Day 3 – In the Kitchen: Dr. Pepper Cupcakes

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, we had a chili cookoff* at work on Tuesday to raise money for one of the many charity events we participate in every year. I had originally signed on to bring 4 dozen cupcakes along with my chili, but last minute I was told that maybe I should only bring a dozen because other people were providing a few dozen cupcakes of their own.

As I’ve become known as the “Cupcake Diva” at work (a name given to me by our chili cookoff organizer), my response when finding out others were bringing cupcakes was “Don’t they know who I am?!” (jokingly, of course). In the end, I brought 2 dozen cupcakes because I couldn’t decide on just one recipe and all of my cupcakes disappeared, while the other cupcakes were still hanging around sad and depressed that nobody wanted them.

Dr. Pepper Cupcakes

Thanks to Pinterest, I keep finding all kinds of crafts and recipes and things I want to try, including these Dr. Pepper cupcakes. Even though the recipe called for a boxed cake mix, I still had to try them. I mean – DR. PEPPER IN A CUPCAKE! It’s like everything I’ve ever loved all wrapped up in one package.

I really need to get out more.

The consensus is that these cupcakes were tasty, but I couldn’t taste the Dr. Pepper in the cake itself after they had been frosted. On first bite when they were still warm from the oven, I could tell. But after a day, that seemed to have disappeared. I could tell it was in the frosting, but it was a subtle Dr. Pepper flavor, due in part to my inability to properly make a Dr. Pepper reduction without burning the whole place down.

I didn’t actually burn anything down, but I left my Dr. Pepper reduction simmering on the stove with my trusty timer set to go off in 30 minutes, as instructed. I stirred a few times, but then got distracted while in the other room. About 30 seconds before the timer went off, I thought “Hmm, I should go check on the reduction” only to walk into my kitchen to a burnt reduction that then filled my apartment with Dr. Pepper smoke. I tried a second time, but fearing a similar outcome, I didn’t let it cook nearly long enough – it was still pretty liquid when I added it to the frosting.

I think I’d like to try these again without the boxed cake mix and with a simpler frosting, so there may be an experiment on them in the future.

The recipe I used came from here (and her photos are much better than mine), though I went a different route with the frosting. With that in mind, I’m reposting here with my notes.

Dr. Pepper Cupcakes
makes approximately 18 cupcakes

1 box chocolate cake mix (I used a dark chocolate cake mix)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup Dr. Pepper
3 eggs

Dr. Pepper Reduction:
2 cups Dr. Pepper
1 cup sugar

For frosting:
1/2 cup butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar (or more, as needed to get proper frosting consistency)
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 tbsp Dr. Pepper
Dr. Pepper reduction (to taste – I ended up using 1/3 c. of my partial reduction)

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Mix everything together until cake is well mixed (no large lumps). Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, bake for 18 minutes (or until toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean). Cool for a few minutes in pan (mostly so you don’t burn your fingers off when touching them), then move to cooling racks/table/whatever setup you have to cool things.

For Dr. Pepper Reduction:
Bring sugar & Dr. Pepper to a boil, reduce heat & simmer until they have reduced to a syrupy consistency (about 30 minutes). Don’t leave this alone in the kitchen while you wander off to check your email. Let cool a bit before adding to frosting.

For the frosting: Cream the butter until fluffy, then add the vanilla and straight Dr. Pepper, mixing until combined. Alternate mixing in powdered sugar & Dr. Pepper reduction until you get the right flavor & consistency.

Frost completely cooled cupcakes. Enjoy.

*Not a cookoff in the sense that there was a winner or anything, but we did sell a lot of chili.