Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

cherry limeade cupcakesHere we are in the dog days of summer, a time generally acknowledged as the hottest of the year in certain parts of the world. This interesting phrase originated with the rising of Sirius, the dog star, over North Africa and parts of the Middle East sometime in July or August. I was born in the dog days, and I like to think this is part of why I love dogs so much.

In any case, the dog days of summer call for refreshing treats, and these cherry limeade cupcakes fit the bill. They’re very light, with a wonderful texture and subtle flavors. I adapted this recipe from I am Baker, adjusting it very slightly to add more cherry juice and powdered sugar to the frosting. Make sure you allow your ingredients to come to room temperature before using them, as this yields the lightest, fluffiest texture in both the cupcakes and the frosting.

Ingredients

Lime Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest

Cherry Frosting

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice*

*You can top the cupcakes with maraschino cherries if you like, but I left my cupcakes plain. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with paper liners; this recipe yielded 18 cupcakes for me.

In a medium bowl, combine sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Add vanilla extract, lime juice, and milk and beat for about 30 seconds.

Add flour mixture in two batches, beating until combined, then fold in lime zest.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter into cupcake tins, filling about 2/3 full.

Bake for 16-20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow cupcakes to cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting, beat butter in a mixing bowl for 1-2 minutes. Add 3 cups powdered sugar and allow the sugar to fully incorporate into the butter; this will take several minutes.

Add almond extract and 1/4 cup cherry juice; beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, then add another cup of powdered sugar and additional juice. Beat on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes.

Fit a 14-inch piping bag with a Wilton 1A tip and pipe generous blobs of frosting onto each cupcake.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Sunflower Cupcakes

sunflower cupcakesSummer is in full swing, and our neighborhood blooms with all manner of beautiful plants. Around the corner from our house, one neighbor’s landscaping includes enormous sunflowers, easily more than six feet tall, among other stunning plants that I wish we had in our yard.

Sunflowers come in many shapes and sizes, and there are probably as many recipes for sunflower cupcakes as well. You’ll find plenty of options on Pinterest, using Oreo cookies as the centers, or chocolate sprinkles; I saw one recipe that used chocolate-covered espresso beans, which seems both cool and kind of pricey. I decided to go with an all-frosting flower to get some piping practice.

Buttercream frosting works very well for these, but you could use cream cheese frosting if you like. I chose a chocolate cupcake and basic vanilla buttercream, for pretty (and tasty) results.

Ingredients

Preparation

Bake cupcakes and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Prepare vanilla almond buttercream; place 1 cup frosting in a small bowl and tint using brown gel food coloring. Tint the remaining frosting yellow; I used Wilton golden yellow.

Fit a piping bag with a small star tip; I used the Wilton 16 tip. Pipe stars in a circle in the center of each cupcake.

Fit another piping bag with a leaf tip; I used the Wilton 352 tip. Holding the bag so that the points of the tip are vertical to the cupcake rather than flat against it, pipe petals around the outside of the flower center, covering the cupcake completely.

If you like, you can make one outer row and one inner row of petals for more texture; I did this on a few cupcakes, but in the interest of time (and heat – it’s almost 90 in Pittsburgh today) I piped one single row on all of the others.

You’ll have plenty of frosting left over, so you can be generous with your piping. I had about 1/4 cup of brown and at least 1/2 cup of yellow, which I’ll reserve for another use.

 

Watermelon Cupcakes

watermeloncupcakesI possess fairly highly evolved baking skills, whipping up tangy lemon curds, creating airy cupcakes, producing flaky pie crusts, and turning out tender cookies without batting an eye. But decorating? Let’s just say it’s not exactly my strong suit.

These watermelon cupcakes are fairly simple to bake, requiring only a basic white cupcake recipe, some red food coloring, and miniature chocolate chips. Frosting and decorating them, however, is another matter entirely. While piping on red, green, and white frosting and dotting each cupcake with miniature chocolate chips might seem simple, it’s definitely easier said than done…at least for me, anyway. Perfect circles are hard to come by, and those cute miniature chips that look like watermelon seeds can be a bit unruly.

I began with blobs of red frosting in the middle, then outlined those with green and finished off with the white of the rind, but if I ever make these again, I think i’ll go green, white, red instead. I might also use different frosting tips; I used all plain, round tips of varying sizes this time, but I might suggest a star tip for the green part of the rind, then plain round for the white and a large plain tip for the red.

However you frost them, I hope you enjoy them!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1 recipe white cake
  • Red gel food coloring
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting & decoration

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with paper liners; this recipe yields 18 cupcakes.

In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar, shortening, and salt until fluffy.

Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined.

Add flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour and beating until just combined.

Mix in red food coloring to your desired shade, then stir in chocolate chips.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, drop batter into prepared cupcake tins.

Bake for 18-2o minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Prepare the frosting and divide into three portions; reserve a small portion for the white, a slightly larger portion for the green, and the largest portion for the red. Tint to your desired shades.

Fit piping bags with your desired tips; I used two large, plain, round tips for the red and green and a smaller plain, round tip for the white. Pipe frosting on to create the flesh and rind of the watermelon, then top with miniature chocolate chips for seeds.