This post is totally family inspired. Here it is broken down:
For a Fourth of July party, my dad made a watermelon salad (watermelon, red onion, mint, and lime juic e) and I helped by preparing the watermelon and stashing a cup full aside for personal use. I also reserved a cup of the juice.
While my cupcakes were cooling, I searched the house for some kind of watermelon décor to use for a photograph.
My mom came home and found a watermelon plate that my sister had decorated when she was young. This plate became a prop and the basis for this post’s title. My mom also helped by holding the t-shirt up as I interrupted her dinner to take pictures.
So everyone in my family had a hand in this post, and with this particular post, I needed all the help I could get. Who would have guessed that making naturally watermelon flavored cupcakes would be so difficult? I guessed it actually, but not until after hours of research online.
A simple search for “watermelon cupcakes” provided dozens of beautiful cakes and cupcakes decorated to look like watermelons, but most of the recipes on these sites were for basic white or yellow cupcakes colored with food coloring. So, I turned to my favorite cupcake blogger who never fails to combine the craziest flavors to make deliciously weird sounding cupcakes. The peach tea cupcakes were her creation, but so are these avocado lime cupcakes and olive oil cupcakes with balsamic vinegar frosting. Both of these are on my to-do list!
But lo and behold, even Steph of cupcakeproject.com hadn’t come up with a successful watermelon cupcake. She has two posts that are titled attempt 1 and attempt 2, with a promise of a third attempt to come. A little disappointed, but not altogether discouraged, I studied her recipes and notes carefully, read through all the suggestions from her readers, and continued planning my cupcakes.
I started with a very simple white cake recipe (named accordingly) from allrecipes.com and began adapting.
I ended with this strawberry watermelon cupcake recipe. The strawberries were a last minute addition because I was afraid that if the watermelon flavor didn’t show up, plain white cupcakes would be too boring and I wanted something to fall back on. A second motivating factor for adding the strawberries was the fact that they were beginning to get really old and I can’t even begin to express how frustrated I have been getting with prematurely molding fruit.
As my cupcakes baked, I pondered topping possibilities. I thought that watermelon buttercream frosting might have overpowered the cupcakes whereas a simple dusting of powdered sugar might not have been enough. I looked up glazes and simple syrups (because I wasn’t confident that I knew the difference between the two) and decided to start with a watermelon simple syrup and turn it into a glaze.
In case you were wondering, a simple syrup has a sugar to water ratio of about 1 to 1, while a glaze has a sugar to water ratio of about 1 cup to 1 tablespoon.
I made the simple syrup over the stove, let it cool, and then brushed the cupcakes with it before I made the glaze. I figured it couldn’t hurt to add more watermelon flavor and moisture to the cupcakes.
Despite my best efforts to infuse cupcakes with watermelon, flavor-wise the cupcakes were still lacking. The texture was great and overall, the cupcakes were moist and delicious, but they just weren’t watermelon-y enough.
The cupcake batter had plenty of watermelon pieces in it and the syrup was strongly flavored, so I’m not exactly sure how the flavor disappears in the cupcakes. I think the sugar eats it. Still, these cupcakes are delicious and refreshing, so they’ve earned their 10 seconds of fame amongst my small, but wonderful audience. I also wanted to share the pictures!
Strawberry Watermelon Cupcakes: (makes 12)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup finely sliced strawberries
- ¾ cups finely sliced watermelon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with liners
- Cream butter and sugars
- Add eggs, one at a time
- Add vanilla
- Sift dry ingredients together
- Add dry ingredients and milk to batter and blend well
- Mix in sliced watermelon and strawberries
- Evenly distribute batter and bake for 20-22 minutes, until the center no longer looks juicy (these cupcakes will continue to feel juicy after cooled — a testament to their moisture-packed innards)
Mint-infused Watermelon Syrup Recipe: (Adapted from marthastewart.com)
- ¾ cup watermelon juice (or a cup if you have it — I didn’t)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 bunch of mint
- Heat 5 minutes on low-heat
- Let sit 5 more minutes
- Pour through a strainer to remove mint leaves
- Bring to room temperature or refrigerate for further use
The directions say that this can be refrigerated indefinitely. Hello, Mojito!
(I actually did make mojitos with this syrup. Use it to substitute mint and sugar and you’re in business!)
Watermelon Mint Glaze:
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- up to 5 tablespoons mint-infused watermelon syrup
- Mix about 1 cup powdered sugar with about 3 tablespoons of your mint-infused watermelon syrup.
- Add up to 1/2 cup more powdered sugar and 2 more tablespoons of syrup slowly, stopping when you are happy with the consistency — it should be pretty thick but also runny enough to drip over cupcakes.
(Be aware, this process will be messy and sticky unless you’re more coordinated than I am.)
Watermelon Mojito (makes one):
- 1 oz or less watermelon mint syrup (any more and it will be too sweet)
- 1 -2 oz clear rum (depending on how strong you like you’re drinks)
- 3 oz soda water
- 1 squeeze of lime (as much as you like)
- serve over ice and garnish with fresh mint leaves if you'd like