Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chocolate Bourbon Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

I'm a stress baker. This quarter at school is killing me and my personal life has not been going great.

After a 4 AM shift at work, a 3-hour dentist visit, and an intense/frustrating heart-to-heart with my roomie/best friend, I couldn't wait for Boyfriend to come home. Unfortunately he's a busy man and he wouldn't be home until 9:30. To fill the void that he left while he was at work and school, I decided to make bourbon-infused cupcakes since he's a huge bourbon fan.

Interestingly enough, the recipe I got from allisoneats* was a play on the Smitten Kitchen's chocolate stout cupcakes which I've made many times before! I tweaked it a bit, of course, but it worked out beautifully!

*If you like a denser cupcake, like I do, use my recipe. If you prefer a fluffier, lighter cake, follow Alison's recipe!

Chocolate Bourbon Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Make caramel sauce FIRST (recipe below) and allow it to cool in the refrigerator for one hour, or at room temperature for four hours. You can also make it a day in advance.

For The Caramel Sauce (using Ina Garten’s Caramel Sauce recipe):

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, warm (Believe it or not, one of the biggest mistakes people make in the art of caramel sauce is adding cold cream to hot sugar-- it's dangerous and it can affect the chemistry of the recipe. You can heat it in the microwave or over the stove.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Mix the water and granulated sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. DO NOT STIR. 
  2. Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350°F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes. Again, DO NOT STIR. Stirring causes crystals to form and your caramel will come out grainy. (The first time I tried caramel, I made 9 attempts before I realized this. Be careful – the mixture is extremely hot! )
  3. Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly.
  4. Turn off the heat. Stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and ½ tsp of vanilla. The cream will bubble violently and the caramel will solidify.
  5. Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. 
  6. Allow to cool at room temperature for four hour or in the fridge for one hour. It will thicken as it sits.

For The Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two muffin pans with paper liners.
    2. Bring the bourbon and butter to a simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
    3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. 
    4. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. 
    5. Add bourbon-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. 
    6. Add flour mixture to the wet mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. 
    7. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.
    8. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full and bake 20-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

    For The Frosting:


    • 1 cup butter (2 sticks-softened)
    • 3-4 cups confectioners sugar
    • 1/4 cup caramel sauce (using recipe above!)
    • coarsely chopped chocolate
    • Coarse sea salt


    1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter. Beat in the confectioners sugar and 1 tsp vanilla.
    2. Mix in the caramel sauce. (If too thin, add more sugar or a little flour to keep it from getting too sweet.)
    3. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and use remaining caramel to drizzle on top.
    4. Sprinkle lightly with chopped chocolate and sea salt.

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