Vanilla Maple Whiskey Cupcakes

These Vanilla Maple Whiskey Cupcakes are a boozy delight, with a buttery maple center and a vanilla whiskey buttercream.

These Vanilla Maple Whiskey Cupcakes are a boozy delight, with a buttery maple center and a vanilla whiskey buttercream. Get the recipe from Savory Simple!

I often get questions about my boozy desserts. Can the alcohol be removed? Is this ok for a child’s birthday party? (That’s my favorite). Since alcohol plays such a prominent role in these vanilla maple whiskey cupcakes, I figured it might be a good topic for discussion.

These Vanilla Maple Whiskey Cupcakes are a boozy delight, with a buttery maple center and a vanilla whiskey buttercream. Get the recipe from Savory Simple!

Regarding alcohol in recipes: 

  • If there’s alcohol in something being cooked (example: cupcakes going into the oven or a sauce), most of that alcohol is actually being cooked out. It’s there for flavor.
  • Keep in mind that extracts are typically straight alcohol. Your vanilla extract? Booze. However, you’re using such a small quantity of it. A tablespoon of whiskey isn’t much different than a tablespoon of vanilla extract, with the exception that the vanilla might actually be prepared using a higher proof alcohol. See below.
  • In the US, in order for a vanilla extract to be called pure, the FDA requires that the solution contains a minimum of 35% alcohol.  I suppose this is something you want to keep in mind if you avoid alcohol for religious reasons? Aside from that, if you’re not worried about vanilla extract in your child’s birthday cake, you probably don’t need to worry about other alcohols. If I’m not legally supposed to say that… please keep in mind that I’m not qualified to say anything, and I’m not a pediatrician or a lawyer and maybe you should just give them fruit, k?
  • Moving on, if there is alcohol in a recipe that is not cooked, like the filling and frosting in these cupcakes, that alcohol will obviously still be there at the end (sorry to be so basic, but I get a lot of basic questions). However, the recipe below includes 5 tablespoons of whiskey spread across 24 cupcakes. That’s not a lot of alcohol per cupcake. I have an extremely low tolerance and I’m not worried about getting a buzz from these.
  • Lastly, if you do not consume alcohol for personal or religious reasons, it can always be omitted from a recipe. In baked goods, the key is to keep the liquid to dry ratio the same. Vanilla extract has alcohol, so that’s not a good swap. Milk or cream are usually a safe, neutral-flavored swap in baked goods.

Let me know if you have any questions!

These Vanilla Maple Whiskey Cupcakes are a boozy delight, with a buttery maple center and a vanilla whiskey buttercream. Get the recipe from Savory Simple!

If you’re new to working with meringue buttercreams, be sure to check out my post: What is Buttercream + Troubleshooting Tips.


5 from 2 votes
These Vanilla Maple Whiskey Cupcakes are a boozy delight, with a buttery maple center and a vanilla whiskey buttercream. Get the recipe from Savory Simple!
Vanilla Maple Whiskey Cupcakes
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins

These Vanilla Maple Whiskey Cupcakes are a boozy delight, with a buttery maple center and a vanilla whiskey buttercream. A perfect grown-up birthday treat!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Calories: 466 kcal
Author: Jennifer Farley
Vanilla Cupcakes:
  • 16 ounces all-purpose flour (approximately 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 12 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs
Maple Whiskey Filling:
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup, room temperature
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Vanilla Whiskey Buttercream (See Notes):
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 16 ounces unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons whiskey
Prepare the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup regular muffin tins with cupcake liners and lightly coat with baking spray.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the sides, turn the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, allowing each to incorporate completely before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl periodically. Don’t worry if the batter breaks up a bit (this is a very high egg:butter ratio). It will come together in the next step.
  5. Scrape down the sides and then add the flour on low speed, mixing until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium speed for a few seconds to help bring the batter together.
  6. Divide evenly between the liners, then bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool while preparing the filling and buttercream.
Prepare the Filling:
  1. In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer (or using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment), combine the maple syrup, butter, confectioners’ sugar, whiskey, and salt. You can adjust some of the ingredients to taste slightly by adding a bit more whiskey, maple or a splash of vanilla. Just avoid thinning it out too much.
Prepare the Buttercream:
  1. Add the sugar and water to a medium sauce pot. Cover and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the liquid begins to simmer and steam has developed, remove the cover (this helps prevent crystallization). Using a digital thermometer, cook the sugar to the soft boil stage, 235-240 degrees F, approximately 5 minutes.
  2. While the sugar is cooking, whisk the egg whites on high speed in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until a soft peak has formed.
  3. Turn the mixer speed down to medium-low and very slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites.
  4. Once the syrup is completely incorporated, turn the speed to high and allow the meringue to continue forming a stiff peak while cooling down. Mix on high until the meringue has reached room temperature, approximately 20 minutes.
  5. Once the meringue is room temperature, slowly begin incorporating the soft butter on medium speed. Once all of the butter has been incorporated, turn the mixer speed up to high and slowly add the vanilla and whiskey.
Prepare the cupcakes:
  1. Using a small knife or cupcake corer, remove the center from each cupcake. Pipe or spoon the maple filling into each cupcake. Pipe the buttercream on top.
Recipe Notes

