These Pink Lemonade Cupcakes have been swirling around in my brain for the past few weeks. A bridal shower for a young friend gave me the perfect occasion to put my ideas together ………….. everyone seemed to love the results!
I used my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated. The fine folks at Cook’s Illustrated call this recipe The Perfect Cupcake. That’s quite impressive, coming from them as they test, tweak and review a zillion recipes before describing something as “perfect”.
The amazing thing is that it’s also the easiest cake recipe I’ve EVER made! How cool is that? Instead of the classic creaming of the butter and sugar and alternating the wet and dry ingredients into the batter as you continue to mix, this recipe calls for throwing everything into the mixer bowl, pushing the “go” knob and mixing for less than a minute! Crazy huh? It may sound crazy but IT WORKS! Every time! Soft, fluffy, delicious cupcakes in no time flat! I love it, don’t you?
The icing is my own concoction. I love a smooth, creamy icing and usually add a bit of cream cheese for delicious flavor and dreamy piping. Pink lemonade adds delicious, fresh, fun flavor and a garnish of thinly sliced lemon and a tiny sprig of mint makes a dessert worthy of any special occasion ………….. or just to tell someone they’re special!
- For cupcakes:
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons butter room temperature
- ½ cup buttermilk or sour cream room temperature
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- For the buttercream:
- 1 ½ sticks butter at room temperature
- 3 ounces cream cheese I use the low fat, not no-fat at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons pink lemonade concentrate from frozen concentrate
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- milk or half and half as needed
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin/cupcake tins with paper or foil liners.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add butter, buttermilk (or sour cream), eggs, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.
Divide batter evenly among cups of prepared tin. Bake until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from tin and transfer to wire rack; cool cupcakes to room temperature before frosting.
For buttercream, place butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.
Reduce the speed to low and add the pink lemonade concentrate, vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat on lowest speed until all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, then increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 more minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. If the icing is too thick add a bit of milk or half and half, if too thin add a bit more powdered sugar (see note below).
~ It's sometimes difficult to get just the right consistency for piping buttercream. I usually put a little portion into my decorating bag and try it on one cupcake. If you pipe the cupcake and the icing seems to "wilt" or have trouble keeping it's shape, add a bit more powdered sugar. It the icing is difficult to pipe and you have to use force as you pipe, you need to add a bit of milk or half and half. Icing should flow fairly effortlessly from piping bag.
~ This recipe makes a generous portion of icing, probably more than you need for these 12 cupcakes. Unused buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container; let it come to room temperature and then give it a quick whip in the mixer before using.
~ For these swirled cupcakes, I used a Wilton 1M tip.