I may live in Tennessee now, but I lived a full 22 years of my life as a Kentuckian. You can’t live in Kentucky, and not be aware of the Kentucky Derby! The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown horse races. It’s known as the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”, and is the oldest continuous sporting event in the United States.

I grew up surrounded by traditions leading up to the race. In elementary school we would make our own stick horses, decorate “silks” (construction paper vests), and then at the end of the week we’d have our own races. I also remember, come Derby Day (first Saturday in May), my parents and my brother & sister would watch the races on TV, and my parents would give us quarters to make our bets. I always chose the horse with the neatest sounding name. I always lost. Still to this day I get chills of excitement come race day when I hear the playing of “My Old Kentucky Home”.


It’s such a fun tradition, with the festive hats & festive drinks. The festive, traditional drink served at the Derby is a Mint Julep. It consists of bourbon (Early Times is the offical bourbon, but I had Maker’s Mark on hand), mint leaves, and sugar or simple syrup. I happened to get the chance to go to Opening Day, where I had my VERY FIRST, Mint Julep, and I got a commemorative glass for this year’s race.



I’ve had my eye on these cupcakes since before Derby last year. I finally made them this year and I’m SO glad I did. I took them into work, and they were gobbled up VERY VERY fast! Not just that, but lots of people seemed to go out of their way to tell me how good they were! While the cupcakes didn’t capture the TRUE flavor of a Mint Julep (think LOTS more bourbon!), they certainly were inspired by it.

As a bit of advice warning, I have heavily re-written the original cupcake recipe from it’s source. For one thing I halved it to make closer to a dozen. And for another, the original recipe calls for the eggs, but never mentions when to add them! Luckily, for some reason I felt something was off, and I did a “test batch” of two mini cupcakes and discovered this mistake. And the frosting recipe I changed up quite a bit too, adding bourbon to that, as well as using softened butter, instead of melted, as I’ve NEVER seen or used a frosting recipe that required melted butter, and I just didn’t feel like chancing it this time!


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Mint Julep Cupcakes

Recipe Adapted from: Cooking & Booking
Yields 12-14 cupcakes

Ingredients:

CUPCAKES:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups flour plus 1 Tbsp
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
1/4 cup Creme de Menthe

FROSTING:
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon bourbon
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening
milk

Directions:

CUPCAKES:
Preheat the oven to 350F, and grease or line cupcake cups.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, & salt. Set aside.

In the mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Once the eggs are combined, add the extracts. Slowly add in half of the flour mixture. Add the milk and liquors to the batter, then the rest of the flour. Mix as little as possible, just until the batter comes together.

Divide evenly among the cupcake cups. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool.

FROSTING:
Whip the butter & shortening using the whisk attachment (if available). Slowly add in half the powdered sugar. Add in the extracts & bourbon. Add the rest of the powdered sugar. Then slowly add in milk until frosting reached desired consistancy.

Once cupcakes are completely cooled frost, and top with mint leaves (optional, for decoration!).