February 14th….yup, you guessed it…It is Valentine’s Day. Does everyone know what amazing dish they’re making for their sweeties to celebrate the day? I tell you, I think I’ve got a real winner here with these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes. The husband loves a good G&T. The two places which he ranks as making the best G&T’s out there are the Slippbarinn in the Marina Hotel in Reykjavik Iceland (kind of difficult to get there for us…) and Saison in good old Richmond Virginia (Dangerously close to us if you know what I mean!). Although each version of this classic cocktail has very different flavor profiles, they both share the use of grapefruit juice and garnish in their mix rather than the traditional lime. So that is what I did here. Bring on the grapefruit I say. Wow! These boozy little cupcakes are just perfect.
So refreshing with bold citrus flavors and floral gin notes. And I should also mention that I frosted them with a pink grapefruit/gin swiss meringue buttercream frosting. Yeah, swiss meringue frosting rules. So fluffy, so light. It is everything you could ever want in a frosting.
It is actually strange for me to say that recently I am really into grapefruit. I absolutely hated it as a kid and was at a loss as to why anyone would eat one. Can’t get enough of it now. I’m even sipping on a grapefruit flavored fizzy water as I write this. And G&T’s are also something I never cared for in the past. To me drinking any kind of gin was like licking a Christmas tree. But my opinion has definitely changed since I took a taste of the husband’s G&T at Saison. I couldn’t wait to order my own! Saison is our favorite restaurant in Richmond, which says a lot because Richmond is just chock full of fantastic eateries. A real foodie destination I tell you, but it is actually pretty difficult to tempt us away from Saison when we are in town. Not only has every morsel of food we have ever gotten there been delicious, but their cocktails are also simply superb – especially their G & T’s. One of the things that makes Saison’s G&T so remarkable is that it is a hopped G&T. They actually make their own hopped tonic. Now they used to sell little bottles of this magical tonic, but their G&T is such a popular cocktail for them, that they had trouble making enough tonic for both the bar and take out market. Here is where we totally lucked out. We happened to be there last week and the bartender had just made up a brand new batch of tonic. Not only were we able to enjoy it in a Hopped Gin and Tonic or two…we were also actually able to buy a little bit of the hopped tonic to take home with us. I used it in these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes. That’s right…the ones we are scarfing down here are actually Pink Grapefruit Hopped Gin & Tonic cupcakes! OMG! So delicious! The hopped tonic is slightly bitter but also citrusy which pairs so well with the sweet grapefruit notes. Now I know not everyone can get ahold of that amazing elixir. Like I said, we really lucked out. But you can use regular tonic water and the results will still be stellar!
So I don’t know if your Valentine is anything like mine….he is not so much into chocolate, but loves fruit desserts. And he loves G&T’s, so these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes are a Valentine’s Day dessert match made in heaven for him. I’d wager you’d love them too. And don’t forget, if you are ever in Richmond, you must grab a bite to eat as well as a Hopped G&T at Saison! Happy Valentine’s Day!
Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes
recipe inspired by: Globe Scoffers
For the Cupcakes:
- 180 grams unsalted butter
- 180 grams caster (superfine) sugar
- Zest of 1/2 large pink grapefruit
- 180 grams self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 4 Tablespoons tonic water
- 2 Tablespoons Gin (plus more for brushing over cupcakes)
For the Frosting:
- 5 large (150 grams) egg whites
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 2 – 4 Tablespoons Gin
- grapefruit zest for garnish
For the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line muffin tins with cupcakes papers.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and grapefruit zest until light and fluffy.
Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside.
Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Add the flour/baking powder and mix until it is just incorporated. Take care not to over mix.
Stir in the tonic water and gin, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Divide the mixture between the cupcake wells. I use an ice cream scoop.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool cupcakes on a metal rack. While they are still warm, poke several holes in each cake with a skewer. Brush liberally with gin and let cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting:
Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Make a double boiler by placing the mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If the buttercream curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth. If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes before continuing mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add the vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
Add the grapefruit juice and gin slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and mix until well combined.
If you would like to make this frosting ahead of time, keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature and rewhip in the mixer with the paddle attachment before using.
When you are ready to frost the cupcakes, place frosting in pastry bag fitted with whatever tip you desire and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Garnish with grapefruit zest and wedges as you prefer.
Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
Useful links for Kitchen Tools and Ingredients for Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes:
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale
Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer
Oxo Good Grips Ice Cream Scoop
King Arthur Self Rising Flour – You can also find this on Amazon, but have to purchase several bags of it.
India Tree Superfine Caster Baking Sugar
Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Tonic Trio – I have never actually tried these, but if you are into the idea of artisan tonics these might be fun to experiment with. Just add soda water to these syrups for a unique flavor profile.