elizabeth! They are little morsels of yum haha. You described them perfectly 🙂
I am a lemon lover too! I would choose it over a chocolate dessert any day. I love that these are filled with a lemon curd.
Hooray! Another one for Team Lemon 🙂 Yeah, the surprise lemon curd centre is great. Hope you try this recipe 🙂
Yes, these look AWESOME! So so perfect for spring! And I totally agree, lemon is much better to photograph than chocolate…whenever I make something chocolate I struggle so hard with brown on brown…ugh. No such issues here, it’s like sunlight 🙂
Hahahaha this made me laugh. Same problems with chocolate. Hard to make brown pretty, right?
Yum- these lemon cupcakes look divine, especially with lemon curd!
Thanks Hillary! The surprise lemon curd centre is quite awesome 🙂
I’m definitely a fan of lemon desserts. I love how the tartness of the lemons offset the sweetness. And I agree, cream cheese frosting can be so tough sometimes but keeping the cream cheese cold is a great tip!
Awesome, another one for Team Lemon 🙂 And you’re welcome, hope that tip helps!
I kinda want you to start a blog dedicated to lemony baked goods now. I think it would be a HUGE hit (assuming people love lemon treats as much as we do, and I think they do)!
Putting curd into cupcakes is a much smarter idea than putting curd between layers of cake. I’ve tried the latter and it resulted in tears, hahaha, even though I had piped a border of buttercream! Oh well. Bookmarking this for the moment I’m ready to face lemon curd+cake again. At least I know this will work 😉
Thanks! I would love to do a lemon blog though I’m afraid we’d be the only two people reading it lol! Speaking of lemon curd on cakes I did one and it’s actually going to be up on the blog soon. Hope you stop by when that’s up 🙂 Have a great weekend!
Beautiful recipe and gorgeous photos! Everything looks so delicious and sun-soaked. Summertime is coming. Can’t wait. This is a wonderful and inspiring post.
yes yes yes!!!!
These look and sound amazing.
I am with you, I like chocolate. I LOVE lemon.
And great tip on the cream cheese. I have also had issues using it for icing.
Have a great weekend.