In the last couple of weeks, I’ve made a lot of delicious food for parties. The first were Black-Eyed Susan cupcakes for a Preakness Party in mid-May. (Inspired by a specialty cupcake produced by Charm City Cupcakes.) For those who aren’t up with the cocktails surrounding the Triple Crown, a Black-Eyed Susan, the official version calls for vodka, bourbon, OJ and sour mix.
I started off with the recipe for the Car Bomb Cupcakes as my foudnation (from Smitten Kitchen). For the cake part, I made a basic yellow cake (I use a recipe from the Gourmet Cookbook that was created with the intention of mimicking box cake mixes; in this case I just used regular flour instead of cake flour).
I then hollowed them out and made the ganache from the Smitten Kitchen recipe. This time I made of point of using bittersweet chocolate (I think what I used was 60% ish) instead of the semisweet I used for the car bomb cupcakes. Then, instead of adding whiskey to it, I added bourbon. I had some trouble with the ganache this time — the oil separated out of the chocolate because I got it too hot. I cooled it off and whipped the heck out of it (thanks Joelle!) and it was good as new.
I had done everything up to this point a few days ahead of time, as I was going to be out of town until the afternoon of the day before the party. At this point, I wrapped each cupcake individually in two layers of plastic wrap, put them in a plastic baggie, and froze them for a few days because I was out of town until the afternoon before the party. When I got back I took them out and let them thaw overnight on the counter, and didn’t unwrap them until I was ready to frost.
The frosting is a basic quick buttercream (I used the frosting for the Smitten Kitchen cupcakes above), but instead of putting in milk I put in orange juice. Then I just slapped the frosting on top, no fancy piping this time. (And no photos either, sorry.)
They came out pretty well. The cake was a little dry, and I’m not sure if that’s just the way the recipe works out, if they were slightly over baked because they were cupcakes and not a cake, or if it’s related to the freezing. (This was really only a problem because they were falling apart after you took a couple of bites. If they were a little bit more moist, I think they would have held together better.) If I make these again, I might start with a cake recipe developed specifically for cupcakes and see if that makes a difference. As for the ganache, it was great. Not too sweet, and I liked it better. You couldn’t really notice the bourbon flavor, so if you want that to be strong you’ll want to add more. I also think in the future the orange flavor of the buttercream needs some oomph, perhaps by the addition of some fresh orange zest.
Overall these were a big hit. I don’t have any photos of them, but you’re probably relieved that I’m not sticking pictures of cupcakes you can’t have in your face this time, right?