When I went to Miami in April, I had one of the best mojitos ever. It was perfectly limey, perfectly minty, perfectly rummy, perfectly sweet, perfectly tart and generally perfect.
It was so good that as I lay on the beach I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to capture the taste of that perfect mojito in cake form, or cookie form, or muffin form, or pie form, or custard form, or … cupcake form!
Suddenly the idea of a mojito cupcake flitted into my head and I was consumed by it.
Until I had another mojito and went out to partake in Miami’s famous nightlife.
Let’s just say the mojito cupcake was quickly forgotten.
But as often happens in the life of an amateur baker, a baking idea lost in one place will be born again somewhere else. And so it was that the mojito cupcake returned to me when I read that Mary of the elegant and lovely Alpineberry had chosen Tropical Paradise as the theme for the 33rd instalment of Sugar High Friday.
The life of my mojito cupcake began with a cake that I have come to adore, as have many of my family members and friends who regularly make this cake. You may already be familiar with it as it made its rounds in blog world a few years ago. I’m talking about the now famous Rum Butter Cakes from the blog Gastronome.
Rather than making one bundt cake, as I usually do, I made 30 mini cupcakes and one cake in a loaf pan. For the cupcakes, I altered the rum syrup by infusing it with lime zest and mint, as both lime and mint are key components of the mojito.
After letting the syrup soak into the warm cupcakes, I let them cool completely, and then topped them with a frosting made of cream cheese, butter, icing sugar, loads of lime zest and a healthy dash of rum.
I could have stopped there but wanted to add another “tropical” angle so I made a batch of macadamia nut crackle from a recipe from Food & Wine. I topped each with cupcake with a bit of the crackle.
Now my mojito cupcakes were ready to meet the world.
My taste testers were some very discerning people, indeed. Included were Mama Cream Puff (back from Italy!), Uncle S, Uncle N, my little cousin D and my neighbour who is one of the very best home bakers that I know.
The reaction was unanimous: the mojito cupcake was spectacularly successful! While it wasn’t quite as boozy as its liquid counterpart, it did a good job of capturing all the flavours of one of my very favourite summer libations.
I’m so excited about this cupcake, that I’m going to add it to my repertoire of baked goods for my burgeoning business experiment. Hopefully the orders for this cupcake will start rolling in.
Mojito Cupcakes with Macadamia Nut Crackle
Adapted from various sources (see above).
Note: This recipe yielded 30 mini cupcakes and one loaf baked in a 9 x 5-inch pan. You can also bake this in a standard 10- or 12-cup Bundt pan, as the original recipe indicates. Of course you can also adapt it to fit whatever pan or vessel you choose.
The frosted cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for a few days. The unfrosted cupcakes or cake can be stored, well-covered, at room temperature and will stay fresh for a few days.
People often ask me where I find the tiny party cups that I use to make mini cupcakes. I buy mine from my local bulk food store, but you should be able to find them at any well-stocked kitchen store, cake decorating supply store or party supply store.
For the cupcakes:
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tbsp. dark rum
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place a rack in the centre of the oven. If you’re making the entire recipe as mini cupcakes, put 60 mini party cups on two baking sheets (30 on each one – you will then have to have two racks in your oven to bake both sheets of cupcakes at the same time. Put one if the top third of the oven and one in the bottom third. Rotate the trays halfway through baking). If you’re only making half the recipe as mini cupcakes, then put 30 mini party cups on a baking sheet and then butter and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan to bake the remainder of the batter as a loaf.
Combine the buttermilk, rum and vanilla extract. Set aside.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift and then set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 4 to 5 minutes).
Reduce the speed to low, and add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
With the mixer still on low speed, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix well.
Add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Mix for a minute or two.
Add another third of the dry ingredients (on low speed) and mix well.
Add the remainder of the buttermilk mixture, once again scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Mix for another minute or two.
Add the remainder of the dry ingredients (on low speed) and mix for a minute or two, until the batter is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that all of the flour has been incorporated.
Fill the mini party cupcakes halfway with batter until you’ve used it all up. If you’re only making 30 mini cupcakes, then fill the 30 cups and pour the rest of the batter into the loaf pan.
Bake the mini cupcakes for 25 minutes and then test for doneness by inserting a cake tester into the centre of the cupcakes. If it comes out clean, they’re done. If not, bake for another 5 minutes. In my oven, the mini cupcakes took about 28 minutes.
If you’re also baking the loaf, that will require more time. In my oven, the loaf took about 50 minutes.
Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cook for 5 minutes before poking holes in them with a skewer or toothpick. Immediately spoon the rum syrup over the warm cupcakes and let them soak it all up. Once they’ve cooled completely, you can ice them with the lime and rum frosting.
For the rum syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup dark rum
2 or 3 pieces of lime zest
a few sprigs of fresh mint
In a small pot, combine the sugar, water and butter over medium-high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often.
Once the butter has completely melted and the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat.
Carefully add the rum. The mixture will bubble and spurt so take care not to burn yourself.
Once you’ve mixed in all the rum, add the lime zest and mint and let the syrup infuse for 5 minutes before spooning over the cupcakes.
For the lime and rum frosting (this will frost 30 mini cupcakes – if you’re making 60 then you will have to double the recipe):
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp. dark rum
zest of 3 limes
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter at high speed for 5 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low and add the icing sugar. Mix for a minute to incorporate the sugar and then increase the speed to high again and mix for another minute or two. The frosting should be light and fluffy.
Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the rum and the lime zest and mix at medium speed until well incorporated.
The frosting should be used immediately so make it once your cupcakes have soaked up the syrup and are cool. You can spoon the icing on with an offset spatula or knife, or you can use a piping bag to pipe a pretty design.
For the macadamia nut crackle: