There are few things that are more refreshing on a very hot summer day than a slice of cool, sweet watermelon. It’s even better if you top it with a sprinkle of sea salt to make the melon seem even juicier. These Watermelon Cupcakes don’t have quite the same cooling effect as fresh melon, but they definitely capture the look! They’re fluffy, tender and will put a smile on the face of everyone who bites into one.
The cupcakes look like miniature watermelons thanks to the help of some red and green food coloring. I added mini chocolate chips to the red portion of the batter to mimic the look of the seeds of the real melon. You can get the look with any flavor cupcake batter just by using some food coloring, but I took it a step further and infused my cupcakes with some actual melon flavor. I added Midori, a melon liquor, to the cupcake batter. The liquor is sweet, with a very pronounced melon flavor to it, and it works nicely with the vanilla that is already in the cupcake and really ties in well with the look of the finished desserts. The liquor does have a slightly greenish tint to it, but since there is food coloring in this recipe anyway, you won’t see it in the finished cupcakes.
I used my Wilton Two-Tone Cupcake Inserts to make these cupcakes, which allowed me to center the red batter within the green cupcake. If you don’t have the insert, you can still make the cupcakes, but your red batter might not be as perfectly centered. I’ve included instructions for centering your red batter below, although you can make things easy on yourself by putting the green batter on the bottom of the muffin cup and the red on top and going for a half-and-half look, too. I topped them off with a little green frosting. You can opt for vanilla or melon-infused frosting and both will be tasty, but don’t skip the green food coloring that ties the frosting in so well with the cupcakes.
Midori was the best way that I found to get some melon flavor into the cake. If you don’t want to put any alcohol into your cupcakes, they do make melon and watermelon extracts (you may be able to find them at your local market, depending on how large the baking section is) that you can use instead. If you are using an extract, simply replace the Midori with more buttermilk and add in a teaspoon of your extract. Alternatively, you could make a plain vanilla buttermilk cupcake – again substituting more buttermilk for the melon liquor – and just keep the look of the watermelon.
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Midori liquor*
1/4 tsp green food coloring
1/4-1/2 tsp red food coloring
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Place liners in a 12 cup muffin tin.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract until mixture is smooth.
Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk and Midori. Stir in remaining flour mixture, mixing just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Transfer 1 1/4 cups of batter into a small bowl. Add in 1/4 tsp red food coloring (adding additional, if needed) and mini chocolate chips and stir until the food coloring has been completely incorporated.
Add green food coloring to remaining batter and stir to incorporate.
Add a small amount of green batter to each muffin cup. Add a dollop of red batter with mini chocolate chips on top of each dollop of green batter, then finish off the cupcakes by dividing the remaining green batter evenly over the top of the red. Each cup should be roughly 3/4 full.
Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350F, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Turn the cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Makes 12 cupcakes
*If you want to keep the cupcakes nonalcoholic, simply replace the Midori with more buttermilk. The Midori is the best way that I’ve found to get some actual melon flavor into the cupcakes, but you can keep an eye out for melon extracts, as well.
Melon Vanilla Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla or melon extract
1 tbsp milk or Midori
2- 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
green food coloring
In a medium bowl, beat the butter until soft. Add vanilla extract (or melon extract) and add Midori (or milk) and confectioners’ sugar. Beat until frosting is creamy, then add in green food coloring and mix until desired color is reached. Frosting should be about the same color as the cake. If the frosting is too thick, add a small amount of milk or water to thin it out.
Pipe or spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes.