Elisa’s “From Scratch” Baking Experiment: Margarita Cupcakes

Happy almost Cinco de Mayo! In honor of tomorrow’s holiday, I decided to take on the challenge of making a margarita cupcake for my next “from scratch” baking experiment.

After running the idea by the other Crusaders, they loved it and really helped plan out the cupcake, including a lime curd filling, tequila cake, and a salted buttercream frosting. Finding recipes for these pieces to the puzzle was not easy, in fact I took recipes and changed them to suit my needs – which is very scary and breaks my first rule of baking: follow the recipe.

For example the cake recipe is actually for Grand Marnier cupcakes – I just figured I could substitute the GM with tequila and leave out the orange zest. Then came the frosting. I settled on a vanilla buttercream, all the while knowing I would not be adding vanilla, but tequila and lime juice in its place. The lime curd was the only thing I knew I wouldn’t need to look up as I had much success with this lemon curd recipe and knew substituting lime for lemon wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

Once I had all the ingredients I was ready to start! This time around making the curd was first on the list, as it needs time to cool before it can be used as filling. Just as last time, there was a moment of panic when the mixture hit the stove and created an odd consistency – luckily I knew to just keep stirring. Presto, the lime curd was complete and tasted great!

Then came the cake… While I did follow the recipe, I changed the Grand Marnier to tequila… both being clear, but brown alcoholic liquids, I didn’t think it would make a difference. While the recipe was very easy to follow I didn’t realize that the recipe was for 24 cupcakes, luckily my friend Sami at work recently gave me a cupcake pan/case, so I could cook all 24 at the same time! Following the recipe I cooked them for exactly 18 minutes and then set them to cool. I’ll admit, right off the bat they seemed to have large bubble holes in them, unlike most cakes I have made, but I trekked on…

The frosting was a very standard recipe, except when it called to add the milk, I added tequila and lime juice instead, and added an extra pinch of salt. I also only used 3.5 cups of confectioners sugar instead of 4 cups, as it was stiff enough and I didn’t want the frosting too sweet.

Once I began cutting the “plugs” to fill the cupcakes with lime curd, I knew something was wrong with the cake. Sadly, it seemed oily and oddly textured. There isn’t any oil in the cake ingredients, so I am not sure why it would seem oily. I tried one of the plugs – ok, I ate about half of them – and didn’t think the cake tasted bad, just not great, and didn’t give me as much of the tequila flavor as I was hoping for. I filled all 24 with the lime curd and after tasting it I thought, “That curd might just save this cupcake cake disaster.”

I whipped out my fancy pipping tools – thank you again Stacy – and loaded the pipping bag with the very yummy frosting… I cut straws and lime wedges to really add some character to the cupcakes: one of my other goals is to keep trying new ways to decorate, and I also added some pink sea salt for taste. (Side note: In fact, I was going to make candied lime peels to decorate these cupcakes with, but I was afraid the sugar would over power the salt in the frosting, so after buying 4 limes I didn’t need, I decided against it.)

While these cupcakes may look great and very festive, they only taste so-so. The lime curd is fantastic, even the icing is finger licking good… but the cake failed. Oddly oily and weirdly textured, I am not sure what went wrong. It isn’t a matter of too much time in the oven, or disregard for following instructions, it just didn’t turn out quite right. Together they really do taste a bit like a margarita… it’s just a shame the cake is so odd, otherwise these cupcakes would be a huge hit on May 5th!

Not everything can be perfect, and I knew it was only a matter of time before something wouldn’t go the way I wanted it to during one of these baking experiments. What’s most important is that I tried something new, made a new curd and frosting that I would eat again and again, and got one more baking experience under my belt!

Now I just have to decide what to try baking next month! Any suggestions or requests?

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

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5 thoughts on “Elisa’s “From Scratch” Baking Experiment: Margarita Cupcakes

  1. Your margarita cupcakes look fantastic and sound delicous! I’m sorry the cake didn’t turn out perfectly. I love your decorations though and am now inspired to make some margarita cupcakes!

  2. They look tasty 🙂 I admire you for experimenting. I made margarita cupcakes this year from Recipe Girl and everyone loved them. I’ll be making those again. mmm. Keep trying out recipes and I know you’ll find the one 🙂

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