I should be packing. And organizing. And throwing out things I haven’t touched in the past four years since moving to Chicago. I shouldn’t be blogging and baking and coming up with new recipes. I shouldn’t be running to Trader Joe’s to pick up bags of ingredients. Or setting up my white boards in front of the window to wait for the light to turn just right.

And yet I am. This space brings normalcy to my life. It gives me rhythm. It makes me feel like an introvert who’s just spent the whole day to herself. Or like the little girl who’s just learned how to ride her bike.

Oddly enough, I don’t like to write. I don’t like to take pictures. But when food is involved—I love to write, and I love to take pictures. It’s an incredibly strange phenomenon.

So while I should be packing, I’m perfecting this margarita cupcake recipe. (Hiccup) And adding an extra twist to it that I’ll post later this week. Packing. You’ll still be here tomorrow. But this cupcake wont.

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Margarita Cupcakes

  • Yield: two 9-inch round cakes or 24 cupcakes 1x


  • Dry
  • 1 1/2 c. + 3 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. potato starch
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • Liquid
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. whole milk
  • 1 tbsp. tequila
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Creaming
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. turbinado
  • 1 tbsp. lime zest
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 yolk


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Set rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Set out ingredients and equipment. Sift flour. Measure dry ingredients into separate mixing bowl. Add flour and whisk together. Measure liquid ingredients into a separate bowl, stir, and set aside. Place butter, cream cheese, sugars, and zest in bowl of standing mixer. Crack eggs and yolk into a separate bowl and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugars, and zest on the lowest speed for 3-5 minutes.
  4. With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the dry mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move quickly through the step to avoid overworking the batter. Don’t wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next. This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.
  6. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl all the way down. Don’t miss the clumps of ingredients hiding on the bottom. Mix on medium-high speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batter’s structure.
  7. Prepare the pans. For cupcakes, line the pan with paper liners. For 9-inch round cakes, line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Do not spray the sides of the pan. (This helps to keep your cakes from doming in the middle. The cake is able to crawl up the side as it bakes and maintain an even shape.)
  8. Distribute batter evenly in cake pans or cupcake liners with 2-ounce trigger release ice-cream scoop. For the cakes, bake about 28 minutes. For the cupcakes, bake about 22 minutes.
  9. Once the top of the cake doesn’t jiggle in the center, test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the middle of the cake. The center should be an even blonde color and the edges should be just beginning to pull away from the pan. When the skewer shows a touch of crumbs or comes out clean, the cake is done.
  10. Cool cakes for 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Use a small off-set spatula to loosen the cake from the rim of the pan. Carefully invert and remove parchment paper. Allow to cool completely before icing.
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Margarita Italian Meringue Buttercream


  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 c. extra-fine sugar
  • 1/4 cold water
  • 4 sticks butter
  • 1/4 c. lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. tequila


  1. Watch this video tutorial first. Set out ingredients and equipment. Separate the egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Measure 1 cup of sugar and the water into a 1-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Gently stir to combine. Measure the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar into a separate bowl. Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and set aside.
  2. To make the sugar syrup, place the candy thermomometer in the sauce pan and heat the mixture over medium-high heat. Partially cover with lid to capture the evaporating water—this helps to moisten the sides of the saucepan to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
  3. With the mixer on high speed, begin whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks. When the peaks are stiff, you have a meringue.
  4. Keep the mixture running and pour the 1/4 cup of sugar into the meringue.
  5. Raise the heat under the sugar syrup to bring the syrup to 245° if it’s not there already. When it has reached 245°, remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup into the meringue, with the mixer running. (It helps to hold the pan just above the height of the mixer. Pour confidently trying to hit the meringue and not the side of the bowl.)
  6. After 1 to 2 minutes, reduce the speed of the mixture to medium for 6-8 minutes or until meringue is cooled. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the mixer speed to high for 2 to 4 minutes or until the butter is fully incorporated. (Buttercream may look soupy. If so, keep mixing, it will eventually thicken as everything comes to the same temperature. If not, pop it in the fridge for 10 minutes or so and mix again.)
  7. Add lime juice and tequila. Mix well to incorporate.
  8. Ice cooled cupcakes or cake.
  9. Garnish Make candied lime peels as pictured. Recipe from Martha Stewart. Or make candied lime slices from Pure Vege. Add lime curd for extra love.


• Save remaining yolks for the lime curd and the white for the buttercream.

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Recipe adapted from Cake Love by Warren Brown.

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