March 11, 2015

Honey Whiskey Cupcakes

I've said that I should have created a top 10 list of cupcakes when I baked a different cupcake weekly for my co-workers. I have recollections of which ones were really good, but a ranking of them that I constantly adjusted would be helpful.

These from Culinary Creations would make the top 10 for sure, but I'm not quite sure where they fall. The drizzle I could take or leave as it tends to be a bit grainy after cooling (even with reheating). The frosting is delicious with enough honey whiskey flavor to be delightful but not overpowering. The cupcakes are slightly dense, touch of whiskey flavor but mostly a delicious butter flavor comes through. I would highly recommend these cupcakes ... even if you have to divide your frosting to make some friendly for little faces and some fully delicious for adults. They are perfect for a whiskey lover but enjoyable for most everyone.

Honey Whiskey Cupcakes 
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. Honey Whiskey
3 Tbsp. milk
Bourbon Drizzle
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Honey Whiskey
1 Tbsp. butter 
Whiskey Buttercream
1 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey
1/4 cup heavy cream (as much as needed to get correct consistency)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare the cupcakes first. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix well.

Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Alternate adding the dry ingredients with the milk and whiskey, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Line your tins with 14 cupcake liners, and divide batter evenly into cups. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes until done. (Mine actually took more than 20 minutes.) Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

To make the bourbon drizzle, combine all ingredients in a small pan. Bring to a boil, and boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool before drizzling on frosted cupcakes.

Note: The frosting makes a large amount. I divided the recipe and still had plenty to frost my cupcakes. To make the frosting, cream butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and Honey Whiskey, and combine thoroughly. Add the cream one tablespoon at a time until your frosting is very light and fluffy and the desired consistency.

Frost cupcakes, and top with bourbon drizzle. Makes 14 cupcakes.

March 9, 2015

Brown Butter Rice Crispy Bars

This might sound weird, but I struggle making rice crispy bars. I think it's because I so often don't measure things precisely because I feel my approximations are perfectly suitable ... and then I ran into stale marshmallow issues.

I need to ensure I can make perfect rice crispy bars because these from Averie Cooks are amazing. They elevate a simple kid-friendly treat (that my 3-year-old doesn't like) into a true treat. Simply browning the butter makes all the difference. Normally I refuse to acknowledge a rice crispy bar unless it is properly topped in chocolate, but I didn't even break out the chocolate for these. (Of course, melting dark chocolate on top would only make them even more irresistible.)

Brown Butter Rice Crispy Bars

5 to 5 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/2 cup salted butter, browned
10 oz. marshmallows

Grease an 8 x 8 pan, and set aside. Place 5 cups of cereal in a large bowl.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat, stirring nearly continuously or swirling the pan, until it turns golden and smells nutty. As soon at the butter begins to turn brown, take the pan off the heat, and continue to stir for about 1 minute.

Add the marshmallows, and melt over low heat until the marshmallows melt. You do not want to cook the marshmallows, only melt them. Stir to combine the marshmallows and butter. Pour mixture over cereal, and toss to coat. This amount of cereal will yield very gooey bars, so stir in up to 3/4 cup additional cereal to achieve desired texture. Mixture will be very gooey and buttery. 

Transfer mixture to prepared pan, and use a spatula or greased hands to press it firmly and evenly into the pan, making sure to really pack it down well and push it into the corners and edges. Allow bars to set at least an hour or two before slicing and serving. Makes an 8 x 8 pan that disappears quickly.