Boozy Birthday Cupcakes

It's not my birthday nor is it the birthday of anyone I know, or even close to it.  But I bet it could one yours, dear fabulous readers.  And for that, I made you Boozy Birthday Cupcakes!

Boozy Birthday Cupcakes

Actually, I'm lying.  I made these for Brett's birthday back in August, but only now have I found the time to write about them.  We were out of town on his actual birthday, so I brought these cuties to his office a couple weeks after we got home to help celebrate.

I love making over-the-top birthday cakes for my husband Brett each year – like this Funfetti Oreo Cake or this Peanut Butter Donut Drip Cake.  However, I must confess that sometimes I use the opportunity to just make something I personally wanted to test out.  This year, it was kind of a mash-up of some of his favourites and a new recipe I was dying to try.  You guys – Marshmallow Buttercream!!!

Boozy Birthday Cupcakes
Boozy Birthday Cupcakes

This Marshmallow Buttercream was truly like nothing I've ever made before.  It acts like a meringue-based buttercream (like Swiss or Italian meringue), but guess what....No egg whites!  This mystical marshmallow concoction comes from the pastry wiz, Stella Parks.  I've been following Stella's blog, Bravetart, well before I even had a blog myself!  Not only is Stella the mastermind behind the deliciousness AND baking science on Serious Eats, she was also named "one of America’s Best New Pastry Chefs" by Food & Wine.  Let me tell you – she really knows her stuff.  So when I found a recipe for a fluffy, cloud-like buttercream without eggs whites in her new cookbook, I just had to try it!!!

Boozy Birthday Cupcakes
Boozy Birthday Cupcakes
Boozy Birthday Cupcakes

Stable, rich, fluffy, not-to-sweet, and totally dreamy – this Marshmallow Buttercream is definitely a game changer.  If you've been following this blog for a while, then you know how much I love Swiss meringue buttercream.  I love it for its silky, smooth qualities and how it glides over layer cakes so effortlessly.  I've come around to using whipped American buttercream from time to time (I used to hate it) because of its convenience and lack of egg whites.  But a buttercream that's not super sweet like American buttercream that doesn't require a ton of egg whites?  Count me in!!

This recipe starts with a basic homemade marshmallow recipe.  I'll admit, it is a bit time consuming and you still have to boil sugar (I promise it's not as scary as it sounds).  But guys, it's totally worth it!  I added a big glug of bourbon and just enough pure vanilla to make these a bit boozy and 100% fun.  

Be sure to pick up a copy of Stella's new book for the full recipe!!

My Favorite Devil’s Food Cupcake Recipe
4 ounces dark chocolate (about 70%), chopped
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ cup boing water
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant espresso
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft – slightly melty
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
3 large eggs
½ cup milk 

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cupcake pan and set aside.

2. Combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, and boiling water together.  Stir to combine and set aside.

3. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

4. Using an electric mixer, combine the super soft butter with the sugars.  Mix for a couple minutes until thoroughly combined.

5. Add the vanilla, almond, and eggs – one at a time, making sure each in incorporated before adding in the next.  Stop mixing and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

6. With the mixer on low, stream in the chocolate mixture until combined.

7. Slowly add in half of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Stream in the milk.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

8. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until combined.

9. Evenly divide the batter into the cupcake pans and bake until done, about 22 to 24 minutes.

10.  Let cool on a cooling rack before frosting.

 

Boozy Meringue Buttercream
½ cup (120 ml) egg whites (from about 3 to 4 large eggs)
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks – 340 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1/4 bourbon, or to taste
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (optional)

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the egg whites and granulated sugar.  Whisk them together briefly by hand, just until they are combined so that the egg whites don’t begin cooking by themselves.

2. Fill a sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the mixer bowl with the egg white mixture on top to create a double-boiler. The water should be kept at a simmer but should not touch the bottom of the bowl.  The double-boiler acts as indirect heat for the egg white mixture. 

 3. Occasionally stirring, heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 155 to 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer.  The mixture should be very hot to the touch and the sugar should have dissolved. 

 4. Once the egg white mixture is hot, carefully return the bowl to the stand mixer.  Fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed for about 8 minutes.  When done, the meringue should hold shiny, medium-stiff peaks and be cooled to room temperature.  Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.

5. With the mixer on low, begin adding in the butter a couple tablespoons at a time.  Use the paddle attachment to mix it in.  The butter must be room temperature in order to incorporate properly with the meringue.  Mix until combined.

6. Once the butter has been mixed in, add the bourbon, vanilla bean seeds (if using) and the vanilla extract.

7. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until silky smooth.  This may take a few minutes, but keep mixing until light, creamy, and free from most air bubbles.