The non-alcoholic Shirley Temple cocktail has a reputation for being super sweet, so it’s no surprise that it translates well into cupcake form. I also really like the grown-up Shirley Temple Black cocktail, which has all the ingredients of the original version, but with a shot of Kahlua (or Campari. Or dark rum, some would argue). So, I decided to make these cupcakes both ways.
The cute little bows on top of the cupcakes are plastic ring birthday party favors. I think they make adorable toppers for Shirley Temple cupcakes. To differentiate the two cupcake flavors, I gave the non-alcoholic cupcakes a pink bow and the Kahlua-flavored cupcakes a black bow.
Honestly, I’m not sure which version I like better. Both are distinctly different and delicious. Grenadine plays a huge role in the flavor of the beautiful pink icing that goes on both types of cupcakes. Most grenadine is flavored with pomegranate or black currant juice, so you can expect a fruity-slash-berry sweet-tart flavor. I used Sprite soda in the cupcake batter, which gives the baked cakes a really subtle flavor that’s hard to put a finger on, but it all works together so very well flavor-wise. If you prefer using ginger-ale in your Shirley Temples, then you can certainly substitute it for the Sprite in the cake batter.
Okay, so this part of the process felt a little deviant, somehow. You literally give the cupcakes a shot of grenadine with a syringe! These flavor-injectors are normally used for injecting marinades into Thanksgiving turkeys, but I love using them to give cupcakes a sweet-hit of flavor in their centers. The syringes are inexpensive, and you can find them online here. Most of the syringes have metal needle-tips, but if you can find one with a plastic needle, those work fine for cupcake injecting and are less dangerous to come across when rifling in your utility drawer.
The Shirley Temple Black cupcakes were treated in the same manner. Instead of grenadine, they each got a shot of Kahlua in the center. These were so good! They might be my favorite of the two. Maybe. It’s hard to say for sure, so more taste-testing is in order (wink).
One thing is for sure, nothing beats biting into one of these and finding that there’s more to offer than just cake inside. The injected syrups keep the cake so moist and flavorful.
An important thing to note: Don’t overfill the cakes with grenadine or Kahlua. I used just one teaspoon in each of my cakes. If you use too much the liquids will completely soak through the bottom of the cupcake liners and then you’ve got a mess on your hands. Or on your pretty white tablecloth.
These are really easy to make, and if you don’t have a flavor-injecting syringe, you can cut a little divot in the tops of each cupcake and drizzle syrup in with a spoon.
When party-time rolls around, I’ll definitely serve these cupcakes alongside their cocktail counterparts. I’ve included the drink recipes in this post if you’d like to do the same.
Shirley Temple Cocktail Cupcakes
- kitchen syringe/injector
- 1/2 cup/113g butter softened
- 1 cup/200g granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 3/4 cups/ 223g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup/122g sour cream
- 1/2 cup/ 4 oz. Sprite soft drink or ginger-ale
- 1/4 cup grenadine
- 1/4 cup Kahlua liqueur
- 1 lb/452g of unsalted butter softened
- 2 lbs one 32 oz. bags/ 453g confectioners’ sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons grenadine or more to taste
- Milk or heavy cream if needed
- 15 maraschino cherries
- White nonpareils for sprinkling
- Line one cupcake pan with 12 paper liners and another cupcake pan with three liners. I used 8 pink liners for the regular Shirley Temple cupcakes and 7 black liners for the Shirley Temple Black cupcakes. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup Sprite soda and 1/2 cup sour cream (mixture will fizz and bubble a little). Add flour and Sprite mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour.
- Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter. Bake for 17-22 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely. When cupcakes are cool, fill a flavor injecting syringe with roughly 1 teaspoon of grenadine. Place the needle in the center of a cupcake and push the plunger as you gently pull the needle up and out of the cupcake. Repeat with 7 more cupcakes. Wash the syringe and repeat process with Kahlua and remaining cupcakes. Set cupcakes aside while you make the frosting.
- Mix together the butter and confectioners’ sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Begin mixing on low speed until crumbly and then increase to high and beat for 5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the grenadine 1 tablespoon at a time; add more grenadine to taste if desired. Beat frosting again for another 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and mix again on the highest setting for 3 minutes.
- If you find the buttercream is too stiff, you may add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is piping consistency. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip, such as Ateco #856. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake in two large swirles and top each with a maraschino cherry. Sprinkle over the white nonpareils.
- Store cupcakes loosely covered in plastic wrap or in a plastic cupcake-keeper.