Baking with Booze

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by Nicole Watts

Father’s Day is just around the corner and I’m fairly certain there aren’t any dads in need of a new tie or another golf themed gift. 

Chocolate Caramel Bourbon Cupcakes with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting and Sweet Spicy Bacon made my favorite guy smile.

To keep things simple, I modified my favorite mocha cupcake recipe that’s as easy as a box mix. The bacon recipe is from Gourmet Comfort Food Magazine. The Bourbon Sauce is adapted The frosting is a modified version of Wilton’s Cream Cheese Buttercream.

Sweet Spicy Bacon (make up to 1 day ahead)

8 Slices of hardwood smoked thick cut bacon
1½ Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
¼ rounded teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ rounded teaspoon fine ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350
Line baking sheets with parchment paper
Arrange bacon in a single layer on a 17x11 cookie sheets
Mix brown sugar and pepper together

Bake for 20 minutes on the center rack
Turn bacon
Sprinkle with sugar & pepper mixture
Bake 20 more minutes
Allow to cool

Transfer from baking sheet to clean parchment paper to dry out overnight
Slice or crumble bacon to use as cupcake topping

Chocolate Bourbon Cupcakes  (makes 24 cupcakes)
2 cups sugar
1¾ cups flour
¾ cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk *
1 cup Buffalo Trace Bourbon
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line cupcake pans with cupcake papers
Combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt
Add eggs, buttermilk, bourbon, oil, and vanilla  (Batter will be thin)
Fill cupcakes ¾ full
Bake for 17-18 minutes or until done
*Regular milk can be substituted for buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar or 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar per cup of regular milk. Allow the soured milk to stand for ten minutes before adding to recipes.

Bourbon Caramel Sauce (make while the cupcakes cool)
(adapted from

½ cup water
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
4 Tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon salt

This will require your full attention until it is done.

Whisk heavy cream, bourbon, and salt together in a small bowl and set aside
Combine brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat
Bring the mixture to a boil
Once it begins to boil, whisk continually until it starts to smell like caramel, about 5-6 minutes (I highly recommend using a timer.)
Slowly pour in the heavy cream mixture while whisking continually
Continue to simmer over medium-high until mixture has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes
Remove from the heat (it will thicken more as it cools
I transferred the sauce to a plastic bottle with a pointed tip to make injecting the sauce into the cupcakes easier

Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ Tablespoons bourbon

Beat butter and cream cheese with electric mixer, until smooth and fluffy
Add in confectioner’s sugar in 3-4 batches, mixing until smooth each time
Add vanilla and bourbon, mix until smooth

If too thick, add in more bourbon or milk until desired consistency

To assemble the cupcakes
Inject caramel sauce into cupcakes, fill until cupcake looks like it’s going to pop.
Pipe icing onto cupcakes
Sprinkle with bacon crumbles
Store cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve

Serving idea: Serve chilled cupcakes with a glass of bourbon and his favorite cigar.