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.

Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake + GIVEAWAY!

Swirls of chocolate and brown sugar bourbon buttercream sandwiched between layers of decadent chocolate cake and surprise pecan crunch filling!

Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.

’Tis the season, folks!  The holidays have officially arrived.  I could not be more thankful and thrilled to be celebrating this cherished time of year with my little family and close friends.  

This past month has been sort of a whirl-wind of Christmas baking, toddler entertaining, winter colds, and lots of rain.  When not sick with this horrendous cough, I’ve been baking up a storm for the holidays and chasing around my curious little Everett non-stop..  Life has been happy, crazy, exhausting, but extremely full these days.  And it’s only just begun!

Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.
Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.
Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.

I know it’s cliché, but Christmas truly is my most favorite time of year.  The one good thing about Canadian Thanksgiving being in October is that we get to start celebrating Christmas right after Halloween.  Our tree is up, baking well under way, and I’ve been listing to holiday tunes for a month now.  This year is going to be particularly special for a few reasons: we get to witness the magic of Christmas from the perspective of a toddler, we get to fly home in time for Christmas Eve this year (which just might actually be my favorite day), and we have so much to thankful for.

I’m sure I’ll be writing about twinkly lights, Everett’s first encounter with Santa, catching snowflakes, etc before the 25th, but today I just want to give thanks.  I am a bit late for Thanksgiving, but it is still the season of giving, so please accept a big THANK YOU from me to you!  It’s been such an incredible year!  For each and every one of you that has supported me and my book, baked and shared your own cake creations, voted for ‘Layered’ in the Good Reads awards, and/or left a sweet, supportive comment, please know how much I appreciate you.  People have emailed and tagged photos of their “Layered inspired” cakes for weddings, birthdays, showers, and more.  There are even a few of you who are baking their way through my book!!  I have never been so honoured to be a small part of your special days. 

I’ve hosted a few giveaways this fall (and I still have another coming up in December), but this time I am only opening up the giveaway for those who have already purchased their own copy of ‘Layered.’  Again, I can’t thank you all enough for your tremendous amount of support, and this is just a small way I can show my gratitude.  Surely you already have a copy, but why not have another to give as a gift this holiday season?!  Or at least this is my intention.  Just another way to spread and share the cake love!!

So how does this work?  For a chance to win a signed copy of ‘Layered’ in time for the holidays, post and tag a photo on Instagram using the hashtags #LayeredCookBook and #LayeredHoliday.  Feel free to post your own Layered-inspired cake, the book itself in your own home or kitchen, or any other photo that indicates that you own and (hopefully) love ‘Layered.’  Only photos posted November 29th to December 3rd may qualify.  If you've already posted a Layered cake pic, please re-post during the specified time frame.  If you have a private account, please message me directly.  At the end of the week, I will round up all of the entries and select a winner at random.  US and Canadian residents only.  The winner’s photo will then be re-posted on my Instagram!

Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.
Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.

In the meantime, please enjoy this Chocolate Bourbon Marbled Cake that I created for The Cake Blog.  Deep into winter and stormy weather season, I find myself searching for foods of comfort and decadence. And with the holidays approaching at lightening speed, traditional flavors float up to the top of my baking “to-do” list. This cake started out as a pecan pie. After a few unexpected twists and turns, it evolved into this nearly sinful Chocolate Bourbon Marbled Cake with a pecan crunch. Don’t you just love a happy accident?

Here’s a bit more of what I have to say about this absurdly decadent and unapologetically indulgent cake combination: 

If you are a bourbon fan or not, this chocolatey cake is both familiar in its flavor pairing but special enough for any upcoming holiday celebration. This deeply fudgey cake comes together easily on the stovetop before being baked and drowned in a boozy simple syrup. Finely chopped toasted pecans get folded into the filling for a bit of texture and nuttiness. But the buttercream – now that’s the star here. Using brown sugar immediately elevates this meringue-based buttercream and brings about an almost caramel flavour that is perfect for this time of year. A big glug of bourbon and real vanilla bean seeds takes it to the next level. For the marbled effect, simply reserve a bit of the buttercream and mix with a teaspoon or so of cocoa powder then randomly swipe it around a nearly smooth buttercream cake just before finishing it off. A couple final spins on the cake turntable at the very end, and the colors will marble and swirl before your eyes!
— Tessa Huff for The Cake Blog
Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.

Find the recipe on The Cake Blog

Date Bourbon Cinnamon Rolls

No-fuss, totally hands-off Date Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Icing.  Perfect for freezing, too!

Date Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting.
Date Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting.
Date Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Today we celebrate one of the kindest souls in the blog world, Cynthia of Two Red Bowls, and her new little love bug.  I’ve made these Date Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting for her Virtual Baby Shower, because one (or five) of these warm, gooey treats is pretty much what one needs to get through those first couple sleepless weeks with a newborn.  

