Tammie Nestor of Hagerstown submitted a recipe for margarita cupcakes with key lime buttercream frosting for The Herald-Mail's second annual Cupcake Contest in April. The cupcake evokes the sun-drenched good times of Florida, where Maryland-born Nestor lived for many years.
Nestor said she got the idea for her margarita flavor profile from a TV cooking show.
'Cupcake Wars' on Food Network, and someone made a margarita cupcake," she said. "But they didn't say how they made it."
So Nestor developed her own recipe by trial and error. She started with a white cake mix and margarita mix. To bring out the traditional flavors of lime, orange and tequila, she added lime zest, orange liqueur and real tequila.
She tested her cupcakes on her co-workers at Robinwood Early Childhood Center at Hagerstown Community College.
"My co-workers are my guinea pigs," Nestor said with a laugh. "I'll bring them something and they'll tell me what it needs more of."
Nestor said she likes to bake. She got to bake a lot while she attended culinary school at Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach.
Nestor cooks for her family — mother and father, two sons and a daughter. In particular, she cooks with her children.
"In my parents' generation, they really didn't want kids in the kitchen," she said. "The only time you really got to (cook) was with your grandmother."
Nestor also cooks with the 2-year-olds she oversees at work. She said she gets a good response from the children when she leads them in making soups in the fall.
"I did a butternut squash soup. The kids loved it," she said. "Their moms are like, 'They don't eat like this at home.'"
— Chris Copley, Lifestyle assistant editor
Margarita cupcakes with key lime buttercream frosting
18.25-ounce box white cake mix
1 1/3 cups bottled margarita mix
1/3 cup tequila
1 1/2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 large egg whites