Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Maple-Whiskey Buttercream (Recipe)

Last Monday was my birthday, and I’m a firm believer that cake is essential to a great birthday. I know plenty of other folks prefer other sweets, and while I can’t relate, I respect their choice. However, on my birthday, I definitely want cake!

As it happens, I love to bake. So I always bake my favorite cupcakes on my birthday to bring into work to share with the office. Nobody seems to mind. 😉

As was made obvious with the Whisky-O Cookies post, I like whiskey-laced baked goods. (I mean, really, who doesn’t?) I made these cupcakes last year and I enjoyed them so much I decided to make them again this year. They. Are. AWESOME. Moist dark chocolate cupcake? Check. Creamy, sweet, whiskey-full frosting? Check.


These are a few of my favorite things…


While I’m sure any whiskey would do for these, I’m partial to using the local Westland Distillery Single Malt for my baking needs. It has a delightful chocolatey roasted quality that complements baked goods wonderfully. It also pairs quite nicely with the final cupcake. 🙂


Craving them yet? Get baking!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
(Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
Makes 12 cupcakes

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup (1.5 ounces) cocoa powder
¾ cup (3.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
¾ cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
½ cup (4 ounces) sour cream

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. (If you are using a non-stick muffin pan, heat the oven to 325 degrees F.) Line standard-size muffin pan with baking cup liners.

2. Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and combined. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.) Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.

3. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl to combine.

4. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is homogeneous and thick.

5. Divide the batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.  Do not overbake, or they will be dry.

6. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.

Maple-Whiskey Buttercream
(Recipe adapted from Cakespy, originally from Cupcake Royale)
Makes enough frosting for 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp whiskey
1.5-2.5 Tbsp maple syrup (to your taste and preferred texture)
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups confectioners’ sugar (possibly more to your preferred texture)

Mini chocolate chips (for topping, optional)

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, whiskey, syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar together until smooth. Add the rest of the sugar bit by bit until it has reached your desired consistency (you might not use all of it). Please know that this buttercream is a bit softer than your standard frosting, so you will have to spread it on the cupcakes versus piping it on. Top with mini chocolate chips.




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