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Italian Wedding Cupcakes

Italian Wedding Cake. In name alone it is beautiful! It speaks of family and tradition. It promises love and passion.

A quick glance at the ingredients and the promise is confirmed. Rich butter, wholesome eggs, soft flour, earthy nuts, luscious cream or soothing buttermilk and a spoonful of leavening. What’s not to love? Practical yet powerful, chemistry transforms these elements into a cake that is worthy of legend.

I have made this cake before, more or less. When I heard that this month’s Dinner and a Movie event would be based on the movie “Moonstruck” it was the first recipe that came to mind to enter in the round-up. Yet, when it came to actually following the recipe I was conflicted. Tradition pulled me in one direction, my heart in another.

My recipe called for cream. In the interest of practical predictability that’s what I needed but, in cleaning out my refrigerator before Spring Break, I found that I had buttermilk instead. In addition to its ready availability, I knew that the buttermilk would add a hint of flavor that is both soothing and a little tangy. So, I substituted the buttermilk for the cream.

My recipe also called for traditional flaked coconut. Really though, I don’t like it that much. I found that I didn’t have any of it on hand either so I added a few more nuts, toasted to release the aroma and add an earthiness and a slight hint of bitterness to the flavor, instead.

Then I remembered that my recipe, calling for two cups of white sugar, tends a little toward bland sweetness, so I cut back on the sugar by one quarter and substituted dark brown sugar for one cup of the white sugar to add a little depth to the sweetness.

I mixed the batter and then wondered if my family was in the mood to appreciate an elaborate layered confection. It seemed more appropriate to serve this themed dessert in personal portions, so I made cupcakes from the batter.

Finally, when it was time to add a thick dollop of cream cheese frosting as the finishing touch, I found that my cream cheese was out-of-date and moldy. I had to smile at that twist of fortune! I did have confectioners' sugar and a fresh lemon so I made a lemon glaze instead. It added a layer of tart sweetness as sheer as moonlight to veil these nutty little gems.

In the end they turned out just right. Like the movie itself these Italian Wedding Cupcakes have a dark sweetness, tempered by a tart glow and a nutty texture that is Oh, So Good!

Italian Wedding Cupcakes


1/2 lb. butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
5 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans, toasted
5 egg whites, beaten

Lemon Glaze:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tablespoon + 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Stir together the buttermilk and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and shortening. Add the sugars, beating until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolks, one at a time, until well combined.

Add the flour, buttermilk mixture and vanilla, mixing just until combined. Fold in the pecans and egg whites.

Pour the batter into prepared cupcake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cupcakes spring back when touched lightly on the top.

Cool on a wire rack.

When cool, make the glaze, mixing together the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice. Spread the glaze over the cupcakes.

Serve and enjoy!


Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Looks delicious. I like how you explained the evolution of the cake as you worked through the recipe.

The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

Nice post! I could eat one (or 5) of those right now! LOL

Elyse said...

These Italian wedding cupcakes look totally fabulous. Man, I wish I had one (or ten) right now. I just love their delicate, bursting flavor--and the addition of pecans is totally up my alley! What a great way to celebrate Moonstruck!

pam said...

I love Italian wedding cakes! And I love the process you went through to make these. I'm still not brave enough to substitute much when it comes to baking.

MaryBeth said...

So simple yet so darn beautiful... They look outstanding Lisa!!

Susan @ SGCC said...

These look amazing, Lisa! I've definitely got to make them for myself soon. Thanks so much for sharing them with us!

grace said...

i'm sorry you don't like coconut--i think it'd be great in these! i'm sure they're fabulous as is, though--that glaze oozing down the side resembles the dribble now cascading down my chin... :)

Zabeena said...

Ah, how very Italian to tweak your recipe to match what you had in the fridge and your personal taste!
They sound scrumptious!

Ivy said...

I know what you mean about the conflict between traditional and "your heart" and I love it.
You cupcakes came out beautiful.

Good point that I never really thought about-with the more Vs. less white sugar thing.

That movie night is such a great idea.

Karen said...

First time I've been to your blog and it's beautiful! I'm going to stay a while and look around :) Love the changes you made to these cakes with the brown sugar and the lemon glaze. They look delicious!

The Food Hunter said...

These look so yummy

Allison Jones said...

Don't you just want to put lemon glaze on everything!?

These look so good!

Debbie said...

They look wonderful. I love the lemon cream on top...so good!

Debbie said...

mmmm....they look yummy. I'm going to make them for my mother in law, who is Italian. She'll love them too.

Robin Sue said...

What lovely cupcakes and so perfect with the movie too.

Bunny said...

I've seen Italian wedding cakes before but not in cupcake form!! Wonderful!

Nic said...

I love that first photo, they are really beautiful!

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