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Citrus isn’t very seasonal right now, but some times you just have to mix things up! One of my good friends got married about a month and a half, and I was fortunate enough to be a bridesmaid. I was also asked to make cupcakes for the rehearsal dinner, which would be about 40 people. When deciding on cupcake flavors, I had to take into consideration the fact that the she doesn’t  like chocolate! Yes, it may be due to her slight allergy, but still! :)Thus the joys of Pinterest! I was able to have her look at my cupcake board and see if anything jumped out at her. She picked out the key lime cupcakes I had pinned, but I wasn’t a big fan of the actual recipe so I took the concept and ran with it! Vanilla cupcakes infused with key lime zest, a tart kick of key lime curd, all topped off with a sweet vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. Everyone loved them! I even tried to make them look fancier and wedding appropriate by attempting to pipe a rose on top. :) With the encroaching cooler weather, if you ever need a bright, delicious kick to remind you of summer, give these a try! Or they’d make a great weekend treat ;)One Year Ago: Italian Meatloaf

Key Lime Cupcakes
Note: Regular limes fan be used if key limes are unavailable.

Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons key lime zest, about 10 key limes
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Key Lime Curd:
⅓ cup freshly-squeezed key lime juice
⅓ cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

Vanilla Buttercream:
1 cup granulated sugar
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
26 tablespoons (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the curd: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the key lime juice, sugar, egg yolks, eggs, and salt. Place the daucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Add the butter cubes and whisk until butter is melted and incorporated. Immediately remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Curd can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and key lime zest, using your fingers to really work the zest into the sugar. Add the butter and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients; beat each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake 20 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream: Set a heatproof mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F, or all sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot to the touch.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on low speed for 2 minutes, gradually increasing to high speed. Beat until stiff peaks form and mixing bowl is cool to the touch. With the mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add a couple tablespoons of butter at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating on medium-high speed until thick and smooth. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the vanilla; beat on low speed for 2 minutes to incorporate the vanilla and eliminate air bubbles. Spoon frosting into pastry bag fitted with large decorating tip.

To assemble cupcakes: Using an apple corer or a paring knife, cut out a well in the center of each cupcake; discard the cores. Fill each well with about 1 tablespoon of key lime curd; frost with vanilla buttercream. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator and bring to room temp before serving.

Source: Cupcakes adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, curd adapted from David Lebovitz, buttercream adapted from Martha Stewart

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