Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Jun 4, 2013

Old Fashioned Cupcakes

Libations used: About 3/4 cup whiskey or bourbon and 7-9 dashes of Angostura bitters...
Libations left over: Make yourself an Old Fashioned while those cupcakes are baking...
This past weekend, my friend celebrated her 30th birthday in Ojai with some wine tasting and grilling (yes, that's the second weekend in a row for me!).  I wanted to bring a Lush Chef treat after our wine tasting/party bus extravaganza, and a booze-laced cupcake was the perfect way to keep the festivities going.  One of her favorite cocktails is an Old Fashioned, one of the many reasons I count her a friend, so this recipe on Serious Eats was perfect for her.  There's so much alcohol in these cupcakes that it's like having an actual drink.  And yes, I used 101 proof Wild Turkey bourbon, so take that!  The flavors just nail an Old Fashioned with the bourbon-soaked vanilla and orange cake and the Angostura bitters, bourbon and orange zest frosting.  I made some tweaks to the "orange sawdust" by doubling the amount of fresh zest to up the orange flavor — it took on this delightful crunchy sugar texture.  I used 1 tsp of bourbon to soak through the cupcakes, which was plenty, and start on the low end with the bitters — I love them, but if you're not used to them, it can be an overpowering flavor.  My friends gobbled these cupcakes down in under 10 minutes, and were absolutely blown away.  Luckily, I have a lot of friends who love Old Fashioneds, so I have a feeling I'll be making these again!

Old Fashioned Cupcakes - makes 12-16
Ingredients for the cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups and 2 Tbs cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbs (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup and 2 Tbs fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbs orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp orange extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (don't use low or non-fat)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup whiskey or bourbon (I used Wild Turkey) for soaking the cupcakes
Ingredients for the frosting:
  • 12 Tbs (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup and 2 Tbs whiskey or bourbon
  • 7-9 dashes of Angostura bitters, to taste 
  • 3/4 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
Ingredients for the "orange sawdust":
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest

To make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the eggs and beat until well-combined.
- Add the orange juice, orange zest, orange extract, vanilla extract and combine on low speed.
- Add the flour mixture in intervals on low speed, until all the dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Add the sour cream and beat again until combined.
- Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full.
- Bake for 24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
- Wait until the cupcakes have cooled a bit and poke about 12 holes on the top of each cupcake with a fork.
- Pour 1 tsp of whiskey or bourbon (I did less than the original recipe suggested) on top of each cupcake to soak through.
- Make sure cupcakes are completely cooled before frosting.

To make the frosting:
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
- Reduce the speed to low and add half of the confectioners' sugar, and all of the whiskey, Angostura bitters, orange extract and orange zest, beating until fully combined.
- Add the rest of the confectioners' sugar and beat on medium-high speed for about 2-3 minutes, or until completely mixed.

To make the "orange sawdust":
- In a small bowl, thoroughly combine the sugar and orange zest.
- Sprinkle on top of the cupcakes, immediately after frosting.