Recipe: Toledo Surprises 

Inspired byThe Drowsy Chaperone


Bourbon peach pecan cupcakes infused with a butter bourbon sauce and drizzled with bourbon brown sugar buttercream icing topped with chopped pecans. 

It turns out the "Surprise" in Toledo is bourbon... and more bourbon.

So, let's get started!



  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour - OR since no one usually has cake flour you can instead - mix together 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour + 5 tablespoons cornstarch. Then (very important!) sift those together before adding to the cake.
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup bourbon (I like Buffalo Trace or Knobs Creek)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen peaches, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans for inside the batter

VERY IMPORTANT: You need aluminum cupcake liners, this will ensure when later on in the recipe when you top the cake with the butter bourbon sauce that the liners will not absorb the sauce. If you use paper liners it will definitely soak up that bourbon-y goodness. What I ended up doing was using the aluminum liners and then after all was said in done I placed the cupcakes, aluminum liner and all in a decorative paper liner.

SUGARY YUM-YUM CRUST: approximately a tablespoon will go on the top of each cupcake

  • 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup light brown sugar


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon

BOURBON BUTTERCREAM BROWN SUGAR VANILLA ICING: These are not precise measurements. If you like more vanilla, add more vanilla depending upon taste. If you like more bourbon (like I do!) add more bourbon. What we’re going for is a nice creamy consistency, with a kick of bourbon and some nice brown sugar notes in there to counteract the powdered sugar.

  • 1 1⁄2 to 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 ounces butter, Softened/Room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • Additional 1⁄2 cup to 1 cup of chopped pecans for topping



  1. Combine granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and chopped pecans in a bowl.
  2. Mix with a fork by hand until both sugars are incorporate into one another. This is all depending upon personal taste so tweak as you see fit.
  3. Set aside.


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour (or the substitute using all purpose flour and corn starch), baking powder, salt, baking soda, and 1 1/2 cups sugar until combined. NOTE: the other 1⁄4 cup of sugar will be used in another step! I’ve made the mistake of adding all 1 3⁄4 cups of sugar all at once. Don’t be stupid like me!
  3. In a different medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, bourbon, oil, vanilla, and yolks until combined. Set aside.
  4. In clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30-45 seconds. With whisk still running, add in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar I talked about. Continue to beat until stiff peaks just form,about 60-90 more seconds.
  5. Transfer the whipped egg whites to a separate bowl and set aside.
  6. Add the flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment again, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix on medium-low speed until it is just combined, about 15 seconds. (Don't overmix!) Stop the mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until the mixture is smooth and fully incorporated, about 10 to 15 more seconds.
  7. Fold about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into batter until just combined, then add the
    remaining whites and gently fold in until no streaks remain.
  8. Using a spatula, fold in the diced peaches and chopped pecans
  9. Line your cupcake pan with the aluminum tins.
  10. Pour the batter evenly into the aluminum tins. I like to use a 1 inch cookie scoop to plop the batter into the tins. It’s less messy than pouring directly from the bowl. 
  11. Evenly top each cupcake with a Tablespoon of the Sugary Yum-Yum topping (granulated sugar, light brown sugar, pecans) Add more than a tablespoon depending upon size of cupcake pan you are using. Again, this is something you can add more or less of depending upon taste. 
  12. Baking time is not precise. I’d set a timer for 15 minutes. It’s probably closer to 20 minutes. You want the cakes to be nice golden brown on top.  The bourbon butter sauce in the next step will moisten the cake plenty, so if you take out the cupcakes when they are very light, albeit completely cooked, it will make the cake too soggy when you add the bourbon sauce on top. Stick a fork in center to make sure it is thoroughly cooked in the center. 
  13. Remove the tins from cupcake pan and transfer to a baking sheet. Let them cool for at least 15 minutes.
    (While the first batch cools and your second batch is in the oven -- make the butter-Bourbon sauce.)


  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, butter and water until combined.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and continue to boil for 5 minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and gradually stir in Bourbon (carefully, as the Bourbon will make the sauce boil up again).


  1. In a medium mixing bowl dice butter into 1 inch sections. Slowly sift the powdered sugar on top of the butter and mix until combined. I like to use a fork to ensure I don’t over-mix. But use a mixer on lowest setting if it makes your life easier.
  2. Add the bourbon and vanilla. Continue to mix until consistency and taste is to your liking. 
  3. As a finishing touch/last step, add the light brown sugar until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Add contents of bowl to a pastry bag, or a quart sized Ziploc bag. Set aside in the refrigerator to cool.


  1. Once both batches are baked and slightly cooled, use a fork to poke each cupcake approximately 5-6 times to create holes all over the surface of each cake.
  2. Using that 1 inch cookie scoop or ice cream scoop again, pour about half of the butter bourbon sauce over the surface of the cake.
  3. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is absorbed.
  4. You’ll have to make a few visits to each cake, pouring some on, letting it absorb, and then coming back to it again to pour more on, rinse and repeat, etc, etc, until all the sauce is used up.


  1. Remove the icing from the refrigerator. If you used a Ziploc bag, use scissors to clip one of the bottom corners. The smaller cut you make the finer the icing will come out of the bag. If you want a thicker application then clip a slightly larger portion of the corner of the bag. If using a pastry bag, choose your desired icing tip for the application of the icing. NOTE: We don’t want to use too much icing so I recommend topping each cake with a squiggle or zig-zag design. We just want a little taste of the buttercream bourbon, not a mountain of icing and sugar. There’s already enough sugar in this recipe as there is! 
  2. Once all cakes are topped with icing, apply chopped pecans on top of the icing. It doesn’t really work if you sprinkle them on there, they probably won’t stick. I just did it by eye and took a 1⁄2 tablespoon and pressed them directly into the icing.
  3. Place in containers and refrigerate overnight. I find that if you give it at least 12 hours before serving that it gives the cakes time to really absorb all of the butter bourbon sauce. Over the course of making and serving these people usually said they tasted even better a day or two later when all that bourbon was soaked into the cakes.
  4. Best paired with a shot of bourbon! I also recommend drinking bourbon while you are completing all of these steps!


The Company of The Drowsy Chaperone