Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes – Boozy Baking

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(Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Jameson Ganache and Bailey’s Buttercream- recipe in post)

Whenever I start to think about making cupcakes, I get very excited, and then I get overwhelmed, and then I get discouraged. The thought process goes something like this:

“Delicious cupcakes and frosting! What kind should I make?”
*Insert 100+ ideas here*
“But… I’ll never be able to make them all!”

*Sigh* – so much to do, so little time.

When it came to making 21st birthday cupcakes, I knew there was no better way to celebrate than by turning a dessert cocktail into, well, a dessert. The only question was… which cocktail?

There’s the mojito… or I could make rum and coke. A pina colada, perhaps, or banana daiquiri? What about margaritas? Or my personal favorite, the White Russian?
Then of course there were all of the drinks I could invent – butterscotch scotch, or salted caramel rum… it was all too much for me to take!

Finally I came to a decision, and with St. Patty’s Day on the way I knew I was making the right choice.

The “Irish Car Bomb” might just be one of the nastiest (and most hideously titled!) drinks I can think of, but it makes for one of the tastiest cupcakes.

With the drink, you are poured a pint of Guinness, and a shot of equal parts Jameson Whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream. The shot is dropped into the pint, and the drinker must then chug the concoction before the cream curdles, and also to drown any remaining sense of decency – because while this ‘style’ of drink is considered a ‘bomb shot’, there is no good excuse for making such a crude reference to Ireland’s car bombings.

With the cupcake, however, you are served a chocolate-Guinness cupcake, filled with a dark chocolate Jameson Ganache, and topped with a sweet Bailey’s buttercream. The eater must then restrain themselves from devouring the whole thing too quickly, in lieu of savoring the deliciousness in front of them.

Another plus to making this particular drink-cake was that the recipe was already out there – not having to test my own meant lots of time and frustration saved. Thanks a million to Smitten Kitchen for the fabulous recipe – I didn’t change much and the results were outstanding!

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Drink a cocktail, eat a caketail!

Irish Whiskey Stout Cupcakes
(Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, makes about 24 regular sized cupcakes, or 48-55 mini “shot” cupcakes)

For the cake:
1 cup Guinness stout, or other dark beer
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups (loosely filled, not packed) all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. sea salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the ganache:
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped or in chip form (semisweet, bittersweet, use what you like)
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
1-2 TBSP Irish Whiskey

For the buttercream:
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
(optional) 1 TBSP unflavored Gel Food Coloring, if desired


For the cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350f. and line 2 cupcake trays with liners.

(Tip: For perfect cupcakes, be sure to have the oven fully preheated before baking.)

In a pot over medium heat, combine the butter and stout and bring to a simmer. Be sure when measuring the beer that you let the foam settle, to get an accurate amount of liquid. Once the pot simmers, the head from the beer will get very frothy. Add in the cocoa powder, and whisk until smooth.
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, drink the rest of that Guinness. And prepare the rest of your ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Be sure there are no lumps of sugar or baking soda left.
In another large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the eggs and sour cream. Beat together until blended.

Pour the (cooled) stout/butter/cocoa mixture into the eggs/sour cream. Beat to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl, and mix on low speed just until all of the dry has disappeared – do not over mix!

Lick beaters (very important!)

Evenly distribute into the lined cupcake trays. I like to use a piping bag, glass measuring cup, or a cookie/ice cream scoop to help fill them evenly and without spilling. They should be filled no more than 3/4 of the way up. Tap the tray 2-3 times atop the counter to help remove any air bubbles.

Filling the liners, and baking to perfection

(Tip: To rise, the batter needs to climb the sides of the cupcake liner. If the liners are filled all the way, the batter has nowhere to go but spill over the top of the pan, and will not rise as high as it would otherwise.)

Place one batch of cupcakes on the middle rack of the oven, reduce the temperature to 325f., and bake for 12 minutes.
Rotate the pan from front to back to ensure even baking, then bake for another 10-12 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

(Tip: Reducing the oven temperature helps cupcakes to rise fully, resulting in nicely rounded tops.)

Remove from the oven and let cool 1-2 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the tray, and set on a cooling rack.

(Tip: If cupcakes (or cookies, or other baked goods) are left to cool in the tray they will A. continue to cook from the heat of the metal and, B. moist/grease may pool at the bottom and cause them to get soggy.)

Bring the oven back up to 350f., and repeat with the second batch.

Note: Reduce baking time by about 1/2 if making mini cupcakes.

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Miniature ‘shot’ sized cupcakes, or ‘shot’cakes!

For the filling:

Place chocolate into a heat-safe bowl.

