The smoky cupcakes paired nicely with homemade Bourbon-Rum Peach Ice cream. © 2012 Sugar + ShakeA couple weeks ago, I made my “Deep Freeze Tiki” ice cream with rum and mango. That was actually a bit of a trial run for my attempt at this week’s ice cream, Bourbon Peach. (Which, due to my forgetting what I was doing and grabbing the wrong bottle, ended up being Bourbon-Rum Peach ice cream. Well, more like Rum-Bourbon, since I doubled the amount of bourbon called for in the recipe—with what turned out to be rum—and then added another measure of bourbon for a total of three times the amount of alcohol that should have been in there. Oops. I thought it might not freeze…but it did.)

Anyway, we hosted a dinner party over the weekend, and my plan was to make this bourbon-flavored ice cream because our guests enjoy a good bourbon drink. Then I thought, well, it seems sort of lackluster and kindergarten lunch to serve just ice cream for dessert. I needed something to go with the ice cream that would complement it; not too heavy, but if I was going to make an additional item, it ought to be substantial, not just, like, Piroulines or something like that.

Inspiration hit: bourbon has a smoky quality, so why not a smoked-tea chocolate cake?

The chocolate batter is accented with guava-smoked sea salt and lapsang souchong tea, a Chinese black tea traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires. © 2012 Sugar + ShakeOnce upon a time, I used to make this Real Simple Chocolate and Earl Grey Tea Cake all the time — it’s a bundt cake, so it looks all fancy (I stole my mother’s bundt pan and never returned it), but it’s super easy.

This is how easy: I once whipped one up while a friend installed a ceiling fan for us. We’d bribed him with dinner to hook up the fan (electricity makes us nervous) and while the boys were doing Tool Time-type stuff, I felt like the least I should do was add dessert to the meal. I mean, the man brought his own tool kit over and everything.

“What are you doing?” they asked, done with the fan installation.

“I decided to make a cake.”

“You just decided to make a cake?! Like, just now? Without going to the store?”

“Uh-huh.”

And that, my friends, is how easy this cake recipe is.

Where was I…? Oh, yeah. Smoked.

The chocolate batter is accented with guava-smoked sea salt and lapsang souchong tea, a Chinese black tea traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Rather than use Earl Grey, I added lapsang souchong, a Chinese black tea that’s smoke-dried. I also used a guava-smoked sea salt we bought at the Waimea Farmers Market. Double smokin’.

Sugar adapted a Real Simple recipe for a Chocolate Earl Grey Cake, which is meant as a bundt cake, into mini cupcakes. © 2012 Sugar + ShakeThis time, I decided to turn the bundt cake into mini cupcakes because I thought they would be cuter with the round scoop of ice cream when I served dessert.

It was a good idea, too, since we were invited to a last-minute dinner party the night before our own. I could happily volunteer to bring dessert, easily divvying up the already-prepared ice cream and packing up a bunch of mini cupcakes.

I do not understand why, but these cupcakes are a tad bit on the sticky side. I do remember the bundt cake being somewhat tacky as well, so it’s probably just the recipe. Or maybe it’s just the dang humidity here.

A sea of mini cupcakes. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Both the ice cream and the Smoked-Tea Chocolate Cupcakes were a hit. And everyone got cupcakes to take home.

Turning a bundt cake into mini cupcakes makes a LOT of mini cupcakes. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

If you’d like to make this recipe, follow the Real Simple original, substituting equal amounts of lapsang souchong for Earl Grey tea, and smoked sea salt for kosher salt. You’ll also end up with about six dozen mini cupcakes, so if you don’t feel the need to be swimming in mini cakes for days, you’ll want to adjust the recipe. Or make the original large bundt cake.

Incidentally, while writing this post, it occurred to me that these “cupcakes” didn’t have any frosting…so were they even cupcakes at all, or should I be calling them muffins instead? Turns out, frosting isn’t really the defining criterion in the cupcake vs. muffin debate. It’s the texture. Muffins are dense and bread-like. Cupcakes are lighter and more, well, cake-like.

So these smoky little chocolate non-frosted treats are cupcakes. And you can put that in your pipe and smoke it.

The smoky cupcakes paired nicely with homemade Bourbon-Rum Peach Ice cream. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

PS: A note on the bourbon ice cream — as with the “Deep-Freeze Tiki” ice cream, I opted out of the recipe’s called-for corn syrup and instead substituted honey (honey and bourbon are great together); I also used the same guava-smoked sea salt that I put in the cupcakes, in place of the kosher salt. Finally, because of my aforementioned brain-freeze, I used triple the amount of bourbon (except it was a mix of bourbon and rum). This turned out perfectly fine, so I say, go for it. It may not set completely in the machine, but it will be fine after freezing overnight.

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