Deliciously boozy gin and tonic cupcakes! Fun and easy recipe for light and soft sponge cake infused with gin, soaked in lime, gin & tonic sugar syrup, and topped with smooth and creamy butter icing flavoured with gin! It's a classic cocktail in a form of a cupcake!
You can use this recipe to make 12 cupcakes or one small cake, making it a perfect bake for any adults gatherings or get togethers!
Tips for making this recipe
What I love about this recipe is how quick and easy it is to make. These cupcakes would make a perfect treat at any adults get-togethers or celebrations, from birthdays to weddings. Whether it's a summer garden party or December Christmas do, your guests would love this little boozy treat!
The recipe consists of 3 parts. It starts with making simple cupcake batter infused with gin and tonic water, followed by syrup and butter icing. Here's what you need to know, to ensure your cupcakes turn out perfect:
- Room temperature ingredients - Make sure to bring butter, eggs and tonic to room temperature, about an hour before making it. This step ensures that ingredients mix well together and create an even bake. In my One Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes recipe I explain what 'room temperature' butter should look and feel like, so feel free to read that post, if you'd like.
2. Right oven temperature - You will be surprised how inaccurate oven temperatures can be. Invest in an oven thermometer to ensure the temperature for your bakes is always right. They're not expensive to buy and will last for years. When the temperature is too high, your cupcakes will more likely end up uneven, with dark crust and a 'hump' on top. When it's too low, they will be too pale, often with hard crust developing on top.
3. Avoid over-filling the cupcake cases with batter - When making cupcakes, always aim for ¾ of the case to be filled with cake batter. That way they will have just enough room to rise. If you over-fill them, you are more likely to end up with muffin tops.
4. Cooling - Allow these tonic cupcakes to cool completely before topping with frosting. If you attempt to pipe the butter icing on a cupcake that is still warm, it will melt and turn into a puddle.
How to make these cupcakes
Start by creaming caster sugar and unsalted butter together. Use the hand held or stand mixer on medium speed, and cream them together for about 2-3 minutes, until pale and fluffy.
Next, add the lime zest and mix again on a medium speed, until it is combined. After that, you will beat in the eggs. Add one egg at a time, along with 1 Tbsp of raising flour, to prevent the batter from curdling. Beat well after each addition.
Using an electric mixer or spatula, fold in the remaining flour, followed by gin and tonic. The batter will be smooth and slightly thick. Use an ice cream scoop or two spoons to scoop out the cake batter and divide it between the cases, ensuring not to over-fill the cases.
Bake the gin and tonic cupcakes for 17-20 minutes, until they have risen and are springy to the touch.
While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the tonic syrup and butter icing. To make syrup, you will simply combine all the ingredients with lime juice in a small saucepan and cook it for about 5-10 minutes. You want the sugar to fully dissolve and the mixture to become thick and syrupy.
For the buttercream, beat the softened butter with icing sugar for about 5 minutes. It should be smooth, thick and creamy. Once combined, add gin and mix again. The longer you beat this mixture for, the creamier and lighter in appearance it will become.
When the cupcakes are baked, remove them from the oven and brush with syrup. Place them on the wire rack to cool completely, before topping with icing, some lime zest and lime slices. For an extra-fun look, add trimmed paper straws.
Make ahead and storing instructions
Each step of this recipe can be made ahead. Cupcakes can be made a day ahead and stored in the air tight container at room temperature.
The syrup can also be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Butter icing can be prepared up to a day in advance. It will also keep well in the fridge, but you will need to bring it to room temperature before using it.
Frosted cupcakes can be stored for up to 2 days at room temperature. To extend their life, you may want to store them in the fridge, for up to 4 days. They will become harder and start to dry out with time.
Scaling this recipe
This recipe makes 12 cupcakes or one small (23 cm) cake. You can also double the recipe, by simply doubling the ingredients from the recipe card. Same goes for scaling it down. Reduce the ingredients by half, to bake a smaller batch.
Can I make them gluten-free?
Yes! I haven't tested it myself, but I would recommend using a good quality gluten-free self-raising flour. As gluten-free bakes are often a bit more fragile, add ¼ tsp of xanthan gum to add more stability to the cupcakes.
Self-raising flour substitute
If you don't have any self-raising flour, you can use plain flour instead. Use the same amount of plain flour as the recipe calls for, but add 2 tsp of baking powder to it.
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Gin and tonic cupcakes
- 12-hole cupcake tin
- hand-held electric mixer
- piping bag with nozzle
- 12 paper cupcake liners
- paper straws (optional)
- 175 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 175 g golden caster sugar see notes for alternatives
- 2 medium limes zest only
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 200 g self- raising flour see notes for alternatives
- 3 tbsp gin
- 3 tbsp tonic water
For the syrup:
- 50 g caster or granulated sugar
- ½ medium lime juice only
- 3 tbsp gin
- 3 tbsp tonic water
For icing butter:
- 150 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 370 g icing/ powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp gin
To decorate (optional):
- 1 medium lime zest only
- 1 medium lime slices
- Preheat the oven to 175 C (160 C fan). Line 12-hole cupcake tin with paper liners and set aside.
- Place butter and sugar in a large bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat together until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add lime zest and mix again to combine. Add eggs, one at a time, along with 1 Tbsp of flour between each addition (it will prevent the batter from curdling), and mix on low speed until well combined. Fold in the remaining flour, followed by gin and tonic and mix together to combine, until you have smooth batter.
- Divide the cupcake batter between the cases (fill ¾ of each cupcake case with batter, leaving enough room for them to rise) and bake for 17- 20 minutes until the cupcakes have risen and are springy to the touch. Let them cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and place on the cooling rack.
- While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the syrup. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes, until all the sugar dissolved and it becomes a bit thicker. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Brush the cupcakes with the syrup (you can also dip the top of each cupcake in the syrup, or spoon it on top of each cupcake) and set aside, while you prepare the butter icing.
- To make butter icing, place the butter and icing sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low speed until well combined. Add 2 Tbsp of gin, and mix again until you have smooth, thick and creamy icing. The longer you beat it, the smoother and lighter in appearance it will be. Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with the nozzle (I used Wilton 1 D) and pipe it on top of each cupcake. Decorate the cupcakes with some lime zest, lime slices and paper straws.
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- If you don't have any self-rising flour, you can use plain/ all-purpose flour. Use the same amount as the recipe calls for, but add 2 tsp of baking powder to it.
- I used 8 Tbsp of gin in total in this recipe, but you can adjust this amount to your tasting.
- If you have no limes, you can also use lemons in this recipe. Replace the lime zest with lemon zest, and lime juice with lemon juice.
- Use lower shelf of the oven, instead of the middle one, if your oven has a tendency to over-bake.
- This recipe was adapted from Baking Mad
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