Friday, April 8, 2011

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Buttercream

This weekend is our friend Kiki's birthday!  We are heading up to DC tomorrow for a fantastic party on her patio.  This year Kiki decided that she wanted a Mexican menu featuring dishes by renowned chef Rick Bayless, and she asked if would like to help with some of the cooking.  Of course the answer was YES!  I will be blogging the recipes over the next few days.  

Kiki decided she wanted a margarita cupcake, and gave me carte blanche to create a recipe so here it is.  I must say these cupcakes are AMAZING.  A moist tart lime cupcake, filled with strawberry buttercream, topped with a Tequila buttercream, garnished with lime zest and sea salt!   These really do taste like a strawberry margarita!

There are a lot of different steps to this recipe, so to save some time I started with a yellow cake mix.  I like cake mixes for projects like these because it is very easy to manipulate the ingredients to achieve the desired flavor profile.  I add both lime and orange oil to the batter.  You can find these citrus oils at finer grocery stores and you only need a very small amount since they are INTENSELY flavored.

A word of caution... go easy on the sea salt garnish... a little goes a long way!  And add the salt immediately before serving, otherwise it will melt in the humidity and you will lose the delightful crunch of the crystals.

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Buttercream
makes 2 dozen

1 yellow cake mix
1/4 tsp lime oil
1/4 tsp orange oil
finely grated zest from two limes
1/3 cup Roses sweetened lime juice

1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

Tequila Buttercream
3 egg whites
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup tequila
2 Tbsp Roses sweetened lime juice

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare cake mix according to package directions but add lime oil, orange oil and lime zest to the batter.  Bake cupcakes.  Immediately when cupcakes are removed from oven, brush the hot cakes with Roses lime juice until the entire 1/3 cup is used.  Allow cupcakes to cool.

While cakes are cooling, prepare strawberry filling by combining chopped strawberries, sugar and orange liqueur in a small non stick pan and cook over medium high heat until mixture comes to a boil.  Continue to cook until mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency (about 10 minutes). Cool completely.

Make tequila buttercream by combining egg whites and 2 Tbsp sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip egg whites gently on medium speed while preparing syrup.  Combine 1/2 cugar and 1/4 cup water in a small pan and heat over high heat until mixture boils.  Continue to boil mixture to soft ball stage (238 F; about 10 minutes).  With mixer still running, add hot syrup to egg whites.  gradually increase speed to high and continue to beat until mixture is like marshmallow fluff and room temperature.  Reduce speed to medium and add softened butter 1 Tbsp at a time, scraping down sides occasionally.  Once all butter is added and buttercream is smooth and fluffy, add tequila and lime juice.

Add 1/2 cup buttercream to cooled strawberries and mix together.  Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip.  Pierce each cupcake with a sharp knife, then push piping bag tip into the middle of each cupcake and fill with strawberry buttercream.  Pipe remaining tequila buttercream on cupcake tops.  Garnish with lime zest, sliced strawberries and coarse sea salt.

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