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EAT IT // Margarita Cupcakes

Thursday, May 10, 2012

There are at least two things in the world that will always make me happy: cupcakes and margaritas. So, I could seriously hug the genius who decided to combine the two.

I found this recipe when searching for the perfect Cinco de Mayo dessert. Generally, when I search for cupcake recipes online, I start with Annie's Eats. And this time (again) she didn't disappoint. When I served them at Zach's birthday party (oh, I said I wouldn't mention it again! oops...), people gobbled them up and gushed that they tasted bakery-bought. I think that's a good thing, right?

I must warn you though, this recipe isn't for the faint of heart. The frosting (a Swiss meringue buttercream) is especially challenging. My mixer was beating for at least an hour before the consistency was right (and even then, I cheated and added more butter than the recipe called for...)

The base of the cupcake was lime cake that got it's flavors from fresh lime zest and juice. This made the batter really pretty - due to all the flecks of green inside (it looked like confetti! The batter was ready to fiesta too.)

When I pulled the cupcakes out of the oven to cool though, I had a minor problem. The cake started pulling away from the cupcake liners (see photo below.) Does anyone know why this happens? I was super frustrated because, well let's be honest, it looked tacky.

So, instead of fighting the liners and trying to get them to stick, I decided to just remove them all. It's better if they all look the same. (Then it seems like the choice to remove the liners was on purpose.)

Then comes my favorite part - the frosting! If I were to make these cupcakes again, I would probably just go with a typical buttercream recipe (instead of the Swiss meringue version.) Swiss meringue does taste better, but I'm not sure it's worth all the extra work.

I was also being cheap (and didn't want to buy tequila.) So, I subbed the tequila for the pre-mixed margarita that I served at the party. It added a little zing without being too overwhelming. Then, I topped the frosting off with some rock salt (which I heard "made" the cupcake.)

The result was delicious. I will DEFINITELY be making this recipe again next Cinco de Mayo (and maybe a few other times in between.)

What good recipes have you tried out lately?

Margarita Cupcakes
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes
Adapted from Annie's Eats 

For the cake: 
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 limes, zested and juiced
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting and garnish: 
2 cups sugar
8 large egg whites
Pinch salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2-4 tbsp. margarita mix (or tequila)

rock salt

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir with a fork to blend.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the lime zest, lime juice and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ full.  Bake 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  If desired, brush the cooled cakes with margarita mix or tequila to emphasize the true margarita flavor.

To make the frosting, combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together, though it may take a very long time!)  Stir in the lime juice and margarita mix (tequila) and mix until fully incorporated and smooth. 

Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.  Frost the cooled cupcakes with the buttercream.  Garnish with rock salt.


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