Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Margarita Cupcakes

Every year, we attend a Fourth of July party hosted by a really creative friend.  Last year, the theme was Mexican, and this year the theme was luau.  Definitely not what you'd expect of an Independence Day party, but definitely fun, and unlike Fourth parties you've been to in the past.  I offered to make either Aloha Mini Calzones or one of two cupcake recipes from Annie's Eats, my party go to starting place.  She chose either of the cupcakes, so I asked my husband which I should make and he chose these.

Of course, you have to know your audience, and be aware that boozey cupcakes won't go over with just any crowd.  I knew, however, that the liquor would surely be flowing and the hostess loves her buckets of margaritas, so these would be a perfect fit.

I made the cupcakes themselves the night before, and my husband kept tasting the batter.  I guess he liked it.  then my mom came and tasted the batter... she kept sticking her finger in again and again.  I figured she REALLY liked it until she said, "I can't even taste...  A (my four year old) can have these," because there's no booze in the cakes themselves.  I'd considered putting it into the cake batter, but decided to keep it as a nice side flavor in the frosting.  I'm glad I did so.  Annie's suggestion is to brush with tequila before frosting, but we held back on that.

These were really tasty, though from my pictures, they really don't look that great.  Folks at the party really enjoyed them, and yes, we did give A a taste of the cupcakes WITH frosting... the one year old had some too.    The frosting didn't come out as great as it could have, probably because I'd written the recipe as notes for myself, but my husband was the one who made it from my notes... a few of the directions were omitted because I knew they'd happen.  Nonetheless, they were delicious and fun to make and enjoy!

Margarita Cupcakes source:  Annie's Eats
Yield: about 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
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:
2 cups sugar
8 large egg whites
Pinch fleur de sel (coarse salt)
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2-4 tbsp. tequila
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 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 long time!)  Stir in the lime juice and 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 lime zest and lime slices as desired.
Source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, who adapted it from Martha Stewart

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