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Chocolate Bourbon Cupcakes

January 27, 2011



Today is my awesome, cute, funny, amazing boyfriend Scott’s birthday, so I knew I had to whip up something super-special-delectable for him! I knew that I wanted liquor to be involved, and not just any, but his favorite liquor- bourbon. When I let him in on the idea he didn’t seem as excited as I was hoping (teardrop), and asked for something chocolaty. So I began my search for the perfect chocolate-bourbon cupcake recipe, and to my disappointment had a very hard time finding one. Then the light bulb went off. Why not just use my stand-by Chocolate-Stout Cupcake recipe (adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate-Stout Bundt Cake recipe), but replace the beer with bourbon? Ding ding ding! Happy Bourbon Birthday Babe!

Tip: Make the caramel sauce a day in advance to give it time to cool and thicken- and also in case, like me, you have to make a second attempt because you burned the first batch!

Chocolate-Bourbon 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
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two muffin pans with paper liners.

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.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add bourbon-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.

Fill cupcake liners ¾ full and bake 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Caramel Frosting (using Ina Garten’s Caramel Sauce recipe)

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks-softened)
  • 5 cups confectioners sugar
  • Coarse sea salt

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. 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, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. Be careful – the mixture is extremely hot! Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly (This happened to me on the first attempt. The texture was great but it had a burnt sugar taste- which can taste yummy but isn’t what I’m going for). Turn off the heat. Stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and ½ tsp of vanilla. Don’t worry – the cream will bubble violently and the caramel will solidify.

Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours or a day in advance. It will thicken as it sits.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter. Beat in the confectioners sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix in 1/4 cup of the caramel sauce. If the frosting is too thin, I’ve discovered you can add some flour until you reach the desired consistency. I never thought to do this for some reason, but it worked great because it thickened nicely without making it sweet by adding more sugar.

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and use remaining caramel to drizzle on top.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.












22 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2011 10:05 am

    This looks great! As I looked at it I can imagine its good taste! I can’t wait to make some of this tomorrow.

    • February 2, 2011 10:08 am

      They do taste great! Very moist and you can definitely taste the bourbon. Even a little bit after each bite it feels as though you just took a little sip of the liquor. yumyum!

  2. February 3, 2011 10:20 am

    This will surely be a great snacks on my valentine date with my husband. I will serve this after our dinner. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. Nicole permalink
    February 29, 2012 8:40 pm

    These are great! I did however find the tops of my cupcakes got pretty crispy – probably due to the melted butter in the recipe? Delicious none the less, just crispy! 🙂 Will make again.

    • February 29, 2012 10:50 pm

      So glad you like! Perhaps your oven just runs a little hot, maybe try lowering the temp 10 degrees or so and just make sure to toothpick test the doneness.

  4. ankherplonk permalink
    March 18, 2012 8:56 pm

    Oooh! These sound so yummy. I am going to give these a go for my sister and sister-in-law’s birthdays next month (which gives me loads of time to practice :D).

  5. Melissa permalink
    March 19, 2012 11:51 pm

    Could you tell me how many cupcakes this recipe makes?

  6. April 25, 2012 12:37 pm

    I LOVE bourbon so I made these for my birthday party last weekend – and they were amazing! Everyone at the party loved them (I doubled the recipe and they were all eaten before the end of the night!)

  7. jess bailey permalink
    November 20, 2012 5:14 am

    just trialed these and maybe it was just me and friend but found them a lil strong on the bourbon side, if i was to reduce the bourbon amount what should i substitute it with if anything?

    • November 20, 2012 6:17 am

      Yep that flavor isn’t for everyone, but the original recipe actually uses 1 cup of stout beer, which is a subtler flavor but just as chocolatey delicious!

  8. Taylor permalink
    October 6, 2014 10:47 am

    What kind of bourbon did you use for this recipe?? I’m going to make them this week 🙂

    • October 6, 2014 11:01 am

      You can use any bourbon you like! I would suggest on the lower price scale since you should save the good stuff for drinkin’! I believe I used Eagle Rare for this because that’s what was in the house.

      • April 28, 2017 8:27 am

        Do you think i could make this as just a salted caramel cupcake by omitting the cocoa powder? would you increase the flour by 1/2 cup?

      • July 10, 2017 5:28 am

        I wouldn’t do that- the cupcake part isn’t a caramel base and you would throw off both flavor and texture.


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