This recipe uses an Italian meringue buttercream, which is slightly advanced. It’s SO much lighter and less cloying than American buttercreams, and I highly recommend it. However, you can easily substitute in a simple vanilla buttercream recipe. Just add whiskey! If you'd like to learn more about meringue buttercream and how to troubleshoot it if it breaks, check out my article here

Also, Please weight out your flour!

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  • Heh, I put booze in my cupcakes frequently too, and I ALWAYS get raised eyebrows from people when they ask if I let my kid eat them and I say yes, of course. It’s not like I’m sending him to school with gin & tonics in his lunchbox thermos or something. That aside, I love the sound of maple and whiskey together, and will be making these cupcakes ASAP.

  • Your responses to the “queries”, and “basic questions” you receive are priceless! So enjoyed reading this! Great recipe!

  • Whiskey and maple are pretty much meant for each other and no, I do not want to remove the alcohol from any of my foods, thank you very much. :)

  • What did I DO!? The cupcake ended up perfect! The filling ended up ok, a little runny/separated, but I made it work. But the buttercream looks terrible and is unusable. The meringue started perfect up until i started adding butter. It’s runny with little lumps of butter. What did I do wrong?
    I really want to make this recipe again because the flavors are amazing.
    Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Indi! Thanks so much for commenting. Getting a standalone post on the blog about meringue buttercream has been a high priority, because it can be tricky. I know exactly what happened, and if you haven’t thrown out the buttercream yet it can easily be fixed. I go into a lot of those details in this post if you want even more info, but I’ll sum it up for you here. Basically, the buttercream will break if the temperatures differ. This usually means the meringue was slightly warmer than the butter. If it breaks, the fastest way to fix it is to scoop a few spoonfuls into a small bowl or ramekin and microwave it for about 10 seconds. Mix it back into the buttercream on high speed. You might need to repeat this process once or twice, but the buttercream should come back together.

    • Italian buttercream can be a little tricky. Make sure your meringue is cooled to room temp before you start adding your soft room temp butter in tablespoon increments. Also, sometimes it takes a while to come together so keep mixing with the paddle attachment and it should be fine. Sometimes if you add too much alcohol it can mess up the texture as well, so add slowly.

    • Oh dear. I just double checked the amounts since it’s always possible for errors to slip through, no matter how many times I proofread. However, 4 ounces of butter + 3/4 cup liquid would be way too thin, even with the powdered sugar. When curdling happens, it usually means the temperature difference between the ingredients was too extreme. My guess is that’s what happened, and that it would be better if the maple syrup was added at room temperature. This wasn’t an issue for me; I apologize. Don’t discard the filling! It can be fixed. You simply need to bring the temperatures to an equal level. Try some of these tip. Again, my apologies!

  • What kind of Whiskey? I was looking through my husbands collection and apparently there are a whole bunch of different types of whiskey.

    • Hi Jessica! Sorry for the delayed response; I was out of town. I wouldn’t use anything too fancy or expensive, and I wouldn’t use scotch since it has a strong flavor. Other than that, most options should work. Bourbons are fine. Since I’m not familiar with the brands he owns, you might want to double check with him to see what he thinks. I’ve had success with Jameson, Jim Beam, and Knob Creek.