I did not bake cupcakes during maternity leave (though I did manage some brownies), but my husband did. His office was holding a bake-off, and he was all in. He wanted to bake banana bread rum cupcakes with cream cheese icing and a rum sauce on top. I did not help him bake or frost the cupcakes–I promise!–but I did develop the recipe (below!) for him.

The banana rum cake turned out great. It hit the mark between the taste of both banana bread and rum cake but was lighter than those baked goods typically are.

I’m not providing a recipe for the butter rum sauce, as it requires more testing. We started with too much cornstarch, ended up heavily “watering” it down with rum. It worked, but I’m not sure I could replicate it. It was made from Mount Gay Rum, cornstarch, brown sugar, and butter.

The cupcakes lost third place by one vote! They garnered many sweet comments from happy tasters, though.

My husband was disappointed the final product did not taste more boozy. If that is your goal, I would recommend more rum poured over the top of the cupcakes pre-frosting. You could do a rum glaze instead of the cream cheese frosting, more like a typical rum Bundt cake, but that would be a different dessert.

Recipe: Banana Rum Cupcakes

Makes 2 dozen

1 cup dark rum
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
1 1/3 cup pureed banana (2-3 bananas)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

Bring rum and butter to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Turn heat off and let cool. Add sugar to mixture and whisk to combine.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.

Combine the eggs and sour cream on medium speed in a mixer with the whisk attachment.

Slowly add cooled rum mixture to the egg mixture.

Add the sifted flour mixture (1/3 at a time) to the rum-egg mixture.

Mix in the banana purée.

Scoop into pans and bake for 20-24 minutes (turning halfway through) or until the tops are firm to the touch. Let cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from pans.

Dribble a teaspoon of rum over each baked cupcake when you take them out of the pans.

Let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Recipe

Dawn Belisle is an attorney-turned-baker who began baking alcohol infused cakes inspired by her mother’s fruit cake and hasn’t looked back since.

“Baking with booze requires knowing what flavors work well with each other while ensuring the alcohol complements the other ingredients,” says Dawn. “In a good recipe you will taste the flavor and the alcohol of the spirit used—it will enhance the recipe but the alcohol will not overpower the final flavors. It’s all about using a great tasting spirit like Van Gogh’s flavored vodkas to create that perfect balance for the palate.”

I tried out one of her recipes recently, making her no-bake chocolate-covered caramel vodka bites. I used graham crackers and arrowroot cookies that I had on hand, but I otherwise followed Dawn’s recipe below.

They were a hit! With plenty of chocolate and caramel flavor, they also packed a punch. There was no doubt these were boozy bites.

Dawn’s alcohol-infused cupcakes and other goodies can be ordered online at www.delightsbydawn.com. You may also see her at the Georgia Dome, Philips Arena, and other locations in Atlanta.

Thank you to Delights by Dawn and Van Gogh Vodka for providing me a sample of Dutch Caramel Vodka. Van Gogh crafts 16 varieties of high quality flavored vodka. Get to know Van Gogh at www.vangoghvodka.com.

Recipe: Dutch Caramel Vodka Bites

Created by

  • 1 12oz. package of vanilla wafers
  • 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka
  • 7 oz. Melting Chocolate (dark or milk)

Put wafers in a food processor and process until fine. If you don’t have a food processor put wafers in a sealable gallon food bag and use a rolling pin to crush until fine. Place wafer crumbs in a bowl and add confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup and Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka. Mix until well until combined. Using a small cookie scoop or a heaping tablespoon, scoop the dough and roll into a 1 inch bite-sized ball.

Melt the chocolate and then dip the bites into the chocolate until covered entirely. Place dipped bites on a wax sheet of paper to harden. To decorate, add sprinkles or colored sugar before the chocolate coating hardens. Store the Dutch Caramel Vodka Bites in an airtight container. Bites are best when made ahead of time and stored for 1 to 3 days to allow all the flavors to meld before serving.

Baking with bubbly! What better way to ring in the new year? 

Champagne Cupcakes

For these mini treats, I reduced champagne to use as the flavoring. I used inexpensive André, a California sparkling, keeping the good stuff to drink! The actual bubbles can be problematic, and intensifying the flavor is no bad thing, so I recommend this rather than using champagne straight from the bottle. 

Champagne Cupcake Ingredients

This recipe makes for tasty cake and frosting. The champagne flavor is subtle, but there is a hint of that celebratory beverage.

Champagne Cupcakes Sprinkles

Champagne cupcakes are perfect for New Year’s Eve, engagement parties, birthdays, or any other bubbly-worthy occasion!

Champagne Cupcakes

Happy New Year!

Recipe: Champagne Cupcakes

Makes 18 cupcakes (or 36 minis)

1 stick butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons reduced champagne
7 ounces plain yogurt
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 stick butter
1 pound powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons reduced champagne

First, reduce 1 cup of champagne to 1/2 cup by boiling in a small pan on stovetop. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

Cream the butter and sugar at medium speed, then reduce to low to add the eggs one at a time.

Add the reduced champagne.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the yogurt, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, do not overmix.

Scoop into lined tins and bake for about 20 minutes (10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes), turning halfway through.

Remove from oven and let cool in pans for 5 minutes. Cool on racks until room temperature before frosting.

For frosting: Beat the butter until smooth. Slowly add half the powdered sugar, then 3 tablespoons reduced champagne. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix, adding more champagne if needed to reach desired consistency.

single_caramel_cupcake_popcorn We’re moving soon and see no reason to pack nearly empty bottles. I knew we weren’t likely to finish off this Smirnoff Kissed Caramel Vodka. It’s actually rather tasty, in my opinion, but it’s not something you want to drink often.

kissed caramel cupcakes

The day before, I made caramel popcorn. (It’s easy, here’s the recipe.) I then baked and frosted the cupcakes on party day. For an extra boost of caramel-boozy goodness, I used a chopstick to make a hole in each cupcake while they were cooling and slowly poured in about a teaspoon of caramel vodka using a small funnel.

This is a fabulous way to use up some caramel vodka, if you’ve run out of creative caramel-based cocktails. See recipe below!


We’re also working on the peach schnapps.

Recipe: Caramel Vodka Cupcakes

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup caramel-flavored vodka
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 pound powdered sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 cup caramel-flavored vodka
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

Cream the butter sugar at medium speed, then reduce to low. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract and the yogurt.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add 1/2 the dry ingredients to the wet, then the vodka, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, do not overmix.

Scoop batter into lined muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full. Bake 20-22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely on wire racks before icing.

FOR THE FROSTING: Beat the butter, slowly adding powdered sugar, salt, vanilla extract, then the vodka. Mix well at medium-high speed.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I was advised to make something green and boozy, and that’s just what I did.

Irish Cream Cupcake

I baked these cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream in the cake batter, some drizzled over after baking, and in the frosting.

Baileys Soaked Cupcakes
I poked holes in the cupcakes with a chopstick before pouring some extra Baileys over them.

I also made a couple without uncooked liquor, topped with cinnamon frosting, for the child who would be enjoying them with us. I colored the icing green in honor of the holiday (blue for kids’ version) and added chocolate chips.

The frosting was the best the part. And, yes, I used a lot!

Baileys Cupcakes