Remember yesterday when we were talking about hamburger buns, and I mentioned that I’m very much a “meat and potatoes” kind of girl? Well, along those same lines, I’m typically a beer girl, not a mixed drink kind of girl. I’ve always enjoyed a good beer and usually find most mixed drinks to be either way too sugary, or way, way too heavy on the alcohol, so much so that it ruins them. As a result, I don’t venture far outside of my comfort zone (see: living in a bubble and my affinity to Ron Swanson) when it comes to ordering drinks and will more often than not just order a beer. My Chief Culinary Consultant is also very much a beer person (although we both enjoy wine with a nice dinner), but he has mentioned numerous times over the last few years about how he always enjoyed mojitos. I’d never had one myself, and made a mental note to try one in the future. It took until our vacation in Florida a few months ago for me to finally get my first mojito! We went out to dinner on my birthday and I decided that it was the perfect time to try a new drink, especially since we were in Southern Florida. It was complete shock and awe for me. Quite possibly the most delicious drink I’ve ever had – so light, bursting with flavor and refreshing. I could have easily had multiple drinks, but lucky for me (and those with me), I capped it at one ;-) The combination of lime, mint, rum and sparkling water was amazing, and almost as quickly as I drank it, I knew I wanted to make a cupcake version of the drink.
My birthday mojito:
Mojitos are similar to margaritas in that they both use lime to impart citrus flavor, but a mojito adds fresh mint and uses a white or clear rum instead of tequila. The flavor profiles are similar enough that I was easily able to adapt my favorite Margarita Cupcake recipe into a Mojito Cupcake with a tremendous amount of success.
One of the best parts of growing a little herb garden out on the deck? Being able to pop outside, cut off a few sprigs of mint (or basil or parsley), and not have to pay $4.99 at the grocery store for the same amount. It’s so liberating!
One of the key steps to making a mojito is the “muddling” or bruising of the mint leaves. This is basically rubbing the leaves together or using the back of a spoon to smash the leaves together so that they look darkened and bruised. This helps to release the oils of the mint, which strengthens the flavor. That’s especially important in these cupcakes since we’re relying on an infusion of flavor. Your kitchen is going to smell fantastic!
A couple of quick notes on the recipe and ingredients:
Make sure to use sweet mint or spearmint in this recipe; you don’t want to use peppermint.
An authentic mojito uses white or clear rum. For these cupcakes, I picked up a bottle of Don Q Crystal white rum after reading through some recommendations on Chowhound.
The quantities for the frosting are based on my preference to pile frosting nice and high on top of cupcakes (as seen in the photos).
These cupcakes are light and moist, infused with a fantastic combination of lime and mint, with a subtle undertone of rum throughout the cupcake and frosting. The flavors reflect the best part of the drink – bright and fresh, and bursting with flavor. They’re not too heavy or overpowering, which makes them perfect for any summer picnic or party. Recreating favorite drinks into baked goods is always a fun challenge; I’ve already got a few more ideas up my sleeve!
Combine the buttermilk and the ½ cup mint leaves in a small saucepan over medium heat. Warm until just starting to steam (do not simmer), then remove from the heat and cover. Let steep for 15 to 30 minutes. Once finished, strain the milk into a bowl using a fine mesh sieve. The milk may appear curdled or clumpy, but don't worry, it will come back together. Press on any milk solids and mint leaves to extract all the liquid possible. Give the milk a quick stir to smooth it out and set aside.
While the mint is steeping in the milk, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and rum. Mix until combined. (The mixture may start to look curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it will all come back together, power on!)
Reduce the mixer speed low. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand.
Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just slightly golden and a skewer shows only moist crumbs attached, rotating the pan at the halfway point.
While the cupcakes are baking, combine the rum and mint sprigs in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until the rum is heated through (do not let it simmer). Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let steep until ready to use.
Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the mint-infused rum. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely before frosting them.
To make the frosting, whip the butter on medium-high speed of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment for 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Give it a mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the lime juice and rum and mix on medium-high speed until incorporated and fluffy. If the frosting appears a bit too soft, add some additional sugar, one spoonful at a time until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes and garnish, if desired, with a lime wedge and sprig of fresh mint.