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Friday, July 24, 2009

Irish Cupcakes, to be sure

An Australian, a Scotsman and an Irishman all walk into a bar. The Irishman orders a pint of Guinness, the Scotsman orders a Lochan Ora and the Australian orders a cupcake.

I've been wanting to try my hand at making some Guinness cupcakes with Baileys frosting since coming across the recipe numerous times on various blogs a month or two ago, and my sister's birthday celebration weekend was the perfect opportunity to bust them out! My sister is after all a fan of cupcakes (and quite a deft hand at making them, having turned out an impressive selection of 108 cupcakes for our cousin's birthday a couple of weeks ago), chocolate, Guinness and Baileys. When looking for the cupcake recipe however, I hit the jackpot, coming across a variation of the cupcakes that I had seen before but forgotten about. Not only did these babies consist of a Guinness cupcake with a Baileys frosting, but they were filled with a whiskey ganache. Oh yes, the cupcake mother lode.

This particularly tempting cupcake recipe comes courtesy of smitten kitchen, and I can't thank Deb enough for the deliciousness. I only wish that I had used her frosting recipe, as I tried out a cream cheese variation on nook & pantry that tasted absolutely delicious but I wasn't happy with the consistency.

These cupcakes were an impressive, delicious, wonderful success with all who tried them, and I shall surely be making these lovelies again. I know for sure I will be making them for a friend who showed enormous resolve and self-control, not touching a single morsel in this her winter of discontent (actually, Jenny Craig), when she reaches her goal weight and can have the occasional naughty treat!

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Baileys Frosting

Recipe from smitten kitchen

Makes 20 - 24 cupcakes


Guinness cupcakes
1 cup Guinness
1 cup 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
230 g (8 ounces) bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (Conor:I went a bit multicultural and actually used Lochan Ora instead of Irish whiskey. Oh and the whiskey is listed as optional in the original recipe but I think it's necessary! Go on, it's not like the cupcake is going to be any healthier without it)

Baileys frosting
(Conor:This is not the frosting recipe I used. I'll add that one in below)
3 to 4 cups icing (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick or 115 g or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)
(The recipe states that this "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.")

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).


Making the cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners.
2. 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.
3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend.
4. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend.
5. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine.
6. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.
7. 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.

Making the ganache filling
1. Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl.
2. 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.)
3. Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Filling the cupcakes
1. 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).
2. 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”.
3. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Happy little cupcakes all filled up with ganache

Making the frosting
1. 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.
2. 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.)
3. 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.)

The frosting recipe that I actually used is as follows:

Bailey’s Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe from nook & pantry

340 g cream cheese, softened
170 g unsalted butter, softened
3 C icing (powdered) sugar
6 – 9 Tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish Cream

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, add the cream cheese, butter, and confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
2. Slowly drizzle in the Bailey’s, more or less depending on how boozey you want the frosting, and beat until completely incorporated into the frosting.

Like I said, I wasn't entirely happy with this frosting, as I ended up adding quite a lot of extra icing sugar and it was still too runny for my liking. So, while this frosting was indeed delicious I would recommend either tweaking the recipe to firm it up a bit, or going with the smitten kitchen frosting instead. (Of course, this frosting looks beautiful in the nook & pantry photos so it is entirely possible that I did something silly or just wasn't having a frost-tastic day and it's entirely my fault it doesn't come out as I wanted.)


Panamahat July 25, 2009 at 9:32 AM  

OMG. I want them NOW. ALL of them.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella July 26, 2009 at 8:28 AM  

They look amazingly luscious! I made similar cupcakes once and they were such a hit. I think the Guinness really adds something to it :)

m.e (Cathie) July 26, 2009 at 8:14 PM  

wow!! yumm, they look gorgeous!

Conor July 27, 2009 at 10:59 AM  

Panamahat - unfortunately these particular cupcakes have met a very sad fate in the bellies of my family, but they may have some kin that might possibly meet a similar fate in your belly one day :D

Lorraine - thanks! I'm still so impressed by your croquembouche creations.. can't wait to make a batch of those up. Mmmmm.

Cathie - Thank you!

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge July 27, 2009 at 2:42 PM  

Oh yum how delicious! I've been wanting to make baileys frosting for ages, but together with guinness...what am absolute hit!

Rilsta July 31, 2009 at 2:05 PM  

Yummo! Love anything with a chocolate ganache centre! With Guinness in the cupcake and Bailey's in the frosting, you should call it the Alcoholic's cupcake! :P

Conor August 2, 2009 at 10:09 AM  

Maria - it's a match made in heaven!

Rilsta - well, some people call these type of cupcakes "Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes" which according to wikipedia is a drink of "Jameson whiskey floated on top of Baileys in a shot glass, and the shot glass is then dropped into Guinness. Once mixed, the drink must be consumed quickly because it will curdle." Yeesh.

Agnes August 2, 2009 at 6:38 PM  

I made these cupcakes this weekend - they were magnificent! So, so decadent. :)

Iron Chef Shellie October 29, 2009 at 9:37 AM  

Just going through your old posts =)
These sound good. I shall be making these for my man! .. lucky bugger :P

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