Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Butterbeer and Bourbon

As we approach the end of 2013, it is a time for reflection and champagne drinking. I'll spare you the reflection piece and skip straight to the fun baking and boozing part of the post. Last year, a friend of mine hosted a Harry Potter Yule Ball. You might remember that golden snitches and chocolate frogs were had by many. Well, the truffles were delicious but also rather messy and I've always wanted to try butterbeer so butterbeer cupcakes made it onto the second annual Yule Ball menu.

Last year's treats

While I was moments away from joining a friend in Harry Potter World for the New Year, I have never actually had butterbeer. When I was a kid and the movies didn't exist yet, my brother and I would imagine that butterbeer tasted a bit like cream soda. Turns out we weren't the only ones who thought this as it's a key ingredient to these cupcakes.

Butter extract? Concentrated butter flavor? Sold.

This recipe comes in three parts: the cake, the filling and the icing. The most complicated part was getting the filling into the cupcake since it was more like a syrup than a filling. Generally, I like butterscotch but the smell was a little strong for me. It turned out great in the cupcakes though! I received a frosting gun, for lack of a better term, for Christmas so was able to make these a little prettier than my usual cupcakes. I'm pretty pumped to test it out in the future and make roses and pretty designs.

Accio cupcakes (yes, that just happened)

The second adventure in boozy baking was a bourbon chocolate cake. My roommate gave me a 365 day dessert cookbook, let the mayhem begin! This cake stood out to me as festive with its rich chocolate and festive bourbon. Now, this cake was being taken to a family gathering with kids and I learned from bourbon banana bread that not all of the alcohol bakes out. Maybe it won't get you buzzed but you can still taste it. Since there would be kids at this party, I poured some of the batter into a baking pan of Christmas shapes before adding bourbon to the mix.

Chocolate and bourbon, Lemon out

As for the rest of the batter, that was poured into a bundt pan and was a huge pain to get out once it had cooled. Despite spraying with non-stick, I made just a few dents in the pan trying to coax the cake out, only to have it split in half. Fortunately there is also a ganache that goes overtop. I will say that after making bark and chocolate frogs and ganache, I would highly recommend melting chocolate in a double boiler and not in the microwave. I have a 50-50 tract record with successfully melting it in the microwave and burning it to crumbly pieces. Just melt it on the stove, it's much easier to keep an eye on too.

Mmmm, we're gonna need a minute

Despite my warning of bourbon, the kids still tried the cake (and immediately spit it back out, much to the delight of their parents who wanted the boozy cake). So the lesson of today is, not all of the alcohol burns out.

On a fancy New Year note, I had a cupcake once that had champagne soaked raspberries in the center. I should really add that to the list for next year's New Years celebration, if only to bulk up before dancing til the wee hours of the morning.

This was the motto of 2013, still working on the 2014 one though

And on that note, eat and drink responsibly and enjoy the end of 2013! I for one will be saying a fond farewell through excessive dancing and motto brainstorming.

Butterbeer Cupcakes (makes 18)

For the cake:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cream soda
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with wrappers
  2. Combine the dry ingredients through the salt in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter (at room temperature) until it is creamy and fluffy. Add the sugars and mix until combined. 
  4. Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture, one at a time. Next add the vanilla and butter flavoring.
  5. Alternate adding the buttermilk, cream soda and dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners until they are 3/4 full.
  7. Bake the cupcakes for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.
  8. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before adding the filling and icing. 

For the filling:
1 11-oz. package butterscotch chips
1 cup heavy cream
  1.  In a double boiler (or microwave), melt the butterscotch chips and add the heavy cream until combined.
  2. Using a squeeze bottle would be easiest here to add the filling to the center of the cupcake but you can also use a toothpick to create a space for the butterscotch and slowly add the filling.
  3. Reserve 1/3 cup of the mixture for the icing and more if you would like to add a drizzle to the icing.
For the icing:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup butterscotch filling
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 16-oz. package powdered sugar
Splash of milk (as needed)
  1.  Cream the butter until it is creamy and fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients except the powdered sugar until combined.
  2. Add the powder sugar one cup at a time until all ingredients are mixed together. If needed, add some milk to thin the icing.
  3. Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes in whatever design or fashion you desire.
  4. Drizzle remaining filling on top of cupcakes or leave plain. Or add sprinkles. Or sparkles.
Bourbon Chocolate Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup bourbon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a bundt pan and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and the 4 ounces of chocolate. Stir over low heat and add the cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside and let cool.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until lightened. Stir in the sour cream, bourbon, two teaspoons of vanilla and the chocolate mixture.
  5. Lastly, stir in the dry ingredients until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer placed in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cake to cool for about 15 minutes before unmolding the cake and allowing to cool completely. Cooling racks could be used here but I don't have one so skip that part.
 4 oz. of bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  1. While the cake cools, warm the cream in a sauce pan.
  2. Add the 4 ounces of chocolate and corn syrup to the cream. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  3. Let the glaze cool to room temperature before adding the vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the glaze over the cake. Place on a festive platter and serve (to adults).

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