Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Cherry Limeade Cupcakes
Posted by: Maggie
I'm back from Vegas, and back to cooking and baking! I got back on Sunday night after what seemed like the longest travel experience ever. Jeff and I had initially booked the same flight leaving Las Vegas around noon, connecting in Los Angeles (completely illogical, but cheap), and arriving at Dulles airport around 1:00 a.m. Eastern time. Well, Continental Airlines sucks, and canceled our return flight about 10 days before our trip for undisclosed reasons. I managed to get on a new flight leaving Vegas at 8:45 am (also connecting in LA), but they were completely uncooperative when it came to Jeff's flight, and never re-booked him. He ended up having to buy a completely new return flight home with JetBlue, and we could no longer suffer through the long flight together.
Not to be all Negative Nancy on here, but every time I fly it reaffirms what a horrendous experience flying really is. First, most airlines make you pay for everything. I spent $50 just for the privilege of checking a suitcase (in addition to my $380 ticket!) Second, they hate tall people. I'm 5'7" and Jeff is 6'2". My knees touch the back of the seat if the person in front of me even reclines an inch. I can't imagine how miserable it must be for a truly tall person.
Anyway, on to happier things. Vegas was awesome despite having to fly home early on a Sunday all by myself. The first night we were there was Jeff's 30th birthday dinner, and by far my favorite night of the trip. We went to a restaurant at the Planet Hollywood Casino called Strip House, that was by far one of the best meals I've had in my life. Out of the 20 people who went on the trip, 15 of us attended the dinner, and we were able to get a private room (with a big tv to watch the basketball games), a big family style meal, and a 2-hour open bar. I stuffed myself with Riesling, Caesar salad, NY Strip AND Filet Mignon, garlic fries, creamed spinach, and potatoes romanoff. I used to hate steak as a kid because I'd only ever had it cooked well done. Now that I'm an adult and know to order it medium-rare or medium, it is pretty much the best meal I can imagine.
I think you can tell from the carnage on the table that we all enjoyed the meal immensely:
I was glad that Jeff and I got a nice picture out of the evening, pre-meat fest. You can't tell from the picture, but I was extremely glad that my dress was kind of flowy, to disguise the food baby I was carrying throughout the rest of the evening.
Since I knew we'd be too stuffed for birthday cake immediately after our dinner, I arranged to have Retro Bakery deliver 3-dozen mini-cupcakes to our hotel. They were there when we checked in, and I cannot put into words how impressed I was with this bakery. Usually I turn up my nose at bakery produced stuff, and prefer to make my goodies homemade, but I would give my left thumb to have the recipes they used for these cupcakes. They were, in a word, fantastic. They lasted awhile since we were barely in the room, and still tasted fresh two days after they were delivered. The cupcakes weren't a surprise, so I solicited flavor input from Jeff when placing the order. He selected milk and cookies, cinnamon toast, and maple bacon, and I rounded out the order with chocolate fountain, red carpet, and peanut butter cup. I basically wanted to try every flavor on the menu (except mint chocolate chip...mint is for toothpaste, not for baked goods).
'Scuse the crappy photo, the kitchen in our hotel was kind of dark:
All in all, it was a great trip. I could probably write a ton more about the trip, but I don't want to bore you with every detail. I will leave you with one final photo that I took from the patio at Koi. So. Stinkin'. Pretty.
Now, onto the cupcakes. I stayed home from work on Monday to recover from my long flight, unpack, and relax. Vegas may be a fun vacation, but it's certainly not a relaxing one. Since I had a whole day to kill, I decided to whip up these cupcakes to bring to work today. They were so moist and flavorful, and I got quite a few compliments from co-workers on them. Don't skip the lime syrup step - the frosting is insanely sweet, and you will want the tartness of the syrup to balance it out. The lime syrup makes a huge quantity. The recipe states that you should just pour the syrup over the cupcakes after poking holes with a skewer, but I just poked the holes and spread about a teaspoon of syrup on top instead. I didn't want sticky syrup running all over the cupcake liners. I ended up having a lot left because of how I put the syrup on, but the flavor was definitely noticeable and preferable if you don't want to make a huge mess.
What you'll need:
For the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. limeade concentrate
3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
For the lime glaze:
3/4 cup limeade concentrate
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
For the buttercream: *If you're a heavy froster you will want to double this.
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 tbsp. (or more) maraschino cherry juice (I ended up using 5 tbsp.)
Food coloring (optional - I used a tiny bit of Wilton's pink gel color to achieve the color in the pic)
Maraschino cherries (drained and slightly dried on a paper towel)
Sliced limes (drained and slightly dried on a paper towel)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a cupcake pan with foil or paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Using a mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, and beat on medium-high until creamed. Add the limeade concentrate into the mixture and mix to incorporate. The batter will look really weird, but it's ok, you're not doing anything wrong! Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl between additions. Add in the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk, and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix ingredients just long enough to incorporate.
Evenly divide the batter among cupcake cups. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My cupcakes took 17 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing and frosting.
For the lime glaze, mix together limeade concentrate and sugar until well blended. Poke holes in cupcakes with a skewer or a toothpick, and spoon or pour over the cupcakes.
Let it soak in for a few minutes before frosting.
For the frosting, combine all the frosting ingredients with a stand mixture. Beat on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, and then increase to medium-high speed and beat until smooth.
Frost cooled cupcakes, and decorated as desired.
Source of recipe and decorating inspiration: Annie's Eats