Aperol Spritz Cupcakes: Sweet, Sour, Scrumptious

Aperol cupcakes (11) Last summer I had the privilege of making cupcakes for the wedding of a wonderful couple. The whole process was a joy for me, from the moment the bride asked me in her lovely demeanor, to my merry hours of creating and decorating each little dessert. My delight arose from fondness of both baking and the bride, but also from knowing that the couple and I had the same simple dessert priorities: delicious and made with love.

Aperol cupcakes (5)

Their wedding, too, was teeming with love and sweetness: an evening so moving and heartwarming, I felt aglow for days. Alongside other fun features (from performances to postcards), the couple’s favorite cocktails were highlighted at the bar; his: a whiskey sour, hers: an Aperol spritz. The latter left me dreaming of a new dessert creation — an edible rendition of the drink’s most distinctive ingredients.  Bubbly-sweet prosecco and tangy Aperol were soon to find their home in a toothsome new treat.

Aperol cupcakes (7)I experimented futilely with layer cakes, then cookies — and finally, perhaps naturally, my path led back to cupcakes… with marvelous results. Their reminiscent form was simply meant to be, and I added a bit of grapefruit for a complementary twist. The outcome was a delicious, vibrant, cocktail-inspired creation: lusciously delicate and bittersweet at once.

Aperol Spritz Cupcakes (makes about 14 standard sized cupcakes*)

For the cake batter:Aperol cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, plus more for icing
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of one pink grapefruit
  • 1/2 cup fresh, bubbly prosecco

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin tins with about 14 paper cupcake liners; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at time, mixing until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla. Over the bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; mix until smooth and even. Stir in the grapefruit zest until evenly dispersed. Gently fold in the prosecco until just incorporated and batter is even.

Aperol cupcakes (2)Promptly scoop the batter into lined cupcake pan, being careful to fill cups only halfway; this will allow some room for the glaze. You should have about 14 cupcakes (if you end up with several fewer cupcakes than this, your cups might be filled too high with batter). Bake for 10-14 minutes, or just until centers test clean with a toothpick. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack, platter, or towel-lined countertop nearby.  Let cool completely before icing.

For the icing**:Aperol cupcakes (10)

  • 2/3 cup Aperol
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • sprinkles or sugar decorations (optional)

In a small saucepan, bring the Aperol and salt to a steady simmer, stirring occasionally. Let simmer for about 5-7 minutes, until reduced by half. (When it looks almost halved, carefully transfer hot Aperol to a heatproof measuring cup; return to heat and re-measure as needed, stopping when you have 1/3 cup.) Remove from heat and quickly stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla while Aperol is still hot, whisking vigorously until smooth.

Aperol cupcakes (4)Without delay, spoon the icing onto the cupcakes, letting it reach the edges but without overflowing. (You may want to swirl it to the edges with your finger or a spoon, especially as it thickens).  Icing will form a shell quickly; re-whisk as needed, and if you want to top your cupcakes with sprinkles, do so one cupcake at a time, immediately after icing each one so that the decoration will stick. Let icing harden in the open air for at least 30 minutes before serving.  The cupcakes are best the day they are made, but can be stored covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

Aperol cupcakes (12)With their tender, airy, citrus-speckled crumb, these cupcakes offer a lovely texture and flavor in each bite.  Delightfully well-balanced, the whisper of mild, warming prosecco hits its stride beneath the lively layer of tart Aperol glaze.  Sweet, sour, and scrumptious, Aperol spritz cupcakes are a nod to the cocktail they celebrate — and to the sweet nuptials that sparked their inception.  Enjoy them with a hot cup of coffee or afternoon tea — or better yet, a fizzy glass of prosecco. Cheers!

Aperol cupcakes (13)Maybe next time… If you don’t have prosecco around, feel free to use sparkling wine or champagne in its place.  While I found the grapefruit to be a perfect pairing, orange zest would work nicely in its place, as could lemon. If you have mini muffin pans, bite-sized Aperol cupcakes would be delicious and dainty: just remember to fill the cups only halfway with batter, and to reduce your baking time significantly, testing for done-ness after just 5 minutes.  Instead of sugar flowers or sprinkles, try dressing up the newly iced cakes with fresh raspberries or edible flowers; they’d be a lovely match.

