Tag Archives: Vanilla

Secret Breakfast Cupcakes– Bourbon + Corn Flakes

2 Oct

Greetings, all! This lovely little experiment is what I would like to call the Secret Breakfast Cupcake, inspired by Humphry Slocombe’s famous Secret Breakfast ice cream flavor, just as promised.

And an amazing flavor it truly is! The San Francisco ice cream shop that I mentioned previously in this post creates this flavor with Jim Beam Kentucky bourbon and little bits of corn flakes scattered throughout, which makes complete sense. Of course you’d want a breakfast of bourbon + corn flakes to be secret! I am in no way condoning this type of nutrition or habit, but how very sassy of them! And what an interesting and novel flavor combination! This is among my favorite flavors at Humphry Slocombe, so I decided to make a cupcake out of it. Of course, if you’re not a fan of the cornflakes, just leave them out and you’ve still got scrumptious bourbon cupcakes! Hope you like bourbon. :)

It’s my first attempt at creating an original recipe, not borrowed or adapted from anywhere/anything, and I’ve gotta say, making your own recipe out of nothing was a long and arduous process! I did some research, I drafted and tried many recipes (I think 4 or 5 in total), and came out with many flops, finally arriving at this product. Throughout the whole thing, I was wondering, Do professional bakers do this? Do they make recipes up off the top of their head? What is their secret power?! Needless to say, after so many batches, I was quite frustrated, but when I tasted this version a few minutes out of the oven, I almost keeled over in surprise and triumph. It was SO good. I don’t typically like to toot my own horn, and I know I probably got a lot wrong in the traditional ingredient ratios and techniques involved in creating cupcakes, but gosh darnit!–these tasted delicious! But that is just my opinion. You’ve got to make these and judge for yourself :)

The cake I ended up with was very dense and moist, almost like pound cake or a quickbread. I tasted just the right amount of bourbon flavor, and the little vanilla seed specks throughout made the cake look oh-so-pretty! The buttercream frosting was very sweet and a little overpowering–I couldn’t really taste the corn flakes at the same intensity as I did in the ice cream flavor. However, after many trials and errors, adding the corn flakes on top of everything was the only way I could think of to not have them absorb moisture and lose all their crunchiness.

**As always, starred steps will have notes at the end.

Bourbon Cupcakes
Makes about 20 cupcakes

2 c. Cake flour
2 c. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
3 tsp. Baking powder
1 c. Unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 c. Bourbon, like Jim Beam
4 eggs, room temperature
1 c. Buttermilk (I improv’ed with milk topped it off with white vinegar)
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
2/3 Vanilla bean pod

  1. Pour your buttermilk into a measuring cup. Split the vanilla bean in half length-wise with a sharp knife. Using the non-cutting edge of the knife, scrape the inside of both bean halves to remove all the tiny black seeds. Add the seeds to the buttermilk, along with the pod, and let that steep for about 30 minutes, or until it reaches room temperature.
  2. At this point, preheat your oven to 350. Heat the bourbon in a saucepan over medium heat until it just reaches boiling. Set this aside to cool.
  3. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together and set aside.
  4. Using a stand or hand-held mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together for 5 minutes until it has gained volume and turned a very light shade. Add the eggs, mixing well after each.* Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Once the bourbon has cooled, add it to the buttermilk. Take the vanilla pod out at this point, of course.
  6. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the creamed butter. Mix slowly. Add 1/2 of the liquid ingredients, and mix slowly. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix, then the last 1/2 of the liquid and mix, and then finally the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.*
  7. Pour the batter into the wells of a muffin pan lined with paper liners, and bake for about 18 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack.


  • Since these cupcakes came out quite dense, you can try this method to make them a little fluffier: In this step, only add the yolks to the creamed butter mixture. Save the whites and beat separately until they form soft peaks. Gently fold these whites into the batter after step 6.
  • This method of adding the dry and wet ingredients in a series of 3/2 prevents a lot of gluten from forming when batter is over-mixed. This keeps the cake tender instead of tough.

Bourbon Buttercream
Makes enough to frost about 20 cupcakes

1/2 c. (1 stick) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 c. confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
1/3 Vanilla bean pod
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
About 4 tbsp. Bourbon

  1. Cream the butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Incorporate about 1/2 of powdered sugar at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Cut the vanilla bean pod, scrape, and add the seeds.
  4. Gradually add the bourbon and mix well.
  5. Continue adding powdered sugar or bourbon until you reach the right consistency for piping. If you’ve reached your desired bourbon flavor, but the frosting is still too dry, you can add milk to avoid the overpowering bourbon taste.

You could frost these cupcakes with a knife, or pipe them like I did. I don’t have any piping tips, so I just mimicked this piped look by filling a ziplock bag with the frosting, cutting a 1/4-inch hole in the corner, and piping with that. I use a handy no-mess method to fill the baggie: open up the ziplock and place it in a glass, cuffing the open edges around the rim of the glass. Now you still have two hands to manage the bowl and your spatula :)

Of course, this recipe probably has¬† a lot of issues, especially coming from an amateur with very little baking experience. So if you’ve got suggestions for how to make this cupcake less dense, or how to incorporate the cornflakes so you can taste them better, leave me a comment in the space below! I’d love to hear your feedback!

