What a great birthday weekend for the hubby! This weekend was all about Robbie. It started Thursday with some key lime tarts (after my failed attempt to acquire his favorite key lime pie). On Friday, his actual birthday, I called again to Del Frisco’s, home of his preferred slice of pie, and I was in luck! The chef decided to make the pie that day, so I rushed there after work, bought a piece, left a little tip for good measure, and raced home. The hubs and I got ready for dinner at Elway’s Steak House (I know, two steak houses in one day!), and his bone-in rib-eye was the perfect birthday meal. We ended the night with Elway’s own “Ding Dong” which was delicious. It was topped with a chocolate “Happy Birthday” sign and a candle. Perfect!
The next day we went for a nice 4.5 mile run through our neighborhood, and I spent the afternoon making Gin and Tonic Cupcakes while we watched the Olympics. I adapted the recipe from B.U.I. Cupcakes (again, thank you). I have provided the recipe I used here. Because the hubs is quite a fan of gin, I used his favorite everyday gin, Gordon’s. I know what you’re thinking: it’s in a plastic bottle! Gasp! However, it’s got a clear, crisp taste. It’s excellent for cutting through the cupcake without being overpowering. You don’t want anything too floral (which is often the case with small batch gins) or it could compete with the other flavors. I also recommend this cupcake batter recipe as a go to for your standard white cake. It’s excellent! The batter is fluffy and delicate, and the cupcakes, although dense, were so delicious and surprisingly light. It doesn’t scream gin, but rather presents a meaningful nod.
I am not the hugest fan of gin, but I have acquired a deep appreciation over the past seven years with Robbie. My favorite gin is Caprock, produced here in Colorado. This gin has a delightful floral flavor that works well in citrus and fruity drinks alike. Although not a great option for these cupcakes, it is a wonderful everyday drinking gin. Caprock is a great local distillery that has found acclamation across the Front Range, and most local restaurants and bars serve it in signature drinks. I first experienced it at City O’ City, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant down the street from my first job in Denver. Although I am neither vegetarian nor vegan, this little restaurant created one of the best and most ingenious cocktails I have ever experienced: the Gin Jammer. Served with a spoonful of homemade jam, the Caprock gin, lemon juice and simple syrup mixture is more than a delightful beverage. It’s a libation experience. You start by mixing the jam into the beverage, and watch as it transforms into a fabulous fuchsia concoction. Beautiful and delectable!
With Robbie’s birthday approaching, I knew I really wanted to do something special. For years he barely got to celebrate his birthday, because of working horrendous hours with Ernst and Young, or being weighed down with homework while completing his MBA. This year he finally had time to enjoy his birthday festivities. I did my research, trying to find the perfect, doable dessert that would be meaningful to him. He was extremely excited when I told him what I was making. Throughout the process I let him sample the batter and the frosting, which was readily accepted and happily approved. But when he took that first bite, the response it elicited was better than I could have imagined. In true exhilaration, and in ascending tones, he repeated two words: “Oh WOW!” It made my day knowing I made his. Then he said, “So when we have our Master’s party, you’re making these, right?” Brilliant.
So without further ado, I bring you Gordon’s (High Altitude) Gin & Tonic Cupcakes:
CUPCAKES (makes 24 cupcakes)
- 3 cups Hungarian High Altitude flour (if baking above 5,000 feet, but if not, regular unbleached flour will do)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups Baker’s Sugar (this super fine sugar is phenomenal for baking!)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- The zest from 1 lime
- 1/4 cup gin
- 1/4 cup milk
- The juice from 1 lime
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cupcake pans with paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula between mixing to incorporate everything evenly.
Add in vanilla and lime zest.
Combine the gin, milk and lime juice in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and set aside. (This will curdle, but trust me, it makes the cupcakes so heavenly. It in essence acts as a homemade sour cream.)
Add half of the flour to butter mixture at low speed just until incorporated, and then add the gin-milk-lime juice mixture. Slowly add the remaining flour mixture until just combined.
Scoop 1/3 cup of batter into each liner. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
- 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 3-5 tablespoons gin (I don’t be too shy, you want to be able to taste some of the gin and let it soak into the cupcake)
- The juice from one lime
Whisk together all the glaze ingredients. While the cupcakes are cooling, use a toothpick to poke several holes into the top of the cupcake. Brush the glaze over the tops of each cupcake (may be able to coat twice per cupcake). Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on a cooling rack to cool completely before applying the buttercream.
GIN AND TONIC BUTTERCREAM
- 10 tablespoons salted butter, softened (it does make a difference!)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons gin, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons tonic
- Lime zest for garnish
Cream the butter in a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar, gin and tonic, on low until combined, then increase speed to high until light and fluffy.
Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with lime zest. For added fun, top with miniature marshmallows as ice cubes and a small wedge of lime.