Let these gorgeous Strawberry Daiquiri Cupcakes whisk you away to more innocent (slightly naive) times. Like the summer when you thought the world couldn’t get any better than sitting in warm sand sipping a sweet n’ tangy frozen bevvy.
I tried my first daiquiri sitting in a shallow, clear swimming pool at a Mexican resort when I was eighteen years old. I’m pretty sure it was my first fancy (legal) cocktail and I felt like such an adult – sitting at the swim-up bar, sipping on a fruity cocktail at a fancy-pants all-inclusive. Yeah, I felt posh. Which is definitely not the way real adult me feels now in my flour splattered shirt and frizzy updo.
It was that memory – of teenage innocence and crystal blue waters – I wanted to recreate in these Strawberry Daiquiri Cupcakes. I tried to incorporate all the elements of a traditional strawberry daiquiri when making these: sweet strawberry, a hit of zingy lime, and a tipple of dark rum.
First, we draw you in with a deliciously sweet and fluffy, rum-spiked vanilla cupcake and then we slap you in the face with a sharp explosion of lime curd as you bite through the centre. A swirl of silky strawberry swiss meringue buttercream tops off this cupcake nicely, giving you a powerful burst of strawberry flavour. It’s fun, it’s wild, it’s summertime in a cupcake.
I won’t lie to you – these were not the easiest cupcakes to develop. In fact, I made several batches of Strawberry Daiquiri Cupcakes until I was satisfied with the result. #perfectionist
However! I did discover a few things from my various crappy batches that I would like to share with you so that you don’t make the same mistakes I did. So, let’s get learnin’!
Let us discuss tunnelling. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s what happens when the carbon dioxide becomes trapped inside the cake and tries to burrow its way out. This tends to result in unpleasant holes in the top of your cake and a dense crumb.
Tunnelling was my nemesis with these cakes. As I pulled batch after batch out of the oven, I couldn’t help but deflate a little each time I saw gargantuan holes in the top of my otherwise lovely rum cupcakes. What the hell was I doing wrong? So I took to Google (as I often do in times of deep questioning), and it revealed some surprising results. Tunnelling is not an uncommon issue. Most of the time, it results from over mixing the batter once you’ve added the flour or too much carbon dioxide from chemical leaveners. Sometimes, it’s caused by curdled ingredients – which is why it’s always important to make sure everything is at room temperature before you begin baking – or over whipping the eggs or the baking tins being overfilled or… you get the idea. There are lots of reasons why your cake can tunnel.
So, with renewed vigour, I tied on my apron for the fifth attempt at these Strawberry Daiquiri Cupcakes. I made sure all of my ingredients had come to room temp before I began. I thoroughly sifted my dry ingredients (three times, in fact) to evenly disperse the baking powder. I was careful not to over whip the eggs. I only folded the batter until all of the flour pockets disappeared. I measured out my batter evenly into the cupcake moulds, careful not to overfill them. I tapped and swirled the tins on the counter. And then I sat in front of the oven and watched as my cupcake dreams were crushed once again.
Never in my life have I so hated a cupcake, friends.
After a tiny meltdown, I flicked on my laptop and then it dawned on me. Perhaps my method wasn’t the issue – maybe it was the ingredients I had chosen.
A little more Googling bore some fruit. The size of my sugar granules was the likely culprit. While using regular granulated raw cane sugar is fine for cakes with a high moisture content (ie. when you’re using oil, lots of milk, or yogurt in your recipe because the sugar has something to dissolve into), it is absolutely rubbish for creaming into butter. It simply won’t dissolve. In retrospect, I probably should have noticed the difference from the fact that the creamed butter and sugar just weren’t fluffing up like I was used to. No aeration = dense-ass, mole-hill cupcakes.
I did a little dance when I pulled the final batch out of the oven. They sprung back at the touch and there were only some teeny tiny holes in the top. #nailedit
So let’s recap. When you’re baking a cake, you should:
- Read the recipe and make sure you’re using the correct ingredients
- Make sure your ingredients are all at room temperature
- Shuffle your dry ingredients through a sieve and give ‘em at least a little whisk
- Cream your butter and sugar until pale, fluffy, and airy-fairy
- Do not over whip your eggs
- Do not overmix your flour
- Only fill your cupcake holes up to the ⅔ mark. No more. No less.
