They are FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC!!
I’m putting the recipe below, because I truly believe these cupcakes are worth the trouble. Molly’s grandma was here in Texas visiting when I made these- and I have to say thank you to her for all her help! She also thought they were really good, and Michael seemed to like them better than any other dessert I can remember giving him. He said he really enjoyed the “tang” of the filling in the centers, and I have to agree that really was the best part!
24 paper liners for cupcake pans (2 1/2-inch size)
2 large lime, scrubbed (for 4 teaspoon zest and 4 tablespoons juice)
4 large eggs
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon coconut flavoring (optional)
*4 drops green food coloring optional!
FILLING 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Key lime juice
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set aside.
2. Prepare the cupcake batter: With a citrus zester or fine grater, zest the limes and reserve 4 teaspoons. Cut the limes in half and squeeze the juice over a strainer into a small bowl; you should have about 4 tablespoons. Set aside. Separate 3 of the eggs, placing yolks in a mixing bowl. (You could save the whites for meringue to top the cupcakes if you want!)
3. Add the whole remaining egg, cake mix, pudding mix, water, oil, coconut flavoring and lime zest and juice to the yolks. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well blended. I added some green food coloring to slightly color the cake. Spoon or scoop 1/4 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, or fill it two thirds of the way full. Place the pans in the oven.
4. Bake the cupcakes until they are lightly golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18 to 22 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes.
5. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before filling. The cooler they are- the easier this step is.
6. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Place the sweetened condensed milk and Key lime juice in a small bowl and stir to combine. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip. Press the tip 1/4 inch into the top center of each cooked cupcake and squeeze the bag to release about 1 tablespoon filling into the cupcake. Scrape off any excess filling with a rubber spatula. Place the cooled cupcakes on a baking sheet.
7. You can frost the cupcakes using buttercream frosting or whip cream- with some lime juice mixed in. Or you can use the egg whites from the separated eggs in the recipe to make a meringue to top the cupcakes with! Use additional lime zest to sprinkle on top!