bourbon / chocolate / cupcake

Straight Up Cupcake

Being a child of the 80’s, third wave feminism with it’s girl power anthems and roots of sex positivity (see: Madonna), didn’t really have an effect until post-wave radio replay of the early 90’s.  I vaguely recall women scoffing at my stay at home mom while they raced off each morning in shoulder pads, Easy Spirits, and the Mercedes their dual income household afforded them the privilege of driving.  I was 5 in 1988.  Mandatory modern/hip hop/jazz dance class at my grade school introduced Patti LaBelle moves and “you go girl” into my vocabulary.  One beat of “Straight Up” and the whole song gets full cranial replay with a few of the elementary dance moves twitching through my muscle memory.

Ms. Abdul, in her post structuralist interpretation of the classic boy-girl relationship asks for honesty.  She’s not a Disney princess, waiting in hopes for some needy ego-maniacal somnophiliac.  She’s demanding the hard, but straight talk of low expectations.  Whether Ms. Abdul’s lover provides her with said straight up answers, and whether she chooses to believe them, remains to be seen. (The chorus repetition suggests she is dubious at best, requiring multiple confirmations).  I get the sensation that it was a two steps forward, two steps back kind of deal, leaving her alone with a [MC Skat] cat.

In any case, while we’ve certainly entered fourth wave feminism, where we reclaim the domestic by selling aprons on Etsy and canning things, I’m not sure if Miley Cyrus is really the anthem of our times.  Then again, I get little broad spectrum pop in my world of new wave 80’s synth/indie rock/grand ole opry.  In one such testament to fourth wave feminism, I took a day off of my career to cater a gallery opening hosted by the ever amazing and beautiful Streetwater for Straight Up, a collection by the devastatingly talented Cameron R Neilson.  Since the project started in Manhattan, we served manhattans, straight up.  Which of course, I turned into a bite sized cupcake.  Or rather, 324 bite sized cupcakes.

this cupcake was not photographed at a perfect 90 degree angle, therefore it is not infringing on IP rights of the initial Straight Up concept. Nor is it in anyway a parody. I was simply sitting on the floor, looking up.

Manhattan Cupcakes


Makes 3 dozen minis (or 1 dozen standard)

  • 3/4 cups unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder (I prefer King Arthur’s Double Dutch Dark Cocoa, your chocolate cake comes out close to black in color and tastes fudgy rich.  This is not some weak Hershey’s mess.  This is real cocoa for the chocolate lover.)
  • 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teas espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

For the ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbs confectioners sugar
  • 3 oz unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 teas vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs bourbon
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbs red cherry jam (Hero or Bon Maman preferred)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini cupcake tins with cupcake papers.  Place cocoa, flour, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Mix well and set aside.  In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed until really good and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing with each addition one.   Add vanilla and bourbon. Reduce mixer speed to low. Spoon in the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with sour cream, starting and ending with the flour mixture.

Fill cupcake tins 3/4 full.  Bake 17-19 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the cupcake comes out clean.  Let cupcakes cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

Meanwhile, Put chocolate in a heat proof bowl.  In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring cream and confectioners sugar to a low boil.  Remove from heat and pour over chocolate.  Whisk until smooth.  Add in vanilla, bourbon, and jam, whisking after each addition.  Feel free to add more jam to taste if you like your ganache more sweet, but it does make the frosting softer. Refrigerate until completely cool.  Using an electric mixer, beat until fluffy.  Frost and eat!


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