188: Tequila and Lime Cupcakes

The weekend I made these cupcakes was the weekend of disaster cupcakes. Out of 3 batches of cupcakes, 1.5 were edible, and that 1.5 depends on who you are and how you define edible.

The first batch were yellow cupcakes that I forgot to add eggs to, and didn’t realize until they were in liners in the oven. Omitting eggs takes away structural integrity and makes the cupcakes flat. If you tried to pull away the cupcake liner, the entire cupcake folded outward, sticking to the paper and leaving nothing in the center. If you picked up a cupcake liner and squished, it was as if there was no cupcake there at all. These tasted fine, and Alex ate them later with ice cream, but they were not going to work as regular cupcakes.

The second batch were a duplicate batch of yellow cupcakes that my wonderful, awesome husband made since I didn’t have the time. He had a mishaps with cupcake spillage in the oven and forgetting to turn the oven back on afterward, but he baked them just fine. They were just a little flat, and chocolate frosting hid that. These were 100% edible (and delicious)!

The third batch are what this post is actually about. A coworker set the recipe for Tequila and Lime Cupcakes on my desk one day, so I felt like I had to make it at some point. Since they are drizzled with tequila after being baked, I decided that it would be the perfect thing to make for a party.

Having made cupcakes a day or two before these, I was first concerned that the amount of ingredients would actually make a full batch of 24 cupcakes, rather than 12 as it said. Note that the recipe did not say “jumbo muffin cups” or anything like that. It also said to only fill 12 muffin cups one quarter of the way full of batter, rather than the 1/2 to 2/3  full that regular cupcakes are.

I didn’t read this recipe that carefully, though, because I didn’t realize that it took ONE CUP of lime zest. If you’ve never zested citrus fruit before, let me tell you that’s a ton. It’s the amount of zest from roughly 7 or 8 limes, if you leave no amount of green on the fruit. I had only bought 2 limes (and the second lime was for “just in case – I thought the first one would be enough), and I got maybe 6 tablespoons of zest from them – only about a third of the amount that the recipe called for. This also took THREE TABLESPOONS of vanilla – most cake recipes I’ve seen only take about 2 teaspoons (if I recall correctly). This recipe also took 1.5 teaspoons salt, rather than a quarter or a half like many recipes do. This was because these cupcakes were intended to resemble tequila shots or margaritas.

I should have just called it quits for this recipe, since I had doubts about the quantity it would make and qualms about the sheer amount of stuff that went into it.

I briefly thought about substituting something extra for the missing lime zest, but I was rushed and didn’t bother. Let me tell you now that it’s a mistake to leave out 2/3 cup of any ingredient that goes into a cake or batter, unless it’s an add-in like chocolate chips or nuts. Lime zest was not simply a flavor in this recipe – I think it gave the cake structural integrity, and leaving it out was akin to omitting eggs entirely.

My second mistake with these cupcakes, which compounded the first, was to fill the muffin cups as full as I wanted to. I think I got them about 2/3 cup full, which yielded 18 cupcakes. Without the structure the lime zest would have added, filling the cups too full made the cake spill over the edges flatly, rather than the cupcake puffing up. I think I also baked these longer than the recipe called for, but at this point I can’t remember.

After the cupcakes bake you pour 1/4 cup lime juice and 1 cup of tequila over them. The recipe made it seem like this happened immediately when they came from the oven, and I did this on 12 of them. Obviously, it wasn’t a good idea to add the full amount of liquid to only 2/3 of the cupcakes. They became very soggy, and I think that part of this was because the cupcakes were still warm, and not just because the cake was overloaded. I also didn’t have time to let these cool too much, and the liquid made them nearly impossible to remove from the pans since the cupcake overflow stuck to the pan. [To be fair, I’ve never made anything where I drizzle alcohol on it after it’s baked (like a rum cake), and so I’m not sure about the proper way to do that, or the proper amount to use for a given amount of cake.]

I adapted the frosting a bit since I wasn’t even going to bother trying to make these pretty, but I don’t see the point of going into that here.

I knew I wouldn’t like these because I don’t like tequila very much, but I did try these. They were incredibly salty and incredibly strong. I knew I wouldn’t like them, but I especially didn’t like how salty they were. I couldn’t even eat half of one.

I would never, ever make these again, and I would never recommend to anyone else that they do, either. There’s no need to try to make a cake through sheer quantity of ingredients (1 cup lime zest, 3 tablespoons vanilla). It’s simply a waste. I really think that you can only really taste a certain amount of those ingredients.

If you want to do something like these, I would start with a basic white or yellow cake recipe. Add the zest of a lime or two, because I do think that the lime was a good flavor. Drizzle tequila and lime on them after they’re done, using guidelines from another recipe that seems trustworthy and has good reviews. Frost with a lime frosting. Decorate with sea or flaked salt, rather than making a salty cupcake – this would also be a nice decorative touch, and wouldn’t alienate those people who don’t enjoy salt with their margaritas or tequila shots.

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