Aperol cupcakes (3)*I’ve made these cupcakes several times, using the same recipe, and they’ve yielded from 12 to 16 cupcakes, mostly depending on the brand of prosecco I used.

**A note to tempted spoon-lickers like me: On its own, the icing has quite a powerful punch. It mellows as it cools and dries, and it’s at its best in proper proportion to the prosecco-grapefruit cake that it’s designed to be eaten on.

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12 Responses to Aperol Spritz Cupcakes: Sweet, Sour, Scrumptious

  1. Pingback: My July | butter, sugar, flowers

  2. Nanette says:

    Dear Buttersugarflowers,

    I was thrilled when my friend forwarded me your recipe, I am such a lover of Aperol so I had to organised my weekend around attempting to make these, they came out good though they didn’t look anywhere as amazing as yours, I wanted to ask they came out with quite a peak on them is there anything you can advise to stop that happening? Also the cases seemed to come away from the cake, never had that happen before in my years of baking. Despite how they looked everyone loved them, thank you so much for sharing truly a fantastic discovery!!!

    • Dear Nanette,

      Thank you so much for making these and sharing your experience! I’m glad the cupcakes were enjoyed – and I’m sorry to hear about your trouble with the wrappers and the rising, especially after arranging your weekend plans around making them!

      I haven’t had the peeling issue with the paper cases with these Aperol cupcakes, and I’ve made them several times. But I’ve had that happen once before (for lemon wedding cupcakes, actually), and it was completely unexpected with a tried and true recipe — so frustrating! There are many theories, including the brand of paper cups and pans used. (If you’d like, you can read an array of experiences here.) Unfortunately, no theory is conclusive; in fact, when it happened to me with the lemon cupcakes, everything was the same as the other types I’d made that day, so I never figured out the cause. I’m just so sorry you had this happen!

      When I’ve baked these Aperol cupcakes, they domed up some as they baked, but flattened a bit as they cooled. Making sure they are only halfway full with batter is one key. It’s hard to tell why yours would dome more: it could be something as simple as your Prosecco being more carbonated than mine, or your baking soda being fresher, or your egg being larger. I wish our experiences with recipes didn’t have to be so subjective –- but the variations in weather, pans, ovens, ingredients, etc. make it so.

      Thanks to your feedback, I’ll try to add some troubleshooting tips to this post, and I’ll do some more testing with the recipe and see if improvements can be made to prevent what happened to you.

      Thanks again for all your time and feedback!
      Cheers,
      Moriah

  3. How special are these! And what an absolutely wonderful contribution on your part to do something so special for the couple. You know for all of the expense & stress that goes into weddings (yes, we’re just 6 months away from my daughter’s wedding – yikes!) it’s wonderful to have something special from someone who can add a smidgeon of love.
    My goodness! A spoon licker? Me? Whaaaa….were you watching?

    • Thank you, Diane! Sending my best wishes for your daughter’s wedding. It’s stressful no matter what. But I was really lucky to have a laid back couple who trusted me and didn’t have particular requests other than “delicious and made with love” — it made it a breeze! I understand when couple are more specific than that, too, of course! It’s a big day! Spoon-lickers unite!!

  4. nerb says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I am definitely going to try this. I love Aperol and this entire combination looks like a winner. I wish I knew about your baking skills when I got married!

  5. Erica says:

    The bride was so lucky to have YOU make your sweet creations for her special day, for everything you make is always beautiful and made with so much love…like these sweet-looking Aperol Spritz Cupcakes, which are so beautiful and delicious-looking…I also love the little flowers on top too. So lovely!

    • Thank you, Erica! I thought of you while I wrote this post, and how you took the photos for a dear friend’s wedding in Baltimore awhile back. As you know, it’s a very special opportunity to be able to contribute to a loved one’s special day — and I love knowing that we share that experience (in our own unique versions).

  6. diathow says:

    Considering that the number one comment from our wedding guests was “beautiful wedding- ASTOUNDING cupcakes!” the phrase ‘delicious and made with love’ speaks volumes from Moriah’s kitchen. These cupcakes are a wonderful testament not only to the creativity of their baker but also her brilliant skill in capturing unique flavors in dessert form. They are the perfect surprising combo of sweet and tangy– I can’t recommend these (or their creator) highly enough. Viva l’aperol! Viva butter, sugar, flowers!!!

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