Irish Cream Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream


Last month it was our little man’s birthday and as a special treat we took in a special afternoon tea to his day care. We took the afternoon off work and brought in some muffins. Being conscientious I kept the sugar to a minimum and made banana muffins with maple syrup. I didn’t want any poor parents picking up a toddler on a sugar high. My answer to frosting: some maple sweetened cream cheese, it looked the part.

At the party the teachers placed a cupcake each in front of each of the 10 kids. We watched as they all attacked their cupcakes. Five minutes in all but one had licked off all the frosting, leaving a perfectly naked cupcake. The lone frosting non-consumer was my little guy who deftly turned the cake upside down and ate the frosting-free bottom first.

I thought of him when I made this cupcake. I’m often in agreement with him. Frosting on a cupcake can be entirely superfluous. Overly sweet, piled on to no additional taste benefit. This cupcake and frosting are made to perfectly complement the other. The cupcake tastes boozy, chocolatey and not too sweet. The frosting brings the balancing creaminess and sweetness. Together they are perfect!



  • 2 cups plain/all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter softened (2 sticks or 225g)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup Irish Cream liqueur (I used Baileys)


  • 1 1/2 cup of butter
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla bean paste


  1. Preheat oven to 350C/180F and line 2 cupcake trays with liners. In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder/soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer cream together the softened butter and sugar on low speed until mixed. Turn the speed up to medium and mix until light and fluffy.
  3. Reduce the speed to low again and add the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition and making sure that each egg is mixed in well before adding the next egg.
  4. In a jug combine the milk and the liqueur and mix well.
  5. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix on the slowest speed. Next add the milk mixture. Alternate the milk and flour until both are done.
  6. Pull the bowl out from under the stand and give it one final mix with the spoon making sure that everything is incorporated and uniform.
  7. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full of batter. I use an ice cream scoop to get a uniform amount in each liner, it saves me heaps of time.
  8. Bake the trays for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool before icing.

For the Buttercream

In the bowl of your stand mixer, start beating your butter. Start slow and once it’s smooth, turn the mixer to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until the butter changes colour (this is a sign of the butter being aerated: air = fluffiness).

Stop the mixer and add your icing sugar. You can hold some back if you’re worried about the sweetness. Put the mixer on the lowest speed (mine has a “stir” function) and mix until the icing sugar is incorporated and won’t spray your kitchen white.

When the sugar is combined, turn the mixer up again to high and beat for 4-5 minutes until it’s all light and fluffy. Finally add the 1 tbsp of vanilla bean paste and mix on low speed until your buttercream is liberally dusted with little black dots of vanilla goodness.


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