Need a Chocolate Bourbon Cupcake with Salted Caramel Frosting? Yes, Please!

April 22, 2011.

I was inspired by the 8th Annual Four Roses Mint Julep Competition hosted at O’Shea’s Irish Pub on April 21, 2011. It was a fun event featuring ten of Louisville’s premiere mixologists offering up such delights as Italian wine julep with rose ice cubes and a Julep Float. I was invited to attend by my medical school colleague and friend, Megan. She recently ran the Boston Marathon and eagerly anticipated post-training cupcakes. So what better things to combine than bourbon and cupcakes! I did exactly that yesterday.


I adapted Bourbon Chocolate cake recipe  from Better Homes and Gardensand a Salted Caramel Frosting Recipe from I used Ghiradelli chocolate and Woodford Reserve Bourbon (it was all I had on hand, otherwise I would have saved it for drinking!). These cupcakes were very well recieved by all. The cake was lighter than I had anticipated, but with a rich bourbon and chocolate flavor. The frosting was fabulous, with a complexity created by the homemade caramel and the sea salt. Homemade caramel can be intimidating, especially for a candy novice like me (I don’t even have a candy thermometer!) So I added some tips garnered from my experience (my first batch was a throwaway).


Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes


  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla


  1. Set butter and eggs out to become room temperature.
  2. Line muffin pans with liners, I needed 32 with this recipe.
  3. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Pour water and bourbon together in a glass and let set.
  5. Microwave unsweetened chocolate and bittersweet chocolate for 1 minute, stir and reheat for 30 seconds if needed to melt. I used Ghiradelli because they have bittersweet chocolate chips (less chopping needed).
  6. Preheat oven to 325°. 
  7. Beat butter with electric mixer for two minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow.
  8. Gradually add sugar (1/4 cup at a time) and beat on medium speed until combined with butter.
  9. Add eggs and beat on medium for two minutes.
  10. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla.
  11. Alternate adding flour mixture and bourbon/water mixture beating on low speed until all is added (I split each ingredient into fourths). At this point, the mixture should be very light and fluffy, resembling a mousse. 
  12. I used a scoop to place batter into muffin cups and pressed the tops down (will be fluffy) with the backside of the scoop. A spoon would work as well. 
  13. I baked my cupcakes in a stoneware muffin pan, and 18 minutes was perfect (a wooden toothpick inserted in the center came out clean). Remove cupcakes and placed on a wire rack to cool.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting


  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt (sea salt)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon


  1. Stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan with a wooden spoon. From this point on, Do not stir! This is key. I stirred my first batch and had to start over.
  2. Bring to boil over medium heat. Do not walk away for anything, it takes about six minutes for the mixture to turn a dark amber color. However this happens quickly and it only takes seconds to burn. Here is the progression to a nice carmel color.
  3. Remove from heat and slowly (by the tablespoonful at first) add in cream and vanilla. Stir with wooden spoon until smooth. If parts of the mixture cool and crystallize before thoroughly mixed, place pan on low heat and continue to mix until blended. Set aside to cool.
  4. Beat butter until fluffy, about two minutes. Reduce speed and blend in powdered sugar until combined.
  5. Turn off mixer and pour in caramel and salt. I used a sea-salt grinder, but kosher would work. I happen to like the flavor and crunch of a coarser salt.
  6. Add in bourbon to taste. Beat frosting on low to combine and then on medium-high for two minutes until airy and thoroughly mixed.
  7. Decorate cupcakes and enjoy! I found the frosting easier to use after letting it set up in bowl for twenty minutes. This recipe made plenty of frosting to make a large swirl on each of my 32 cupcakes.


Let me know if you try this recipe and have any additions or comments. I would like to try a moist filling similar to Cakespy’s Chocolate Stout cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Filling.


One thought on “Need a Chocolate Bourbon Cupcake with Salted Caramel Frosting? Yes, Please!

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