Dark Chocolate Whiskey Cupcakes

About a month ago I had a friend send me a link to a cupcake recipe and asked if I would make those for her upcoming birthday. Those cupcakes were dark chocolate whiskey cupcakes. It just so happens that chocolate and whiskey are two of my favorite things. Why yes, I’ll be happy to make those for you.

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I have a serious love for baking with alcohol. I just made Blue Moon cupcakes a couple weeks ago, and my favorite pound cake has Amaretto in it. Most of whatever is put into the cake batter cooks out, but the frosting and/or filling is where you can make the most impact with the alcohol’s flavor.

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And I can’t forget to mention how good this cupcake’s chocolate cake is—the chocolate, whiskey and coffee flavors just work so well together. Oh, and it’s incredibly moist. It rivals the cake in the Irish Car Bomb cupcakes I make every year for St. Patrick’s Day, and those are my favorite.

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Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from Fields of Cake
Make approximately two dozen cupcakes

Ingredients
2 cups  all purpose flour
¾ cup coco powder
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs
½ cup super strong coffee
½ cup Jack Daniels Whiskey
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line standard muffin tins with paper cups.
2. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. In another large bowl, combine and whisk together the eggs, coffee, whiskey, buttermilk and oil.
4. Add the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
5. Divide the mixture evenly into prepared cups…about 2/3 full.
6. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes about clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before filling and frosting.

Dark Chocolate Whiskey Ganache
16 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup Jack Daniels Whiskey

Directions
1. Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl (I use glass) and set aside.
2. Heat heavy cream until just boiling, and then pour over chocolate.
3. Cover chocolate and cream for 2 minutes to allow chocolate to soften.  Uncover and stir with whisk until smooth and silky. If all of the chocolate didn’t melt, zap in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until all has melted.
4. Add the butter and stir until fully incorporated.
5. Stir in whiskey until fully incorporated and allow to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Whiskey Buttercream
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 three ounce package white chocolate, vanilla or cheesecake instant pudding mix (I used vanilla)
2 cups of the dark chocolate whiskey ganache
½ cup sifted dark cocoa powder
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup powdered sugar, sifted (more for a stiffer frosting)
Additional whiskey to taste (I think I added 2 or 3 more tbsp)

Directions
1. Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and pudding mix together on medium high speed for approximately 5 minutes.
2. Add the ganache, cocoa powder and heavy cream. Beat for another 5 minutes, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the sifted powdered sugar a little bit at a time. Add additional for stiffer or sweeter taste.
4. If needing/wanting more of a whiskey flavor, add a tablespoon at a time until satisfied with the flavor.

Assemble the cupcakes by coring out the center and adding the remaining ganache. Top each cupcake with the frosting using your favorite tip and/or technique. Enjoy!

—m.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream and Candied Bacon

Let me tell you the one small thing I know about bacon—it’s not really my thing. Except for an occasional BLT. Then bacon is totally my thing. I love a good BLT. But I don’t understand the general public’s fascination of and love for bacon. It’s seriously not all that great.

Now let me tell you the one small thing I know about candied bacon—it’s totally my thing. Holy cow. Why have I not ever had candied bacon before? It’s seriously awesome. I don’t know what made me think of searching for a chocolate/bacon cupcake recipe, but so glad I did. These were a hit with everyone at the office.

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I did have some trouble with the original frosting recipe. I think part of it was the type of butter I used, but I’m also wondering if part of the frustration I had with the frosting recipe was the addition of the maple syrup. No matter how much powdered sugar I added, the frosting never set up and got “stiff.” So I switched frosting recipes to a traditional buttercream, used different butter and drizzled the maple syrup on at the end instead of adding it in while making it. It made all of the difference, and turned out so much better. The recipe below is the second one I used.

I ended up using three different recipes to make these, and the links are at the bottom. The original frosting recipe that didn’t work for me is the one included the chocolate cupcake’s source. The picture below isn’t the best, but it’s a better shot of the maple syrup drizzled on top. These are two of the cupcakes I had to re-frost when I decided to ditch the first batch of frosting and make new.

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Just believe me when I say that these are awesome. You may need a couple to become fully satisfied. Between the coarse sea salt popping up in the cupcake and the sweetness from the toppings…so good. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes
Original recipe from The Novice Chef
Makes 24-30 cupcakes

Ingredients
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¾ cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp coarse salt
3 sticks (1 ½ cups) unsalted butter
2 ¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.
5. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each two thirds full. Bake 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Transfer tins to wire racks to completely cool.

Maple Buttercream
Original recipe from Savory Sweet Life
Makes enough for one dozen cupcakes. Double this recipe for two dozen cupcakes.

