Mango Honey Cupcakes with Lime Curd; My Turn on Baking for the Cause

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve checked in here. I am honored today to be blogging for Frosting for the Cause! When a friend shared the information on Frosting for the Cause, I was thrilled to be able to do something tangible to deal with this insidious disease. Baking cupcakes isn’t going to stop cancer, but raising awareness will!

Breast cancer. Let me begin by saying those words make me angry. REALLY angry! In the past six months alone my dear sister-in-law Stephanie, my sweet funny friend, Tami, my dog-walking partner, Judy, and my lovely friend Mary Lou have all gotten the diagnosis of breast cancer. Really?! I just want to scream, REALLY!? It’s the year 2011 and still these wonderful women are getting breast cancer.

Each time I heard this diagnosis I thought, “Damn it!” and then I give a prayer of thanks for the invention of the mammogram, which has caught all of their cancers at a very early stage making them very treatable. (I want to know what government yutz thought that women didn’t need mammograms at age 40 last year? Remember that stupidity? ) Nobody likes to go for a mammogram. It’s uncomfortable and it always brings that little bit of worry; that “What if” moment, but I also know that each of my friends has a good prognosis because the cancer was found early and treated before it could invade the rest of their bodies. Sadly, we haven’t found a cure, but we’ve been blessed with a really good way to detect breast cancer before it’s too late.

My first exposure to breast cancer was when I was about 11 years old. My aunt had breast cancer. We didn’t live close so I wasn’t aware of her treatments or how the cancer affected her, but for an 11 year old girl, hearing ‘cancer’ was scary, and then knowing she survived it taught me that breast cancer is indeed treatable. My aunt Carol had a recurrence about 12 years later and she is a two-time survivor.

Almost 10 years ago as a young mom, my friend Barb, also a young mom, got her diagnosis. She was only in her late 30s when she was diagnosed and it was shocking and very frightening to hear that she had cancer. Barb went through her treatments with great humor and courage, but watching her family, and particularly her two young daughters, who were the same ages as my daughters, struggle and worry about her cancer and her treatments was hard. And yet, here we are 10 years later, and Barb is a survivor!

So I guess that is the theme of my post here: SURVIVORS! I am humbled by all these women who have faced the big C with such braveness, grace and strength. For my friend Tami who has spent the better part of the last 4 months feeling like she has a “belly full of melting green apple Jolly Rancher candies” yet still manages to make me laugh with her smart alec humor, for my friend Judy who was diagnosed for the second time in December and just had her mastectomy, to Mary Lou going through radiation and Steph who is done with her treatments and declared cancer-free, to Barb who will celebrate 10 years of living without cancer and Aunt Carol who is over 20 years cancer free; to Aunt Janet, Sue, Cathy and Karen, all who have been diagnosed with a form of female cancer and have survived. You are all strong, fun, funny and inspiring women!

And finally, I could not write this entry without remembering Molly, the niece of one of my dearest friends who at the age of 16 was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer that she battled valiantly for many months until she could battle no more. She went to heaven in 2009. She and her family endured her illness and her death with such love, faith and grace. The members of her large loving family are the wounded survivors of cancer.

My wish for the future is that in the next 20 years as doctors get smarter about treating cancer, they will figure out less horrific and uncomfortable treatments! We’ve figured out how to diagnose it and how to kill most of it, but I pray that someday soon the treatments will be more targeted and less draining to the people who have to go through it!

And now for the yumminess! The weather here in the Northeast has been frigid and snowy for way too long now and I decided it was time for a little tropical sunshine in cupcake form! Today’s recipe is for Honey Mango Margarita Cupcakes with Lime Curd and Sea Salt.
The original cupcake recipe was shared with me by a fellow personal chef and can be found on the National Honey Board website, but of course, I’ve tweaked it and made it better!

Honey Mango Margarita Cupcakes with Sea Salt
– Makes 12-14 cupcakes –

2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup ripe mango purée
Zest and juice (1/4 cup) of one lime
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1/2 cup orange blossom honey
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350° F. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt; set aside. In a small bowl, combine mango purée, lime zest and juice, and buttermilk; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Add honey; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time. Add half of the reserved dry ingredients to the butter mixture; mix on low until just combined. With mixer running on low, slowly add the mango mixture. Add remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Fill paper-lined muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove to wire rack; cool. Frost with Mango Lime Buttercream frosting (below).
*Any mild-flavored honey such as Wildflower or Clover may be used

These are delicious on their own, but I added a lime curd filling to “gild the lily” a bit with delicious results!

Lime Curd
Makes 3/4 cup

1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons grated lime zest (about 2 limes)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Combine sugar, eggs, lime zest, and juice in a medium nonreactive saucepan, and set over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to thicken and holds the mark of the whisk, about 15-20 minutes.
Remove pan from heat, and whisk in butter, a piece at a time, until well combined. Strain mixture through a sieve into a glass bowl. Lay plastic directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill 3 hours.

Take each cupcake and using a small melon ball scoop or round teaspoon measure, scoop out a small circle from the top of each cake and reserve it to “plug” the hole. Scoop out another spoonful of cake to make a nice tunnel and then fill each cavity with lime curd using a piping bag or small spoon.

Replace the top of the cupcake and then frost.

Mango Lime Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup Butter, softened
1/2 cup ripe mango, puréed
Zest and juice (1/4 cup) of one lime
2 Tablespoons Wildflower honey
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add mango purée, lime zest and juice, and honey; mix well. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until desired spreading consistency.

I topped mine with some candied lime peel and a sprinkle of Maldon Sea Salt. Fabulous!