These zesty cupcakes are topped with a yummy frosting that contains white chocolate and cream, and are finished with homemade candied lime peel. Note. the candied peel needs to be made the day before. These cakes are quite fancy and there’s a fair bit of work involved (nothing difficult), so they’re good for a special occasion.
The frosting is yummy (have I mentioned that already?) I got the recipe for it, and the candied lime peel, from Eric Lanlard’s Key Lime Cupcakes recipe. I did originally make the cupcakes in that recipe too, but they completely failed for me (I’m not blaming his recipe, I’m sure it must be something I did wrong as he’s a top french pastry chef), so I remade the cakes by adapting a basic cupcake recipe I use. But credit goes to Eric for the topping!
To save you adding up, if you’re putting together your shopping list, you’ll need a total of five limes.
WHAT YOU NEED:
For the cupcakes
– 175g butter (chilled, NOT at room temperature, that’s right, NOT!)
– 175g caster sugar
– 3 large eggs (straight from the fridge, that’s right!)
– 175g self raising flour, sifted
– 2 tablespoons milk
– 3 teaspoons lemon extract (be sure it’s natural extract, not artificial flavouring)
– Finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed limes
For the frosting
– 200g white chocolate
– 125ml whipping cream (not whipped)
– 175g butter (Yes at room temperature this time)
– 350g icing sugar, sifted
– 1 unwaxed lime, grated zest and half the juice
– Natural green food colouring (optional)
For the candied lime peel
– 2 unwaxed limes
– 100g caster sugar, plus extra for coating
– 100ml water
WHAT YOU DO
For the candied lime peel (Make the day before)
1. Using a peeler, peel off strips from the outside of the 2 limes, it’s a bit awkward but you’ll get the knack, don’t worry that they’ll be all different lengths. Then with a sharp knife, slice them into very thin strands.
2. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a pan, stirring, add the lime strips and boil them for 3-4 minutes, drain them, roll them around in more caster sugar until they’re well coated, then spread them out well on greaseproof paper and leave them to dry out overnight (incidentally, in the pan you’ll be left with a lovely lime syrup, I haven’t figured out what to use it for yet, but it seemed a shame to throw it away, so it’s in my fridge, if you have any ideas, let me know!).
For the cupcakes
Generally we are always told to bring butter to room temperature, however, according to this article, we shouldn’t. As with pastry, the article suggests that using cold ingredients will give a better result, read her article if you want to the full explanation. I decided to give it a go and follow her process, and I do believe they were better, I think I need to test it further though to be sure!
3. Preheat oven to 170C/340F. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.
4. Cut the cold butter into small pieces, place them in your electric mixer and mix on low speed for about 60 seconds until it is soft. Keeping it on low speed, slowly pour in the sugar, then turn up to medium and mix for 1-2 minutes until it has lightened a little and looks aerated (apparently over-creaming the butter and sugar can make it oily). Scrape round the sides with a spatula.
5. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add the lemon extract and lime zest, then mix. Add the flour, a bit at a time, alternating with a bit of the milk. Mix on low each time until just incorporated. Mix for a final 30 seconds at the end. Scrape round the bowl with a spatula and give a final little mix by hand to incorporate the scrapings.
6. Divide mixture into your cases and bake for about 20 mins until cakes are risen and spring back to the touch. Transfer them to a cooling rack.
For the frosting
Make the first stage of the frosting while the cakes are cooking as you need to let it cool.
7. Break the white chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl with the cream over a pan of simmering water, don’t let the bowl touch the water. I always find it easiest to use my vegetable steamer pan and stand the bowl in it, that way it is definitely lifted up away from the water, like this…
Heat and stir until the chocolate is melted, leave to cool completely (I made this stage the night before left it in the fridge overnight).
8. With an electric mixer, whisk the cooled chocolate and cream mixture with the rest of the frosting ingredients until well incorporated and fluffy. If you’re using the green colouring, add a bit at a time and mix well until you get the shade you want.
9. Put the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes in whatever way you like, you can see I went for a..ahem…rustic look with mine! If you’re nifty with the piping bag then go for it, see how beautifully Eric Lanlard did his. I found I had a lot of frosting left over, but if you’re piping big swirls you’ll use more. Finish off with a few strands of the candied lime peel. The peel adds a lovely bit of texture, and the bitterness of it is a nice contrast to the sweetness of the frosting.