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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mint Julep Cupcakes

I want to throw this out there right off the bat: these are my favorite cupcakes that I've made so far.

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My friend Jenn sent me this recipe from The Hostess Blog well over a year ago, and we had grand ideas of throwing a Kentucky Derby party but that hasn't materialized yet (maybe next year!). These looked so darn cute that I seized the opportunity to try out this recipe a couple weeks ago when we were invited to a BBQ with some dear friends I just knew would appreciate the cuteness. I decorated them the very same way they were done on The Hostess Blog : silver cupcake liners to look like traditional silver mint julep cups, bright green sprinkles and straws, and garnished with organic mint springs from my own garden. What a fun twist on a southern summertime classic!


1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
4 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup bourbon (or whiskey)
1/2 cup Creme de Menthe

3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mint extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350º F, line 24 cupcake cups.
Combine salt, baking powder, and 1 3/4 cups of the flour.
Beat butter, sugar, eggs, and extracts in a large mixing bowl until creamy.
Gradually beat in the flour mixture.
Add the milk and liquors to the batter, then the rest of the flour (1 cup).
Mix until the batter comes together. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake cups.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool.

Combine the powdered sugar, salt, extracts and melted butter and beat until creamy. Gradually add milk until the texture is right for piping. I started with about a teaspoon, then gradually added a few more drops until the consistency was right.
When the cupcakes are completely cool, pipe or spread the icing on top. Garnish with cake sparkles or sprinkles, a straw (I used green drinking straws cut into thirds), and mint leaves.

I followed the recipe precisely (no last minute substitutions this time!) but I made 24 cupcakes rather than the 30 that Hostess with the Mostest says you'll get. This results in a slightly taller, nicely domed cupcake. Ellen recently shared her trick with me for knowing how full to fill the cupcake liners: use an ice cream scoop, preferably one with a scraping lever thingy. In the four different cupcake recipes I've tried since I learned Ellen's trick, each one has yielded precisely 24 cupcakes, all the same size, all perfectly domed, and I don't end up with that one sad, short one made of scant bowl scrapings at the end.

One note: upon removing the cupcakes from the oven after baking them for 26 minutes, I was alarmed that the top edges were almost crispy, thinking they would be dry. They weren't. The texture of these cupcakes is what a cupcake SHOULD be - perfectly springy and spongey with just the right "crumb" to it, and delightfully moist despite the somewhat crisp edges.

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