Ingredients
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter softened
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
¼ tsp table salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 4 tbsp milk or heavy cream
Maple Syrup for drizzling

Directions
1. Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Adding a half of cup at a time, add 3 cups of powdered sugar with your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.
2. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk or heavy cream and beat until well combined. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.

Candied Bacon
Original recipe from Just Putzing Around the Kitchen

Ingredients
6 strips of bacon
Maple syrup
Brown sugar

Directions
1. Heat oven to 375, and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay your bacon strips across a baking rack and place the rack on the foil-lined baking sheet.
2. Using a pastry brush or spoon, brush each strip of bacon with a layer of maple syrup and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. Flip your strips over, basting and sprinkling with brown sugar again and bake for another 10 minutes. Check bacon, and stick them back in the oven for up to another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Crumble into desired sized pieces.

Frost the cupcakes, top with bacon crumbles and drizzle maple syrup. Serve with a napkin—the maple syrup can make this a messy one!

—m.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

I made some delicious cupcakes for St. Patty’s Day and have been meaning to put the recipe up but I keep forgetting. I know it’s been well over a month since St. Patty’s Day, but who’s keeping track…right?

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The cupcake recipe came from the well known Irish Car Bomb beer cocktail. The beer cocktail has three Irish ingredients—Guiness stout, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Jameson Irish Whiskey. You pour the Bailey’s in a shot glass, give it a float of  Jameson and  drop the entire thing into a half full pint of Guiness. And then you chug—because if you don’t it will curdle [gross.] I’m not much for Guiness, but I won’t turn down one of these drinks.

As for the cupcakes…they are a labor of love [just like the cheesecake truffles I made.] No other way to describe it. The entire process can take 3 to 4 hours [whoa.] I made the cupcakes one night and then made the filling and frosting the next night. It was so much easier that way. I didn’t take step by step pictures of the process, but I did take a couple to help with explaining. I adapted the recipe from the fine people over at Smitten Kitchen—the link has more photos to help explain some of the process. Also, don’t be afraid to pour a little bit more alcohol in each step than what’s just listed. I probably came close to doubling the amount of Baileys and Jameson to add extra flavor. Enjoy!

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Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
Original recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Makes two dozen cupcakes

Cupcakes
Ingredients
1 cup stout beer (I used Guinness)
1 cup [2 sticks] unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins with liners
2. Bring beer and butter to simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Cool slightly.
3. Whisky flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Using an electric mixer beat in eggs and sour cream. Add beer mix to egg mix and beat to combine.
4. Add flour mix and and beat briefly on slow speed.
5. Using a spatula, finish folding the mix until combined and pour into lined cupcake tins to about 2/3 of the way full.
6. Bake about 17 minutes, rotating pan once. Let cool completely.

Ganache Filling
Ingredients
8 oz of bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cups heavy cream
2 TBSP butter, room temp
2 tsp Irish whiskey (I always put more in than stated. I think I ended up with at least 4 TBSP of whiskey)

Directions
1. Chop up the chocolate [if in a large piece] and put into a medium sized bowl.
2. Heat cream until simmering and pour over chocolate. Let sit one minute and stir until smooth. Heat up in the microwave if the chocolate isn’t completely melted.
3. Add butter and whiskey and stir until combined.
4. Let the ganache cool enough until thick, but soft enough to pipe through a hole when filling the cupcakes. If you put it in the fridge to help speed up the process, it must be stirred about every 10 minutes.

Frosting
Ingredients
3-4 cups powdered sugar
½ cup [1 stick] butter, room temp
4 TBSP Baileys (I put more than stated here too. I added more until I was satisfied with the flavor)
2 to 4 TBSP milk or heavy cream

Directions
1. Whip butter in a bowl with an electric mixer for several minutes. You want the butter to become light and fluffy.
2. Add powder sugar about half of a cup at a time. This helps it mix better and and have a less gritty taste/texture like some homemade frostings can have.
3. When frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys and whip until combined.
4. Add 2 TBSP of milk or heavy cream to help thin out frosting. If still too thick, add more milk or cream, one TBSP at a time.
Note: If the frosting has become too thin, add another spoonful or two of powder sugar.

Putting it all together!
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1. Once your cupcakes have completely cooled, you can start removing the centers. Since I mad my cupcakes the night before, I removed the centers while the ganache was cooling. You can either use an apple corer, or a paring knife [which is what I used]. Make the hole about 1 inch across and about 2/3 of the way down the cupcake.
2. Put the cooled ganache  into a piping bag and fill the holes  you just cut out. If you’re like me and you don’t have a piping bag, you can put the ganache into a ziplock bag and cut off the tip of one of the bottom corners. Works just as well as a piping bag.
3. Spread the frosting over the top of the cupcakes, and enjoy!

—m.