Graham Cupcakes with Key Lime Filling and Whipped Cream

Monday, March 26, 2007

My friend Cara came up with the idea for a key lime pie cupcake sometime last summer. It stuck in my mind since and I always put it off for one reason or another. Limes weren’t in season, I had a new idea that pushed it to the side, it didn’t seem like the right time to try it out; excuses were always plenty and in reach.

I finally sat down to figure it out, and this cupcake put me through some trials let me tell you. The first attempt was basically a mini key lime pie more or less. While tasty, the graham cracker crust was soggy, and the pies ugly. It was a no go. The second attempt I decided to make a graham cake with a key lime filling. Sadly the graham was way too understated in flavor, and didn’t really have enough rise or fluffy texture. Still it seemed a step closer to what I wanted to accomplish.

The last attempt was well… wonderful. The feeling of accomplishment when something finally comes together is just so relieving, like a large weight being lifted that’s been pressing down upon you.

Honestly these are one of my favorites thus far, if not the favorite. No exaggeration. The graham cupcakes look dense but are light and fluffy with that distinct flavor of graham crackers you loved since childhood. The bilious mound of whipped cream wasn’t overly sweet and would get on your upper lip and the tip of your nose with each bite as whipped cream is should. The key lime filling was thick and custardy with a nice tangy zing that was subtle yet strong; it didn’t punch you in the mouth like a key lime pie would.

Easy, tasty, and fun to eat with friends. Really, it was the quintessential cupcake and one I plan to make again tonight.

Graham Cupcakes
Makes 12-14 cupcakes / 350 F oven

What You’ll Need...
1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup of milk
1 cup of flour
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of salt

What You’ll Do...

1) Beat the butter for about 30 seconds until well creamed. Add the sugar and mix for 3 minutes using a paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
2) Add the eggs, one at a time, being sure to beat for 30 seconds for each egg.
3) Place graham crackers in a food processor or in a plastic bag and beat the crud out of them until it's been ground into small crumbs and powder.
4) Sift together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and powder, and salt. Add about 1/4 of the mixture to the butter mixture, then add some of the milk. Continue to add the ingrdients in adry-wet-dry method, ending with the dry. Continue to mix until just combined.
5) Scoop into cupcake papers and bake for 15-18 minutes in a 350 F oven or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Whipped Cream
What You’ll Need...
3 cups of heavy whipping cream
1/3 – 1/2 cup of powdered sugar

What You’ll Do...
Place together in a mixing bowl until big, billowy and holds very stiff peaks.

Key Lime Filling
What You’ll Need...
5 egg yolks, beaten
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of key lime juice (about 20 key limes)
1 teaspoon of key lime zest

What You’ll Do...
1) Zest the key limes to get the 1 teaspoon first. Cut them all in half and juice them over a bowl with a little wire mesh strainer thing over it to catch any fruit or seeds. I suggest using a little wooden citrus juicer tool, or cut them in slices and juice them in a garlic press.
2) Seaparate the egg yolks and beat them like they owe you money. Pour in the citrus juice and sweetened condensed milk and wilk until smooth. Let chill for 10 minutes.
3) Take about 2 cups of the whipped cream you made earlier and fold in a little more than a third of the key lime mixture. Add more whipped cream or key lime mixture until you get a consistency and taste you want.

4) Cut a small cone shaped piece of cake out of each cupcake. Fill the cavity with the key lime whipped cream mixture (key lime curd). Cut the body of the cone off leaving just the cap of the cupcake. Replace it back on, on top of the curd. Dollop and spread remaining whipped cream and chill overnight. Serve.

NOTE: There will be a lot of key lime mixture left over. Bake it in a pie or tart pans or serve over ice cream, or do whatever sounds good.

ANOTHER NOTE: I have made this key lime filling a bajillion times
for pies. You can either let it chill in the fridge or bake it, but I prefer the first. I know some people have a hardcore aversion to raw egg yolks (though the citric acid from the limes does cook it just fine), so if that be the case here is a link to a citrus curd recipe you can use in its place. It’s definitely more work, but it is a perfectly fine substitute if that’s the route you choose. Personally though, I say go with the one I provided above has no cooking it helps keep the some of the key limes’ tartness a bit more controlled and not overpower the cake.


  1. Now I personally like a key lime filling that punches you in the mouth.

    Sigh, will just add this one to the list of ones I must make.

    Brave, though. Brava.

  2. Wow I am in love with the concept of this cupcake, thanks to your trials and for sharing the recipe.

  3. beautiful... perfect for spring.

  4. I made a key lime cupcake about a month ago that was pretty good. But I really like your idea with the graham cracker crumbs.


  5. "graham" anything makes my ears perk up! Would be fun to try the cake recipe with a marshmallow filling and chocolate frosting! or a lemon variation! :)

  6. Oohhhoooo! Between this one and the one 52 Cupcakes just posted, I think I am going to have to get to baking cupcakes soon!! Yummy!

  7. I was just told by my doctor that I may be on the verge of having diabetes and I *have* to lose 45 pounds. Why am I even reading you at all?????!!!!!!!!! Sob!!!!!!!!!!!!
    - Kathy in Kentucky

  8. OOH, yummy. And to think I was just settling on abstaining from baking cupcakes. guess not!!=)

  9. Kathy - The power of my cupcakes compells you.

  10. Can't believe I have missed this one! One of my favorite desserts in small carry-on form...Thanks!

  11. I think filling with marshmellow cream and topping with chocolate would be great too! But man do I love key lime! This is being put on my to-do list

  12. I just made these on Sunday and they were fantastic! Everyone at work loved them. I added a little bit of key lime juice to the whip cream to give it some tartness. It was really wonderful and the cupcakes were suprisingly moist.

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  13. Delicious recipe! Everyone loved them.

  14. I will try this! I am particularly looking for a filling to put between pound cake (its easiest to work with when creating amazing cakes;)) Another way to get lime juice is to slice the limes in halves cut off the ends and throw them into a food processor till they are a pulp, then dump the pulp into a towel that is over a bowl. wrap it up and squeeze out the juice...much much easier than juicing each tiny lime :)The juice is a bit more potent as well.

  15. I just made these for a summer bbq, and they turned out great! I couldn't believe how fluffy the cake was. The only change I made is to add a dash of vanilla extract to the whipped cream on top.
    By the way, this recipe doubles very well (but requires a huge bowl!). I used a single recipe of the key lime filling, mixed in 1/2 cup whipped cream, and used just 1 cup whipped cream to frost (more than enough).
    Thanks, Garrett!

  16. WOW!!! I just logged on to facebook to check my page and followed a link to your smores cupcakes (which look delicious :). . . then on to the key lime cupcakes . . . now it's on to the store with ingredient list!!! I love baking things that are different, and these definitely don't sound ordinary :). thanks for posting them. I will def be checking your site often!

  17. I am looking for a key lime cake filling to use for a summer beach themed wedding cake. Going to try this & test it out on the bride!

  18. When making the Cupcakes what kind of flour do you use: Cake flour? All purpose flour? Unbleached all purpose flour? I have key limes I need to use up and I love key lime pie...I am originally from Florida and I have always wanted to make Key Lime Pie Cupcakes.


    Sabrina :)


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