Saucy had a couple of friends that deserved cupcakes this week. Besides, after Veto said the key lime cupcakes in Chicago were better than hers... she sort of took it is a challenge.
As in... did he just say... awww hell no he din't, gurll hold mah earrings.
So let's make key lime, if it's that important to him.
Key limes can be real little peckers to squeeze. Saucy figured out ages ago that the best way to get the juice from a key lime is to slice it in half and press the juice from it using her kitchen mallet. A very clean garlic press will also do the trick.
For this recipe, you will need the juice of five or six key limes. You'll also need their zest, so do yourself a favour and zest them before you squeeze them. Saucy uses a carpenter's rasp for that task.
Prepare your favourite vanilla cupcake recipe. Before scooping into papers, add the zest of three key limes to the batter (so, about half of the zest). Reserve the other half of the zest for topping the frosting.
Top the unbaked cupcakes with a simple graham crumb mixture. Saucy mixed 1 tablespoon melted butter with 1/4 cup graham crumbs and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Sprinkle on top of the cupcakes, primarily around the edge.
Why? Because you're going to scoop out the centre for the key lime curd anyway.
Bake your cupcakes and cool thoroughly.
making the key lime curd
In stand mixer, beat together one package of cream cheese (softened to room temperature) with the juice of the key limes. Beat on high speed until well blended, scraping the bowl well. Add three tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk and beat until light and fluffy. If you care for sweeter lime curd, add confectioner's sugar, one teaspoon at a time until sweetened to taste. Avoid adding extra liquid, as you will want the lime curd to be creamy but not runny in the middle of the cupcake.
You may wish to add one drop of green food colouring. Use very sparingly! Better to have a natural colour of lime curd inside a cupcake than a garish, unnatural green shade.
Set the lime curd aside.
making the marshmallow meringue frosting
This part will require two pots on the cooktop at once and your stand mixer working simultaneously. Don't feel overwhelmed, just plan ahead.
Place two egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer and get the whisk attachment ready.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring one cup of sugar and 1/4 cup warm water to a gentle boil. You can gently stir this pan, but ideally you should just "roll" the pot in a circular motion as the sugar dissolves and no more granules remain. When the mixture is lightly boiling and appears to be a fully dissolved syrup and is bubbling around the edges, it is ready to remove from the heat.
When the syrup mixture is almost completely dissolved, turn your mixer on "high" and start the egg whites beating. They should form soft peaks. While the mixer still turns, pour the hot syrup into the egg whites very slowly - like a very thin stream. The heat of the syrup will gently cook your egg whites.
Continue beating the egg whites and syrup for about one minute at high speed. Turn the mixer to "low" and scoop in the near-melted marshmallows. When incorporated, turn mixer back to "high" for about thirty seconds just to fluff things up.
Your frosting is now ready to pipe! Set aside for a moment... while you fill the cupcakes with lime curd. You'll want to use this frosting quickly, but you have time - so don't panic.
Use a small melon baller to scoop out the centre of each cupcake. Reserve the cake balls for something... or toss them at your dog through the kitchen gate... or pop them into your mouth.
Fill the centre of each hollowed-out cake with about two tablespoons of lime curd. The lime curd recipe will make enough to generously fill 24 little cakes.
Pipe the marshmallow meringue frosting atop each cupcake. You can gently brown the frosting with a kitchen torch if you have one. Finish each cupcake with a sprinkling of reserved lime zest.