We Americans love to party. We’ve turned partying into an art form. Give us a reason to celebrate, and we will pick it up and run with it. So it’s no wonder that what started as a local Southwestern celebration of Mexican heritage, culture and tradition has, in recent years, spread across the country and turned into a holiday so huge, it now has more significance here in the U.S. than it does in Mexico. I refer, of course, to Cinco de Mayo. A day originally set aside to commemorate the Mexican Army’s win in a battle against the French, May the 5th is now a day when many of us head to our local Mexican restaurant, order pitchers of margaritas and bottles of Corona, feast on tacos and enchiladas, all while being serenaded by a 3-piece mariachi band.
It’s no surprise that, coming from our closest neighbors to the South, many Mexican traditions have become an inherent part of our culture. Mexican restaurants, for example, from local authentic taquerias to quintessentially American chains like Chili’s to fast food restaurants such as Taco Bell, can be found in just about every neighborhood. In fact, that uniquely American way we have of taking bits of other cultures and melting them with our own gave rise to the perfect culinary blend of both cultures: Tex-Mex cuisine. Just like St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve kind of adopted Cinco de Mayo as our own.
No, we had no part of that Mexican-French battle so many years ago. But honestly, is there a better reason to celebrate the warmer, sunnier, end of winter, promise of summer, first days of May? I don’t think so. I, for one, am counting the days until I can crunch on a spicy, crispy taco or two, dig into a pile of cheesy refried beans, and wash it all down with a gigantic, salt-rimmed, Gold margarita served in a glass the size of a swimming pool. Clichéd? Definitely. But what a great way to celebrate the 5th of May…..or the 6th, or 7th or 8th…….
I found this recipe for margarita cupcakes on the internet a couple of years ago, and have been making them regularly since. I didn’t note the website, but the recipe has been out there for a while. They are by far the favorite of many of my friends, and the recipe itself is a favorite of mine for two reasons: 1) it’s a “cheater” recipe that starts with box mix and 2) well, you’ll find out for yourself….keep reading…
9 0z margarita mix
3 oz tequilla
3/4 oz Grand Marnier, Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
1 box white cake mix
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon lime zest
Mix together the margarita mix, tequila and orange liqueur in a large measuring cup or spouted bowl. Reserve 1 1/4 cups for the cupcake batter and (here comes the best part) drink the rest as a treat while you are baking. I know, right!?!?! These cupcakes truly are Baked Under the Influence!
In a stand mixer, add the margarita mixture (1 1/4 cups), cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil and lime zest. Mix on low for 30 seconds, then at medium speed for 2 minutes.
Fill paper lined muffin tins about 2/3 – 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes to rack to cool completely.
Lime Buttercream Frosting
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon lime zest
mini candy fruit slices (optional)
Beat butter until smooth and creamy. Add sugar, salt and lime juice and zest on low-speed until blended, and then beat at medium/high until light and fluffy. Add a little water or milk if necessary until desired consistency is reached.
Frost cupcakes. Carefully roll the outside edge of each cupcake in decorating sugar and garnish with fruit slice.