Irish Cream and Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Irish Cream and Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Irish cream is a liqueur made with Irish whiskey that has notes of coffee, chocolate and vanilla. It’s distinctive and delicious – which is what makes Bailey’s, the best known brand, the best selling liqueur in the world. Bailey’s (and other Irish creams) can be mixed into cocktails or enjoyed on their own. They’re also great ingredients to bake with because their flavor translates well to desserts, including cupcakes. These Irish Cream and Salted Caramel Cupcakes are just one example of how delicious an Irish cream-spiked dessert can be.

The cupcakes are made with a very generous amount of Irish cream, which gives them a rich flavor that is accented with a bit of vanilla extract. The liqueur has a low ABV, but the alcohol that is in it bakes off during cooking, so the cupcake will have hints of vanilla, chocolate, coffee and cream, not alcohol. The fluffy cupcakes are topped with an Irish cream-spiked cream cheese frosting. The sweet Irish cream contrasts well with the tangy cream cheese, so the silky smooth frosting is very addictive. It is even more addictive once it has been topped with a drizzle of caramel sauce and a sprinkle of sea salt. Those two topping elements really take this cupcake over-the-top.

I’ve made my own Irish Cream and I highly recommend giving it a try. The homemade version of the liqueur is both easy and exceptionally tasty. That said, I typically use Bailey’s Irish Cream in this recipe. You’ll get good results, either way. The cupcakes keep well for several days after baking when stored in an airtight container because they are so moist. The caramel sauce and salt, however, should be added to the tops of the cupcakes shortly before serving.

Irish Cream and Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Irish Cream and Salted Caramel Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 batch Irish Cream cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce
coarse sea salt, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the Irish cream, then mix in the remaining flour mixture.
Divide batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.
Bake regular-sized cupcakes for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Fill a piping bag, or a large ziploc bag with one corner snipped off, with cream cheese frosting and pipe generously onto the cupcakes. Drizzle with caramel sauce and sprinkle with a few grains of salt to finish before serving.

Makes 12.

Irish Cream Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
8-oz cream cheese
2 tbsp Irish cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese until well combined. Blend in Irish cream and vanilla extract and gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick and creamy. If the frosting is not thick enough to pipe easily, add more confectioners’ sugar.

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