Margarita Cupcakes

Every fall Saturday when I was growing up my parents made margaritas for their tailgaters. I was SO IN LOVE with that bright green color, and even more in love with the tart flavor, on the rare occasions when my parents let my 5-year-old self stick her finger in their drink.

To this day, margaritas are my very favorite adult beverage—the mort tart, the better.

But I leave my tart-ness to drinks and prefer sweetness in my desserts.

And that’s why today I made us a batch of tart-sweet margarita cupcakes! Just in time for Cinco de Mayo and summer BBQs!

The cupcake base is a fluffy and moist lime cupcake, brushed with tequila and lime juice when they’re fresh out of the oven. This imparts the perfect amount of booziness. Who doesn’t like a boozy cupcake?

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.

INGREDIENTS
CAKE:

  • 9 ounces margarita mix
  • 3 ounces tequila
  • 3/4 ounce Grand Marnier
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest

LIME BUTTERCREAM ICING:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 to 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • green food coloring, if desired
  • small lime slices for garnish, if desired

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two dozen cupcake tins with paper liners.

PREPARE THE CUPCAKES:

  1. Whisk together margarita mix, tequila and Grand Marnier in a small bowl. Measure out 1 1/4 cups for the recipe; pour the rest on some ice and drink it while making the cupcakes.
  2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the cake mix, egg whites, oil, lime zest and 1 1/4 cups of the margarita mix from step 1. Blend on low for about 30 seconds and then increase speed to medium and blend for two additional minutes. Batter will be slightly lumpy.
  3. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners (about 3/4 full). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pans, then remove them to a rack to cool completely.

PREPARE THE ICING:

  1. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until the butter is fluffy. Add 5 cups of powdered sugar, lime juice, zest and salt. Mix until thick and creamy. Add more powdered sugar until the frosting is of a good spreading (or piping) consistency. Mix in a tiny amount of green food coloring or gel paste if you’d like the frosting to have a green tint. Ice the cupcakes in whatever manner you prefer… spreading or piping the frosting. Use small lime slices as garnish.

RECIPE NOTES
TIPS:
*Conversions: 9 ounces = a little over a cup, 3 ounces = a little less than 1/3 cup, 3/4 ounce = 1 1/2 Tablespoons
*Grand Marnier is an orange liqueur- sub another kind if you’d like or add in some orange juice.
*Don’t worry too much about exact measuring for the margarita mix/tequila/Grand Marnier. Just eyeball it and measure out the 1 1/4 cups that you’ll need for the recipe.
*If you just spread frosting on the cupcakes (rather than piping), you’ll probably have a bit of frosting leftover.
*If you prepare these a day before, it’s best to place them into a covered container and refrigerate them. Remove them to room temperature a couple of hours before serving. Of course, they’re best if eaten the day they’re made.

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