I made these adorable cupcakes for the first time over the summer for my coworker’s birthday and they have quickly become the most commonly requested cupcakes from my friends and coworkers. As a result, I find myself making them pretty regularly for birthdays, potlucks, bridal showers and baby showers. Before making them for the first time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like them because I don’t particularly like key lime pie, but my coworker loves key lime pie and she also loves cupcakes, so I thought these would be just perfect for her. And I was shocked to find that I absolutely adore these cupcakes! I’m so glad that I have friends to share these with or else I would eat them all! I decided to frost the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting instead of the recommended whipped cream that Annie of Annie’s Eats recommends and I love the combination of the key lime flavor with the cream cheese frosting.
¼ cup sugar
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, meltedFor the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
Zest of 1 lime (or 2-3 key limes)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1¾ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. coconut extract
For the key lime curd:
3 large eggs
¾ cups sugar
¼ cup key lime juice
4 tbsp. (2 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
For the frosting:
10 oz. cream cheese, chilled
6½ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 tsp. clear vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter; mix well with a fork. Drop about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down to line the bottom. (Note: the bottom of a squeeze bottle or shot glass works very well.) Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and maintain the oven temperature.
To make the cupcakes, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together and set aside. Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute. Beat in the lime zest. Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla and coconut extracts in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
To make the key lime curd, combine the eggs and sugar in a saucepan. Whisk together until well blended. Whisk in the key lime juice. Place the pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring or whisking constantly, until the mixture is warmed through. Be careful not to heat the mixture too quickly to avoid curdling the eggs. Whisk in the butter a little bit at a time, stirring in each addition until completely incorporated before adding more. Continue to cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens and a spoon or spatula leaves a path when drawn through it (no higher than 175˚ F on an instant-read thermometer.) Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. (This keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.)
To assemble the cupcakes, use a paring knife to make a well in the center of each cupcake. Discard the core of the cupcake from each well. Fill each well with about 1½ tablespoons of the lime curd. I used a piping bag to pipe the key lime curd into each well.
To make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat 2-3 minutes more. Blend in the vanilla. Using a piping bag, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. I used the Ateco 825 tip. Garnish with key lime slices if you would like and enjoy!
Adapted from: Annie’s Eats