Well, it’s starting to warm up. That could only mean one thing (besides the annual depression that comes from not being swimsuit ready): my cravings for all things citrus has begun. Does this only happen to me? I want lemonade, strawberry lemonade, lemon bars, key lime pie, limeade slushes, cherry limeades, the list goes on. Something about spring/summer (well, let’s face it: there’s really no spring in central Texas) makes me yearn for the cooling refreshment of citrus.
I saw these on Pinterest and knew it had to happen. I also knew that I would like them more than actual key lime pie. You see, I like key lime pie a lot, but it tends to be too tart for me. Yeah, yeah. I know: “Oh, really, Lauren? A ‘lime’ dessert is too tart? You don’t say!” I’m picking up on your sarcasm.
But it’s true. I love the creaminess of it and the lime flavor, of course, but then afterwards the tart that gets you right in the jaw? Nah. (Is that just me?)
These cupcakes are perfect. They have all the flavor of a key lime pie (except, of course, for the creaminess, but I don’t even miss it), but without the tartness that kills your (my) jaw. Lots of lime flavor, great sweet/tart balance. There’s even a cute little graham cracker crust! Excellence.
Key Lime Pie Cupcakes (adapted from Table for Two)
makes 12 cupcakes (I squeezed out 20)
Graham Cracker Crust Ingredients:
5 whole graham crackers (I used 9, to accommodate for the extra cupcakes)
5 tablespoons melted butter (I used 7)
1/4 cup sugar (I used 1 cup)
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon each of baking powder, baking soda, and salt
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 tablespoons key lime juice
1 tablespoon key lime zest
1 drop green food coloring
3/4 cup room temperature buttermilk
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon key lime zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups powdered sugar (I ended up using 4)
3 tablespoons key lime juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin (or 2, if you’re going to try to get 20 cupcakes like I did) with cupcake liners and set aside.
Finely crush the graham cracker crumbs and mix with the butter and sugar until completely blended. Drop a tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down with the back of the spoon to create the “crust.” Bake for 5 minutes, remove from the oven, and set aside. Keep the oven on.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on low for several minutes until it has softened. Then add the sugar and increase the speed to medium. Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the lime juice, lime zest, and food coloring. Beat until well combined. (It will appear to be curdled at this point, and that’s OK.)
Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk in 3 additions, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. Mix well after each addition.
Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean (trust the toothpick- they won’t look cooked). Let cool completely before frosting.
While the cupcakes bake/cool, make the frosting: Beat the butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons lime zest together for 3 minutes, then add the vanilla and the salt. Combine well, and slowly add the powdered sugar, lime juice, and remaining lime zest. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.