Category Archives: lime

Margaritas in Cupcake Form

Note: There are about 8 million entries I want to write. If I haven’t addressed your question or posted the recipe for that thing you liked—sorry. I probably haven’t forgotten about it. I just had a dissertation to finish, a wedding to plan, a honeymoon to go on, a book chapter to write, and three new classes to create. There’s no way I will get to all of the entries on my to-do list before the semester begins. In the meantime: have a cupcake recipe.

the buttercream was a little too soft and my hands a little to warm for perfectly pretty piping. whatever. they looked homemade, which they were.

TeacherPatti hosted a fiesta-themed cookout for the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers last weekend, and I decided tor take margarita-flavored cupcakes. Which are basically just lime cupcakes spiked with tequila and triple sec (or Cointreau, because that’s what I had on hand. If you really wanted to get fancy you could use Grand Marnier).

I used Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe, adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, because BEB added booze to the batter and I’m also of the "More booze = better” school of baking. However, I’m not sure it mattered, as the tequila flavor didn’t come through in the cakes much. Not to worry: there’s more tequila and triple sec brushed on top after baking, and still more in the frosting. So this is probably not the recipe to make for a kid’s birthday party or playdate, unless your intention is to mellow the rugrats out a bit.

BEB used a classic American buttercream, but I opted for the original CFB choice of a Swiss buttercream. The former is just softened butter whipped with powdered sugar, which is what you get on most bakery cakes. The latter begins with egg whites and sugar cooked on the stovetop and then whipped into an airy meringue, which you gradually add softened butter to, bit by bit, until it forms an airy emulsion. It’s silkier, richer, and much less sweet than American buttercream. For these cupcakes, it also gets a splash of lime juice, tequila, and triple sec. I halved the recipe below because the full recipe made more than twice as much as I needed.

To further boost the margarita mimic factor, I made a “rim” around the top of each cupcake with coarse salt & sugar before piping the frosting in the middle and I topped them with slices of candied lime.

Whole slices might have had more structural integrity. Another option: just candy the peel and make shapes or curls.

Needs More Tequila

If I make them again, I’ll use a tequila with a stronger flavor. Hornitos silver turned out to be a little too smooth. Their resposado might have worked, and classic Cuervo Gold probably would have been okay, too. This is definitely not the place for sipping-quality tequila, for much the same reason that it’s usually foolish to cook with expensive wine.

I’ll also let cut the limes differently and let them simmer in the simple syrup longer. This time, I cut them in half and then into thin slices, and they kind of fell apart in the blanching and candying process. I removed them from the simple syrup before the pith was completely translucent because I was afraid I was going to end up with just candied lime rinds. As a result, they were kind of bitter—which I enjoy, but I know not everyone does. Next time: full round slices for candying. I’ll cut them in half before using them

Despite the subtlety of the tequila and the bitterness of the candied limes, the MLFBs seemed to enjoy them—several described it as a “nice adult cupcake.” And that’s not just because of the tequila. Unlike most cupcakes, these are not overly sweet, dominated instead by the richness of the butter and the tartness of the lime. Nice ending for a smoky, spicy meal.

even before being brushed with tequila, these were super moist. nice base recipe.

Recipe: Margarita Cupcakes (from Brown Eyed Baker)
makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the liquor:

  • 6 Tablespoons tequila (Sauza Hornitos or your favorite inexpensive brand)
  • 2 Tablespoons Grand Mariner, Cointreau or other orange liqueur

For the cupcakes:I wonder if the candied limes would have stayed a brighter green if I'd blanched them for less time...

