Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shirley Temple Cupcakes

So first of all, I officially miss all the excitement in Northern VA - there was an earthquake along the East Coast today that hit a 5.8 on the Richter scale.  Its epicenter was very close to Culpeper, VA, which is where my aunt and uncle live.  Any and all prayers will be greatly appreciated - this is definitely a new experience for my whole family, and everyone in the area.

Now, to lighten the mood, tasty treats:
I'm not a soda kind of girl.  I grew up on water, lowfat milk, and the occasional lemonade or orange juice.  But, when I reached my teenage years and went out to dinner with the girls from my dance studio, I was introduced to Shirley Temples.
And I fell in love.

Now, this is especially odd, because A) I'm not a fan of carbonation and B) I've never been a lover of cherry.  But for some reason, the combination of lemon-lime soda and grenadine over ice is just...magical!  Jon thinks so too, so we happily enable each others' addictions ;)

And if the drink is magical, these cupcakes are straight-up miraculous.
Thanks to Shanon over at The Curvy Carrot, this lovely little creation showed up on my radar a couple months back, and I instantly bookmarked the page.  I figured Jon and I would both enjoy them.

I was right!  They're lightly cherry-flavored, with a nice balance of sweet from the maraschino cherry juice and tart from the soda used in the batter.  The buttercream frosting is light, fluffy, and it's not overly sweet with just a hint of cherry peeking out.  Plus, it's pink!  Instant attraction right there.  And, thanks to the layer of color and extra flavor at the bottom of each cupcake, they truly look and taste like the beloved beverage!  These are easily the cutest cupcakes I've ever made, and some of the tastiest.  If you need more incentive, my wonderful fiancĂ© is not a cupcake guy...and he could not stop eating these!

If you love Shirley Temples, you will adore these cupcakes.  Make them, admire their adorableness, and then enjoy them immensely :)

Shirley Temple Cupcakes
Source: adapted from The Curvy Carrot, originally from Simply Gluten Free
Yield: 24 cupcakes
For the cupcakes - 
3 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
scant 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup lemon-lime soda
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used Tahitian - it works well with fruity flavors)
2 tbsp maraschino cherry juice, divided
2-1/2 tsp grenadine
Red food coloring

For the Buttercream - 
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
5 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp maraschino cherry juice
24 maraschino cherries with stems, patted dry with paper towels


To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚F and prepare two 12-cup cupcake tins with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the 3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 2-3 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, then the egg whites, beating well after each addition.
Reduce the mixer speed to low.  Combine the soda with one tablespoon of the maraschino cherry juice.  Then, alternately add half the flour mixture and half the soda mixture, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Repeat until all of the flour mixture and soda have been added completely to the batter.  Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.  As a warning, this batter will splash, so if you have bowl guards I would advise using them.
Pour about half of the batter into a large bowl.  Add the remaining flour and maraschino cherry juice, the grenadine, and red food coloring to your desired hue.  Spoon the red batter evenly into the bottom of each cupcake liner, then top with the remaining white batter.
Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the middle of each cupcake comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely in the pans before frosting.

To make the buttercream, cream the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or paddle scraper!) until it's pale, light, and fluffy - about 2-3 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, then gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all combined.  Thoroughly mix in the vanilla, lemon juice, and cherry juice.  Dollop or pipe onto cooled cupcakes as desired and garnish with the stemmed maraschino cherries.  Enjoy!

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