My week of tequila recipes is continuing, but probably not the way you imagined. Instead of a cocktail, I decided on a cocktail-themed dessert with these Tequila Sunrise Cupcakes. I’m honestly not sure if I have ever had a tequila sunrise cocktail, but that’s okay. I’m perfectly willing to sacrifice the experience of the cocktail for these cupcakes because… cupcakes! I do love boozy baking, and this recipe incorporates everything needed for the tequila sunrise experience: tequila, grenadine, and orange—even a cherry, though it’s not a garnish this time. This is going to be a fun one!
This cupcake is the second in my Boozy Bakes series, and it is one of my favorite college cocktails: the good old tequila sunrise.
There are a good amount of ingredients in this Tequila Sunrise Cupcakes recipe, but that wasn’t a surprise at all. Freshly made pastries tend to be that way. I already had the bottle of tequila leftover from my last post, so that was taken care of.
I also had several of the other items on hand, like the grenadine that was sitting near the tequila on my bar. Flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder were all in my pantry. I even had some powdered sugar and unsalted butter, but I had to top them off. That left a few basics for my shopping list like eggs, sour cream, an orange, and cherries.
The rest of the items I needed were special orders. I only found orange, almond, and lemon extract at local grocery stores. Close, but not the orange extract this recipe needs. Hello Amazon!
A few days later, I noticed I was missing something else: food coloring. It’s not in the ingredients list, but it is mentioned in the next to last step. Pink sounded optional, and the grenadine might have done the job. However, the orange did not sound optional, so it was back to Amazon for both.
I always like to break down long recipes, and I did that here. Not that there were many parts, but it helps me organize. This recipe had three parts: cupcakes, frosting, and assembly, and the total time listed was 47 minutes. Here’s how making Tequila Sunrise Cupcakes went for me:
- 23 minutes to. prep the cupcakes
- 20 minutes to bake
- 30 minutes to make the frosting / cool the cupcakes
- 10 minutes to frost
- 1 hour 23 minutes total
Ideally, I would have done this all on the same day, but things didn’t work out that way.
Every time I bake, I’m glad I have a stand mixer. It sure comes in handy when you have to mix up cake batter and buttercream frosting! It zipped through this recipe, and I had my cupcakes in the oven in 23 minutes.
Tip: The recipe lists a baking time of 15-17 minutes, but my cupcakes didn’t pass the toothpick test until the 20-minute mark.
It ended up working out well because I had to wash and dry my stand mixer’s beaters, bowl, and an extra mixing bowl while the cupcakes baked. During that time, I was able to get it all done and get the ingredients ready for the frosting.
Frosting the Tequila Sunrise Cupcakes
Frosting these cupcakes was a subject of much internal debate for me. I have a u-shaped petal piping tip that I have never used, and the author used a petal tip in the recipe’s photos. That would be cool to try even though it might take a while to make each petal.
However, a star nozzle is also mentioned, and I thought that would be really pretty with the two-color frosting. What to do? My piping bag kit came with both types, and I settled on the closed star tip after a lot of thought.
I thought that would be my only problem with the frosting, but I was wrong. It took me two tries to get it to work, but it was partially my fault. Here’s what happened.
A Frustrating First Try
While my freshly baked cupcakes cooked and absorbed the tequila I brushed on, I got started on the frosting. I’ve made buttercream before, but I have never tried a two-color frosting.
I followed the recipe and ended up with bowls of pastel pink and orange/peach frosting. The orange took about 30 drops of orange food coloring, but the texture seemed fine. Then I added the 1/4 cup of grenadine to the other half of the buttercream. It turned it pink, but it also thinned it quite a bit. I decided not to add food coloring in case it thinned it more.
Loading both colors into the piping bag wasn’t perfect, but they ended up mostly separated. And since the pink frosting was so thin, I decided to pop the loaded piping bag into the refrigerator to thicken it up.
This is where things started going wrong. I came back about 30-45 minutes later, and I immediately noticed the pink frosting was separating. I’ve had that happen before, and the frosting just melts right off the cupcakes.
Still, I tried to pipe the frosting, but the orange had thickened up too much. I ended up bursting the piping bag by the fourth cupcake. Ugh! I had quite the mess to clean up, and I was really annoyed at myself for chilling the frosting and causing the problem.
A Successful Second Attempt
I had to send my husband to the grocery store for more butter and powdered sugar, so I couldn’t try frosting the cupcakes until the next day. I was worried they might get soggy because I had brushed them with tequila, but they were fine. My cupcake carrier even kept them nice and fresh.
Tip: This time, I made some changes. First, I doubled the amount of frosting. My cupcake piping tips are very large, and they use a lot of frosting.
Tip: The next change was to the pink frosting. This time, I used half the amount of grenadine, added an extra 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and used about 10 drops of pink food coloring. It worked a treat, and this time, the pink frosting was cherry perfection!
I followed the recipe as written for the orange frosting and used about 60 drops of food coloring (don’t forget that I doubled each batch/color).
Once the piping bag was loaded, it was showtime. The first few were practice cupcakes, and it took me about four to get the hang of it. But no worries because I had plenty of frosting. I even went back, removed the frosting from the first few, added it back to the bag, and re-piped them. The effect was beautiful, and I even had a little extra frosting leftover.