Seersucker. Popped collars. Madras plaid. Ridiculously ostentatious hats with brims wide enough to provide SPF 95 and more exotic plumage than the boa closet at the Moulin Rouge. On set at the Real Housewives of Arlington County? Close. It's time for Gold Cup!
A year ago I was naive to the ways of the annual Gold Cup steeplechase in The Plains, Virginia (Heck, I couldn't have even told you what a steeplechase was) and I'm typically reluctant to leave my bubble of Washington, DC and the 'burbs of northern Virginia, so a trek 50 miles out to "the country" was unlikely. But, last year I let my friends talk me into attending, and I'm so glad I did because it is an amazingly great time. Ostensibly, there is a steeplechase--a type of distance horse racing popular in Europe including diverse fence and ditch obstacles--but most come for the people watching. And the mimosas at 9am. Even though this year's forecast called for a bleak 60% chance of showers all day, we eagerly packed up our tent, tarp, table, chairs, umbrellas and, most importantly, copious amounts of pink wine sangria.
For this year's race I knew I needed something that was more than just an easily transported and handled picnic dessert, and I hoped to incorporate some of the stereotypical flavors popular at this type of event. I'm sure that, after a couple of months, you also know that I couldn't go any longer without a post dedicated to cupcakes so, I bring you two of the greatest cupcake recipes to ever encapsulate the sheer snobbery of a garishly over the top aristocratic sporting event: Mint Julep and Lemon Iced Tea cupcakes.
These recipes would be great for any warm weather function and don't worry about the alcohol involved--as I wrote in my Wine Cake post, the alcohol actually bakes out as the cupcakes cook, leaving only the flavor. I was worried about the taste being too strong (not really a bourbon girl myself...) but they weren't strong at all and the flavor combo was great. As for the tea cupcakes, I'd also recommend them as a gift for any tea lovers in your life. Experiment with your favorite tea (fruit flavors come through very well) and pair with a complimentary buttercream--the possibilities are endless!
Mint Julep Cupcakes
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
2 3/4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Jack Daniels (or other whiskey/bourbon)
1/2 cup Creme de Menthe
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mint extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 350F, and grease or line 36 cupcake cups.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the extracts, salt, baking powder, and 1 3/4 cups of the flour.
3. Add the milk and liquors to the batter, then the rest of the flour. Mix as little as possible, just until the batter comes together.
4. Divide evenly among the cupcake cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool.
5. To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar, salt, extracts and melted butter. (I think this works best with a stand mixer with the whip attachment or a hand-held mixer.) Add milk very slowly until the texture is right for piping.
6. When the cupcakes are completely cook, pipe or spread the icing on top and enjoy!
Iced Tea Cupcakes*
1 cup milk
4-6 iced tea teabags
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with paper liners. In a small saucepan heat milk until almost boiling, add tea bags, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. When ready to use, stir tea bags and thoroughly squeeze to insure as much tea is dissolved in the milk as possible.
In a large bowl, whisk together oil, yogurt, sugar vanilla, zest and tea mixture until all yogurt lumps disappear. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix until large lumps disappear; some small lumps are ok. Fill liners full and bake 22-25 minutes.
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a small bowl, cream the butter and add the flour in 1/2 cup additions. After each addition ad a splash of lemon juice and beat well with a mixer. Add vanilla and beat for another 3-5 minutes until smooth, creamy and fluffy.
*These cupcakes can be made as a vegan recipe by using soy milk and yogurt and using 1/4 cup each of shortening and margarine in place of butter for the frosting.