Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries

Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries

I don’t skimp on spice during the spring and summer, but I definitely incorporate a lot more spice into my fall and winter baked goods. There is something about a really flavorful spice cake that just feels especially warm and satisfying when there is a chill in the air. These Bourbon Spice …

The post Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries appeared first on Baking Bites.

Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries

I don’t skimp on spice during the spring and summer, but I definitely incorporate a lot more spice into my fall and winter baked goods. There is something about a really flavorful spice cake that just feels especially warm and satisfying when there is a chill in the air. These Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries are a great way to welcome in a change in the season, with a wonderful blend of flavors that is perfect for holidays from Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

The cupcakes are moist with a dense, tight crumb. You can really taste all the warm spices and the bourbon in the cake, but the cranberries are what take these from good to great. They add a sweet-tart pop of flavor that contrasts well with the spices, brightening up the cupcakes and making them downright addictive! Plus, they bring in a beautiful holiday pop of color!

Bourbon itself is slightly sweet and has distinct notes of oak, which tends to be a bit spicy itself. There are many recipes that include spirits where they don’t make much of an impact on the flavor of the recipe and that is simply not the case with these cupcakes. Here, the bourbon makes a difference and makes the overall flavor of the cupcakes richer and more complex. I also added a small splash of bourbon to the frosting to emphasize it a bit more.

You can use any kind of bourbon in these cupcakes. I happened to use Maker’s Mark in this batch. The alcohol from the bourbon is going to bake out as the cupcakes are in the oven, so you don’t need to worry about anyone getting a buzz off one one of these cupcakes. With 18 cupcakes in a batch, there is less than a teaspoon in each cupcake anyway. That said, if you really want to leave out the bourbon, there is no good nonalcoholic substitute for it flavor-wise. You’ll can replace it with milk, double the vanilla extra and enjoy a (still delicious!) simple spiced cranberry cupcake instead.

Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries

Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until well combined.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine milk and bourbon.
Blend one third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, followed by half of the milk mixture. Stir in another third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk. Stir in all of the remaining flour and mix just until all ingredients are combined and no streaks of flour remain. Fold in cranberries
Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Makes 18 cupcakes

Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (4 oz) butter, room temperature
1 tbsp bourbon
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, cream together bream cheese and butter until well-combined. Beat in bourbon, milk and vanilla extract, then gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar until the frosting comes together to a thick, spreadable consistency. If you want to pipe your frosting out, you may need additional confectioners’ sugar to make it stiffer.

The post Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries appeared first on Baking Bites.

Coconut Peppermint Cookies

Coconut Peppermint Cookies

When the holiday season rolls around, I stock up on candy canes and other peppermint candies. I love all holiday flavors, from eggnog to gingerbread, but I’ve always had a soft spot for candy canes and find that a little bit of peppermint can also put me right in the holiday spirit. …

The post Coconut Peppermint Cookies appeared first on Baking Bites.

Coconut Peppermint Cookies

When the holiday season rolls around, I stock up on candy canes and other peppermint candies. I love all holiday flavors, from eggnog to gingerbread, but I’ve always had a soft spot for candy canes and find that a little bit of peppermint can also put me right in the holiday spirit. These Coconut Peppermint Cookies feature a flavor combination that is a bit unexpected, but that works extremely well. The creamy sweetness of the shredded coconut softens the bright flavor of the peppermint, resulting in a cookie that you’ll want to keep in your cookie jar all season long.

This cookie dough gets a generous splash of vanilla extract and a hint of peppermint extract added as you mix it up. Peppermint extract can have a very strong flavor, so I like to use a little bit of restraint when adding it to a recipe. Here, you want the cookies to have a hint of peppermint, but not to overwhelm the coconut in the cookie dough. There is a very generous amount of shredded coconut in the dough, however, so you would really have to go crazy with the peppermint to block out its flavor entirely! I prefer to use sweetened shredded coconut, which has a slightly softer texture than unsweetened, as I feel it simply works a bit better in this recipe.

