If you like a boozy cake, these cupcakes could be for you.
Even if you don’t, you still might like them – I would never drink straight up bourbon whiskey, but somehow when you add butter and sugar the taste is transformed into something altogether different, and far more pleasant.
I was thinking of different ways of incorporating alcohol into cupcakes, and was originally going down the cocktail route, until a friend suggested whiskey as something different to try.
(On a side note, while writing this I couldn’t decide whether I should be saying whiskey or whisky. I decided to research it, and it turns out that officially it should be whiskey for a bourbon, but whisky for a scotch. Never knew that before!)
My mind-cogs started turning, and soon the idea of bourbon pecan pie came into my head. Whiskey, caramel, pecans – how could it not work?
I decided the cake itself needed pecans, brown sugar and bourbon (Jim Beam, kindly donated from my dad’s ‘not for guests’ alcohol cabinet) and based it on these coffee cupcakes I made a little while ago.
The cakes obviously needed a pecan pie filling, and so I made one based on a Betty Crocker recipe I found online, but omitting the eggs as they seemed like a bit of a strange addition.
For the icing, I was torn between buttercream and cream cheese, but decided to go for cream cheese as there was already lot of sweetness going on in the cakes, and I thought they could probably do with a bit of a tang to cut through it.
I’m really, really pleased with how the cupcakes turned out – the sponge is light but moist, the filling sweet, sticky and pecan pie-esque, and the cream cheese icing was definitely the right choice.
One of my taste testers at work thought they were a bit too boozy, and you certainly do get a good hit of bourbon, but even though I’m not a whiskey drinker I still enjoyed them. I guess it’s down to personal taste, you can always cut back if you’re worried they’ll be too strong. Either way, they are a ridiculously indulgent treat that I would definitely make again.
Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- 40g pecan nuts
- 80g caster sugar
- 80g light brown sugar
- 165g butter
- 3 medium eggs
- 1tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 tbsp bourbon whiskey
- 165g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the filling:
- 50g pecan nuts
- 30g caster sugar
- 30g light brown sugar
- 120g golden syrup
- 10g cornflour
- 60g butter
- 3 tbsp whipping cream
- 1.5 tbsp bourbon whiskey
For the icing:
- 50g butter
- 300g icing sugar
- 125g cream cheese
- 12 pecan halves, to decorate
To make the cupcakes, start by grinding the pecan nuts in a food processor with the caster and light brown sugar, until no large chunks remain.
Beat the butter and pecan sugar mix together for 4-5 minutes, until really light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla bean paste and bourbon whiskey. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt, then fold into the cake batter until just combined.
Divide the mixture between 10-12 cupcake cases in a muffin tin, filling each with about 60g of batter, then bake at 170 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until risen, golden, and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the tin after 10 minutes and place on a wire rack to cool.
To make the filling, add both sugars, the golden syrup, butter and cornflour to a medium saucepan, and warm over a medium heat, stirring until the butter melts and all the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer, then add the bourbon whiskey. Keep stirring until the liquid becomes a thick syrup, then remove from the heat and whisk in the cream. Stir in the pecans and leave to cool completely.
For the icing, beat the butter and 50g sugar until well mixed, then gradually add the rest of the sugar, beating constantly (if it seems like it’s too dry and won’t come together, add a little of the cream cheese). Once all the sugar has been mixed in, add 2 tbsp of caramel from the filling (without any pecans in) and the cream cheese, then beat for 3-4 minutes until light and creamy. Chill in the fridge for half an hour, or until thick enough to pipe.
To assemble the cupcakes, cut a round hole in the centre of each cake, about 1.5cm diameter, going down to 1cm away from the bottom of the cake. Remove the centres, then spoon the pecan caramel filling into the holes, dividing equally between all of the cupcakes.
Take the centres you removed from the cakes and cut them in half horizontally, then place the top half back on top of the filling – it should be level with the top and look like a normal cupcake again.
Fit a piping bag with a large star nozzle and fill with the cream cheese icing. Pipe in swirls on top of the cupcakes, then finish by decorating with a pecan half on top.