Old-Fashioned Cupcakes

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Yes, this cupcake has smoked paprika it in! It might sound odd, but please don’t skip it. Bourbon, a signature component of an Old-Fashioned, has deep, caramelly flavor notes and some smokey spice from being barrel-aged. Just a bit of smoked paprika, along with browned butter and brown sugar, really hone in on the same tasting notes as the spirit.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr (plus cooling)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
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For the Cupcakes:

For the Glaze:


  1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil or paper liners. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium heat, swirling the pan. Continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter is browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and remove from the heat. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until all the butter is melted; pour into a large bowl and let cool slightly.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice and paprika in a medium bowl. Add the brown and granulated sugars to the bowl with the butter, along with the sour cream, vanilla, orange zest and eggs; whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined, then briefly whisk until smooth. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds of the way. Bake until the centers of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
  3. Make the glaze: Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a small high-sided saucepan over medium heat. Add the water and stir, then bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally but not stirring, until the mixture is a rich brown color and thick enough to slowly drip off the end of a rubber spatula, 12 to 15 minutes. (The caramel should stay in a loose ball when swirled in the pan.) Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch and heavy cream in a small bowl. Remove the glaze from the heat and carefully add the cream mixture. (It’s OK if it stiffens at first.) Return to the heat and cook, carefully stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon (or vanilla). Let stand, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes; the caramel will be thick and slightly warm. 
  4. Cut a slit in the top of each cupcake, cutting almost all the way across and about halfway down. Transfer 1/3 cup of the glaze to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Gently squeeze the cupcakes to open the slits; pipe the glaze into the cupcakes, filling until the glaze comes up to the top.
  5. Dip the tops of the cupcakes in the remaining glaze in the saucepan, letting the excess drip off, then return to the rack. (If the caramel has started to solidify, briefly rewarm over low heat for a few seconds.) Pop any air bubbles in the glaze with a toothpick. Garnish each cupcake with an orange twist and a maraschino cherry. 
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Arlyn Osborne

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