The dough is shaped into generous 1-inch balls and topped with crushed peppermint candies or candy canes. You can make crushed peppermint by whizzing some mints (or candy canes) in the food processor until they are finely ground. You can also usually find small jars of crushed peppermint in the cake-decorating aisle at craft and baking stores. The pre-crushed peppermint is very handy to have for the holidays, since you can add it to hot chocolate and other desserts. I find that the storebought version often has more red in the mix, while the homemade peppermint dust tends to be a bit whiter, so I usually pick up a container if I happen to see one in order to get a little more red into my finished desserts.

You should bake the cookies until they are very lightly browned on the outside edge. These cookies should be chewy and the coconut helps to keep them nice and moise, but you still don’t want to overbake them. They’ll stay chewy for several days when stored in an airtight container after baking. I love the contrast of the red and white mint candy with the cookie beneath it, as it makes them look so festive!

Chewy Coconut Peppermint Cookies
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
approx 1/4 cup crushed peppermint candies/candy canes

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, adding one in at a time, followed by vanilla and peppermint extracts. With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend in the flour until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, then mix in the shredded coconut.
Shape cookie dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches between cookies to allow for spread. Sprinkle each ball of dough generously with crushed peppermint.
Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until the cookies are set and very lightly browned around the outside edge. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 3 1/2 – 4 dozen

The post Coconut Peppermint Cookies appeared first on Baking Bites.

Homemade Eggnog Latte

Homemade Eggnog Latte
Eggnog lattes are one of those drinks that really fit in with the Christmas season. Unlike Peppermint Mochas and even gingerbread spiced drinks, they’re not really something that you can drink year-round because the key ingredient – eggnog – is not widely available in the spring and summer. So, I say …

The post Homemade Eggnog Latte appeared first on Baking Bites.

Homemade Eggnog Latte
Eggnog lattes are one of those drinks that really fit in with the Christmas season. Unlike Peppermint Mochas and even gingerbread spiced drinks, they’re not really something that you can drink year-round because the key ingredient – eggnog – is not widely available in the spring and summer. So, I say splurge while you can and, if you’re an eggnog latte fan, don’t hesitate to enjoy a few around Christmas or New Year’s. And with this recipe for a Homemade Eggnog Latte, you don’t have to run out to the nearest coffee shop to enjoy one, because you can make one easily yourself!

An eggnog latte starts with eggnog. I recommend starting with a store bought eggnog for this type of drink, as they tend to be a little more consistent when you’re heating them up. You’ll have your choice of full fat, low fat and a variety of nondairy eggnogs. While I use a classic dairy eggnog in the recipe below, you can also use nondairy options for this drink. Don’t pick a ‘nog that comes with alcohol added to it because it will be difficult to steam up to a nice consistency, but you can spike your coffee with a splash of brandy or bourbon after you mix up the drink and I won’t tell. Above all, choose a brand you like because the latte is going to get all of its flavor from that eggnog.

The eggnog should be steamed with an espresso machine or heated and vigorously “steamed” by hand (which you can do by using a countertop milk frother/steamer or by vigorously whisking it in a medium bowl) to give it some body and create a nice head of foam on top of the drink. Since eggnog is already sweetened, you won’t need to add any extra sugar to your latte. I always add a little extra vanilla and nutmeg to make those flavors – which are classic ‘nog ingredients – really pop.

The eggnog is then combined with strong coffee or espresso, along with a bit of vanilla and nutmeg. You probably won’t have to add additional sugar to this because the eggnog is already sweet, but you can mix in a spoonful of sugar if that is how you prefer your coffee drinks. I tend to serve this as-is, with the milk foam on top of the drink, although it can also be finished with a spoonful of whipped cream and a dusting of extra nutmeg. Serve with a slice of cake or your favorite cookies.

Homemade Eggnog Latte
8 oz store bought eggnog
2 oz espresso or
4 oz strong coffee
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
whipped cream, optional

Steam eggnog using an espresso machine or a countertop milk steamer, or heat in the microwave and vigorously froth with a whisk until it is thick and foamy.
In a large mug, combine espresso (or strong coffee), vanilla extract and nutmeg. Top with steamed eggnog. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

Serves 1.

The post Homemade Eggnog Latte appeared first on Baking Bites.