- Knock the tin against the counter a couple times to release any extra buildup of carbon dioxide
Yes, it seems like a lot of rules, but baking is a science, you know. You were made to follow the rules in Chemistry class for the same reasons – shit happens when you don’t!
Although, in my case, it was some tasty shit.
Strawberry Daiquiri Cupcakes
These Strawberry Daiquiri Cupcakes are infused with dark rum, a slap of zingy lime curd at the centre and topped off with sweet strawberry buttercream.
- 2 limes zested
- 40 g raw granulated cane sugar
- 28 g unsalted butter room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 60 ml fresh lime juice about 2 limes
Vanilla Rum Cupcakes
- 160 g unbleached plain flour
- 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 175 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 155 g raw caster cane sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 large egg whites room temperature
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 60 ml dark rum room temperature
- 60 ml whole milk room temperature
- 12-14 small fresh strawberries for decoration optional
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 170 g unpasteurized honey or agave nectar
- 3 large egg whites
- 226 g unsalted butter room temperature and cubed
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 28 g freeze-dried strawberry powder
- Set a small saucepan filled with an inch of water over a hob on high heat. Once the water is boiling, turn it down to a low simmer.
- In a heatproof bowl, rub the lime zest into the sugar using your fingertips, as you would rub cold butter into flour, until quite fragrant.
- Plop in the butter and salt and beat with a wooden spoon or hand mixer until light and airy.
- Add the egg and mix until well incorporated, then pour in the lime juice and whisk to combine.
- Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water to create a double boiler. Cook the curd over a low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or spatula until thickened. This should take about 10 minutes. It will be done when the curd can coat the back of a metal spoon.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and place in the refrigerator to chill and set.
Vanilla Rum Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a cupcake or fairy cake tin with paper or silicone cases.
- Shuffle the flour, arrowroot powder, and baking powder through a fine mesh sieve four times so the arrowroot powder is well distributed. This will create a natural version of cake flour. Set aside.
- Cream together the butter and raw caster sugar using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until pale, fluffy, and aerated.
- Splash in the vanilla, then add the egg and egg whites one at a time, mixing between each addition just until incorporated. Do not over mix. Stir in the rum and milk.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the dry ingredients in two portions just until all the flour disappears. Do not overmix this either.
- Distribute the batter among the prepared cupcake cases, taking care not to fill the cases past the ⅔ mark. Gently tap the tray against the counter a couple times to free any trapped air and then pop the cakes in the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes (10-12 minutes for fairy cakes) or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Leave the cupcakes to cool in the baking tray for 5 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
- Create a double boiler in the same way as above. Make sure the bowl that is being used for the meringue is squeaky clean and free from any oil, otherwise the meringue will not whip.
Pour the honey into the bowl along with the egg whites, taking care to avoid the yolks. Even a slight trace of yolk will ruin the meringue.
Whisk the egg whites and honey together until foamy, then place the bowl over the simmering saucepan and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot, no longer grainy to the touch, and registers 65-71°C (150-160°F) on a candy thermometer.
- Beat the mixture on high using the balloon whisk of a stand mixer or an electric hand whisk. Once the meringue reaches stiff peaks and the bowl is cool, swap out the balloon whisk for the paddle attachment and begin adding the cubed butter, one piece at a time, on a medium speed. Do not rush this step; it helps to count to ten slowly before adding another pat of butter.
- Once all of the butter has been added, turn the mixer to a high speed and whip the buttercream until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Adjust the speed to medium-high and spoon in the freeze-dried strawberry powder one tablespoon at a time and then give it a final good whipping on high. The buttercream should be silky to the touch and a pale pink.
- Core out a small section at the centre of each cooled cupcake, making sure not to cut completely to the bottom of the cake.
- Using a teaspoon (alternatively, a small piping bag can be used for this task), divide the lime curd equally among the cupcakes’ hollowed centres.
- Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round tipped nozzle and pipe large dollops onto each cupcake.
- Top with a small strawberry if desired.
- These cupcakes are best consumed the day they are made; however, they will keep covered in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
- You can make the lime curd and buttercream ahead of time. They will keep sealed in the fridge for up to 1 week. If you refrigerate the buttercream, remove it from the fridge at least 1 hour before using and beat it well before attempting to decorate with it.
- If you can’t find raw caster cane sugar, you can make your own by grinding up regular granulated raw sugar in a food processor or high-speed blender. Be sure to weigh the sugar before blending.