Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cinco de Mayo: Margarita Cupcakes

This picture is tilted, much like your world is after nights involving Patron.
Much like St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo is a most holy day reserved for drinking stupid amounts to properly honor what is being celebrated. Since Kevin and I realized we are no longer in our early 20s (with constant reminders from our bodies), we opted for a quiet night in with friend to the blog Faron and a whole lot of cooking. We started off the evening with some truly mouth-watering rib eye tacos (with 2 kinds of salsas!) and ended it with some of my most spectacular alcoholic cupcakes yet. As always, we'll start with the most important part of any meal- the cupcake course.

Margarita Cupcakes
Adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Time: 45 minutes (plus cooling)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temp
Zest and juice of 1 1/2 limes
2 tbsp decent tequila (plus more for brushing)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Lime curd (recipe follows)
Margarita buttercream frosting (recipe follows)
Lime wedges for garnish

The sheer amount of lime zest had me excited.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. 
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Mix in the lime juice, zest and vanilla extract.
  6. Drop the mixer speed to low and alternate adding in the dry ingredients and buttermilk in three intervals (dry->buttermilk->dry->buttermilk->dry). Be careful not to overmix.
  7. Realize you forgot to add the tequila (forgetting things: a side effect of tequila) then add it in and pray to god the batter doesn't curdle (which it fortunately doesn't). You could also add the tequila in with the lime juice step, but since my Cubanness means I'm superstitious, I will continue to add it in at this step in the future.
  8. Fill lined cupcake tins 2/3 full with batter then bake for 18-23 minutes or until the toothpick tests comes back clean. Also, make sure to turn once halfway through.
  9. Let cool on a wire rack.
  10. Core the cupcakes and fight the urge to eat all of the cupcake holes when you notice these are freaking delicious.
  11. Brush the tops and holes with tequila then spoon in the lime curd filling.
  12. Frost the cupcakes and garnish with a lime wedge.
You will not find a more perfectly composed cake.
Kevin and I were both a little hesitant about these cupcakes to start since tequila tastes like regret to us (thanks, college!). I have been craving lime recently, so I was willing to look past the devil liquid's presence. Just like I had hoped, the true star of the cupcake is the lime that comes through spectacularly in the cake itself, the curd and the frosting. Brushing with tequila helped add the tequila flavor for a true margarita experience without triggering my gag reflex. Just make sure you use decent tequila since not all of it is going to bake away. These delicious flavors were bolstered by what may have been the perfect cake. I often talk about moist and bouncy cakes, but this truly was the epitome of what a cake should be. It almost seemed like a crime to be removing the centers for filling.

Lime Curd Filling
Servings: Enough for 12 cupcakes
Time: 30 minutes plus cooling

1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup butter
6 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp lime zest
1 egg, beaten

Tarty kick in convenient Ghostbusters slime color!
  1. Determine that you hate limes with a fiery passion after juicing and zesting so many of them.
  2. Combine the sugar, butter, lime juice and zest in the top bowl of a double boiler and stir over high heat until the butter melts.
  3. Spoon about 1 tbsp of the hot mixture in to the eggs and mix well. 
  4. Reduce to medium heat and slowly whisk in the eggs.
  5. Cook for 20-25 minutes, whisking occasionally until the mixture thickens (and can coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  6. Let cool then put in the freezer once you're sure the bowl will no longer shatter from the temperature shock.
I've flirted with lemon curds and blackberry curds in cupcakes before, and I am a huge fan of the tartness they bring to the table. In order to properly mimic a margarita, I wanted these cupcakes to have some kick (that didn't come from tequila). The slight shock of sour from the curd served its purpose beautifully and again hammered home the wonderfulness of the lime. In a cupcake that has three excellent components, the curd somehow managed to shine the brightest.

Margarita Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker
Servings: Exactly enough for 12 cupcakes
Time: 5 minutes

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp tequila
Pinch of salt

Quite possibly the tastiest and smoothest buttercream frosting

  1. Whip the butter on medium speed using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer.
  2. Slowly add the powdered sugar and let mix. make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl .
  3. Add the lime, tequila and salt and mix until light and fluffy. If it's too soft, add more powdered sugar.
Just remember not to bite into the lime wedge.
Whenever I make buttercream frosting, I always find myself lamenting passing on yet another round of the always delightful cream cheese frosting. This time, however, I knew I had the right frosting for the task. This was an unbelievably silky smooth and flavorful buttercream that I will definitely be trying variations of in the future.
To make the cupcakes more flashy, I'd recommend adding some light green food coloring to the frosting then making an outer circle of decorative sugar pearls to mimic salt.
My Cinco de Mayo Margarita Cupcake quickly joined the pantheon of cupcake greatness. It even made a believer out of the typically sweet averse Kevin, whose declaration that he would have 1/4 of a cupcake quickly quadrupled after his first bite. From cake to curd to frosting, everything came together perfectly for an adventure in cupcakery that none of us will soon forget. Furthermore, it solidified in our aging minds the fact that we made the right choice by staying in and celebrating with food (a fact further proven by me not being curled up in a ball on the couch this morning).
The best part about making cupcakes: incorporating them into a healthy breakfast (It's just like a muffin, a far more sugary and fattening muffin with the alcohol you need to get you going in the morning!).

More Cinco de Drunko Mayo fun to come with rib eye tacos and 2 kinds of salsa!

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