I shared these cupcakes with my bf’s family! I hope you make them for a special person, or special occasion, or maybe just for Wednesday night dessert. Let me know if you tried them, and how you liked them!

Make your own Vanilla Marshmallows

29 Aug

Some marshmallows, sitting in some Van Houten chocolat chaud

Have you ever reached for a bag of store-bought marshmallows, popped one in your mouth, and wondered if there was a better, less artificial-tasting alternative? I don’t know about you, but I have on many an occasion! Let’s just say Jet-Puff’s aren’t my favorite unless that fake taste is masked by scorching them to a crisp and nestling them between graham crackers and chocolate.

So when my boyfriend had a few friends over for a Mexican-themed dinner (quite gourmet!–pix later!), I decided I would make a tiny contribution by bringing over some chili/cinnamon hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows.

I’m not going to lie, candy-making type endeavors have always intimidated me, and looking back on the past, it’s easy to see why… OK here’s a little story for your entertainment:

Background info: Being the intellectually encouraging person that she is, Mom made us ask questions every night before we went to bed.

Young Ann & Sister: Mommy, what happens when you cook sugar?
[These were the types of questions we liked to ask. Not “How does food turn into energy?” or “How is light a wave AND a particle?” Instead, we asked questions like the aforementioned, and “How are Barbies made?” etc. Can’t say we responded too well to her teaching techniques. Anyway, I digress…]

More Background info: Being the intellectually encouraging person that she is, Mom liked us to test out our questions and theories.

Mom: Well, why don’t we see what happens, girls?!
[All three run to kitchen, put pot on stove, put sugar in pot, put water in pot. Heat long time. Forget about the sugar.]
[As smoke begins to fill the apartment, Mom tackles the pot while Ann and Sister are forced to flee outside the door… and I was in my Belle costume. Neighbors proceeded to stare.]

… So there was this event. Then there was also the time in my frugal college days (which haven’t actually ended) when I “compromised” a lot of my recipes for want of kitchen tools, and I almost destroyed my roommate’s saucepan trying to make caramel topping. All in all, I had good reason to fear working with sugar and using candy-making methods.

However, in the past few months, I had recently obtained a candy thermometer, so there was no reason to run from the challenge! Then I started researching marshmallow-making techniques. It didn’t seem so bad at all, and truth be told, they’re actually pretty easy! A candy thermometer is not even required, and one could make these by just eyeballing the simple syrup that is heated to over boiling. Just make sure you are aware of the different stages to look for.

Assessing Syrup Stages
The first step is to drop a tiny bit of your syrup into cold water. Then evaluate using these guidelines:
1. Soft Ball/235-240 degrees F: Syrup will form soft ball that flattens in your hand.
2. Firm Ball/245-250: Syrup will form a malleable ball that maintains some of its shape.
3. Hard Ball/250-265: Syrup will form threads from your spoon as you drop, and will harden completely in the water. Malleable only when you apply a lot of force.
4. Soft Crack/270-290: Forms flexible threads in the water that break upon bending.
5. Hard Crack/300-310: Forms hard, brittle threads in the water.

On to the recipe!
*Note: If you use a candy thermometer, use a narrow pan so that the level of syrup will be higher and the thermometer can be more submerged to get a better reading.

Vanilla Marshmallows
1 c. powdered sugar
3 1/2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
1 c. cold water, divided
2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg whites
1 tbsp. vanilla

1. Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 of the cold water, and let stand.
2. Heat the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and other 1/2 c. of water over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
3. After it dissolves, increase heat to medium, and boil the syrup to 240 degrees F, or Soft Ball stage, without stirring.
4. Meanwhile, whip the eggs whites to soft peaks.
5. When the syrup has reached the right temperature (about 12 minutes), remove from heat and mix in the gelatin.
6. Add vanilla to the egg whites, add the syrup to the egg whites and immediately start whipping them with your electric/stand mixer until it has mostly cooled and tripled in volume (this took me about 10 minutes with a handheld electric mixer… If you do the same, I give you permission to count this as your deltoid workout of the day).
7. To make a pastry bag with which to pipe your marshmallows, place a large plastic Ziploc bag in a tall glass, with the tip at the bottom and the zipper part open and cuffed around the edge of the glass. Transfer the marshmallow mixture to this bag. Seal it, twist the top, and cut off the tip.
8. Pipe the marshmallows onto a cookie sheet dusted generously with powdered sugar. Sift powdered sugar (also generously) over the top.
9. You can let these set for 1 hr/overnight, or place them in the fridge to speed up the process. You can also toss them around in a bowl with powdered sugar so they are fully coated and won’t stick to each other.

And there you have it–delicious homemade marshmallows that literally melt in your mouth from their pure, light, airy, goodness! They’re so small, reachable, and darn delicious that it’s easy to pop 10 in your mouth and still go back for more. Float them in your hot chocolate, skewer them and roast them on the fire, decorate a cake, make popcorn balls, or just eat them straight out of the tupperware. :) They should be kept in the fridge for no more than a couple days, but they go so quickly that I am sure you’ll have no problem with that! To me, the Jet-Puffs will never compare.


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