I'm back, readers! In fact, I've been back in America for two weeks, but I've been a shamefully negligent blogger, considering one of the first things I did upon my return was to plan what I was going to bake now that I was reunited with my darling oven. Sure, the house was in sorry condition baking-wise (the baking powder, for one, had expired in January, which is when I left), but I soon had it back in shape, and luckily, I had a lot of opportunities to bake.
The favorite recipe I made was for my friend Drew's birthday. He was turning 21 and I saw a double opportunity: to bake yummy cupcakes and to buy my first alcohol, legal or otherwise, in the United States. Dude, my first alcohol purchase would be for cupcakes. Faithful readers will know that I made stout cupcakes for my own birthday and was extremely pleased, but this recipe takes it up a notch, including whiskey and Bailey's. It's also known as an Irish car bomb cupcake, after the truly nauseating-sounding drink. But never fear! This is anything but nauseating.
I accidentally bought some oatmeal stout, which is quite bitter. Plus, I don't know how to operate a bottle opener, and I cut my fingers several times trying to open it. Eventually, I opened it on the side of the counter, which made me feel like quite a badass until I realized that opening a beer bottle on a counter is not badass if you're doing it because you don't know how to operate a bottle opener. But I digress. Anyway, I ended up being pleased with the bitterness, because the frosting is very very sweet and the ganache has a slightly spicy kick, so the blend of the flavors prevented any one of them from being overwhelming.
The frosting is, as I said, extremely sweet, which was an issue for me. I followed the author's note about adding sugar one spoonful at a time and it did indeed thicken faster, but then I didn't want to keep adding sugar even though the frosting wasn't as thick as I wanted it to be because it would become too sweet. If you are having this issue I would recommend putting the cupcakes in the fridge so the frosting can set. I also doubled the recipe and it still didn't make enough, though maybe I was laying it on too thick, since I'm experimenting with the exciting world of piping and I'm still a novice. Nonetheless, this recipe was delicious! I would definitely recommend it for the next 21st birthday party you attend - or any other party, for that matter!
Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes
From Smitten Kitchen
While the Guinness in the cake gets mostly baked out, the Baileys is fresh and potent, so if you’re making this for people who don’t drink, you’ll probably want to swap it with milk.
The Baileys frosting recipe makes a smallish amount of frosting — enough to just cover the cupcakes. Because they were so rich and this frosting so sweet, I felt it only needed a little. Double it if you want more of a towering effect.
Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes
For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
Ganache Filling (Updated to double it, based on many commenters suggestions — thanks!)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)
Baileys Frosting (see Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)
Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)
Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.
Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
[This is a fantastic trick I picked up while working on the cupcakes article for Martha Stewart Living; the test kitchen chefs had found that when they added the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings got less grainy, and tended to require less sugar to thicken them up.]
When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.
Ice and decorate the cupcakes.
Do ahead: You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day. (Longer, they will start to get stale.)