If Life Gives You Limes, Make Margarita Cupcakes

Who doesn’t like a cold margarita on a hot summer day?  If you’re not a margarita lover you better stop right here because these are for those of us who not only like to drink their liquor but eat it.   

As usual, I got some inspiration from Martha for these cupcakes.  She has these beautiful orange vanilla bean cupcakes with candied oranges that I had been wanting to try.  Since it was summer time (back in the day when I actually made these) and I was bringing these to a BBQ I was pretty sure that orange vanilla bean cupcakes didn’t scream summer BBQ.  Sadly, I was still pretty desperate to make some candied citrus fruit so the wheels in my brain started turning.  Since my friends like a good frozen drink or three every now and, margaritas came to mind and these cupcakes were born!

Ingredients (Makes 24 cupcakes)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 limes, zested and juiced
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup tequila (plus at least a shot to drink while baking)


  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir with a fork to blend.  
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the lime zest, lime juice, tequila, and vanilla.  
  4. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat each addition just until incorporated.
  5. Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ full.  Bake 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Be warned, these are pretty time consuming because they require you to put candied limes on top.  It’s a bit of a process, but this is how Martha does it: http://www.marthastewart.com/candied-citrus-slices  but she does it with oranges/grapefruit (I used about 4 limes for this).  You need to be able to cut the limes really thin for this, which is hard for me since I don’t really have sharp knives or  knife skills despite thinking I do from watching so much Top Chef.

While the limes are cooking in their little hot tub of sugar water, it’s time to make the frosting. 


  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 6 egg whites at room temperature
  • 3 zested limes
  • 3 tablespoons tequila


  1. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.
  3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Fold in lime zest.  Stir in tequila one tablespoon at a time making sure frosting doesn’t get too runny.  Use immediately.

The cupcakes simply get frosted with a thin layer then the little beads are pipped on the edges with a #4 piping tip, which is pretty tedious and can practically make you go blind but looks to good, it’s worth almost losing my vision over it.  Top with one of those candied limes (I hope you took them off the stove to cool and didn’t forget about them!) and you’re good to go. 

I say all of my cupcakes are good, but I like them so I might as well give myself a little pat on the back right?  So, these were very good with a few minor problems.  I definitely didn’t cut those limes thin enough or cook them long enough for them to be eaten.  They did look great on top of the cupcakes, but I had to warn people to pick them off (but at this point they had drunk so many margaritas it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway).  My other issue was that I wouldn’t pair these with the 7-minute frosting if I was to make them again.  The frosting tasted a little too “eggy” to me so I’d definitely go with the Swiss meringue buttercream with the lime and tequila mixed in.

All in all though I’d say it was a success.  It was quite an adventure making these cupcakes but those candied fruit slices look so pretty!



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