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Champagne Cupcakes with Grapefruit Curd

  I sat down so many times to start writing this post.  I typed out the recipe, chose my photos, and then started a sentence- only to be eaten up by the unfeeling Mr. Backspace.

  I wondered, how can I make this post beautiful?  Should I (can I?) paint a picture, like Elissa?  Draw you in with a story, like Kaitlin?  Pull out the wit and real-life talk, like Joy?  Play up the sarcasm and make you guffaw, like Yammie?

  I finally caught myself.  How about I just be me?

  Laugh, shrug it off.  I didn't just totally doubt my capabilities here, did I?  Ok, yeah, I did.  It sucked.  And these cupcakes had to suffer weeks of being a lonely "draft" because of it.  In the mean time, I decided to screw up a tart and attempt to wax poetry.

  Just consider yourselves lucky that things are working out now.

 Now, I'm not any of those girls I mentioned above, and if I was...well, things just wouldn't be as special.  I think I'll write like Ellen today.

  And you came here for cupcakes.  Let's talk!

  First off, this batter is heaven.  Sheer heaven.   It's rich, fluffy, and dripping with champagne.  Plus, I just adore sour cream batters.  Don't freak if your cakes bubble up somewhat in the oven, that's just the alcohol throwing a little party.  A bit of frosting and no one will ever know!

  Oh...the frosting.

  If concentrated champagne oozing off of a mound of creamed butter and sugar isn't enough to convince you that this frosting is amazing, then clearly I need to work on my photo-taking skills.

  Sounds lovely, right?  You've got a booze-y vanilla cupcake and a spiked, fluffy frosting.  But, that's a lot of sugar and champagne, right?  You need a little something to complement it...a bit of tartness, if you will.  Enter grapefruit curd.

  But now, unless you're already quite familiar with the cone method, you might be wondering how exactly that curd snuck in there.  I've given instructions within the recipe, but sometimes, you need a visual.

  1. We have here a cooled cupcake, and a small, sharp paring knife.
  2. Take your knife, and cut out a cone-shaped wedge from the center of the cupcake- taking care not to cut all the way to the bottom.
  3. Cut the top off your cone, reserving it to place back on the cupcake.  Also, those little wedges leftover are perfectly bite-size...just sayin.
  4. Fill the cupcake with as much curd as you can fit!  It depends on how big you cut your holes.  I could fit a little over a teaspoon in mine.  Just leave some room to replace the cupcake top.
  5. Replace the cupcake top.  And you're done!  Frost and decorate as you so desire.

  Speaking of inspirational ladies, I made these cupcakes as a little contribution to a house show I went to with my sister, featuring Danielle at the Sandwich and Carly Baer

  Holy lyrics.  That's all I have to say about that.  Well, that, and they liked my cupcakes :)

Champagne Cupcakes with Grapefruit Curd
Yield: 17 cupcakes

Ingredients for the grapefruit curd:
  • 2 teaspoons grapefruit zest (from about 2 grapefruit)
  • 2/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice  
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces  
  • Red gel food coloring, if desired

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup champagne, prosecco or your choice of sparkling wine  

Ingredients for the frosting:
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons champagne or prosecco, divided
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar 

To make the grapefruit curd, whisk together the zest, grapefruit juice, sugar, lemon juice, and egg yolks in a heatproof bowl.  Place over simmering water (making sure the water isn't in direct contact with the bowl) and cook until thickened, whisking frequently (it will take upwards of 10 minutes).  To check if the curd is thick enough, dip a spoon or rubber spatula in the curd.  If it comes out with a thin coat, it's ready.  Strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids.  Whisk in the butter until combined.  Add a smidge of red gel food coloring, if desired.  Let cool to room temperature, then chill thoroughly in the fridge.  Overnight is best.

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line cupcake pans with liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and mix to combine.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and champagne.  Things'll get fizzy and stuff, no worries.  With the mixer on low, add the flour and champagne mixtures alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Fill the cupcake liners with about 1/4 cup of batter, taking care not to fill more than 2/3 of the way full.  Bake for 17-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  (A couple of my cupcakes fizzed and bubbled over a bit, but they still cooked and tasted awesome!) Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, place the 1 1/2 cups of champagne in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Simmer until reduced to 3 tablespoons (It will get realllyyy bubbly at first, so take care to stir it a bit so it doesn't boil over.)  Transfer to a small bowl and let it cool completely.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar on low until combined, then increase the speed and beat until fluffy.  Add the champagne reduction and 2 tablespoons from the bottle and mix well.

With a small knife, take a cooled cupcake and cut a cone-shaped wedge out of the top of each cupcake.  Cut the top off the cone and reserve it to put back on the cupcake.  Fill the hole with about a teaspoon of grapefruit curd, or just however much will fit, depending on how big you made the hole.  Replace the top of the cupcake and repeat with remaining cupcakes.

To decorate as pictured, fit a pastry bag with a large, star-shaped tip.  Fill the bag with frosting.  Pipe generous swirls onto the cupcakes, and decorate with sprinkles and such as desired.

 Sources: adapted from The Baker Chick, who adapted from Sprinkle Bakes