Tropical Margarita Cupcakes

At dinner on one of our more recent trips, one of my sisters ordered a margarita. Typically, I picture a sour/salty lime/tequila mix that I generally don't overly enjoy when I picture a margarita - probably because of a bad first experience where all I could taste was the tequila and the salt rim was a tad on the overwhelming pickle-your-mouth side. The one my sister ordered, though, actually wasn't bad - it had a couple of other fruit flavors added, and the tequila and salt definitely weren't the only dominant flavors. 

I also always pictured a margarita as a somewhat boring one-color drink, and never would've thought to mimic the taste or look of the drink in a cupcake - until recently! 😉 

kinda cute, right?

I kept the lemon/lime/tequila taste through the cupcakes, but filled them with a bright pink faint-tequila-flavored ganache in the center just to shake things up a bit. The colors looked a little tropical to me, and once I added the rock candy 'salt rim', the lime, and the drink umbrellas, I thought they looked pretty cute 🙂 

Recipe below! 

Cupcakes: 

1 vanilla / white cake mix (or any cupcake recipe with a liquid element that can be easily subbed out for lemon extract, margarita mix, and tequila)
1/2 c tequila
1/4 c margarita mix 
2 T lemon extract/flavoring
1/2 c butter, melted 
4 eggs 
3-5 drips green food coloring (if desired) 

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line cupcake pans with paper wrappers. 
Combine tequila, margarita mix, butter, and eggs in a bowl, and blend in packaged cake mix. Beat for about 2 minutes, until well blended. Divide into cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full. 
Bake for time specified on box; mine took about 16-17 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks. 

Ganache:

2 c (12 oz) white chocolate chips
1/2 c (2oz) whipping cream
1 T tequila 

Meanwhile, make your ganache. Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Place whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to a boil over medium/low heat. Pour over chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and silky. Chill until thick enough to pipe into cupcake centers, but don't let it solidify completely. 

Once the cupcakes have cooled, you're ready to core them. There are a few ways you can do this....you can buy a cupcake corer, you can try using the non-business-end of a large piping tip, or....you can do what I do and cut a cone-shaped core out with a plastic knife. Up to you 😉 I haven't the foggiest idea why cupcake crumbs don't stick to plastic knives like they do regular knives, but the plastic knife's been working too well for me to feel the need to invest in any fancy corers 😉 Pipe your ganache into your cored cupcakes - it doesn't have to look pretty, so I often use a zip-lock bag for this part. 😉 

Pipe in large swirls onto your cupcakes (or however you feel like icing them). 😉 Press a Thin Mint cookie into the top of each frosting swirl and sprinkle with chopped Andes Mints. Done and done! Enjoy! 🙂

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
1 T clear vanilla extract
2 T tequila (+1 extra T, see below) 
2 T lemon juice 
1 T lime juice
1/4 t. salt 
Yellow & green food coloring 

Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with tequila and lemon/lime juices until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.

Reserve about 1/2 c of frosting for cupcake centers, and color the rest a faint yellow/green. Or whatever color you like your margaritas. 😉 Add about 1 T of tequila to the 1/2 c of reserved frosting, and color it a bright yellow. 

Other decorations/supplies: 

Rock candy (for your cupcakes 'salt rim') 
2-3 limes, sliced and cut into quarters 
24 drink umbrellas 

Pipe circles of yellow/green frosting on top of each cupcake, making the frosting a little bit thicker around the edge. Add rock candy 'salt rims' to the edge frosting (this is more easily done if you put it on before the frosting starts to set/crust). Place your bright yellow frosting into a piping bag or zip-lock bag, and microwave for a few seconds on high until it liquefies. Pipe this frosting into the center of each cupcake. Add a lime wedge and drink umbrella to as many of your cupcakes as you want - annnd you're done! 🙂 Bottoms up! 😉 

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