Cupcake Rampage: Arnold Palmer Cupcakes

arnold 02
“I want you to kill every golfer on this course.”

Legend has it that one day at the height of his powers in the early 1960s, pro golfer Arnold Palmer was at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills, Colorado for one reason or another. Reportedly, Palmer asked one of the bartenders to mix him a special drink, the ingredients of which must have been so gauche that the Tom Cruise-wannabe behind the bar initially refused to sully his Boston shaker with the likes. At this, Palmer allegedly became so incensed with the mixologist’s cheek that he flew into a mild rage, threatened to get snooty, and, if his request was further denied, promised to get downright snotty.

Blanching at the prospects of facing down a murderously thirsty PGA Master and his posse, the barman wisely caved and quickly built Palmer’s beverage: a tall glass of ice, filled halfway with lemonade, and topped off with iced tea.

The drink has since earned the reputation of being the black-and-tan of the country club, the virgin Queen of 19th hole quaffers, and to this day, such a mixture is still known colloquially as an “Arnold Palmer.” Most barkeeps will know what you want when you order one by name, although some restaurant waitstaff may fix you with a funny look, since it is kind of a fusty old drink; something for teetotalers or closet lushes who want to keep their vice on the down-low. And while it hasn’t stopped marketers from pushing pre-packaged versions onto the masses, at least it comes with a readymade practical joke:

Safeway: Thanks for calling Safeway, your neighborhood grocery store, can I help you?
me: I just have a quick question. Do you have Arnold Palmer in a can?
Safeway: Why, yes. Yes, we do.

Translating a refreshing summer beverage into a dowdy baked good may seem like an exercise in pointlessness, but a cupcake has no points to begin with, so…

Arnold Palmer Cupcakes

I adapted this recipe from one posted at BitterSweet.

Wet Team A:

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided

Wet Team B:

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Dry Team:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup instant unsweetened iced tea mix
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat your oven to 350° F and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk the soymilk and one tablespoon of the lemon juice together and set aside to curdle for at least 10 minutes.

Sift the flour, iced tea mix, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.

Instant iced tea mix is used here because it imparts a stronger tea flavor to offset the astringent sweetness of the lemon frosting. An alternate method would be to bring the soymilk to a simmer and steep four tea bags in it for 10 minutes, then letting it cool completely before adding the lemon juice. The dry goods would also need to be adjusted; increase the total flour to 1 /1/3 cups and the sugar to 3/4 cup. The steeped soymilk will produce a more subtle tea flavor and a lighter colored crumb.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, extracts and remaining lemon juice, then add the soymilk mixture and combine.

Add the dry goods into the wet, and stir by hand just to combine. This batter will be very fluffy and full of air, so take care not to overmix or else it’ll flatten out and get gummy. Fold in the lemon zest at the very end.

Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin, filling the cups a little over three-quarters of the way up. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then de-pan and cool completely on a cooling rack.

Frost with lemonade buttercream: make a batch of Mother Buttercream Frosting, adding in two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice and a tablespoon of fresh lemon zest. A few drops of yellow food coloring helps with the lemony illusion. Dust with extra iced tea mix.

Find more cupcake recipes in Endless Cupcakes


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One comment

  • Jen July 1, 2009  

    An Arnold Palmer in cupcake form? YUM! Thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely be trying this soon.

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