In a small pot, warm the cream over medium heat until just simmering. Pour over the chocolate and stir, starting from the middle and working out, until all of the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
Note: If the mixture cools down too quickly to melt the chocolate, you can move the bowl over a double boiler.

Add the butter and stir until melted. Stir in the Irish whiskey, and set aside until ready to fill.

To fill, use a small knife or apple corer to remove the center of each cupcake.

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Cored cupcakes

Eat the cupcake scraps. You know you want to.

Using a piping bag, or zip-top bag with the end snipped off, pipe the ganache into the center of each cupcake.

Piping the ganache centers

(Tip: Pipe cupcake centers just shy of full, then go back and top them off later to be sure the ganache gets evenly distributed.)

Any extra ganache can be stored in a jar or airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

For the buttercream

With a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter for 2-3 minutes or until light, fluffy, and pale. Turn the mixer off, add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, and beat until smooth. Repeat until all the sugar is added – this will help to reduce the amount of powdered sugar flung about your kitchen.

Once all of the sugar is added, pour in the Bailey’s and mix to combine. If the frosting is too thick, add another tsp. of liquor (or milk or cream) to thin it out. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached.
If you’re using food coloring, add it now and blend thoroughly.

Pipe and decorate as desired – I used a simple swirl with a Wilton 2D piping tip, and green sprinkles in honor of St. Patty’s Day.

Decorating the cupcakes

(Tip: When piping, hold the tip at a 90 degree angle to the top of the cupcake – straight up and down – and start directly in the center. When you’re coming to the end of your swirl, release pressure and pull straight up.)

This made exactly enough frosting to perfectly decorate all of my cupcakes. If you’d like extra, feel free to double the recipe.

Cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they’re baked, but can be stored at room temperature for a day if necessary. If it’s very hot or sweltering, you may want to store them in the fridge.

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Drunken Cupcakes, all lined up. Well, as ‘lined up’ as they can get when they’re so drunk!

These cupcakes are not too heavy on the liquor, but man do they pack a punch. One full-sized cupcake did me in – but that’s no complaint!

The Guinness in the batter is noticeable, but subtle, and serves primarily to enhance the darkness of the chocolate. The Jameson, while a little stronger, has a similar effect on the ganache center – deep, silky, and rich.
Meanwhile, the buttercream has just the right amount of Bailey’s, and its sweetness helps to balance the darkness of the rest of the cupcake.

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The Pour.

The cupcakes themselves are perfect models of what cupcakes should be –  the cake is moist in the center, with a lovely rounded and crackled top that is a real joy to bite into.

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More ‘shot’cakes!

I especially enjoyed making the little ‘shot’cakes – they were the perfect one-bite treat! A huge hit as celebratory 21st cupcakes, but just as perfect for St. Patty’s day. Of course, if you’re looking for an excuse, you could just make them because they’re awesome… there’s always that.

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41 Responses to Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes – Boozy Baking

  1. The Sister March 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    Ooo, I love the … sixth picture from the bottom!

  2. Jen @ Juanita's Cocina March 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    I’m all about the booze. Which means I’m all about these cupcakes!

    BEAUTIFUL pictures once again!

    • Willow March 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

      Haha – thanks, Jen! These were definitely fun to make. I may have drunken that shot… and also the extra guinness… and maybe sipped the Jameson a little. :P

  3. Katherine Martinelli March 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    These look incredible!! Each element is just wonderful, and your photos are gorgeous.

    • Willow March 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

      Thank you – the cupcakes did most of the work. :D

  4. Caitlin March 10, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    wowwwwww..these are ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS! bravo!

    • Willow March 10, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

      Thank you so much, Caitlin!

  5. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes March 11, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    YAY a cucpcake recipe & great minds think alike, we were obvisouly on the same cupcake making page this week.

    Oh and anytime you want to come over to give me a cupcake frosting lesson feel free – I have yet to master that (it would help if I waited for my cupcakes to cool ) love, everything about this post!

    • Willow March 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

      Indeed! I’ve been thinking about cupcakes for awhile, now, and am so glad I finally just made them – it’s not like they’re hard to do!

      In terms of frosting, I can’t really say I’m an expert. The piping tip did most of the work for me, honestly (Wilton 2D), and besides that I made the frosting a little stiff (added extra powdered sugar) to keep it from being goopy. Of course, letting the cupcakes cool never hurt… ;)

  6. Kat March 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    I’m that way about cupcakes too – I get a million ideas and then get frustrated. Both your cupcakes and pictures are absolutely beautiful, I especially like the minis (I love how you put it in the shot glass)!

