Strawberry Margarita Cake

Intensive Cake Unit
by Intensive Cake Unit
1 cake
1 hr 20 min

With summer on the horizon, a summer-y drink-themed cake seemed in order! ;) Not long ago when we went out for Mexican food I ordered a strawberry margarita, and there were no regrets involved in that decision! I’ll be completely honest here – tequila isn’t my favorite liquor, so margaritas will probably never be my favorite drink in the world. However – having had a good enough strawberry margarita to want to give a Strawberry Margarita Cake a shot – I gave it a shot and we loved the result!

I went for tequila- and triple-sec-infused cake layers frosted with margarita frosting, and topped with a candy melt drip, margarita glass, and a scattering of strawberries and lime twists - recipes below!

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Strawberry Margarita Cake
Recipe details
  • 1  cake
  • Prep time: 45 Minutes Cook time: 35 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 20 min
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  • 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 7 eggs, or use carton egg whites so you don’t waste yolks!)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (or buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
  • ¼ cup mashed strawberries (or strawberry preserves)
  • - 2 Tablespoons of tequila (I used Jose Cuervo)
  • - 2 Tablespoons of Triple Sec (I used DeKuyper)
  • - 1-2 drops of red food color if you want a brighter pink! 1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil
Frosting / Decorations
  • 8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
  • 16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
  • 6-7 c powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Tequila
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Triple Sec
  • 1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
  • - 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles)
  • - 4 oz. each of Tequila and Triple Sec
  • - Measuring cup or jigger (I used one from my Nau Mixology set)
  • - squeeze bottle or piping bag for the cake drip (you can also use a spoon if you’d rather)
  • - Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
  • - Margarita glass – you can use a real margarita glass OR a plastic one!
  • - zester tool + bit of coarse salt + bit of karo syrup if you want to rim your glass
  • - Small offset spatula to smooth the cake drip on top of the cake
  • - 6 oz white Candy melts + 3 3/4 Tablespoons whipping cream + red & pink gel color for cake drip (recipe below)
  • - Few fresh strawberries and limes, for decorating
First note – you have options here! You can use my scratch recipe above ( based loosely on my Favorite Vanilla Cake recipe), OR – you can ‘bakery-level-up’ a couple of boxed cake mixes! If you want to use cake mix, use two strawberry (or vanilla) boxed cake mixes, and replace the oil with melted butter, the water with buttermilk but reduce amount by 1/4 cup and add 2 T each tequila and triple sec plus 1/4 mashed strawberries or strawberry preserves. A few drops of food color can brighten the pink color as well if you can only find vanilla mixes.)
For either method- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or three 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.
Scratch recipe: Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined. Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly. Pour in eggs and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in tequila, triple sec, and strawberries/preserves, and mix until combined. Add in oil and food color if desired, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
(For cake mixes: mix together all wet ingredients (butter, eggs, buttermilk, and liqueurs) in a large bowl with a wire whisk. Blend in cake mixes for 30 seconds, and then beat with a wire whisk or hand mixes for 2 minutes until well combined.)
Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8-inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7-inch cake pans (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans – it helps to run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter of the pan first. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart. This is a great time to make your frosting!
Frosting / Decorations
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler.
Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. With a measuring cup or a jigger (I used one from my Nau Mixology set), infuse each cake layer with about 30-45mLs (1 -1.5 oz.) of a mix of tequila and triple sec. Let sit for a minute or two to let it soak into the cake layers. Spread the first layer with frosting – this is optional, but I added just a bit of strawberry preserves to the frosting I filled the cake with. Add your next cake layer on top, and repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat. If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer. Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge or freezer), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
This is a great time to make your candy melt drip(s)!'
This recipe is very similar to my favorite white chocolate ganache recipe – you’re basically using candy melts instead of white chocolate to make a very similar drip. I prefer this drip when I want bright colors that aren’t tinted yellow from the white chocolate. Place heavy cream and candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring in between. Stir in color to desired deep pink/red shade until smooth (I used one drop pink and three drops red Americolor gel food coloring).
I usually find a squeeze bottle or piping bag work the best for this drip when you first start working with it, but I also sometimes use a spoon!
If desired, spread a bit of corn/karo syrup on your glass rim and dip in coarse salt/lime zest.
When your candy melt mix has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping or small ziplock bag – or get your spoon ready! Slowly drizzle candy melt ganache into your margarita glass, then invert the glass and press an edge into the top of the cake at about a 45 degree angle. Allow the ganache to run away from the glass and drip down the upper edge of your cake – I sometimes tilt the turn table a bit to help. If needed, smooth any gaps or bumpy spots with a small offset spatula. Place the cake into the refrigerator to set the drips!
Cut a few strawberries in half lengthwise and some lime slices (cut to the center to make lime twists) – add to the top of the cake around the glass! – and you’re done! Cut in and enjoy!
  • Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!
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  • Terry Terry on Jun 03, 2022

    Any suggestions for a teatolterer cake the cake looks great but brother may not appreciate me giving tequila to 9&12 neice and nephew

  • Terry Terry on Jun 03, 2022

    Any suggestions for a teatolterer cake the cake looks great but brother may not appreciate me giving tequila to 9&12 neice and nephew

    • Intensive Cake Unit Intensive Cake Unit on Jun 03, 2022

      Haha that makes sense 😂👍 You can replace the tequila and triple sec in the cake with buttermilk, and in the frosting with a little extra milk! 👍