It’s spring break time for lots of people around the country, and for many, that means vacation time.  Yes, lots of people will enjoy cool beverages, possibly with a wedge of lime stuck into them or as a garnish on something frozen and fabulous.  Color me extremely jealous.  But, I’d prefer to make the best of the (bad?) situation and look on the bright side.  The weather, at least in our area, has been positively gorgeous.  We’ve been able to spend lots of time outside every single evening.  And, we can always ease the pain a little by making some bright and springy key lime pie cupcakes.  They have a graham cracker crust, fluffy vanilla cake with a touch of lime, lime curd filling, and rim of freshly whipped cream.  See?  I feel better already.

Now, before I had tasted the lime curd, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like these cupcakes due to my (apparently unfounded) bias against citrus curds.  However, after tasting the delicious key lime curd, I was intrigued.  Finally, the following day I was able to taste one of these cupcakes and I was very impressed.  They received great reviews from the coworkers as well, so I’d call them a hit for sure.  The curd is not as thick as most cupcake fillings so this is almost a plate-and-fork kind of cupcake…or you could just use my preferred method, and shove it in your mouth before you make a mess.  Whatever works.

  • Yield about 2 dozen cupcakes


For the crust:

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the cupcakes:

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 16 tbsp. (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Zest of 1 lime (or 2-3 key limes)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. coconut extract

For filling:
Key lime curd

For topping:

  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • Dash vanilla extract


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter; mix well with a fork.  Drop about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down to line the bottom. (Note: the bottom of a squeeze bottle or shot glass works very well.)  Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and maintain the oven temperature.

  • 02

    To make the cupcakes, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.  Beat in the lime zest.  Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla and coconut extracts in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

  • 03

    Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

  • 04

    To assemble the cupcakes, use the cone method to make a well in the center of each cupcake.  (I prefer the paring knife method for these cupcakes).  Discard the cones.  Fill each well with about 1½ tablespoons of the lime curd.  To make the whipped cream, combine the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.  Blend in the vanilla.  Transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Pipe a rim of whipped cream around the top of each cupcake, leaving the lime curd filling exposed.  Garnish with key lime slices if desired.