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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wasting Away in (Cupcake) Margaritaville

Margaritas are not my favorite drinks, although I can tolerate them -- especially raspberry ones. Let's just say that Jose is not always a good friend to me. However, I do love lime. I also love Cinco de Mayo, and baking things with a theme. So this year, I decided to bake Margarita-flavored cupcakes in honor of the 5th of May.


I found my base recipe on the Hostess With the Mostess site. I kept the cake recipe pretty much the same, but I modified to icing recipe. Although I'm sure the cream cheese icing would be delicious, I happened to have a full fridge and nowhere to store them overnight, so I went with a lime buttercream frosting.

The recipe itself is extremely simple, you only need a few things for the cake: a white cake box mix plus the ingredients necessary to make it (i.e. oil and eggs): about 3 limes; (more if you are using key limes); margarita mix (the liquid kind, but not the frozen concentrated kind, I used Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix in Classic Lime); tequila; orange liquor (I used Triple Sec because my liquor store didn't have Grand Marnier, and it still tasted great); for the icing, the only extra ingredients are butter and confectioner's sugar.

This batter smelled and tasted amazing!

The first thing you want to do is zest and squeeze the limes -- a microplane zester is easiest for this step. Then, you combine the liquors and the margarita mix into your mixing bowl and give them a swirl or two to combine. Add the dry mix from the cake mix box, the egg whites, the oil and lime zest, and beat the batter for about 2 minutes, until smooth.

Then, you spoon the batter into your prepared baking cups, and bake at 350F for about 18-20 minutes until they spring back when touched, or an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

See all the lovely zest baked into the batter? Yum!

While they are cooling, you can start on the icing. Beat the butter in a bowl by itself until it is light and fluffy. Add in lime juice, lime zest, margarita mix, and about 6 cups of confectioner's sugar. Add sugar until you have your desired spreading consistency, adding by the tablespoon when you are getting close.

When the cupcakes are completely cooled, you can ice them up. I didn't put a thick layer of icing on, because my icing was delicious but potent. Anywhere from 1/4" to 1/2" is all you need, but taste test it first.

Now, I love lime, so my icing was stronger lime. However, you can always cut down on the lime juice, or omit the margarita mix altogether. If the cake is enough of a margarita-flavor for you, a basic buttercream icing with just the zest would work nicely.

I chose to roll the edged is colored sugar as a garnish, to resemble the salt around the rim of a margarita. If I had more time, I would have loved to garnish with candied lime peel or candied lime slices, but alas, the clock is always against me. Maybe next time...

I have to say, given that I'm not normally a margarita fan, I really enjoyed these cupcakes. The cake itself is super yummy, which is highly unusual for my tastebuds for anything containing tequila.  They have a little tang, and they really do taste like margaritas as opposed to just lime cupcakes masquerading as margarita cupcakes. I also used someone who never drinks margaritas because she hates tequila as one of my taste testers, and even she really liked them. Having said that, these cupcakes do have a bit of a bite, I wouldn't eat them too early in the day, they are definitely an after-lunch or after-dinner treat!


  • White cake box mix
  • 8oz margarita mix
  • 2oz tequila
  • 1oz orange liquor
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tbls vegetable oil
  • 1 tbls lime zest

  • 2 sticks of butter (* for the cream cheese version, use 1 stick of butter and one of cream cheese)
  • 3 tbls lime juice
  • 1 tbls margarita mix
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 6 cups of confectioner's sugar

1. Combine all liquors and margarita mix into your mixing bowl and swirl it around to combine
2. Add rest of ingredients for the cake, and beat with a mixer until combined and smooth, about 1-2 minutes
3. Divide amongst 24 cupcake wells, filling about 2/3 full
4. Bake at 350F for about 18-20, until toothpick inserted in center is clean, and/or they spring back when touched
5. For the icing, beat 2 sticks of butter until light and fluffy.
6. Add the juice, zest, and margarita mix, and beat to combine
7. Add the sugar gradually, until desired spreading consistency is reached
8. Frost when the cupcakes are completely cooled, and enjoy!

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