Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

The last few vacations Shane and I have taken together have been a blast, like insane amounts of fun crammed into our days from the time we woke up until we crashed into bed late at night. A trip to Vegas a few summers ago, and then two visits to Disney World in a six-month span (yes, we are crazy obsessed with Disney). Relaxing would probably be the last word I’d use to describe any of them, however. You know that feeling when you walk in the door from vacation and feel like you need another vacation to recover from the first one? Yeah, that.

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

We resolved the next one would be different. Today we’re making it happen. There are two chairs on a beach in Mexico with our names on them and for the next six days we’re going to eat tacos, drink margaritas, sleep in, swim in the crystal blue water, and read so many books. I can already feel the relaxation washing over me :) I’m not going to leave you hanging, posting will continue as usual, but if I’m slow to respond to your questions or emails, you know why.

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

Ok, let’s get to the good stuff. You know what’s even better than key lime pie? Key lime pie cupcakes! Honestly, key lime pie has never really been my favorite, but I’ve yet to meet a cupcake I didn’t like so it was an easy decision to go that route with my precious key limes. Also, just my personal opinion, but cupcakes are infinitely cuter than pie, plus easier to share too.

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

We’re hitting on all the major components of the pie, you won’t miss a thing. At the base of each cupcake is a graham cracker crust. It’s topped with a buttery, yellow cupcake that’s tender but sturdy enough to be filled. Remember the key lime curd we made yesterday? Yep, you guessed it – this is where it ended up. Each cupcake is filled with a dollop of the curd and then finished with a generous swirl of whipped cream on top. Pie and cupcake in one, this dessert is the best of both worlds!

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes
crust adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, cupcake adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, frosting from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Crust
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6 sheets)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
pinch salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cupcakes
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons key lime zest
1 1/2 cups (7.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream (light is fine), at room temperature
1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Key Lime Curd Filling: recipe here

Whipped Cream Frosting
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.

To make the crust: In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and toss until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Place about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each liner and use the bottom of a glass to press into an even layer. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the crust is set. Transfer the pans to wire racks to cool while you make the cupcake batter. Maintain oven temperature.

To make the cupcakes: Combine the sugar and lime zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the mixer bowl and mix briefly on low speed to combine. Add the butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla to the bowl and beat on medium speed until the batter is uniform, smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl then give the batter a few final turns with a rubber spatula to ensure all of the ingredients are well combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the liners, filling each about 3/4-full. Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes, then remove them to the rack to cool completely.

To fill the cupcakes: Use a small paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece from the center of each cupcake. Fill the center of each cupcake with about 1 tablespoon of the key lime curd, then replace the top portion of the cone (you’ll need to slice off the tip).

To make the frosting: In a medium bowl, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until the cream holds stiff peaks – be careful not to overbeat or the whipped cream will be grainy! Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip. Pipe frosting into a swirl on each cooled cupcake – take care to cover the cone you cut out earlier for filling. Garnish with key lime slices, if desired.

Makes 12 cupcakes