I know summer is coming to an end and we’re all slowly transitioning to everything pumpkin, but I had to bake these lemon cupcakes with mascarpone buttercream. Just let me get in this one last recipe while I still can! With a delicious light and spongy lemon cupcake and creamy mascarpone buttercream, it’s like summer in a bite.
Truthfully, I really need to step up my cupcake game. Besides these, I only have one other cupcake recipe which is my toasted s’mores cupcakes. When I first started making my own recipes (and way before starting a blog), I was baking nothing but cupcakes. I thought that after college I would open my own cupcake shop and just bake cupcakes for the rest of my life. Welp, my future turned out a liiiiittle bit different than that…and I am not complaining. But I made all kinds of cupcakes from peanut butter and honey to red velvet filled with white chocolate fudge. Guess I need to dust off my old recipe notebook and bring back some of my old cupcake creations!
But for now, you’ll have to excuse me as I slowly build up my cupcake recipe archive starting with these lemon cupcakes. They aren’t too dense, too crumbly, too sweet, or too tart. With a hint of that fresh lemon flavor in both the cake and mascarpone buttercream, these cupcakes strike the perfect balance between sweet vanilla and tart lemon.
Mascarpone vs. Cream Cheese
I knew I wanted a rich buttercream to compliment the light and fluffy cupcakes. Compared to cream cheese, mascarpone is much richer due to its higher fat content but cream cheese tends to be a bit more acidic. This is why cream cheese work so well in cheesecake, because the acidity helps to balance out the sweetness of the cake. For these cupcakes, the mascarpone doesn’t overpower in flavor like cream cheese would. It helps to create a thicker and creamier buttercream but with a smoother flavor. It’s the perfect carrier for that lemon flavor as it has very little to compete with.
To make them a bit more fancy, I added a sprig of basil on the top of each cupcake. Not only does it add a pop of color, but it infuses its flavor the longer it sits on the cupcake. You don’t actually eat the basil (I mean you can if you want) but when you take a bite from where it was sitting, you get a hint of that sweet basil flavor. It is by far my FAAAVORITE herb. I wish I had a candle that just smelled like straight up basil. I also don’t have a green thumb (like, at all) but I’ve managed to keep my little basil plant alive on my kitchen windowsill. Go me!
How to swirl your cupcake frosting
Don’t forget that lemon zest on top! The more lemon flavor, the better. And to get that swirled top, I tried my best to copy the signature Magnolia Bakery frosting. Let’s just say, this is a more rustic version. I took a small offset spatula and scraped small scoops of the buttercream all around the sides of the cupcake…kinda like when you scrape the excess frosting on the edge of your bowl.
I then somewhat flattened out the buttercream (doesn’t have to be perfect) and put my spatula upright against the edge of the cupcake. I ran it around the edge of the cupcake to get that smooth edge. This is similar to getting that clean edge on a layer cake, just way easier. I then lightly dug the tip of the spatula into the outer edge of the buttercream and applied more pressure as I swirled in. Voila! You’ve got your own rustic cupcake swirl.
So if you’re grasping on to the last few days of summer, these lemon cupcakes with mascarpone buttercream will make you feel like it’s the middle of June. They’re bright and fresh and so so delicious. Make sure to pin this recipe using the button on the recipe card, above or below this post, or on any of the photos! You’ll at least want to save this for next summer 🙂Print
Light and fluffy lemon cupcakes with a creamy mascarpone buttercream
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Zest of 3 lemons
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temp
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Extra zest for topping
- Fresh basil (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350F and line a cupcake tin with 12 liners.
- In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In another small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla, Set aside.
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the room temperature butter and sugar until light and fluffy (on high for 3-4 minutes). Mix in the eggs one at a time then the lemon zest.
- Alternating between the flour mixture and buttermilk, slowly incorporate until smooth. Start and end with the dry ingredients.
- Evenly pour the batter into each cupcake liner and bake for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let the cupcakes cool completely before making the buttercream. When ready, cream together the room temperature butter and mascarpone using an electric mixer. Once combined, mix in the lemon zest and juice. Finally, mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until smooth.
- Frost your cupcakes however you like. If you like how these are frosted, my instructions can be found in this post. Make sure to top them with some extra lemon zest and some fresh basil. Pop them in the fridge to set then serve cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!
Keywords: lemon cupcakes, cupcake recipes, lemon recipes