Moist Strawberry Cupcakes Infused with Mint and Rum.
Incredibly moist strawberry mojito cupcakes infused with fresh mint and rum, iced with Mojito Italian Meringue Buttercream.
Last week, one of my closest friends, celebrated her 50th birthday at a local brewery. My contribution to the festivities were these strawberry mojito cupcakes – a fitting flavor because Lynn makes a kick-ass mojito, of which I’ve certainly had my share, sitting in her kitchen or on her patio, while we discuss our lives and solve all the worlds problems. Rum has that effect on me. Life feels easy and fun after a mojito or two, with no problem too large or complicated.
I maintain that it’s impossible to not feel a bit carefree while sipping something fizzy, tropical, fruity and boozy. Which is exactly what I was going for with these cupcakes, and I’m happy to report that they were a huge hit at the party. One guest called them “life changing”, causing me to feel quite smug. Naturally.
Here’s my lovely friend with her cupcakes, proving to all of us that 50 is the new 30.
Now, I’m not saying that you MUST eat strawberry mojito cupcakes while also sipping on a mojito…
But, why wouldn’t you? Like a good mojito, they are slightly sweet (not cloyingly so) and a bit tart, with just a hint of refreshing mint to balance everything out. There’s enough rum in both the cupcakes and the buttercream frosting to know it’s there without overpowering the other flavors.
While these cupcakes are fruity and fun, they are not insubstantial. The cake is extremely moist, dense and almost creamy – more akin to the consistency of a steamed pudding than your typical cake. Almost like cheesecake. And this, in my opinion, is what makes them remarkable. They are not quite what you expect from a strawberry cupcake. Plus, the swirl of lime infused strawberry jam creates an experience where every bite is different from the last. They will have everyone you serve them to saying things like, “This is so interesting!”, as they dive back in for another bite. And then another. And another.
Because, sometimes you want something predictable – like warm chocolate chip cookies that ooze with melted chocolate. Or, the comforting wholesomeness of freshly baked bread. And, other times you want something fun and unexpected. These cupcakes are for times like those.
So, make a batch and invite over some good friends. Pour them a mojito and serve them a strawberry mojito cupcake. Talk and laugh, and solve all the world’s problems. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon or evening. Can you?
RECIPE NOTES: There are several components to this recipe, making it easy to spread the fun of baking them over a couple of days, if that’s easier on your schedule. The lime curd and Italian Meringue Buttercream can be made up to 4 days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. (Please note the instructions at the end of the recipe for Italian Meringue Buttercream for how to bring it up to room temperature after refrigeration.)
The cupcakes can be made 1 day in advance or frozen for up to 2 months. Having said that, making these all in one afternoon or evening can be done in about 2-3 hours total. Make the Mint Lime Curd first so it can cool completely before adding it to the buttercream. Then, make the cupcakes. While the cupcakes are baking, make the Italian Meringue Buttercream. By the time the cupcakes are baked and cool, the Buttercream will be ready to use.
One batch of Italian Meringue Buttercream will frost about 48 regular size cupcakes, or 24 jumbo size cupcakes. This means that if you are only making one batch of cupcakes, you will have plenty left over. Not to worry! You can either make a 1/2 recipe of Italian Meringue Buttercream (use 5 egg whites), OR – make the regular amount and freeze the left over buttercream. Italian Meringue Buttercream freezes beautifully and having it on hand will make you feel like a professional pastry chef.
Finally, if you’ve never made Italian Meringue Buttercream, do NOT be intimidated. Upon first glance, it can seem complicated and tricky. Trust me, I beg you, and just try it. Once you make it, you’ll realize that it’s simpler than you thought and the best frosting ever. It’s silky smooth, not overly sweet, holds up well and is a dream to frost and decorate with. It’s so delicious, even all of you non-frosting eaters will be tempted to devour it by the spoonful. It is by far my favorite frosting. In fact, it’s the only frosting I ever make.
- Zest and juice from 4-6 limes (enough to make ½ cup fresh lime juice)
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ¼ lb (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, finely minced
- ¾ cup good quality strawberry jam
- 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 tbsp melted butter (at room temperature)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg + 3 egg whites
- 1¼ cup plain, unsweetened full-fat yogurt (preferably Greek yogurt)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp strawberry extract
- 1½ cups diced fresh strawberries
- 2 tbsp freshly grated lime zest
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup white rum
- 1 recipe Italian Meringue Buttercream
- 2 cups mint lime curd
- ⅓ cup white rum
- Zest limes and squeeze enough fresh lime juice to make ½ cup.
- Add lime zest and sugar to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the zest is finely minced.
- Cream the butter with the sugar/ zest mixture in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the salt. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the fresh lime juice until fully incorporated.
- Pour mixture into a medium, heavy bottom sauce pan set over medium heat. Stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, cook until thickened and just about to boil - about 10 minutes. (Keep the temperature under 175 degrees, just under a simmer).
- Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in minced mint leaves. Cover and refrigerate until completely cool.
- Preheat oven to 375 and line jumbo muffin pans with 9 paper liners, or a regular muffin pans with 18 paper liners.
- In a small bowl, stir together the strawberry jam and lime juice until combined. Set aside.
- Add the cornstarch, flour, baking powder and salt to a medium size bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Add the melted butter, sugar, whole egg and egg whites to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minute, until well combined.
- Add the yogurt and flour mixture in 4 alternating additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat for about 20-30 seconds at medium speed after each addition - just long enough to incorporate each addition fully. Add the vanilla and strawberry extract (if using) and beat just long enough to combine.
- With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the chopped strawberries, lime zest and chopped mint.
- Spoon batter evenly into cupcake liners. Spoon the strawberry jam mixture evenly over each cupcake and use a knife to gently swirl the jam into the batter. (Go easy - you just want to barely swirl the jam into the batter, not mix it completely in. There should still be some jam on the top of the batter.)
- Bake in preheated oven for 33-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into one of the cupcakes comes out mostly clean, without raw cake batter clinging to it. Remove from the oven and immediately remove cupcakes from muffin pan to cool on a wire rack. (If you leave them in the pan, the jam will cause the cupcakes to stick.) Poke each cupcake several times with a toothpick and brush with the ¼ cup white rum. Go over each cupcake 2-3 times with the brush, allowing the rum to seep into each cupcake before adding more. Cool completely before frosting with Mojito Italian Meringue Buttercream.
- With the Italian Meringue Buttercream at room temperature, slowly beat in the lime curd and then the rum using an electric mixer until fully incorporated. Depending on the temperature of all the ingredients this could take 5-10 minutes. If it doesn't look like it's coming together, just keep beating. If the ingredients are too warm, or the room is too warm, and the frosting seems runny, just put it in the refrigerator for an hour or so before beating to bring it all together.