You know I love booze in my desserts, and these Manhattan cupcakes won’t disappoint (but also won’t tip you over the legal limit!)
I made these as a dessert to accompany the first meetup of a group my friend Ryan has brought together to pair intellectually stimulating conversations with excellent food. And after enjoying a lovely meal of pho and Vietnamese vermicelli dishes, everyone dug into these cocktail-themed treats.
The base for this cupcake is chocolate, though I think I’d like to try it again, but with a whiskey cake instead of chocolate.
Yield: 24-26 cupcakes
• 2 cups flour
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 3/4 tsp salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 eggs
• 1 1/4 cup whole milk
• 2/3 cup whiskey
• 1 tsp vanilla
Extra whiskey to brush on the top of the cupcakes
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 3 to 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
• 2 tbsp sweet vermouth
• 1/4 tsp cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp cardamon
Topping: Cherries (I prefer sour cherries over maraschino cherries)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position the racks toward the center. Line cupcake pans with papers.
For the cupcakes, combine flour, baking soda, salt and sugar, whisking to blend; set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed, medium pan, melt the butter on medium-high heat. Once melted, add the cocoa — gradually — whisking to combine. The mixture should come to a simmer, but not a boil. You want it to thicken.
Once thickened, cool the cocoa mixture for about 10-15 minutes (the freezer is handy here).
In your stand mixer, whip together the eggs and milk. Add the vanilla.
Once the cocoa mixture has cooled, slowly add a little bit of the mixture to temper the eggs, keeping the mixer’s paddle spinning constantly at a slow-medium speed (You can also accomplish this by taking the bowl off the stand mixer and whisking by hand, then putting it back on to the mixer for the dry ingredients).
Add the dry ingredients in 3-4 stages. Add the whisky, mixing well to combine.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway full. Bake for about 20-22 minutes. When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 5 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
If you want additional whiskey flavor, brush some on to the top of each cake before frosting with the buttercream.
For the sweet vermouth buttercream frosting, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup of sugar, beating until combined.
Add the cinnamon, cardamom, and sweet vermouth, then add the remaining sugar in 1/2 cup increments to your own taste.
Whip on high for about 5 minutes to make the buttercream light and fluffy. Fill the piping bag, already fitted with your preferred tip, and pipe the frosting onto each cupcake. Top with a cherry and enjoy!