We’re eating our margs today, ok?
This is the recipe I demoed on Tuesday night at my book signing event with Juliska. By the way, it wasn’t until I posted Monday’s recipe that I realized both desserts this week have booze in them. That was a complete oversight on my part, but I don’t expect many complaints about truffles with rum and cupcakes with tequila.
And these cupcakes with tequila? They’re for cinco de mayo // the cult obsession with margaritas. Proud member right here. I know you are too.
In my perfect world I’d drink margaritas on the rocks with salted rims every night of the week. However also in my perfect world I’d have a cozy vacation home tucked away in the mountains and I’d pay someone to make me a pretty little cappuccino with foam art on top every morning. Scratch that. It’s my perfect world so I wouldn’t pay them.
Also: 6 puppies named after the cast of Friends.
Instead, my real world consists of very un-arty herbal tea in my very un-cozy home that is currently loaded with moving boxes and piles of dirty dishes. Luckily, my real world also consists of margarita cupcakes, a pup named after a Beatles song, and baking for all of you. 🙂
What I have for you today is a very basic lime cupcake recipe. And by basic, I very much do not mean “boring”– I mean simple! Crazy simple. So much so that when I taught this recipe the other night/spilled confectioners’ sugar all over the counter like I do EVERY SINGLE TIME, readers went totally bonkers over their simplicity. That may just be in my head but I swear they’re really easy.
When I tested this recipe last week, I started with my lemon cupcake base and replaced lemon with lime. I’m a firm believer in finding a bunch of quality base recipes and then developing new flavors and combinations from there. Like lime cupcakes from lemon cupcakes. There wasn’t enough lime flavor for it to really shine through, so I added a little more zest to these. The cupcakes are buttery and moist with a light fluffy texture and fresh ‘n’ tangy lime flavor. Out of the dozens of cupcake bases I’ve made, these lime cupcakes are towards the tippy top. They rise up up up, so remember to fill your cupcake liners only about halfway.
Also: try adding 1 cup of berries to the batter before going into the oven. Blackberry lime marg cupcakes sound pretty awesome right??
Let me tell you about a frosting that doesn’t include cream. And that’s very weird for me considering that cream is always my secret to the best frosting on the planet. Standard ingredients here– softened butter that is whipped until silky smooth and fluffy. Confectioners’ sugar added 1 cup at a time to really smooth things out and add even more fluff. Next up? 3, 2, 1… TEQUILA! Only about 3-4 Tablespoons total.
Because if you’re not adding tequila to your frosting, you’re doing it wrong.
For lime flavor in the frosting, you have a couple options.
- Lime extract or lime oil. These are specialty ingredients that you’d have to order, but I highly suggest getting your hands on a bottle. I’ll guide you with the best amount of each, but taste as you beat it in and add more as you find necessary. I also prefer lime extract or lime oil because it’s an incredible amount of concentrated flavor, as opposed to just lime juice and lime zest (next option).
- Lime juice and lime zest. Adding enough lime juice for flavor will thin out your frosting making it more difficult to pipe. Similarly, lime zest in your frosting complicates piping because the little chunks will get stuck in the piping tip. Tried it and I hate to report that the results were not OK. Delicious, yes. Attractive? Abso-freakin-lutely not.
If piping isn’t a concern and you’d like to just free-hand swipe frosting on top, you can use lime juice and lime zest together. If you’re going for looks and a true thick buttercream texture, pick up some lime extract or lime oil. I also add a little salt to this frosting. Just a pinch or two to cut down on sweetness and because salted rims are the best part of an actual marg.
PS: this is not salty, heavily tequila flavored frosting. Which I imagine would taste completely revolting. You’ll mostly taste sweet lime with a hint of tequila.
Cheers to you!
- 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk1
- zest + fresh juice of 3 medium limes2
- optional: 2 Tablespoons tequila (for brushing in step 5)
Tequila Lime Frosting
- 1 cup (230g; 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups (480g) confectioners' sugar
- 3-4 Tablespoons (45-60ml) tequila3
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- lime flavoring (please see notes-- there are options)4
- pinch of salt, to taste
- optional: lime slices, lime zest, and/or coarse sugar for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add some of the dry ingredients alternating with some of the milk until all is mixed. Increase to high speed and beat in the lime zest and juice until incorporated. Try to avoid overmixing.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only 1/2 - 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. While still warm, brush finished cupcakes with tequila. This infuses extra tequila flavor. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time, beating on low at first then increasing to high speed. Once incorporated, add the next cup. Once creamy and combined, beat in the tequila, vanilla extract, lime flavoring, and pinch of salt on high speed. Taste. Add more salt or flavoring as needed.
- Frost cooled cupcakes. I used a Wilton 1M tip for these photos. (Another favorite is this Wilton #12 round tip.) Garnish with lime slices, lime zest, or coarse sugar.
- Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- For richest taste and texture, I strongly recommend whole milk or buttermilk.
- You'll want about 2 Tablespoons zest and 1/4 cup lime juice.
- Any tequila works! Want them alcohol free? Use 3 Tbsp of milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream instead.
- 2 options for lime flavoring. You can use 2 teaspoons lime extract or 1 teaspoon lime oil. Start with those amounts then taste the frosting and add more to taste. I use exactly 2 teaspoons of this key lime flavoring when I make these. You can use 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice and lime zest from 1 lime instead. This will thin out the frosting and the zest makes it difficult to pipe. See the post above for more detail.
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Thank you to my readers who came out and to Juliska for having me! The ceramic muffin pan you see above is from Juliska. We registered for Juliska dinnerware and serving dishes. I adore this whole berry & thread line! It all makes pretty gifts too.
With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.