The big flower pot of mint I planted last year on the back patio made a surprise comback. I’m so happy because I love using it as a fresh garnish on spring pies and tarts. Like most things in our back yard it’s growing at rapid pace. Flowers are budding (weeds are too) and all of a sudden I remember that we’re almost at the end of April. Next month brings us all kinds of happy celebrations.
I made these cupcakes with two May events in mind. The first is Mother’s Day (May 14th), and the second is the Kentucky Derby (May 6th). Both are worthy of pretty buttercream roses and toasts with mint julep cupcakes.
The mint julep cupcake batter gets a big splash of bourbon and creme de menthe before being baked. The bourbon holds the most dominant notes in the baked cupcakes with soft caramel and oak flavors and mint faintly lingers in the background. It’s nice. The creme de menthe I had on hand was green, so my cupcakes turned out pale green. I think next time I might use the clear variety, although these are pretty cute!
It’s been a while since I’ve piped any kind of flowers, but someone on Twitter recently asked if I’d do a tutorial. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy piping roses. It’s an easier technique than making fondant roses (and some would argue tastier). My technique is far from perfect and as usual, my roses turned out like snowflakes – no two alike! But I believe it’s the subtle differences that makes a batch of rose cupcakes charming and more representative of nature.
There are a few different techniques for piping roses but this one works for me. I like big ruffled cabbage roses on cupcakes, and if you make your buttercream a little thicker than usual the petal tip will ruffle the frosting as it is piped. I hope the video below will help you to see that it’s not as difficult as it looks. You’ll need a few piping accessories – namely two large petal piping tips (mine was #150, but Wilton #104 is the most widely available) and a couple of piping bags.
Here are a few more pictures and tips!
Always pipe with the thin end of the petal tip up (skyward).
Pipe a center bud to get started. It doesnt’ have to be perfectly bud-shaped.
Pipe petals around the bud using half circle motions – or pretend like you’re piping a rainbow.
For a more realistic rose, use two shades of the same color buttercream. Start with the darker hue for the center of the rose and use the lighter shade on the outer petals.
As you pipe half circles, be sure to overlap the petals. As you travel outward make your half circles slightly bigger and longer.
Tah-dah! Now you can present a bouquet of rose cupcakes!
As I said before, these would be great for mom on Mother’s Day. I also think these mint julep cupcakes would be perfect for a Kentucky Derby party. Derby roses are always red, but I do not enjoy the flavor of red gel food color in my buttercream, especially if you have to use a large amount (as you’d have to here). Even the ‘No Taste Red’ still has some metallic flavor. I think this coral-pink version is mighty fine stand-in and will evoke the feeling of regal derby garlands.
Mint Julep Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup 114g unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup 200g granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 3/4 cups 210g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup 112g sour cream
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons 90ml bourbon
- 2 tablespoons crème de menthe
- 1 cup 226g unsalted butter, softened
- 6 cups 760g confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
- Heavy cream
- Pink gel food color
- Orange gel food color
- Make the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
- 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 sour cream, bourbon, and crème de menthe. Add flour and bourbon mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour. The batter will be thick. Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter. Bake for 17-22 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting: In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners’ sugar on low speed. If making the piped buttercream roses, add milk or cream a little at a time until the mixture is firm and thick. You should be able to pick the frosting up with a spatula and turn it over without the frosting falling off of the spatula. Beat on high 3 minutes. Add mint extract and beat again. Divide the frosting in half and tint one half a pale coral color by adding 1-2 drops of each gel food color. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with #150 (or Wilton 104) petal decorator tip. Tint the remaining frosting a more intense coral color with 4-6 drops of each gel food color. Transfer to a separate piping bag fitted with the #150 (or Wilton #104) petal decorator tip. Pipe buttercream roses on cooled cupcakes per the instructions in the blog post. Use the instructional video for reference, if needed.
- If not piping the buttercream roses, omit the pink and orange food color. Add a drop of green food color for pale mint green frosting color, if desired. You may thin the frosting with additional heavy cream so that it is easily spreadable. Spread frosting on top of cooled cupcakes.