What do you get the woman who has everything and can now run for president? Cupcakes, of course! Well, and a sheep, but that's a different story. These were created from a swirl of good things that collided together - cake flour cupcakes, lime curd, fabulous crazy flour frosting, and colored sugar sprinkles.
The cupcakes are from Swan's Down Cake Flour, and were on the radar because my mom remembered how good they were when her neighbor made them for her when she was young(er). They are remarkably moist and tender, unlike some cupcakes which can turn out dry and hockey-puck hard. It's a fairly strange assembly process, starting out with creaming butter and sugar, then adding flour, egg, buttermilk, salt, baking soda, vanilla extract, and hot water, in that order, to form a suspiciously runny batter. The original recipe is here, and you would never believe it could work, but not only does it work, it works well. I used cupcake liners, which was a good call because the cupcakes are fragile and the liners made extraction infinitely easier. I filled each liner up about 3/4 of the way, and added lemon extract to the batter along with the vanilla.
After they were cold, I used a melon baller to scoop out the inside and filled it with lime curd from the Williams-Sonoma Art of Preserving cookbook. I had a slightly less-than-optimal experience with the Meyer Lemon-Ginger marmalade, where a recipe mistake resulted in almost 3 times the anticipated volume of product, but the preserve tasted good. How, though, could 2 pounds of sliced lemon plus 8 cups of water possibly produce 8 cups of sliced lemon plus water? Anyhow, the lime curd recipe turned out just fine, and is quite a refreshingly tangy change from lemon curd I would recommend it to anyone.
Lime Curd from the Art of Preserving by Rick Feld and Rebecca Courchesne
1 cup sugar
6 ounces butter (2 tablespoons less than one entire stick), cubed
Zest 3 limes and juice enough of them to measure 1/2 cup. Whisk the eggs and sugar, then add the lime juice and zest and put into a double boiler over a pot of simmering water (or just whisk it all in the double boiler before you put it on the stove). Stir constantly and add one cube of butter at a time, stirring until that cube is almost melted. After all the butter has been incorporated, continue cooking and stirring until the curd thickens to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 more minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Strain the curd through a fine mesh strainer, using a spoon to squeeze out all the curd from the lime zest and bits. Put it into sterilized jars and store in the refrigerator. Shelf life quoted in the cookbook is 2 weeks, but I suspect it can last longer. I will investigate freezing and defrosting.
When completely cool, scoop the curd into the hollow of each dissected cupcake, just up to the top of the cupcake and not above, or it will be challenging to spread the frosting on without squashing it all over. Feel free to eat the discarded cupcake innards at this point.
The frosting is a crazy cooked flour and milk recipe from Tasty Kitchen, called, appropriately enough, 'That's the Best Frosting I've Ever Had' frosting. It is quite remarkably good, very fluffy and creamy. Super-easy. Fool-proof, even. I am imagining this in a whoopie pie, and it would be right at home. The only problem, and this is a bit of a problem, is that it does not maintain its fluffy glossy appearance with prolonged storage. If it sits overnight its looks start to go and it gets a grainy cast. It still tastes just fine, but the looks are definitely not as good. So, make it, eat it, don't let it sit around too long. Not really a problem considering how tasty it is. I added lemon extract along with the vanilla.
FYI - the recipe found here makes enough to generously frost 12 modestly sized cupcakes and still have about 1 cup left over.
Frost away, taking care not to squoosh out the lime curd. I developed a technique after the first few that was moderately successful - take a small amount of frosting and build a dam around the outside, then spread that across the top to cover the curd, then add more to the top. Sprinkle with colorful decorations of your choice, and there you go - you can run for president too.