    • Willow March 11, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

      Thanks! Sometimes I feel like I just need to make a list of the top 10 or 20 flavors, and just spend a couple weeks making batch after batch of cupcakes. It would be such a weight of my shoulders (and onto my thighs)!!

  7. Wo March 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    Really? These are called “Irish car bomb” cupcakes? Sorry, I know I just sounded like a normal comments jerk. But hey. Really? I live in the UK and like your site. To a British ear, these sound shocking. Just imagine a British food blogger creating a 9/11 trifle. This is not ancient history to us.

    • Willow March 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

      I’m really sorry if the title is at all offensive – I can absolutely see where it could/would be. I have no idea why it’s the name of the beverage, but in the States it’s such a recognizable drink that people immediately know what it is. I sincerely meant no offense by using it, I simply intend to make them easily recognizable as the cocktail they represent.
      I will happily edit the post to include a “wtf, why would the drink be called this?” type of statement, because I agree that it is a highly insensitive title.

  8. Kiri W. March 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    Hooooly… wow! I would ADORE these. Looks too good to be even close to true :)

    • Willow March 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

      Thanks! And trust me, they’re true – they aren’t that hard to make, either. :)

  9. RavieNomNoms March 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Gorgeous!! Definitely a must make! So perfect for the holiday! YUM

  10. Natalie March 12, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Oh boy!!! I wasn’t going to make anything for St. Patty’s day, but the pictures are so gorgeous, and the post so beautifully written, I may just have to! Totally drooling over here right now!

    • Willow March 12, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

      Thanks! If you make them, please let me know how they turn out and what you think. :)

  11. April @ Ape's Eats March 13, 2012 at 2:01 am #

    yum these look wonderful, boozy baking is the best. I made these last year but I did a different cake batter, I may have to try your batter out.

    Love your photos!

    • Willow March 13, 2012 at 4:11 am #

      Thanks! Let me know how the two batters compare if you do decide to make these – I thought they turned out pretty great!

  12. Kat Casey March 13, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    Boozy Baking is the best kind of baking. Thanks for sharing, I am totally making these!

    • Willow March 13, 2012 at 4:11 am #

      Great, let me know what you think of them!

  13. Tya @ Note Etc. March 13, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    oh those cupcakes looks amazing! but is the guinness left bitter taste on that cupcake

    • Willow March 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

      It wasn’t very bitter, no – it was just a really dark chocolate flavor, with a hint of Guinness still noticeable. It seems like the people who tasted the cupcakes who already knew what Guinness tastes like said it was easily distinguishable, but a few people who had never had Guinness just thought it tasted a bittersweet chocolate.

  14. Mary Ellen @ Pâte à Chew March 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    YUM! These look so good! Perfect for this weekend!

  15. Anonymous March 18, 2012 at 1:06 am #

    I made these this morning and they are UNBELIEVABLE!!!! I had a lot of fun making (and eating) these and can’t wait to whip up another batch! :D

    • Willow March 18, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

      Yay! So glad you liked them – thanks for telling me! :D

  16. car April 10, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Love the cupcakes.. Hmmmm..


  17. Charlotte Julienne June 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Great photos

  18. CJ - Food Stories July 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    These are so cute that I just had to pin them :-)

  19. skull shot glass July 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    Gorgeous photos

  20. Anonymous October 6, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Why not just change the name? No need for you to continue to perpetuate the insensitivity.

  21. clause December 15, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    Is there any difference in cooking times/temperature if I’m using a convection oven?

    • Willow December 15, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

      I’ve never used a convection oven for cupcakes before, but yes there will be a difference. It will depend on your oven, so I can’t say exactly what the differences in time/temperature should be… but here is a basic guide to using a convection vs. conventional oven:
      They suggest reducing the temperature by 25f., and possibly reducing the time a little as well. You may have to play around with it, but if you reduce the temperature and keep an eye on things you should be good to go. Just look for the tops of the cupcakes to be set, and try inserting a tooth pic or cake tester to see if their baked through.

      Hope that helps!

    • clause December 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

      Thanks so much… I will give it a shot :) you have been super helpful!

  22. Jessica O. August 1, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    I’ve done this recipe as cupcakes, super awesome! Thinking about doing this as a birthday cake for hubby (its his favorite) But has anyone done this as a full size cake? If so did it work, any changes made? *little nervous*

    • Willow Arlen August 1, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

      Hey Jessica — I have not tried this as a full cake, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work just fine. The only difference should be in the baking time – it may take a little more time, or a little less, depending on the size of your pan and how much the batter fills it, so keep an eye on things. Good luck, I’d love to hear how it goes!


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