One thing that always brings me into the summer mood is beer. During the winter, I enjoy "sophisticated" cocktails with names that get you approving glances from the bartenders and make me feel like I know the secret handshake, but when it's hot outside, I'm a beer and cupcakes kind of girl and I don't care who knows it.
When I was at my first college party and picked up a bottle of Guinness, I got very disapproving glances from some of the boys. As you can imagine, these were all immediately crossed off my "list" (I would explain "the list," but I think my mother reads this blog and I don't want to get in trouble!). Later, I found out that it's kind of an unwritten rule that girls drink Coronas and light beers while guys chug the more "manly" bitters and stouts. Oh. Really. Good thing I've never been one to follow the rules, especially the unwritten ones!
Since then, Guinness has been on my list of favorite beers. Many say it's an acquired taste, but Guinness and I were friends from the very first sip and our relationship has only grown over the years. So when I saw this recipe for Guinness cupcakes, I knew, I just knew that here was the next step in the evolution -- I had to make them. They sat in my mind for a month -- fermented, if you will -- until a friend's birthday finally tempted me to bring them out in their full glory.
People, these might just be -- no, these ARE -- the best cupcakes to ever have come out of my kitchen and possibly the best cupcakes I've ever tasted. Deb is a genius. I have a massive girl crush on her and on these cupcakes (I hope her husband will forgive me). WOW. The combination of moist, lightly sweet chocolate cake in which you can only taste the best parts of Guinness, a chocolaty ganache filling and a buttercream frosting made with Bailey's Irish Cream is indescribable, unforgettable. It's something you have to make for yourself, like right now, and share it with others immediately. These cupcakes have to go out into the world. In the immortal words of a Seinfeld episode, they are real and they are spectacular!
Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes
via the Smitten Kitchen
*My only changes were omitting the whiskey in the ganache (I didn't have any on hand) and using 2 tbsp Bailey's and 2 tbsp heavy cream in the frosting. I used about 2 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar in the frosting and it worked out very well. Please click over to the Smitten Kitchen for Deb's great hints and instructions!
Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes
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
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)
Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners.
Put the butter with the beer in a sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a mixer bowl, beat the eggas and the sour cream together. Add the beer/butter/cocoa mixture and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat briefly just to combine. Using a rubbet spatula, fold the batter until completely combined, making sure to incorporate little pockets of flour on the bottom so that the batter is of equal consistency everywhere.
Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way if you want flatter cupcakes and 3/4 if you want domed. Bake for about 17 minutes, or until a toothpick or a slim knife inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely to room temperature.
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. 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. Using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. I went about half to 2/3 of the way down and used a small knife to help me extract the centers. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
Make the frosting: In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter for several minutes until very light and fluffly. Slowly add the powdered sugar, letting it incorporate, utnil the butter becomes thicker and stiff (you will know when this happens). Slowly drizzle the Bailey's (or milk or cream or a combination thereof) and whip until combined. Ice and decorate the cupcakes.
Deb says that you can make these in advance: "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.)"
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