Sweet Tea Cupcakes for Nikki’s Virtual Baby Shower

Nikki and I had initially met online through our food blogging and officially (in real life) at the FoodBuzz Festival in 2011. We had clicked right from the start, and I have nothing but admiration, respect and love for Nikki. She is super-friendly, full of spirit and energy, loving and an absolute sweetheart. I remember rooting and screaming my head off for Nikki at the FoodBuzz Awards because she was nominated for the Best Family Food Blog. Although she didn’t win, she will always be a winner in my book.

Now, more importantly these sweet tea cupcakes. I had my first taste of sweet tea when I was visiting my in-laws in Florida and I was taken back by the sweetness of the iced tea. I usually drink iced tea unsweetened, but I think eventually because of the humidity – the sweetness was needed. Currently, Nikki resides in Mississippi and has a deep love for everything “sweet and southern.” She even has her own recipe for Southern Sweet Tea that inspired me to make these cupcakes in her baby boy’s honor.

These sweet tea cupcakes have a hint of lemon, almost a nod to the Arnold Palmer (half lemonade and half iced tea) that I absolutely love drinking during the hot summer months. I had to make this pregnancy friendly and used decaf lemon tea bags because the caffeine turns the baby Zumba on at full crank. You can easily substitute black tea or any other fruit-flavored tea like orange, raspberry for an unique twist. The cupcakes are slightly denser but are a great way to have a bite of sweet tea in cupcake form. I also prefer cream cheese frosting versus buttercream frosting because I prefer the tangyness and it paired well with the candied lemons. But in the end, it’s just a matter of preference, but quite honestly my pregnancy cravings ruled again on this recipe – Nikki would totally understand right?

Nikki, I’m so very happy for you on the newest addition to your wonderful family. I’m a little sad that we never got to spend more time together while you lived in SoCal, but I’m very thankful for the time we have shared together and hopefully our paths will cross again. Our kiddos need to meet up so we can have the next generation of food bloggers collaborating!

Please make sure to check out the full round-up of recipes and craft posts at Sunny Side Up and Apple A Day’s blogs.

Sweet Tea Cupcakes for Nikki’s Virtual Baby Shower
Cupcakes adapted from Food Network
Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield: 12 cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 7 lemon-flavored tea bags
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 ounces cream cheese bar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sweet tea milk mixture
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Candied Fruit Lemons for garnishment

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the cupcake pan with desired liners.
  2. Warm the milk in the microwave for 1 minute, stir and then for additional 30 seconds. Place the tea bags in the milk and let tea steep for 5 minutes. Reserve 2 tablespoons of sweet tea mixture for frosting.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until combined. Alternate adding the flour mixture with sweet tea mixture until incorporated. You may not need all of the sweet tea mixture, make sure cupcake mixture is fully incorporated.
  4. Using a large ice scooper or 1/4 cup – fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before adding frosting.
  5. For the frosting: In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend the cream cheese, butter, vanilla paste, sweet tea mixture and lemon zest until fully combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar and combine until smooth. Frost the cupcakes as desired.

A big thanks to Kelsey and Jessica for bringing together a wonderful group of food, life and craft bloggers to help celebrate such a momentous time for Nikki and her sweet southern boy!

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