Monday, February 16, 2015

Margarita Madness!

I really love a good margarita...bring me a fishbowl, dump it full of tequila, ice, and strawberry mix, and it's like giving a child a brand new toy to keep them quiet and occupied for the next while. Of course, after a fishbowl or two I am anything but quiet, but that's beside the point. Up until yesterday afternoon, it has been unseasonably warm for February, and I kept having hankerings for margaritas because of it...after all, nothing says sunshine and warmth quite like Jose Cuervo. Instead of freezing both my body and brain on a frozen margarita (there are worse ways to die of hypothermia), I decided to venture into a territory I'm comfortable with: Adding booze to cupcakes. I think I've finally made up my mind that should I ever choose to actually grow up and really "adult," I'm going to need to open a bakery that caters specifically to fusing alcohol into cakes, pastries, you name it. I realize the booze bakes out of these items, but it leaves the taste buds with a sense of sweet, sweet euphoria. If you're still looking for a hangover, I suppose you could eat an entire box of mimosa mini-cakes (I promise I will figure out a way to make this happen) just so that you can wake up feeling like you might die the next day--head pounding from sugar withdrawal and belly rumbling from living the dream of eating an entire box of mini-cakes by yourself. For now you're just going to have to drunk off the essence that is the strawberry margarita cupcake with lime frosting and a "salted" rim:
And by salt, I mean sanding sugar. And by strawberry margarita cupcake with lime frosting, I mean paradise.
I don't like piña coladas, or getting caught in the rain...I like lots of tequila, and getting drunk on cupcakes (you know you sang it in your head). I feel like prefacing this blog with a simple proclamation: I do not have a drinking problem. I have a location problem. I mean, this particular problem does lead me to do my fair share of imbibing, but when the local watering hole is located in the decrepit Days Inn Lounge and the mecca of shopping in your city is Wal-Mart, you're left with few other choices to pass the time. Sitting outside and waiting for the "cow" smell to roll in isn't exactly a favorite past time of mine (neither is dodging tumbleweeds on the reg.), so I bake. And I partake in the occasional glass of really cheap wine. Sue me. But don't. I need the few pennies I have for my cheap wine. Instead of legal action, let me just show you how to make my margarita cupcakes! Olé!
Yes, I really staged the hell out of this photo, you're welcome.
Minus the buttermilk and frozen strawberries, you probably have most of these ingredients sitting around your house and wherever the place is you hide the good booze from your guests. I found and adapted this recipe (to allocate more tequila), but here's the breakdown:
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick of butter. Room temp, of course, so it's buttah.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs. Also at room temp. Don't nuke your eggs. I mean, you'll end up with a decent cooked egg, but that's besides the point.
  • 3 Tbsp of sweetened strawberries- get the kind that boasts it's good for smoothies. I found mine in the freezer aisle at (you guessed it) Wal-Mart by the pie crusts and toppings.
  • 1/4 cup strawberry margarita mix
  • 1/4 cup of tequila. I know, there's tequila in the margarita mix, but just trust me on this. Don't skimp on the tequila either- you're gonna have leftovers, obviously, and no one wants to drink cheap tequila. No one.
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
Your mixer is about to get druuuuunk.
Start off by mixing the sugar and butter together in your stand mixer for 4-5 minutes. You want it to be fluffy, like a Marshmallow Peep. While that's commingling, mix the three dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Swig tequila as needed. 
Just add fluff, and now we know how Peeps are made.
Once you've finished mixing the butter and sugar, add in your eggs and mix well. I added one, mixed, scraped my bowl, and repeated. My whisk attachment functions much like a T-rex--full of power but unable to reach many things with it's tiny breadth of arm span.
I ate a few. I was ensuring their quality was up to my standards.
You're going to need to puree the three tablespoons of sweetened strawberries. I tried getting out my chopper, but it just wasn't doing the trick. I was attempting to avoid getting out my blender because I feared I may accidentally make an entire pitcher of strawberry margaritas if I did. In case you're wondering how that ended...
While your berries are pureeing (that's a fun one to spell), measure out the mix and tequila. Swig as needed. Make sure you have 1/4 cup of each. 
I refuse to drink warm tequila, so this was an easy decision for me.
Take the strawberry puree, tequila, mix, and vanilla extract and add in to your mixer until fully incorporated. A funny thing happens when you add booze to the other ingredients. It will curdle, and it will look like what happens to you the morning AFTER you've been out drinking tequila all night.
Just tell yourself this is normal, and eventually things will get better. Whatever you need to do to survive this moment.
Now take a third of the dry mix, add it to your bowl, and mix. Then add in a splash of the buttermilk. Repeat this process until all your dry mix and buttermilk are folded in. This is when things will again look right with the cupcakes, and your world by proxy. 
Thank God.
Now you're ready to divide up your batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake papers of your choosing. I went with festive lime, cerulean, and purple liners because I'm a perfectionist and my margarita cupcakes weren't going into just any old liner. I have a real problem with prioritizing things that actually matter versus things like fancy cupcake liners. This is why I need adult supervision. Bake your cupcakes for 25 minutes at 325 degrees. The mix in total will make 12 cupcakes.
I told you my papers were festive. Olé, dammit.
Let your cupcakes rest on top of a cooling rack while still in the pan for about ten minutes. Then you can remove them from the pan and place on to a towel on top of the cooling rack so they don't get weird divots in the bottom and you don't get any crumbs anywhere. You could nix the towel if you don't care about a lumpy bottom and crumbs, but know I will judge you for this. Harshly. While swirling a margarita in one hand. With an arched eyebrow aimed in your direction. Wondering if you just want crumbs everywhere. Because that's how you get ants.
It's pretty much going to look like this.
Once your cupcakes are mostly cooled, you can start to prepare your frosting. There are a few ingredients, and a few bonus ingredients to make your decorations look fantastic:
The frosting is simply to die for. I tried some, died, and brought myself back just to eat some more.
Since the cupcake recipe only yields 12 cupcakes, I made waaayyyy too much frosting. Here's the full recipe, but I really recommend halving it unless you just want to eat a bunch of leftover icing with a shovel...this I will not judge you harshly for.
  • 1 block of regular cream cheese at room temp
  • 1 cup of butter at room temp
  • 3 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 4-5 cups of powdered sugar to get the consistency thick for piping
  • 5-7 drops of green food coloring (I used 7)
Start by mixing together the butter and cream cheese (the amount of calories your mixer is about to see...). Cream these together for about 3-4 minutes. Then add in one cup of powdered sugar, mix well, scrape the bowl (thanks T-rex whisk), add one tablespoon of lime juice, and repeat this until you've used all 3 tablespoons of lime juice, and enough powdered sugar to get a stiff consistency for piping. If you're just going to frost the cupcakes with a knife and call it a day, you probably won't need as much sugar, but I went with 5 full cups. Finish off by adding in however much green dye you'd like to achieve a green you're happy with.
Bonus ingredients are hella recommended.
I really wanted to make these cupcakes look as much like the food version of a margarita as possible, so I added a few choice ingredients to make some final touches:
  • A bag of fruit lime candy
  • A small bowl of white sanding sugar mixed with a sprinkling of salt
  • A piping bag fitted with a 1M tip
The decorating process itself is actually extremely simple. So easy I could do it after a frozen margarita with minimal error! Fill your piping bag with frosting, and set the bowl of salted sugar (this is a thing, yes?) close by.
Start by simply outlining the cupcake. I kept my piping bag still, and slowly moved the cupcake itself in a circular motion to achieve this.
Take your cupcake, and veeeerrrryyy gently dip your face-down cupcake into the bowl of salted sugar. Swirl it around a bit, but do not apply pressure or you'll smoosh the frosting. Now you have your margarita's "salted" rim!

