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!
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.
(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.
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.
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.
(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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.