When I was pregnant with Everett and went through my “nesting” phase, I had every intention of stocking my freezer with semi-made meals and zip-top bags full of pre-cut veggies and proteins ready for the slow-cooker.  I purchased large freezer bags to house cut up fruit for easy smoothies and those disposable, foil baking pans for casseroles (the same things I made boxed sheet cake with in college, lol).  I’m pretty sure I made one lasagne to freeze and one batch of breakfast sandwiches before cramming the rest of those foil thingys in the back of a closet, later to be buried in back-up diapers and all the other baby accessories that have consumed our home these past couple years.

In the end, my mom was my saviour those first few weeks with a new baby.  She helped with last-minute baby purchases because you will inevitably need something no matter how well you plan, took care of our pup, picked-up the burp clothes, yesterday's pyjamas, and stray pacifies around me while I was stuck breastfeeding on the couch, and laundered all of our clothes as often as should could.  Most importantly, she made us dinner nearly every night for the first few weeks of Everett’s life, before having to head back to California. 

Having a baby, especially your first, is intimate, unpredictable, exhausting, and exciting.  You will want to soak up those first few weeks as much as you can, but doing so while suffering from exhausting and the adjustment of having a new tiny human in your house can be rough.  Plus, all that dang laundry!  It’s not joke.  Finding the balance between accepting help and wanting to have private time with your new little family can be hard, too.  Of course I can only speak from my own experience, and most of our family and friends live far away, but for those new moms where you have plenty of visitors in the beginning, I am sure it can be draining.  One thing I can suggest no matter if you are a new mom wanting some privacy or a friend/family member wanting to help out without being too intrusive, turn to food!  If you don’t know what else to do, always accept or bring food – preferably items that can be eaten with one hand, haha.  And if you are really good friend, you will make and freeze cinnamon rolls for the new mom to pop into the oven when the sweet cravings strike.


Date Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting.
Date Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting.

So back to these cinnamon rolls… Like I mentioned before, I had lofty goals of stocking my freezer full of ready-made meals that I could just throw in the oven between bundling my winter babe and milk schedule.  One thing I failed to add to the list was sweets.  Shocking, right??  Had I filled my pre-baby to-do list with freezer-friendly dessert recipes, I bet I would have gotten more done.  Because let me tell you, after being interrupted every 2-3 hours to breastfeed and trying to figure out parenthood for the first time, all you will want to something warm, gooey, and slathered with boozy frosting.

Now that Everett is nearly two years old, I hardly have more free time than I did when he was an infant.  And if I do find the time here and there, you bet I’m not going to waste it babysitting cinnamon roll dough.  This hands-off, freezer-friendly cinnamon roll recipe is pretty much the only way to go when it comes to fresh-from-the-oven pastries.  Want warm cinnamon rolls in the morning, but don’t have the time and patience to watch rising dough nor want to wake at 3am to have them ready for breakfast?  Then this recipe is the way to go.

I was inspired by Cynthia’s own date-filled buns for this recipe.  Coincidently, I had a Costco-sized box of medjool dates that I purchased with the intentions of making healthy-ish raw desserts and homemade granola bars.  Thankfully for us all, those things never happened and I was able to turn these gorgeously plump dates into a naturally sweet and totally gooey filling for these otherwise traditional cinnamon rolls.  The dates blend down into a paste and spread so nicely over my cardamom-scented dough.  Once baked, I slathered them with a Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting that is literally to die for!

Date Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting.
Date Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting.

The thing about making cinnamon rolls from home, and I’m not talking about the kind that you break free of a cardboard tube, is the waiting and timing can be frustrating.  Want fresh cinnamon rolls in the morning?  Then set your alarm for 4am.  Want fresh cinnamon rolls RIGHT NOW? Then you better hope you have some stored away in your freezer.  Thankfully, with proper planning, your dreams of eating sticky, swirly buns in your pj’s can be fulfilled.  By placing the dough in the refrigerator to rise, you are essentially hitting “pause” in the process.  The cool temps in the fridge dramatically slow down the yeast, so the dough continues to rise but at a much slower rate.  Instead of scheduling 1 to 2 hours between steps, you can pop the dough into the fridge for 8 hours (or overnight) and continue on with your day. 

Cynthia has an AMAZING breakdown of a schedule that produces AM cinnamon rolls that you should check out, but I am going to take it one step further and offer some freezer options.  After the second rise (once they are filled and sliced), place the buns individually on a baking sheet and freeze until firm.  From there, you can place them in a freezer bag and then wrap in foil.  Freezing them individually first means that they don’t stick together and you can bake them off one or two at a time.  Alternatively, you can freeze them together in one of those foil pans if you know you will be serving them all up at the same time.  However, the buns will need to come back to room temperature before being baked off.  To do so, let them thaw in the fridge overnight and come to room temp as the oven pre-heats in the morning.  This obviously takes longer for the full recipe.  If you are baking off individual buns, then this process is much much shorter, so you can literally have fresh cinnamon rolls in almost no time, yay! 

