Margarita Cupcakes

Yield: 24 Cupcakes

A party in a paper baking cup! These cupcakes suitable for adult birthdays, Cinco de Mayo, office parties, and summer get togethers. They are as much fun to make as they are to eat.

This recipe starts with a simple white cake mix and then layers in margarita flavor to the cake and glaze. We finish with a little salt and lime cream cheese frosting. The salt will compliment the sweet tart of the lime cream cheese frosting.

If you wish to make a non-alcoholic version of these cupcakes, eliminate the alcohols from the glaze and replace with orange juice in combination with the margarita mix step as all other alcohol in the cake will cook out during baking, but leave behind the bright flavor of the spirits.

While it looks like a few steps, they are all pretty simple. It takes about two hours to make these cupcakes with baking and cooling times.

With a little salt and lime….

Ingredients

Cake
8 ounces Margarita Mix (no alcohol)
3 ounces Tequila
1 ounce Grand Marnier
1 box White Cake Mix
3 large Egg Whites
2 Tablespoons Avocado or Canola Oil
1 Tablespoon Lime Zest

Glaze
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Margarita Mix (no alcohol)
1/4 Cup Tequila
1/8 Cup Grand Marnier

Frosting
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened 
8 Ounces Cream Cheese, softened
2 Teaspoons Lime Zest
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
4 to 4 1/2 Cups Confectioners Sugar
5 Tablespoons Lime Juice
4 Drops Lime Extract
 
Finishing Touches
Salt Flakes (suggest Maldon or Fleur de Sel)
Lime, sliced thin then cut slices in half 
Paper straws, cut to desired length

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with baking cups for 24 cupcakes.
  2. Whisk together the margarita mix, Tequila and Grand Marnier in a small bowl or measuring cup. Measure out 1 1/4 cups of liquid (or whatever quantity of water is called for on the cake mix box); reserve any remaining for the glaze.
  3. In a bowl of a stand mixer or mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat egg whites on high until foamy. Add oil and beat a few more seconds until combined with egg whites. Add cake mix and lime zest and the 1 1/4 cups of margarita mix from step 2. Beat on low for 30 seconds and then increase speed to medium for 2-3 minutes. Batter will be smooth but have lumps from the lime zest.
  4. Spoon batter into cupcake liners about 2/3 -3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Know your oven. If it runs hot, check after 15 minutes, increasing time by 5 minute increments until toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cupcakes cook in pan for about 10 minutes and then move to a rack to completely cool.
  5. While cupcakes are cooling make glaze by combining sugar and margarita mix and butter in a small sauce pan.
  6. Heat over low heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and melt butter. When sugarr is dissolved and butter is fully melted, remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients, plus any liquid left from step 2.
  7. When cupcakes are completely cool, use a pastry brush to brush the glaze over the tops of the cupcakes in a thin layer. Do all cupcakes and then repeat the glazing until each cupcake has at least 3 coats of glaze.
  8. Prepare the icing:
    1. In a stand mixer with paddle blade, or large bowl with electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy and combined.
    2. Add in 4 cups of powdered sugar and the remaining ingredients. Beat until creamy.
    3. Add more powdered sugar until the frosting is of the consistency for spreading or piping.
  9. Ice the cupcakes using the method you prefer, spreading or piping it over the glazed cupcakes.
  10. To finish cupcakes, twist the thinly sliced lime halves and place on top of the cupcakes. Add a straw if desired and sprinkle with flake salt very, very lightly. Just a few flakes per cupcake. You want the hint of salt, but not too much.

Corned Beef And Cabbage in the Slow Cooker

St. Patrick’s Day is still a week away, but we just couldn’t wait another week to enjoy a nice slow-cooked Corned Beef and Cabbage. This time of year, just before spring, the evenings are still cold and this hearty meal is welcome after a day of pre-spring yard cleanup. This version is my own take on the traditional dish and is cooked in a slow cooker giving us time to do some chores and then come into a meal that is ready to serve at the end of a busy day. Most of the prep can be done the night before if you happen to want to have this waiting for you at the end of your work day.

Ingredients

1 - 3 to 4 pound corned beef brisket (can also use the round, I just prefer the brisket for slicing for Rueben sandwhiches if there are any leftovers)
1 large or 2 small onions
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 Tablespoon Pickling Spice
2 12 oz. bottles of Guiness Stout Ale (optional)
1.5 oz. of Madeira (optional)
24 oz. water - more or less as desired
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces (alternately, these days small peeled carrots in the bag are available in most grocery stores)
3 - 4 stalks of celery, cut into bite size pieces
1 - pound of small red potatoes, washed, skin-on, cut in 1/2 or quarter if potatoes are larger than a walnut
1 large head or 2 small heads of green cabbage

Instructions

  1. Dice onions, celery, and carrots. Place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Add peeled garlic.
  3. Open corned beef from package and rinse, reserving spice packet.
  4. Add corned beef and spice packet, along with pickling spices to the slow cooker, on top of the carrots, onion, celery and garlic.
  5. Add the two bottles of Guiness, the Madeira, and the water to 1/2 cover the corned beef. The vegetables will float a bit.
  6. Set the slow cooker to high heat, and cook on high for 2 hours if you are home to mind the cooker. If you are not going to be home, continue with the next step immediately.
  7. After two hours, or at the outset if the cooker is going to be unattended, set the slow cooker to low heat and add the potatoes and cabbage to the cooker.
  8. Continue cooking until potatoes and cabbage and corned beef are fork tender. Cook time should be around 6-7 hours for the high/low heat method. 8-10 hours for the slow heat method. This will vary based on the slow cooker.

Note: A good way to finish the corned beef is to remove it from the cooking juices, place in an oven safe dish and slather with a mustard and brown sugar glaze. Roast in a 325 degree oven until the glaze carmelizes and develops a crust, but does not burn. For the glaze use 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup whole grain or brown mustard. In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar and water. Heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the mustard. Continue simmering for another 2-3 minutes. Coat corned beef with glaze and bake until the desired carmelization occurs. You will need to check the corned beef in the oven after 10 minutes and then every 5 minutes to make sure the glaze is cooking to the desired carmelization. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.