Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes + Maple Bourbon Buttercream

I've been on a bit of a bourbon kick lately. I think it's my wintertime tequila. I partially blame Jackson's for making the most unbelievably delicious mixed drink the world has ever known - The Bourbon Alexandre. Haven't had it? Drop everything and go right now. It's better than cookie dough egg rolls. It's better than beer cheese dip. I would even dare say it's better than the pacific panini, thereby making it the single best menu item Jackson's has ever had.

All you need to know is this: Woodford Reserve + Ice Cream + Chocolate Sauce. It's bourbony milkshake goodness. It might make you cry. It will definitely make you smile.

So I've been playing around with using bourbon in desserts all winter long, and I stumbled upon another winner this weekend. (Let's be honest, bourbon is truly impossible to mess up. Even when we actually did mess up homemade bourbon alexandres, they were still delicious. Why? Bourbon.)

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes + Maple Bourbon Buttercream

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes Adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients:

1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter 1 1/4 cup brown sugar 2 eggs 1 cup pumpkin puree vanilla 2 cups cake flour 1/4 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice 1/2 cup buttermilk

To Do:

1. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add pumpkin and vanilla and mix until combined. 2. Sift together dry ingredients. 3. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk into butter mixture. Mix until just combined. 4. Pour into 2 9" cake pans or 18 lined muffin cups. 5. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Maple Bourbon Buttercream A little bit of Martha, A little bit of Melanie

Note: This is a swiss meringue buttercream, but you could easily save time/trouble and make a traditional American buttercream with the same flavors. Here is a basic buttercream recipe you could adapt.

Ingredients: 1 1/4 cup sugar 5 egg whites (save the yolks for making ice cream!) 2 cups of unsalted butter (4 sticks) vanilla 4-6 tsp bourbon 3-4 tsp pure maple syrup (I used Grade A)

To Do: 1. Put sugar and egg whites in a bowl over a simmering pot of water. (Or use a double-boiler.) Whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. 2. Whisk the mixture (with a stand or hand mixer) for 10 minutes or so, until the mixture is cool and fluffy. 3. Add butter 2 tbsp at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. (This does take a while, but is so worth it!) 4. Add bourbon and maple syrup. Start with lowest amounts suggested and add to taste.

Frost your cake or cupcakes, dust with cinnamon, and ENJOY!