These cupcakes. A gingery base topped with tart, creamy lime frosting. All the tastes of a Moscow mule which, with its light gingery lime goodness, happens to be my favorite cocktail. I found myself without any ginger beer (or any vodka for that matter), so I thought, why not take the flavors and turn them into a cupcake? Sold.
This could have been a disastrous scenario. I really didn’t know if the flavors would translate into a baked good, or if the lime juice would mess up the consistency of the frosting, or if fresh ginger would give the cupcakes enough of a kick. I was fully expecting to have to scrap a few versions before I found one that worked. But I was lucky, or my baking instincts are getting better as I keep blogging, or some combination of both, and the first batch of these beauties were just right.
Typically I’m not much of a cocktail person. Besides a brief time in college of ordering mixed drinks named after Prince songs that came in what were essentially flower vases, I’m usually a beer person. But that’s probably why I really love a moscow mule, with the slight carbonation from the ginger beer and the acidic kick of lime juice, and nothing sugary in sight. It’s not sweet, and it’s not bourbon (sorry brown liquor folks, but it’s not for me). When my husband and I went on a tropical vacation earlier this summer, it was the first drink I ordered. Sadly, the resort we were staying at didn’t stock ginger beer, so I was out of luck. But the idea stuck with me, and it ended up in these cupcakes.
The cupcakes themselves are light without being overly sweet, and the heaping amount of fresh ginger in them really gives them a kick. I started with the ingredients of a basic white cupcake, but ditched the vanilla, made sure there wasn’t too much sugar, and added plenty of freshly grated ginger. The result is kind of like a spice cake, but with summer flavors.
The lime frosting is a simple buttercream frosting, with plenty of butter and powdered sugar, but with lime juice added instead of milk to smooth out the consistency and give the frosting a tart citrus taste. Alone, it might make you pucker; with the ginger cupcake, it’s a refreshing bite of summer.
I baked these without cupcake liners because 1) I didn’t have any and 2) I didn’t have any. If you don’t plan on eating them all the day you bake them, you could use liners and skip the step about buttering the muffin tin, since they’d help keep the cupcakes moist for a few days. I used a piping bag with a small star attachment to pipe on the frosting, starting at the outer edge of the cupcake and working my way to the center. If you don’t have a piping bag or don’t feel like fiddling with one, slap on the frosting with a spatula and call it good. They will still taste delicious.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup butter, at room temperature (1 stick)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 1 or 2 limes, depending on the size)
- Zest of 1 lime
- 6 pieces of candied ginger, cut in half
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a muffin tin, or line with cupcake liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about a minute. Add the brown sugar and beat another minute or two. Add in the eggs, one at a time.
- Reduce the speed to low and add in about a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the yogurt. Repeat, then add the last third of the flour mixture. Only mix until just combined, then add the ginger and mix another few seconds.
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling about ¾ of the way up the sides. I had enough batter to make 13 cupcakes, but had willing volunteers to eat the extra batter, so I only made 12.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of a cupcake. Allow to cool for five minutes in the pan, then place cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low, then begin adding the powdered sugar, about a quarter of a cup at a time. After a few additions, you can increase the speed back to medium-high and avoid a powdered sugar explosion. Add enough powdered sugar to make the frosting light and creamy; you may not need all four cups.
- Add the lime juice and mix until combined. Spread on cooled cupcakes with a spatula, or put the frosting into a piping bag with your desired tip and pipe on to the cupcakes, starting at the edge and working your way to the middle. Sprinkle with lime zest and garnish with a piece of candied ginger, if desired.