Date Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting.
Date Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting.

A BIG thank you to Steph and Alana for hosting the baby shower!!

Date Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Alton Brown and Two Red Bowls

¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
2 to 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
large pinch cardamom
¼ cup plain yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

8 to 10 medjoor dates, pitted
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar

Heat the milk to about 110 degrees F (just above body temperature, if testing by touch) and stir in the yeast.  Set aside for about 5 minutes or until the yeast dissolves and begins to foam up.

In a separate bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and cardamom.

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the yogurt, egg, yolk and butter.
Once the yeast has foamed up, combine with the other wet ingredients.  Once mixed together, add all of the wet + yeast mixture to the bowl with the flour mixture.  Stir to combine.

Using the dough hook, knead the dough for about 5 minutes.  It should be smooth, elastic and lightly sticky when done.  Add in as little flour as possible to keep from getting too sticky and driving yourself crazy.

Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic for two hours on the counter or 8 hours (or overnight) in the fridge.

Meanwhile, place the dates in a heat-safe bowl.  Pour boiling water to cover and let rest 10 minutes.  Drain the dates and add to a food processor along with the cinnamon and salt.  Puree the date mixture until it forms a thick paste.  Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and roll into a 10 X 12 inch rectangle.  If coming from the refrigerator, you will need to let the dough rest at room temperature for 10-20 minutes before rolling it out.
Spread the date paste over the rolled-out dough, leaving about a ½-inch boarder on each side.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar then pat down until it sticks.

Starting at one of the long sides, carefully but tightly roll up the dough.  Use dental floss, kitchen shears, or a serrated knife to cut the dough into 8 to 10 even pieces. 

Place the rolls in a glass baking pan, skillet, or on a baking sheet.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to bake (or overnight) or move to the next step.

Let the rolls rise at room temperature one last time for 30 to 45 minutes as the over pre-heats to 350 degrees.
Bake the rolls for about 18 to 25 minutes, or until slightly golden.  Remove from the oven and slather on the cream cheese frosting while they are still warm.

Note: If freezing, do so after the rolls have been sliced but before the final rise.  Thaw in the refrigerator before baking.


Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 to 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon, or to taste
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
splash milk

Stir together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Gradually add in the remaining ingredients until desired consistency and sweetness.  It should be thick yet spreadable.  Frost the cinnamon rolls while they are still warm for optimum ooey, gooey-ness.

Date Bourbon Cinnamon Rolls

Be sure to check out all the amazing recipes from the virtual baby shower here (hint, they are all served in bowls!):

I am a Food Blog | Mac and Kimcheese Dolsot Bibimbap
Fix Feast Flair | Dishoom's Chicken Ruby Murray
The Fauxmartha | Mom Lunches
A Cozy Kitchen | Cornbread Chicken + Dumplings
Cake Over Steak | Salted Caramel Chocolate Crackles
The Pancake Princess | Stovetop Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Snixy Kitchen | Chicken Pot Pie with Chestnut Biscuits
Lady and Pups | Egg Florentine in Pullman "Bowls"
Betty Liu | Honeynut Squash Congee
Style Sweet CA | Date Bourbon Cinnamon Rolls
Warm Vanilla Sugar | Broccoli Quinoa Bowl with Avocado Sauce
A Beautiful Plate | Coconut Cauliflower Soup
Girl Versus Dough | Tomato Grilled Cheese Soup
Fork to Belly | A HUGE Hawaiian Fruit Bowl!!!
Donny Tsang | Chawanmushi
Wit & Vinegar | Jerk Chicken Chili
Constellation Inspiration | Salted Egg Yolk Custard Mochi
twigg studios | Katsu Udon Soup wth Popcorn Chicken Croutons
Edible Perspective | Acorn Squash Bowls with Pears, Pecans, and Vanilla Bean Cream
Coco Cake Land | Asian Bowl Cut Sugar Cookies
Southern Souffle | Sorghum Apple Biscuits In A Bowl
The Bojon Gourmet | Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup
Flourishing Foodie | Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup
What should I eat for breakfast today | Little Bowl with Creamy Polenta, Cheese, Onions and Mushrooms
Top with Cinnamon | Squash & Crispy Kale Bowls with Pomegranate and Miso-Ginger Dressing
the broken bread | Roasted Celeriac + Fennel Soup
Fig+Bleu | Cauliflower Harissa Soup
my name is yeh | Corn Dog In A Bowl
Crepes of Wrath | Mini Scallion Pancake Challah Buns
O&O Eats | Persimmon Cobbler