Whiskey Sour Cupcakes

After searching and searching for a decent lemon cupcake recipe, I resolved to adapt and remix a few different promising looking recipes for a smaller batch. I’m a single lady, what will I do with 30 cupcakes?! I am not a kindergarten teacher! I also would love to have a delicious cake recipe that I  can make small changes to and adapt easily for new flavors and creations.

I ended up with this lemon cake. It wasn’t quite as lemon-y as I wanted. I’m not sure it’s the go-to cake recipe I was looking for. But it’s a good start. I’ll mess with it a bit more. After all I’ve got an idea for lime, cranberry, vodka cake that needs to happen.

Mostly I love citrus in cake form with alcoholic frosting on top. It’s amazing! A cocktail for dessert complete with butter, flour and sugar. Mmm…

Lemon cupcakes

Adapted from Our Best BitesFood Network and 20 something Cupcakes

Ingredients

1 C. white sugar

1 stick (1/2 C.) unsalted butter at room temperature

2 eggs

2 lemons, zested and juiced

1 C. sifted flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

Pinch of salt

1/3 C. almond milk (buttermilk)

1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.

Cream together the sugar and butter. Once the sugar, butter mixture is creamy, add the lemon zest and juice. Mix the wet ingredients together. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside the almond milk and vanilla in another small bowl. Add about 1/3 of the four mixture to the butter mixture, mix together until smooth. Add about ½ of the almond milk and vanilla mixture. Mix until smooth. Add another third of the flour mixture. Mix. Add the remaining buttermilk and vanilla. Mix together. Add the final third of the flour. Mix until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared tins until about 3/4 full.

Bake in heated oven for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick is clean.

Yields: 12 cupcakes

I also put together a quick and easy butter cream frosting. It’s so simple and delish! I like this recipe enough I’ll keep it around for a long time with minor adjustments for flavor.

Boozy Butter Cream Frosting

Ingredients

½ C. unsalted butter at room temperature

3 C. powdered sugar

2 oz. (2 Tbs.) bourbon (Maker’s Mark)

Less alchoholic option: Reduce the alcohol to 1 oz (1 Tbs.) and substitute 1 Tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Non-alcoholic option: Substitute 2 Tbs. vanilla, lemon or other flavoring for the alcohol.

Instructions

On the lowest low setting of your electric mixer whip the butter until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the two tablespoons of flavoring, whip until smooth. Scrape down the bowl. Add the powdered sugar a half cup at a time whipping slowly. Continually scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

Tip: Use SOFT butter. Not melted, not cold. Soft, room-temperature unsalted butter will whip perfectly.

Tip: Go slowly! Butter cream frosting is not a process to rush through. 

After all the baking and whipping, my favorite way to eat this cocktail inspired cup of cake was like a sandwich. Yep, slice those lovely lemon cupcakes in half. Layer on a thick spread of butter cream, make an lemon, bourbon oreo and dig in. It’s just enough alcohol, sugar and fat to make you feel like maybe the 1920s weren’t so bad for the nation after all. 

There are no photos because I suck at food photography. I may just have to make these again for a photo-op. Also does anyone know where the maraschino cherries are in a grocery store? I can’t find them anywhere! On second thought, maybe I’ll put together a small layer cake since this BuzzFeed Food post inspired me to get back to regular cake. 

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Whiskey sour cupcakes and other lemon creations

Wonderful tart lemons all spring long. Image found via Wikimedia Commons.

Now that spring is here, I’m on a lemon spree.

It started off innocently enough with garlic lemon chicken. Not my best creation, but a tasty springtime dinner nonetheless. I love garlic, lemon and chicken. For a quick chicken fix, I sauteed chopped garlic in oil for about two minutes, added boneless, skinless chicken tenders to the pan. Grilled the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side until it was cooked through. As the chicken grilled, I added salt, pepper and rosemary to the mix. Then just before the chicken finished I squeezed a lemon over the pan. The grilled chicken paired nicely with spinach and tomato for a light crisp meal.

But I can’t give up on my favorite: desserts.

Next I moved on to lemon crinkle cookies. They were light and crunchy with a chewy center. I even rolled a few in coconut for an extra exotic kick. Another batch was turned into cookie ice cream sandwiches with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on each tiny cookie. I loved the extra creamy sweetness of the ice cream alongside the tart lemon sweet. The cookies were easy to make and totally worth all 20 minutes of effort.

This week in the test kitchen it’s whiskey sour cupcakes.

Of course for some pre-testing, I had to try making my very own old fashioned whiskey sours. I’ve never much cared for a bar-made whisky sours. (Sweet and sour mix is the worst!) But between Zed and Chef Andrew’s love of this classic cocktail, it has long been on the “make it at home” list. The bourbon lemon blend was warm, comforting and delicious. Similar to my longtime love the sidecar, this cocktail is now on my “always a good choice” list. Plus bartenders will actually know what I’m ordering when I ask for a whiskey sour.

Whiskey sours from the wonderful Vintage Mixer aka SLCFoodie.

Whiskey sours from the wonderful Vintage Mixer aka SLCFoodie.

Classic Whiskey Sour

2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey (Maker’s Mark)

1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup (Easy to make just dissolve one part sugar in one part boiling water!)

