Drink up

It was Huruki Murakami, one of my all-time favorite wordsmiths, who said, “Whiskey. like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, and then it’s time to drink.” Truer words were never uttered, sir.

If I’m going to drink spirits I like the standard bourbons, Maker’s particularly. I will accept a posh upgrade and likely enjoy it, but there is something familiar about Maker’s.  One fewer decision, you know?  While I’m not much for desserts myself, I have been tasked with bringing one to a party next week, and I think I’ve settled on the below, which matches well with the Old-Fashioned upgrade I’m going to bring. (OK, the internet helped!)

Makes 24

Blackberry Cupcake Base & Glaze/Purée

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (which you can make, see below)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • eggs, whites only


  • 12ounces blackberries
  • 1/2 – 1cups sugar
  • 1/2lemon, juice and zest
  • 12tablespoons butter, unsalted (room temp/soft)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Start by making the blackberry purée: Heat over medium heat in small saucepan- blackberries, 1/2-1 cup sugar and lemon juice and zest.
  3. Heat until berries start to ‘pop’.
  4. Remove from heat and press through sieve/strainer to remove seeds. Cool.
  5. Now, for the cupcake base. Sift together dry ingredients- flour, salt, baking powder. If you do not have cake flour, you can make it by replacing 1 tablespoon per cup of flour with cornstarch. Sift together several times to incorporate well.
  6. Cream butter and sugar in mixer for about 2 minutes, until fluffy and smooth.
  7. Mix egg whites and milk in a (separate) bowl. Set aside.
  8. While mixing slowly, add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the mixer with the creamed butter/sugar. Mix well.
  9. Mix in eggs/milk slowly.
  10. Add remainder of flour mixture and mix until combined.
  11. Fold in about half of the blackberry puree. I prefer to leave it mixed lightly, keeping a marbled appearance.
  12. Fill cupcake liners/pan about halfway and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
  13. Remove and allow to cool completely.

Bourbon Frosting

  • tablespoons flour, all-purpose
  • cup milk
  • cup sugar (prefer vanilla sugar, which is sugar that’s had a used vanilla bean buried in it for a day or so)
  • cup butter (prefer salted for this)
  • teaspoon vanilla extract
  • vanilla bean (alternatively 1 additional teaspoon extract)
  • tablespoons bourbon (or whiskey)
  1. Combine flour and milk in small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir until thick paste-like consistency. You should see the bottom of the pan remain when stirring when this is finished cooking. This is your baker’s roux.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Stir periodically to prevent a film from forming and to speed up the cooling process.
  4. Cream butter and sugar (or vanilla sugar) for about 2 minutes, until fluffy and smooth.
  5. Add flour mixture and mix at medium/medium-high speed until combined well, about 5 minutes.
  6. Mix in vanilla extract and bean pulp and bourbon until combined,
  7. Assemble cupcake and enjoy!

And after making enough cupcakes to share with your favorite friends, why not settle in with one of your delectable cupcakes and a:

Springtime Blackberry Bourbon Cooler.

Muddle some mint with a half-handful of blackberries, add a jigger of your favorite bourbon (like I said, I stick with Maker’s) and about half to three quarters that much simple syrup. I like to top mine off with seltzer water (for this my soda stream has been so helpful!)  Good practice for the impending KENTUCKY DERBY!


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