I discovered my new favorite cupcake this past weekend. It’s soft, sweet, and scrumptious (yes, I said scrumptious). The frosting is fluffy and creamy, while the cake is moist and velvety. I am having an affair with this cupcake.
And it isn’t even chocolate.
I have been dying to try to make watermelon cupcakes. Almost all of the cupcakes I perused online were vanilla with chocolate chips and vanilla frosting. And, while I’m sure they’re delicious, I wanted actual watermelon flavored cupcakes (that still looked adorable).
I truly would have preferred to have had a cupcake that had some seriously genuine watermelon flavor to it, naturally. However, it’s really difficult. I couldn’t locate any all natural watermelon extracts, so I decided that I would attempt to make my own. That had issues of it’s own, however.
The biggest recommendation for watermelon flavoring or extract around the internet is to make watermelon syrup. A process that involves pureeing, sieving, and cooking watermelon flesh and pulp. Not only is this process time consuming, but the consensus seems to be that it doesn’t actually add watermelon flavor, just sweetness (it’s quickly being recognized as a sugar/honey substitute). Or, if it does add flavor, it cooks out when you bake the cupcakes. I certainly wasn’t going to waste all that time on making my own homemade watermelon flavoring if it didn’t give me, well, watermelon flavor.
That only leaves one option: artificial flavor. I’m pretty opposed to artificial flavoring, if I can avoid it. I try to avoid it whenever possible, but it’s the nature of cupcakes and cakes to contain artificial colors and flavors. That’s part of their appeal. All those pretty colors, decorations, and flavors don’t usually tend to come naturally (but I love it when they do).
I decided to bite the bullet and buy some flavoring oil. Flavoring oils are very concentrated, so they require only a small amount for a lot of flavor. Unfortunately, it’s such a specific product that most people will have no choice but to buy it online. Some flavors may be available locally (I would check out candy supply stores), but you will get lucky to find exactly the flavor you’re looking for. There are several websites, though, that sell it and probably even a couple that offer free shipping (I got mine at Bake It Pretty, but if they’re out, amazon is an excellent resource).
And, of course, the watermelon flavoring oil. These were two dollars a bottle (each bottle is one dram, which is equivalent to one teaspoon of extract) on Bake It Pretty, plus shipping. You can, however, get free shipping on all orders over $100 (which is very appallingly easy to do).
The oils add a very small amount of color to the cupcake batter, but it wasn’t nearly pink enough to look like watermelon, so I added a little Wilton Rose icing color. I chose to color the frosting with some, as well.
To make the cupcake, sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition and scraping the bowl as needed. Stir in the watermelon flavoring. Add about a third of the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just mixed. Add half of the sour cream, beating again until just mixed. Repeat this process with the remaining flour mixture and sour cream. Add color as desired.
Place two tablespoons batter into each lined muffin cup and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with one or two crumbs clinging to it.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and about a third of the confectioners’ sugar. Stir in the milk and mix thoroughly before beating in another third of the confectioners’ sugar. Next stir in the lemon juice and the remaining sugar, beating until well mixed and light and fluffy. Add all of the watermelon flavoring, as well as coloring, as desired.
The flavor of the frosting turned out to be reminiscent of a Jolly Rancher or watermelon bubble gum. Not true watermelon, but certainly close and definitely very tasty!
I love these adorable two-toned, green striped cupcake liners that I found at The TomKat Studio. I thought they looked just like the outside of a watermelon. To decorate the cupcakes, I piped a simple swirl on each one.
Next, I rolled the very edges of the frosting in a light pink sanding sugar for some contrast and texture. I liked how the sugar gave the feeling of that sort of pale pink/white area on the watermelon, just before the rind.
Lastly, I decided to use black sugar pearls (these are from CK Products) as the “seeds.” I should say, though, that I actually hate these things. They’re very, very crunchy, but my kiddo likes them, so I added them.
I love everything about these! They’re such pretty, fun, and seriously delectable little cupcakes, and they look as good as they taste. If you don’t want to invest in the very specific cupcake liners that I used here, plain green ones also look adorable. Or you could use bright pink liners, and frost the cupcakes with alternating stripes of light and dark green frostings (instead of pink), which I think would be so much fun, as well.
I tested out using the sugar pearls inside as more “seeds,” and although it looks fun, I again didn’t like the very crunchy texture they added. Mini chocolate chips work just as well and are less intrusive, although they do very slightly alter the flavor.
I had so much fun coming up with these and I hope that you get a chance to try them! They are, without a doubt, my new favorite cupcake! Ever. Enjoy!
Watermelon Cupcakes with Sweet Watermelon Buttercream
Makes 2 1/2 dozen
FOR THE CUPCAKES
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 dram (1 teaspoon) watermelon flavoring oil
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 – 16 ounce container (about 2 cups) sour cream
Food coloring (optional)
FOR THE FROSTING
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 dram (1 teaspoon) watermelon flavoring oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons milk
5 to 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
Food coloring (optional)
To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line to muffin pans with cupcake liners.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in s small bowl; set aside.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition and scraping the bowl as needed. Stir in the watermelon flavoring. Add about a third of the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just mixed. Add half of the sour cream, beating until just mixed. Repeat this process with the remaining flour mixture and sour cream. Add color as desired.
Place two tablespoons batter into each cup of lined muffin pans and bake at for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with one or two crumbs clinging to it.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and about a third of the confectioners’ sugar. Stir in the milk and mix thoroughly before beating in another third of the confectioners’ sugar. Next stir in the lemon juice and the remaining sugar, beating until well mixed and light and fluffy. Add all of the watermelon flavoring. If the frosting is too soft, add more sugar, as needed. Add coloring as desired.
Recipe by Darla