Espresso Bourbon Cake with Swiss Buttercream Frosting


The beauty of espresso meets the magic of chocolate. It's a classic combination that I hold very dear to my heart. A cappuccino just isn't complete without something a little sweet on the side. It can even be a small square of chocolate, as long as it melts in my mouth with a hit of rich coffee flavor. Why does it work? Beats me. All I know is the espresso brings out the subtle tones found in chocolate.

As if that's not enough reason to enjoy these cupcakes, they have a secret: a touch of bourbon. Generally, I dislike liquors. But bourbon and sweets go together. If you ever make your own vanilla extract, you'll learn it's booze that pulls out the nuisances of the vanilla.  Vanilla beans are soaked in bourbon (rum or vodka- depends on the flavor you're going for) for a period of time to create that heavenly creation we call extract. Even sniffing a good bottle of bourbon brings to mind the scent of a slightly warmed vanilla. Don't sleep on the bourbon people. 


Having bourbon in the actual cake batter isn't going to be noticeable. The alcohol content is burned out in the oven leaving only that warmed vanilla aroma that I mentioned. The only way it's going to to pop is if you brush some onto the top of cupcake once it's done baking. This is a sneaky trick to lock in flavor and add moisture. It's got to be right kind of cake base though- too much liquid can make a soggy cupcake and nobody wants that.

Crowing this jewel is my favorite swissbutter cream from my baking bible, Smitten Kitchen. There are other recipes that I want to try (i.e. Italian Buttercream with Golden Syrup) but in a pinch, I will always turn to this frosting. Once you master it, it's hard to turn away. 


Lastly. If you want this cupcakes to sing like lush on New Years Eve, add some bourbon to the frosting. There will be no missing it then. Gauge it on whomever you bake these cupcakes. These were made for my old boss lady when she left the company. Her husband is from Kentucky and she always came back from her mother-in-law with all sorts of high-octane treats. 

Those folks know how to tumble with Bourbon. 


Sprinkle some pretty pretty sprinkles on top for some festivity and you're on your way!

For the Espresso Bourbon Cake recipe, check out the cook book, "Tea with Bea!" The swiss buttercream can be found on Smitten Kitchen (I halved the recipe for 9-inch cake).