Then starting where you left off while frosting, take your piping bag, hold it steady, and slowly move your cupcake in a circular motion while piping until you build up a nice mound. End by squeezing a bit of frosting on the top, and press the tip down a bit and pull away quickly to get that nice little star on top.
Repeat this for all of your cupcakes. I was able to fully pipe 6 with 1 bag of frosting, and then had to reload. I made a bit of a mess, so I recommend just using a new piping bag for the second half unless you like licking frosting off your forearm. And I do.
Take out six lime candies, and cut them in half. They are big and heavy, so a whole one will look a bit too comical on your little cupcake.
Then place half a lime wedge into the top of each cupcake and you're done! You will want to refrigerate these if you don't eat the whole dozen at once to get cupcake wasted.
I was honestly so tired and worn out from an extremely long day of essay grading and an accidental  evening of margarita drinking while I made the cupcakes that I didn't even have one of these until the very next day. When it was no longer 75 degrees, but dropping quickly to about 45. See, it's really a location problem after all...this place will undoubtedly drive you to drink. Or eat alcohol-infused desserts. But oh dear Lord are these tasty. The hint of strawberry and tequila are the perfect pairing to the strong lime taste of the frosting, and the bit of salt in the sugared rim is just enough to keep your taste buds in check from going off the sweetness deep end. And in case you were wondering, these go ridiculously well with an actual strawberry margarita. 
They even look great together. They're like the Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem of the cupcake world.
I'm happy to report that you can have your booze in a cupcake, and eat it, too. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!

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