Two cupcakes in two days! I know! See what being at my mother's house for a week is doing to me? To be fair, the family has been reading all about the cupcakes I make (and other things! I make other things too! Just wait and see!) for awhile now, and I wanted to send my Papa back to Alabama with memories of what his middle child can bake (plus, watching him enjoy my cooking has been a real treat - I've been copying him for so long). We go back home day after tomorrow, so my niece Lily has requested one more cupcake, and after the malt shop ones and then these I don't even know where to go. White with white frosting? Heh. I could take the minimalist approach. Anyway, while I'm stewing over that, try these on for size...
I love Key Lime Pie, and I think I've mentioned before that my sister is the Key Lime Pie Queen, so since we're visiting I thought this would be another appropriate cupcake to present. The combination (and contrast) of flavors and textures is very pleasing here. You have the crisp graham cracker bottom crust, then the soft, mild heartiness of the graham cake, with the tart, smoothly creamy lime filling, and the very creamy, tangy but sweet frosting (much thicker than the filling), flecked with the green of the lime zest (as an aside, I love the green flecks! Just like I love vanilla bean specks! Moving on...).
This was not a complicated cupcake to make, though there are a few steps, but if you're familiar with the process you'll breeze right on through. And the result...well, I wanted these to compliment the tamales my sister was serving (I was waffling between these and Mexican Hot Chocolate ones, so you know what's coming soon), but these seemed lighter, and fresher, and Labor Day Weekend-ier...and they were just delightful. I will be making them again, and soon.
If you're reading these blogs chronologically, and are wondering which of the two (malt shop vs. key lime) was the favorite...well...all right, we'll call it a draw. No one could pick one over the other, and that's okay. You don't have to like one better than the other. You can like them equally for different reasons. As I was earnestly trying to explain to someone when I was 18, I like chocolate and I like cheese, but I don't necessarily like one better than the other.
One last thing, on the key lime juice and zest. Skipping the zest is not an option, if you want the best results (and the green flecks!). But I am not going to hover behind you and give you the fish eye if you opt out of buying the bag of tiny, heavily seeded little limes and instead buy that handy bottle and a couple of much bigger Persian limes, instead. I don't want you to resent me and my innocent, happy little end-of-summer recipe, after all. Do what works for you and enjoy.
This makes about 18 cupcakes.
~ Graham Cupcakes ~
For graham bottom:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter, salted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole milk
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 standard-sized muffin cups with baking liners (or grease well).
In a small bowl, combine the 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1/4 cup sugar, mixing until crumbly. Press a small amount into the bottom of each muffin cup, dividing the total evenly, and press down with your fingers to form a smooth(ish) bottom layer. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and let cool before filling with cupcake batter.
|Crispy graham cracker bottoms - please don't skip this step!|
Beat the butter for about 30 seconds until well creamed. Add the sugars and mix with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla and mix again.
Combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and powder, and salt into a small bowl. Add in about half of the dry mixture into the butter mixture and stir until combined. Add in the milk and mix well. Finish with the rest of the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
Scoop the batter into the muffin cups (the ones you already have the graham cracker crust baked into, remember?) and bake at 350 for about 15 - 18 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the muffin tins for 2 minutes or so, then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
~ Creamy Key Lime Filling ~
5 egg yolks, beaten
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 teaspoon key lime zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream, beaten into firm peaks
In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks until light in color. Add in the lime juice, zest, condensed milk, and salt and and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Fold in the whipped cream.
Note: If you are concerned about the raw egg yolks in the curd, make your own or use a store-bought lime curd. This will not hurt my feelings at all, and I would rather you feel better about it.
~ Key Lime Cream Cheese Frosting ~
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons key lime juice
1 tablespoon key lime zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy and fully combined. Beat in the powdered sugar, lime juice and lime zest, and salt, and beat until mixed together and the consistency you want. Pipe onto cupcakes using a large star tip or just swoop on with a spatula. Store filled, frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator.
|Mmmm...tastes like summertime!|