brown sugar bourbon glaze

Thanks to everyone who showed up this weekend to the San Diego Food Bloggers Bake Sale!  We have a ton of wonderful San Diego food bloggers and the bountiful display of goodies for sale Saturday was nothing short of jaw-dropping.  Our Bourbon Caramel Cupcakes and Chocolate Cherry Bombs were a huge hit (sold out! Thanks, San Diego!) and I fielded a few questions during the sale on how to top a cupcake. 

Now, we all know that not much tops a cupcake, but when it comes to icing one, I usually just don’t have the patience (or, um, skill) to make or apply complicated frostings.   However, a good glaze or ganache is typically easy to make and apply and versatile enough in texture and flavor options to meet most baking needs.   Dark chocolate ganache in particular is quite forgiving; it firms to a thick, glossily perfect surface, which is really helpful when you somehow mangle the top of your cake, something I manage to do with regularity.   Even if your ganache look less than perfect (I did get carried away on a few Cherry Bombs and double-dipped them to the point of lumpiness), I’ll let you in on a little secret - even lumpy ganache tastes fantastic

Saturday’s bourbon caramel cupcakes used one of my favorite glazes – Brown Sugar & Bourbon.  Unlike a powdered sugar-based glaze, this easy-to-make glaze does not get white or crunchy as it dries.  Instead, it’s intended to soak into a cake, infusing it with a buttery, bourbon-y richness.  This glaze works well on sturdy, tender cakes with a lot of surface area, or on cakes or cupcakes as a light first layer underneath frosting or a harder glaze. 

Because the glaze is barely cooked after the alcohol is added, it packs a heck of a boozy wallop, making it a great fit for fun food gifts, a retro 1950’s theme party, or showing off at a potluck.  Use discretion when it comes to school cupcake day, office parties, or church socials.   

Brown Sugar Bourbon Glaze

1.5 stick (170g) unsalted butter
.25 cups water
1.25 cups (250g) brown sugar (the darker the better)
.75 cups bourbon

Warm butter over medium heat in heavy-bottomed sauce pan.  Add brown sugar and water and cook, stirring constantly, at a low boil for approx. 5 minutes, until glaze is reduced by about 1/3. 

Turn off the heat (repeat: If you would like to keep your eyebrows – TURN OFF THE HEAT) and add the bourbon.  Turn the heat back on and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds, then remove from heat (the longer you cook, the more alcohol will cook off, so you need to stop cooking after only 30 seconds or so to maintain the unique taste of the glaze).  

To use, pull your cake of choice out of the oven and immediately prick all over with toothpick, skewer, or fork, then pour the warm glaze over, about a third at a time.  Pause between applications to let the cake absorb the glaze.   This recipe makes just over 2 cups of glaze, enough for a standard cake recipe (i.e., one large bundt cake).  I usually use it with mini bundts - lots of surface area to soak up the glaze.  If you want to add just a hint of bourbon-y goodness to layer cakes or cupcakes, dunk warm cupcakes in the just-cooked glaze (or drizzle glaze over warm layer cake), then let cool before frosting.  1 cup of glaze (1/2 recipe) is more than enough for 24 cupcakes or two 9″ layers.

When selecting a cake, the glaze pairs well with flavors such as vanilla, orange, rosemary, mint, caramel, walnuts, or pecans.   I particularly like it with my Four Roses Cake (aka the Make Your Mark Cake, aka The Billy Idol), but don’t pair the two together unless you are ready to be stared at lustfully and possibly straight-up propositioned by everyone in the room.   Happy Baking!

(recipe contains approx. 71 calories, 4g fat, 7g carbs per tablespoon)

8 Responses to brown sugar bourbon glaze

  1. Cathy says:

    When I saw the “adults only” label, I thought they were obscene shapes in those take away boxes…I should have tried the sample, but it was busy…

    • Ha, I’ll have to figure out how to make those for the next bake sale! I can only imagine the conversations I’ll have when someone walks into my kitchen while I’m practicing…

  2. hi there – i just wanted to let you know that my husband and i enjoyed the chocolate cherry bomb cupcake! it was delicious, especially the dark chocolate rum ganache! my husband loves anything peanut butter and anything chocolate cherry! i brought home so many different goodies from the bake sale and the cupcake was among his favorite and mine. : )

    • I’m so thrilled you liked them! Let me know if you want a recipe – they’re very easy to make!

  3. cynthia says:

    I finally got to your cupcake today (the Bourbon Caramel…yes i bought almost one of everything so it is taking me a while to taste it all) and it was DELICIOUS! :-) super moits (still) and the nuts were great texture. yum yum yum

    • Hi there, so glad to hear that you enjoyed the cupcake! I like to think that it’s the preservative power of bourbon. ;-)

  4. Pingback: 2012 san diego food blogger bake sale « a fine kettle of ish

  5. Lisa Howell says:

    After the Bake Sale today, I planned on sharing one of the “Call me a cab bourbon cakes” with my husband…but after I ate the first one, I immediately ate the second! Thanks baking this yummy adult treat & for sharing the Brown Sugar Bourbon Glaze. I want to make this soon for my hubby (& for me too!).

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