The third birthday celebrated on our 4-parties-in-1 night was mine!  Most of my regular readers are well aware of my deep love for cupcakes.  I thought it very fitting to make my personal dessert be some sort of cupcakes.  Not as well known is my serious love for fun fruity drinks (or actually almost any sort of juice.)  My favorite kind of cupcakes are those that can be decorated in a fun way, so when I saw this recipe combining a fruity drink with cute cupcakes, I was sold.

I have heard many times how fabulous the drinks from Sonic are, the cherry limeade in particular, but I had actually never even been to a Sonic before (gasp!)  A new one was just built near my grocery store a couple of months ago, so I decided to go try the cherry limeade for myself before I tried a cupcake so I would have something to compare them to.  The drink was good, although I’m not quite sure it lived up to the hype – I didn’t notice enough lime flavor.  Regardless, fruity sugary drink = happy Annie!  The cupcakes tasted surprisingly similar to the drink.  I think the lime syrup drizzled on top of the cakes is key in keeping them moist, and contributes the bulk of the lime flavor, so don’t skip this step.

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. limeade concentrate
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk (I used 1%)

For the lime syrup:
3/4 cup limeade concentrate
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the frosting:
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 tbsp. (or more) maraschino cherry juice
red food coloring (optional)

For decorating (optional):
fresh lime slices
maraschino cherries

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two muffin pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl combine the cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir together and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until creamed.  Add in the limeade concentrate and mix to incorporate.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions.  Add in the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix ingredients just long enough to incorporate but no longer.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack over wax paper to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, whisk together the limeade concentrate and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl to make the lime syrup.  Poke several holes in the top of each cupcake with a skewer and pour the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in.

To make the frosting, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter and maraschino cherry juice in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated, then increase to medium-high speed and beat until smooth.  Add more maraschino cherry juice as needed to achieve desired texture.  Add red food coloring if desired.

Frost cooled cupcakes.  Garnish with lime slices and maraschino cherries, if desired.

Source: adapted from Baking Up Chaos