Vodka Kahlua Cupcakes with Spiked Hot Chocolate Frosting

[The Messy Cooker gets personal as she looks back on the past year…and her choir years?]

I’m not sure how, but it’s been one year since I started The Messy Cooker. It’s had its highs (becoming a latke!) and its lows (cutting my finger while making gummy worms), yet I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it (despite the copious amounts of blood from the low times).This week, I’d like to share one of my favorite recipes plus a personal moment that goes along with it…which may or may not harken back to my high school years.


“Are these cupcakes chocolate?” A suburban mom (complete with blonde highlighted hair and thick makeup) asked, as she glanced hungrily at the tasty desserts laid out on the choir’s concession stand. “They’re vodka Kahlua” my mom replied. A look of disgust and horror slapped across the suburban mom’s face. Kids were walking around the choir building, mouths covered with the sweet, sticky treat. (Even the four-year-olds).

“How could you serve this to CHILDREN??” she snapped. And, almost as dramatically as the kids performing on stage just 30 minutes prior, the suburban mom threw back her scarf, turned the other way, and marched over to her child, removing (to their discontentment) their wonderful treat.

I know what you’re thinking…and no, my mom and I didn’t serve minors alcohol-laced cupcakes. The suburban mom didn’t stick around long enough to learn that alcohol burns off during the baking process. BUT how funny would that be, if all the kids were drunk and giggling helplessly as their brothers and sisters sang old Latin hymns on stage? Now THAT would have been a choir show to my liking. (I performed in that show, but will spare you the awkward photos).

Sure enough, another mom walked our way. “Are these cupcakes chocolate?” she inquired. My mom and I quickly looked at each other before replying, “Yep. Definitely chocolate.”


These perfectly fluffy cupcakes contain the bold taste of chocolate, the subtle taste of coffee liqueur, and an almost undetectable taste of vodka, which leaves a warmth in your mouth and in your belly after gobbling them down. These cupcakes can be shared at any event, especially if both kids and parents are present. But if you’re at a high school choir event, you might want to just say they’re chocolate…

[Note on the frosting: I usually serve these cupcakes with powdered sugar on top, because in all honesty, it doesn’t need the frosting. BUT! I wanted to be fancy schmancy and invent some frosting, so I cooked up homemade hot chocolate frosting (that is alcoholic). It pairs pretty perfectly with the cupcakes, if I do say so myself. But you’re under no obligation to use it, especially if you’re short on time. Powdered sugar will (sugarly) do the trick!

Recipe for Vodka Kahlua Cupcakes and Spiked Hot Chocolate Frosting

*Source: My mom (for the cupcakes), WikiHow for the frosting (+ my brain)

Time: Cupcakes (25 minutes), Frosting (20 minutes), Together = 45 minutes.

Difficulty: Cupcakes: like singing a C major chord (very easy), Frosting: like singing an E major chord (medium difficulty)


For the cupcakes

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 box instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 1/3 cup Kahlua
  • 1/3 cup water

For the frosting

  • 6 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 packets of hot chocolate mix
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons vodka
  • 3 teaspoons Kahlua

Other materials:

  • Cupcake tray
  • Cupcake doilies? Liners? Whatever they’re called
  • Mixer, and if you don’t have one, then a whisk (I used a whisk!)


  1. Butter down. Let your butter sit out for 2-3 hours, so it gets nice and mushy. Trust me, this’ll save you time later.

And now…put your cake in cups!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grab a medium-sized bowl and combine everything dry: cake mix and instant pudding. Mix until the color is one and the same.         vodka 1
  3. Grab a large bowl and combine everything wet: eggs, canola oil, vodka, Kahlua, and water.
  4. Gradually mix (or whisk) the dry ingredients INTO the wet ingredients. FYI this avoids clumping, so people don’t bite into chunky cupcakes. No one wants that. Couldn’t think of anything worse, actually. By the end, the batter should have some body, but not be too thick or too runny.

* Trick: Give the batter a nice twirl and if you see some solid swirls in the batter, you should be fine.

*Note: I foolishly added the wet ingredients into the dry, and suffered. Seriously, if you take a look at my photos you’ll see this struggle.

  1. Using the 1/3 measuring cup, scoop the batter into the cupcake cutouts. Aim for filling them about three-fourths way. I always overshoot and end up with giant cupcakes…I like big cupcakes and I cannot lie! *musical break*. Then, bake for 12-17 minutes (mine took 17 minutes, but remember…giant cupcakes).

vodka 7

Meanwhile, sugar up! (and make the frosting)

  1. Using a mixer or a whisk, squish the softened butter and mix it around until it’s fluffy. Add in the hot chocolate packets, one at a time.
  2. It may look too dry here, but don’t worry! Start adding the sifted powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time. Keep mixing!  vodka 11
  3. Now for the alcohol…add the vanilla extract, vodka, and Kahlua. Mix, mix, mix! vodka 13
  4. This will sound weird, but I found my frosting to be too dry still, so I put it in a small pot and cooked it over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Then, I put it in a bowl to let it cool. I recommend the same to you!

*Note: if your frosting isn’t cooling fast enough, you can always place it in the freezer for a bit.

  1. Let BOTH the frosting and the cupcakes (they should be done by now) cool before adding one to the other. Then, eat it, zok.

*Trick: if you stick a toothpick in the deepest part of your cupcake and it comes out clean, it’s done!

vodka 12

Servings Suggestions

To make your cupcakes more festive, you can add sprinkles, like I did! Or just stick with the powdered sugar trick, since the cupcakes are already pretty solid on their own.

vodka 17

Quick Clean Up

The first thing you’ll want to do is put the bottles of alcohol away, so your mother, brother, roommates, etc. don’t think you’re having a rough night. Just looking out for you here!

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

There are more types of alcoholic cakes out there…how about some wine cake?

Kahlua + ice cream? Yes please!

Have extra Kahlua? Make yourself a white Russian. Act like the dude.