Somedays You Just Need a Win… (Bourbon Baller Cupcakes)

I’ve had some baking failures recently, and those are just no fun to post about: miniature blueberry pies came out with a perfect crust and a charred, congealed filling like dark candle wax; cookies spread; cakes fell; crops died; Trump became president; the world ended.

Okay maybe not all that, but definitely the first and second things. And sadly one of the last ones too.

And so I find myself wanting to bake something I know I can do well; I need a win to rebuild my confidence. And what is confidence in a bottle?

Bourbon.

Bourbon can help anyone rebuild their confidence with a few quick swigs! I present to you, dear reader, Bourbon Baller Cupcakes, adapted from and embellished upon this delicious Whiskey Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake recipe I came across over at the New York Times. This recipe requires Mise-en-place: for everything to be in it’s place before you start creaming and baking.

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Bourbon Baller Cupcakes

yield: 28-30 cupcakes

  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • ¼ cup instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • boiling water
  • 1 cup bourbon, Four Roses Yellow Label is my preference
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two muffin tins with liners. Personally, I made 24 cupcakes and a dozen miniature cupcakes with this recipe. In the top of a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate. Set aside to cool.

In a 2-cup or larger glass measuring cup, combine the espresso and cocoa powders. Add enough boiling water to reach the 1-cup mark and stir to dissolve the powders. Add the bourbon. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate.

On low speed, beat in a third of the cocoa-bourbon mixture. Then mix in half of the flour mixture, a third of the bourbon, the rest of the flour, and the last third of the bourbon mixture. Mix well after each addition, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Despite the liquid content, the batter will not be thin.

Divide batter among muffin tins and bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Toasted Pecans

  • 1 cup chopped pecan
  • 24 pecans halves

Spread the chopped pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake t 350 degrees for abut 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Can be made in advance (or while the oven is preheating for the cupcakes).

Chocolate Ganache

  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp bourbon

Chop the chocolate. Add the bourbon. Heat the cream in a microwave-safe measuring cup until it begins to just bubble around the sides. Pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for one minute before stirring to melt. If there are unmelted bits of chocolate, heat in the microwave for 5-10 second intervals until melted.

Dip the tops of the cupcakes into melted chocolate. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the wet ganache. Let sit until the chocolate firms up a bit.

Vanilla-Bourbon Buttercream

  • 1  cup butter
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • Cream as needed

Cream butter until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes on medium speed in an electric mixer. Add 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar, bourbon, and vanilla. Cream until combined. Add 1 tbsp cream and bourbon to taste. The frosting may look thin or even broken. Add remaining confectioner’s sugar until desired texture and sweetness is reached.

Pipe frosting over solid chocolate ganache and pecans. Top each cupcake with a pecan half.

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