Tomorrow we are going over to our friend Bryan’s house to celebrate his birthday. He grew up with my husband and his brother and was a groomsmen in his brothers and our wedding. Funny story 🙂 My husband and I did not meet until high school, but we lived in the same city our whole lives. When I was in elementary school, I spent most afternoons at my friend Pam’s house. She had an older brother who always had cute friends over and of course, Bryan was one of them. We had a huge crush on him and giggled disgustingly whenever he came over. It helped that he was the only one of her brother’s friends who didn’t throw stuff at us or try to cut our hair off. We never knew why, but Bryan was always civil to us even though I know for a fact, that we were very annoying. Well, Pam and I went our separate ways during middle school and her brother and Bryan grew apart as well. It wasn’t until high school that I met Bryan again, but this time as my then new boyfriend’s friend. One thing that remained constant about Bryan is that he is still like the cool older brother every teenager wants. He bought me Boone’s Farm and Smirnoff Ice so I wouldn’t have to drink beer at parties and campouts, even though I am pretty sure it goes against his core drinking philosophy (yes, I just admitted a little bit of underage drinking. Sorry mom, if you are reading this). Whenever we hung out and drank at his house, he made sure that Ryan and I had somewhere comfy to sleep so we wouldn’t have to drive home. Oh yeah, in case the point hasn’t been made, Bryan likes to drink and party! He is a WSU alum so he has a reputation to live up to. I’m not going to pretend he is a classy drunk…which is something he and I have in common, but he is so fun, Ryan and I don’t mind.
Bryan’s birthday is why I took on this alcohol infused cupcake project on a Monday evening on my first day back to work after spring break. Bryan loves beer and makes his own beer. We actually served his beer at our wedding and it was a huge hit. So to celebrate our dear friend’s special day, I scanned through my pins and found the Guinness cupcake recipe I saw on Smitten Kitchen a long time ago. I love Deb’s blog and everything I make off her site is always good, but when I saw this recipe I was wondering what she was thinking. How could beer, which I hate, and two sticks of butter, which is expensive, make a good cupcake. OH my goodness. It is delicious, moist, fluffy, and flat out amazing. Very rarely in life do you find a cupcake that is the perfect consistency that it cleanly goes into cupcake liners, bakes with a nice, round dome, and at the same time is sturdy enough to hold frosting.
I was sampling the ingredients out of curiosity and I found that I actually really like the taste of Guinness. This is crazy for me, because when I try a sip of my husband’s beer, I usually make whiny faces and sounds like a five year old. However, I cannot really taste the stout in the cake. I want to know why and how it works, but I guess all I need to know is that it truly works.
The ganache is very yummy too and once again, I have a hard time tasting the whiskey in it, but I liked it better after I added it. I never cut out the cupcake to put in a filling. I always use a cupcake decorater tool (like a pump) to squeeze a filling in. This is easiest to do if the ganache is a bit soft, like about 20 minutes after it has all come together and is cooling. It will set inside the cupcake and that way you don’t waste any cake or make a mess of crumbs.
The buttercream frosting is my own because after 10 years of making frosting, I finally perfected my basic recipe. It is one of those amazing recipes where you can add any flavor if you keep the proportions right. It pipes beautifully, but also holds well. I love how easy it swirls. I always make it right before I pipe though because I like it at room temperature. I hate how putting the frosting in the fridge gets some parts cold and others not, so then you get chunky butter pieces that mess up the nice swirls. I also always whip rather than beat the frosting in order to make a light buttercream that is airy and not overly sweet.
I love to take the best parts of recipes I find and put them all together. The more complicated with more components the better. I am a more is more kind of a girl. This is good quality in someone who bakes a lot of cupcakes. I found one guinness cupcake recipe that made an irish whisky caramel sauce and I knew I would be adding on another project for the night. Best decision ever. It tastes a bit like butterscotch, but was easy and sinful enough to make a big sticky mess.
I am so happy with the way these cupcakes turned out. I already ate 1 1/2 since I made them an hour ago and trust me, that is not part of my Weight Watchers plan. Worth the points.
Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes: From the Smitten Kitchen: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/01/car-bomb-cupcakes/
1 cup stout (I used Guinness, extra stout)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used 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
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. (I always have to rotate my cupcakes) Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used 1 cup dark choc chips)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey
Put chocolate in 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 and stir until combined.
My Perfect Buttercream (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
3 sticks of room temp unsalted butter (I know that seems like a lot, but this amount makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes exactly)
2-3 TB Baileys (this is usually where I use heavy whipping cream)
3-4 cups SIFTED powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Using a stand mixer, use the whip attachment to beat 3 stick of room temperature butter until fluffy. Add the flavoring (Bailey’s in this case, but HWC and extract or jam in my other recipes) and the salt. Whip until well incorporated. Slowly add the sifted powdered sugar until the frosting is light and fluffy. If you do not want this must frosting, I have lowered all the amounts and played around with the liquid/sugar ratio. This frosting tastes best at room temp or a little colder.
Irish Whisky Caramel Sauce: Adapted from
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
4 Tablespoons Irish whiskey
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a 2–quart heavy saucepan over medium–high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil without stirring, but washing down any sugar crystals with a brush dipped in cold water, until syrup begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Continue to boil, swirling pan occasionally, until syrup is a deep golden caramel.
Remove pan from heat and carefully add whiskey, cream, and salt (mixture will bubble up and steam and caramel will harden).
Return pan to heat and simmer, stirring, until caramel is dissolved and sauce is smooth. Cool to warm.