What if, instead of moonshine, cupcakes were illegal? Would you still bake them? Would you race to deliver your cupcakes without getting caught. “Oh no, officer, there’s no need to check the trunk. I was just headed to meet my husband and bring him some moonshine. I would never get involved with something like cupcakes – heavens, no!” Would NASCAR (a sport started due to moonshining) be a largely female SUV-racing sport? Thankfully, we’ll never know.
These days, legal moonshine exists. As Medicinal Mixology points out, legal moonshine is a bit of a paradox:
Moonshine is not a type of spirit (such as gin, tequila, or whiskey), but is defined as any spirit made at an illegal, unlicensed still. In short, moonshine is liquor made by a person that doesn’t give the government the taxes it so loves to collect on liquor sales. So really, the only thing that separates a distiller from a bootlegger is money paid to Uncle Sam.
However, some legal moonshine is made the exact same way that it’s been made for generations (with taxes and government regulation being the only differences). The history gives those brands enough legitimacy for me. I made my moonshine and sweet tea cupcakes using Strawberry Midnight Moon (NASCAR superstar Junior Johnson‘s company), which uses real fruit and no artificial colors or flavors.
The moonshine and sweet tea cupcakes have a strong tea flavor. I figured out the secret to baking with tea a while back and I’m always happy for an excuse to use it. The moonshine lends a light alcohol finish with slightly fruity notes from the strawberry. Despite the fact that I chopped up all the moonshine-soaked strawberries from the Midnight Moon jar and added them to the cupcake batter, the strawberry flavor was not prominent. It just adds to the sweetness. These moonshine and sweet tea cupcakes are for anyone who has a little rebel and a little South in them. Y’all are going to love these cupcakes!
Moonshine and Sweet Tea Cupcakes
The moonshine and sweet tea cupcakes have a strong tea flavor. The moonshine lends a light alcohol finish with slightly fruity notes from the strawberry.
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup packed loose black tea leaves
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) tea butter from above, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup Strawberry Midnight Moon (other brands/flavors of moonshine would also work)
- 2/3 cup water
- Strawberries from inside the jar of Midnight Moon, chopped finely (If you aren’t using Strawberry Midnight Moon, you could leave this step off or make your moonshine strawberries by soaking 9 strawberries in moonshine overnight.)
- Remaining tea butter from above, room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat until just melted.
- Add the tea leaves.
- Continue heating the mixture for about 5 minutes on low heat.
- Remove from the heat and allow to stand for another 5 minutes or until the butter is discernibly tinted by the tea leaves.
- Pour the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing hard on the tea leaves and then discarding them. You will undoubtedly end up with some butter that you can’t get off of the leaves. I encourage you to press as hard as you can, but not to obsess about lost butter – it’s for a good cause and you don’t need a full cup of butter for this recipe.
- Let the butter cool to room temperature before using it in the cake and frosting.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat tea butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Mix in eggs, one at a time.
- Mix in midnight moon, a little bit at a time.
- Mix in water.
- Fold in strawberries.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out dry.
- Beat tea butter and butter in a medium-sized mixing bowl until light and fluffy (about three minutes on high speed).
- Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time.
- Spread or pipe on cooled cupcakes.