Ice

Put all the ingredients in a shaker. Shake it up until it’s cold, strain into a fancy glass (Martini is the classic!) Sip away to the sounds of a lovely spring evening on the front porch.

I also knew from the first sip a whiskey sour would make a delectable dessert.

So the plan for dessert testing is loosely a lemon cupcake with bourbon frosting. I’m toying with the idea of adding a lemon bourbon curd as the filling for an extra touch of fancy. And of course, a maraschino cherry on top. I may have to whip up an extra batch or two to get the right blend of bourbon, lemon and sweet.

It’s going to be delightful!

Strawberry Lime Cupcakes

Somehow the champagne for cupcakes was polished off before the cake could ever be made.

However I still had quite a bit of strawberry and limes on hand from a brunch of margaritas, mimosas and huevos rancheros. So I found myself searching online for strawberry lime cupcakes. I came across this recipe from Your Cup of Cake. I made a few changes: cut all the ingredients in half, almond milk for butter milk and strawberries in place of jello. I can’t eat two dozen cupcakes on my own as much as I may want to. And a trip to the grocery store sounded lame so…almond milk. Which worked out fine, even though it was questionably gloppy once the lime juice was added. Finally strawberries because I had them, and that was the reason for the google in the first place.

The cupcakes took a bit more work than I anticipated, but weren’t terribly difficult. I was just envisioning a 30 minutes experiment. It took me closer to an hour, but the cake came out sweetly tart. I love the lime cake part of this recipe. I will definitely be using it again. The strawberry buttercream frosting provides a super sweet counterpoint to the tart cake. It’s definitely a summer time treat worth making.

I’m also going to suggest making candied limes to top them off before serving them to other cupcake lovers. I think the fresh lime is a little too bright and overpowering, plus no one wants to eat the rind. So as a final touch candied limes would add a nice sweet and tart topping with a little bit of chewy crunch fo some texture variance too.

Coffee shop couture

Coffee shops are for women,” Mina said.

“Oh really?!”

“Yeah, it’s cool too dress up and go hang out with friends and just talk,” she said.

Coffee shops are certainly thought of differently in Korea. Koreans love their coffee. They also love their corporations. This love has combined to bring the world Papa Rotini.

The father of buns.

I couldn’t make that slogan up.

The father of buns.

Uh-huh. I know what you’re thinking. Just laugh.

Back with me? Good.

There are quite a few of these around, but my favorite shop is a tiny closet-sized space near Lotte Mart in Chilgeumdo, Chungjusi.

The shop workers are obnoxiously happy. They always greet me with smiles and a menu in English. (Because neither of us have the patience for me to work my way through hangeul while other customers crowd the small space.) They have the usual confection of ridiculous fluffy drinks like lattes and cappuccino drowning in whipped cream, but they also have the holy grail of coffee in Korea. Drip coffee! Good ol’ American style boring black drip coffee made fresh and served hot.

During my latest venture I decided to test out the cupcakes on display. They were just so cute! Tiny little heart shaped sprinkles on white cream frosting and an itty-bitty chocolate cupcake. Too sweet to resist, I caved and forked over an astonishing 3,000 won for the sweet treat.

I sat at a small table lining the wall. The decor is Victorian-esque and provided a perfect setting for the well-dressed women gossiping at the only table big enough for more than two in the establishment.

Soon my coffee and cupcake were brought to me by the always cheerful barista. The coffee was delicious! They’ve definitely worked out the coffee to water ratio correctly at this place. (A tough find, I promise.) I enjoyed sipping my caffeine as I wrote for a few minutes before feeling brave enough to take on the CUPCAKE.

I try to lower my expectations whenever I eat something I know and love from home because it just won’t be the same. But even with the lowest low expectations in mind the cupcake was disappointing.

The sweet frosting tasted as though it was made from shortening. Although the white color was lovely, the greasy blandness was not.

The cake itself was dry to the point of stale. The texture was such it made me think perhaps it was made with rice flour. And despite being chocolate looking, I couldn’t actually detect any chocolate flavor. I knew the chocolate would be mild, as I’ve come to expect here in Korea. But this cupcake was appalingly flavorless.

Wheat flour and butter would go along way towards improving your cupcakes, Papa Rotini.

Sadly, the best part of the cupcake was its appearance. I won’t be eating any more cupcakes from Papa Rotini.

The hour I spent writing and reading at the coffee shop was absolutely lovely, the cozy space is great for curling up with a hot cup of java and a good book or for a chat with friends. The other patrons generally talk quietly among themselves, the music that plays is a nice mix of Korean, Japanese, European and American pop music. It’s quiet enough to not be intrusive, but provides enough background noise to make the cafe comfortable.

Papa Rotini’s excels at providing an excellent atmosphere in which to taste test terrible cupcakes.

Food: Inspiration cupcakes

Look at this!

Ming Makes Cupcakes has over 20 easy and beautiful cupcake recipes. Including a flour-less recipe for the gluten free. Some of the recipes just sound so wonderful, “Sourcream Raspberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting” and “Coffee Chocolate Cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream Frosting!” I can’t believe this is real. It’s so beautiful!
I feel so inspired. I’ll have to try these out soon. The cookies and savouries (savory, rather than sweet, cupcaks) also sound delicious.
Amazing!