Arnold Palmer Cupcakes

One of my dearest friends was planning her wedding recently, as I mentioned in my Macaron post not long ago. I was excited to be a part of it as a bridesmaid, as I've known her for years, and being a part of someone's happiness is a fulfilling experience. I was baking up a storm for her bridal shower, and after macarons, I had to get some cupcakes going!

So then came my predicament. What could I make?! I knew I needed a selection of cupcake choices. But what goes with a tea party? Fresh off the racks from my Bananas Foster Cupcakes of wonder, I decided to try another mix up. Arnold Palmer cupcakes.

What is an Arnold Palmer? I was asked this a couple of times when chatting with others about my idea, so I better just clarify now. An Arnold Palmer is a drink made famous by, well, the golfer Arnold Palmer. It's half lemonade and half tea, and has become so popular, Arizona Tea even canned it.

I started out with my yellow cake recipe, the one that has become my standard, by mixing together flour, white and brown sugars, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Next I added in the milk, oil, butter, and vanilla and mixed it for 2 minutes on medium high using my stand mixer.

I dumped 1 and a half Earl Grey tea bags right into the batter, and added some chia seeds as well. I knew both would soak right into the batter. Regarding the quantity of tea, I had already completed a test run using 1 tea bag, and decided to add another half to give a little bit more flavor. Finally, I added in the eggs and continued beating for 3 minutes. Time matters!

Once I had everything all combined, it was off to the oven. A batch of these makes 12 cupcakes, leaving plenty of opportunity to make some alternate flavors. I also pulled a sneaky move - so that I could sample the flavor without stealing a cupcake, I used a mini cupcake tray to spoon a little bit of batter in and baked that as well. I'm learning some tricks!

Once they were done, they looked a bit like poppy seed muffins!

So how could I make some lemon flavor really pop? The lovely bride to be had already told me she loved filled cupcakes. I chopped up a lemon, then added it to a saucepan with some water and sugar. On medium-low heat, I simmered it until the sugar dissolved, then set it aside to cool.

Having forgotten my cupcake cover at home (oops!) I used a spoon to scoop out some of the cupcake and filled it with the lemon mixture I had created. I made a basic buttercream frosting and added some fresh lemon juice to it. It caused the frosting to thin out slightly, giving the decorated cupcake added smoother surface. I finished it off with some golden sprinkles and there you have it!

So cute and so good. I made 4 different cupcakes overall, including a chocolate with peanut butter frosting, rum cupcake, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch one (recipe to come!). But the tea party special was this Arnold Palmer delight. The chia seeds soaked right in (and can actually be used as an egg replacement, similar to flax seeds). The cupcakes held together well but remained moist, and the frosting ended up with a very pretty sheen after the lemon juice was added. The cake was the superstar here, with a subtle but noticeable tea flavor. It was very Arnold Palmer-like in that regard - it wasn't like drinking a full glass of tea, but like one diluted. With lemonade. :)

The filling meshed well with the frosting and cake, adding a very slight sourness that is just lemon tradition. By itself, I don't think I would have enjoyed it, but with the icing and cake, it really gave a tea cupcake the lemon pop it needed. This was another baking experiment gone right, and I was quite proud to serve all my cupcakes out at the bridal shower!

Arnold Palmer Cupcakes Recipe

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons black tea (1.5 packets)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 eggs

For the filling:
1 lemon, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons 2% or whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice


To make the cake, heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt and mix. Add in milk, vegetable oil, butter, vanilla, tea, and chia seeds and beat using a hand or stand mixer for 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat for 3 minutes. Pour into cake pans sprayed with nonstick baking spray and bake for 20-25 minutes, until you can poke the center of the cake with a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Make the filling by simmering the water, sugar, and lemon together in a small saucepan on medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool, then use a spoon or cupcake corer to scoop out some of the cupcakes. Add filling before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat butter using a mixer for 3-5 minutes in a large mixing bowl, until it is light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and lemon juice, beating between each new addition. Mix until the frosting reaches desired consistency.

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