Alfajore Cupcake or Peruvian Caramel Filled Lemon Cupcake with Raspberry Buttercream and Coconut

There is a Peruvian restaurant just a few blocks from my house, Mi Lindo Peru on Mission Street in San Francisco, where I go when I must have Lomo Saltado now! Lomo Saltado is yummy strips of beef cooked with onion and tomato all poured over french fries and rice! Yum. We usually get take out from Mi Lindo Peru, as the atmosphere isn’t all that, and go to Fresca or Limon when we want to pay a little extra for nice lighting and whatnot. Anyway, given my love for Lomo Saltado, I figured it was time to pay my respects to Peru in the form of a cupcake.

I am familiar with custard-type Peruvian desserts, but was looking for something a bit different. The Alfajore cookie appeared to have “cupcake conversion” potential – milky caramel, sandwiched between lemony cookies, rolled in coconut. All sounds very good. I was also in the mood for something pink (not sure why) and thought a light raspberry buttercream would pair with the flavors quite well.

The cake by itself was slightly disappointing. While it had a nice lemon flavor it was also a bit too dense. But paired with the filling and the frosting, the end result was very tasty – sweet, but not too sweet and a coherent combination of flavors. I ran into some trouble with the frosting, because I was being impatient. I made notes where I failed so you won’t. But other than being a bit runny, the frosting was delicious.

Lemon Cupcakes
12 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
1¾ cups sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
2½ teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
1/3 cup lemon juice, from 2 medium lemons
zest of two medium lemons

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
5. Add to mixer bowl. Add the milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix to combine.
6. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to two-thirds full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes).
7. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Peruvian Caramel or Manjar Blanco

1 8 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1. Immerse closed can on its side in a pot of boiling water.
2. Leave on a simmer or light boil for 2 hours topping off with water as needed. Be careful and don’t let the water dry out.
2. Remove from heat and let cool thoroughly before opening can. Condensed milk should be thick and a nice caramel color. Don’t open the can while its still hot, I hear that can be very, very messy.

Raspberry Meringue Buttercream

2 large egg whites
½ cup sugar
1 sticks (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup seedless raspberry preserves

1. Set the bowl of your electric mixer over a pan of simmering water. Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl and whisk until sugar has dissolved and mixture is at least 160° which will kill any bacteria present. This should only take a few minutes.
2. Take the bowl off the heat and attach to the mixer along with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff peaks. Continue beating on medium-low speed until the mixture is cooled, about 6 minutes. This step is important. If you don’t beat to stiff peaks and allow the mixture to cool, the frosting will end up runny.
3. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Beat in vanilla.
5. Measure out preserves into a small bowl and whisk to soften. Fold preserves into the frosting with a rubber spatula until smooth.

Alfajore Cupcake or Peruvian Caramel Filled Lemon Cupcake with Raspberry Buttercream and Coconut

1. Using a small pairing knife, cut off the top of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Flip the top over and cut off the cone.
2. Fill the cavity with the caramel.
3. Replace the top of the cone.
4. Scoop a tablespoon of buttercream on top of each cupcake.
5. Sprinkle with coconut.

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