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs (room temp)
  • zest and juice of 3 large limes
  • 1/4 cup liquor
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1-2 Tablespoons liquor for brushing

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 12 you kind of need a whole bag of limes for this recipeTablespoons butter, softened
  • 1-2 Tablespoons lime juice (zest before juicing if desired for garnishing)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons liquor

For the candied limes:

  • 2 large or 4 small limes
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup water

For the salty-sugar rim:

  • 2 Tablespoons sanding sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Method

To candy the limes:

Slice thinly, and blanche in boiling water—meaning, boil some water, drop the slices in, let them simmer for 2 minutes, and then drain them well. Next, combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water  in the same pot and bring the mixture to a simmer. Return the blanched lime slices to the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the white pith looks translucent. Place the slices on a cooling rack and let dry for about an hour. Toss with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar and spread on waxed paper. Let dry overnight or at least another 6-8 hours. Store in an airtight container.  blanching

I'm not sure if there's a way to keep them bright & green...maybe an oven candying method?

For the cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Either grease and flour muffin tins or line them with cups.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar for at least 5 minutes with an electric mixer (or 10 minutes by hand with a whisk), until fluffy and lightened in color. The sugar cuts through the butter and helps aerate it, which is part of what leavens the cake, so don’t skip or shorten this step.

butter before whipping--golden and dense butter after whipping: almost white, fluffy and increased volume

4. Add the eggs to the whipped butter one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.

5. Add the lime zest, juice, vanilla, and liquor. Mix until combined. Don’t worry if it looks curdled.

at some points, it may look lumpy or curdled but it will smooth out the last addition of flour

6. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk, starting and ending with dry—first, 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 1/2 the buttermilk, then another 1/3 of the dry, then the second 1/2 of the buttermilk, and lastly the remaining 1/3 dry. After each addition, stir just until combined. I like to do this part by hand with a spatula so as not to over-mix the batter, which will create gluten networks and make the cake tough.

7. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin tins—they should be about 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

8. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, and then remove and cool completely on a rack.

this was just a leetle too full--they rose over the edges and then fell a bit while cooling. But I was out of muffin tins as it was--you could maybe get as many as 28-30 cupcakes out of this recipe. a few overflowed a lot, but most just poufed above the papers and then sunk a little in the middle

For the frosting:

1. Fill a large pot or skillet with 1-2” water and heat to a simmer.

2. Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Hold the bowl over the simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160F.

the base of the bowl actually keeps the bowl out of the water, which is perfect--the meringue cooks slowly without curdling. alternately, you can use a pot that's small enough that the bowl just sits on top instead of all the way inside. after 10 minutes of whipping--a glossy, fluffy meringue

3. Attach the bowl to the mixer and beat at high speed with the whisk attachment until the mixture is cool and holds stiff, glossy peaks (about 10 minutes).

4. Using the paddle attachment, beat in the softened butter one tablespoon at a time. Beat each addition in fully before adding more. The mixture might seem to curdle or separate, just keep beating. You’re creating an emulsion, and sometimes it takes time to come together.

Buttercream troubleshooting: If you’ve added all the butter and beaten it for 20 minutes and it’s just not coming together, put the entire bowl in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes and then try beating it again. If that fails, scoop out about a cup, zap it in the microwave on high for 15-20 seconds, and then slowly pour the melted buttercream into the bowl while beating at medium speed with the whisk attachment.

5. Add 1 Tablespoon of the liquor and lime juice, beat until combined and taste. Add more of either or both if desired.

it doesn't increase in volume as you add butter--it seems like you're basically replacing the air in the meringue with butter

To Decorate:

1. Combine the sanding sugar and salt.

2. Brush the surface of each cupcake with some of the liquor mix.

3. Cover the center of the cupcakes with something that leaves just a small ring around the edge exposed, and sprinkle with the salty-sugar mix.tequila for brushing in the background, making the salty-sugar rim in the foregroundyou can adjust the ratio of salt:sugar to your taste

you could also just make a tequila-powdered sugar glaze and let the salty-sugar rim be the main decoration. and/or top with a whole slice of candied lime.

4. Either pipe or spoon the frosting into the center. Garnish with a piece of candied lime or fresh lime zest.cocktails as finger food!