2015 is almost at an end!!! YAY.
a lot has happened this past year, some of it good, but a lot of it extremely difficult. so, i can't say i'll be sad to see this year go, and i'm more than ready to ring in 2016 with a big, fabulous, totally over-the-top todo.
and what better way to say hello to the new year in style than with some gorgeous, sparkly, champagne-spiked cupcakes? these mini treats are tiny enough that they really can be popped right into your mouth and enjoyed in one bite, so they're perfect for passing at a party and eating with nothing but your fingers. an ideal celebratory dessert if ever there was one!
this recipe is based off of the most classic champagne cocktail – where a sugar cube is soaked in cocktail bitters and then all that goodness is topped with plenty of bubbly. the cocktail version is, generally, topped with a very elegant bit of lemon zest, but here i've gone all out and topped mine with luster dust (edible glitter, y'all! it's a thing!), and thrown some colorful, confetti-like sprinkles around for good measure.
for the cupcakes:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons aromatic cocktail bitters (i used fee brothers)
4 large eggs
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 fluid ounces (¾ cup) champagne or other sparkling wine
for the champagne-spiked swiss meringue buttercream:
8 fluid ounces (1 cup) champagne or sparkling wine ¾ granulated sugar (for champagne simple syrup) 6 fluid ounces egg whites (measure after you've separated them from the yolks; you'll need the whites from 5-6 eggs, depending on how large they are)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and softened
luster dust in gold, silver, or any other color you like, and festive confetti sprinkles, for decorating
how to do it:
- in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or your favorite mixing bowl), cream together the butter, coconut oil, sugars, and cocktail bitters until smoother, lightened in color, and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- add the eggs, one at a time, mixing gently between each addition to thoroughly combine.
- in another small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add a third of the dry mixture to the sugar-and-egg mixture in the other bowl and mix gently, just to combine. repeat with the remaining flour dry ingredients.
- pour in the champagne, stir or mix until batter comes together smoothly, without a lot of lumps (but don't overmix!).
- line a mini cupcake pan with liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray. fill each cupcake liner nearly full (at least ¾ of the way up the side), and bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted down into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
- while the cupcakes are baking, make your champagne simple syrup by combining the first two ingredients for the buttercream together in a small saucepan (the 8 fluid ounces champagne and ¾ cup sugar). you'll want to be very careful at this stage – you are, you know, putting a whole pot of alcohol, which is very flammable, on the stove. bring the ingredients to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently so as not to splash or spill, until sugar is completely dissolved and liquid has thickened slightly, about 5-7 minutes. to be extra-safe, you may want to turn the heat down to medium-low as soon as the liquid begins to bubble. once done, turn off your burner, remove the saucepan from the stove, and pour champagne syrup into a liquid measuring cup or bowl and set aside. let cool completely before using.
- to make the buttercream, fill a small saucepot halfway with water and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. combine the egg whites, salt, and remaining 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar in the clean bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl. place the bowl over the small pot of simmering water (you're making a double boiler of sorts), whisking the egg white mixture vigorously for several minutes until it has become very warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved completely. the mixutre should look almost like whitish, liquidy marshmallow when it's ready.
*if you have a candy thermometer, you'll want to use it here – while whisking, bring the egg white mixture to about 130°f. not enough to actually cook the egg, but enough to help dissolve all that sugar.
- carefully (the bottom of your mixing bowl will be hot!), transfer the bowl back to your stand mixer or a stable, heat-resistant counter top or other surface. using a whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture until it becomes opaque white, shiny, and stiff, like a gorgeous meringue.
- now it's time to add the butter – put in just a little at a time, whisking again between each addition to make sure it's fully incorporated.
- finally, while still whisking, slowly drizzle in the champagne syrup you made earlier to flavor the buttercream.
- pipe or spread buttercream onto cooled cupcakes and decorate with a dusting of that super fun edible glitter, sprinkles, or whatever else you like!
you'll get 55-60 minis out of this recipe (so many cupcakes!), but you can also bake regular-size cupcakes if you've got a standard pan – this recipe will give you about 20 of those.