I finally baked beer in a cupcake and I LOVED IT! I made Chocolate Stout Cupcakes filled with Irish Cream and wow, they are something special. For years now, I’ve watched others make many versions of this cupcake around St. Patrick’s Day. And like so many other recipes, this has been filed away as an idea to try “someday.” Well, that day has come. This will be the beginning of a new tradition. Let’s pause for a moment of silence. :)
As I shared in my last post, Irish Soda Bread has become part of our March baking each year. And now, after all of the feedback I’ve received, I’m pretty sure these cupcakes are going to be added to the list.
The first thing I needed to do was pick a stout. With all the craft beers out there these days, there was no lack of choices. I don’t drink much stout, but I was drawn to Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout. I figured the extra chocolate flavor for a chocolate cake could only be a good thing, right?
The cake was really easy to make. No creaming butter and sugars. In fact, you melt the butter with the stout and bring it to a simmer. Then you stir in the cocoa and your kitchen suddenly smells as if brownies are baking. I used my favorite Double Dutch Dark Cocoa for this recipe. It’s the same cocoa that makes Black Cocoa Brownies so, so good. That heavenly chocolate mixture then gets added to sour cream and eggs and finally your flours, sugars and other dry ingredients are added.
The cake comes out rich and chocolaty; the flavor is amazing. I love a dark chocolate cake and this really satisfies a chocolate craving without putting you in a sugar coma. Different cocoas will yield different flavors, so use your favorite good cocoa; I think a Dutch process cocoa is going to give you the best flavor here. I’m also partial to a dark cocoa for this cake.
If you’re thinking that stout in a cake doesn’t work, let me be the first (or one hundredth) to tell you that it does. You know how people tell you that you won’t taste the coffee or the coconut in a recipe? I always taste the coffee or the coconut in a recipe. The stout by itself was delicious, if you’re into chocolate and beer. In the cake, it’s simply mellow and wonderful and I don’t think anyone would actually know if you didn’t tell them.
I debated how I would finish off the cupcakes. Fill? Frost? Ganache? I decided to do all of the above. Sometimes more is better.
In order to fill, you need to core. I own a cupcake corer. I’ve used it once. I wanted to use it for these cupcakes, but quite frankly, it didn’t core out enough of the cupcake to hold as much filling as I had planned. I didn’t want my cupcake to be like those jelly doughnuts you bite into with so little jelly in it, it’s hardly worth calling a jelly doughnut. So, I decided to use a pastry tip to make a bigger cavity and then used a knife to scrape even a bit more cake out. I wanted lots of filling for this cupcake.
For the filling, I used Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting as the base and added Bailey’s Irish Cream for flavor. I wasn’t sure how that would work out, but the taste was wonderful. I used 6 tablespoons because I really wanted the flavor to come through. You could use less or none at all. It did really loosen up the frosting which was fine for filling, but I also wanted to use it as a topping. I used a round tip to pipe a dollop on each and everything worked out fine.
Once the cupcakes were filled and the little cake bottoms replaced, it was time for a quick dip in ganache. I love this particular recipe for coating cakes. It’s the one I used for A Tandy Birthday Cake and it is shiny and beautiful and sets up perfectly fudgy. The recipe makes more than what you need to cover the cupcakes, but I prefer the larger amount so there’s a big enough pool to dip into. After dipping, it’s time to finish them off with a swirl of the Irish Cream frosting and a dusting of chocolate shavings.
Feedback from my family? Well, I bake quite often. We also try many cupcakes in little specialty shops hoping to find that perfect little bakery. Even with all that, my husband said this was the best cupcake he’s ever had. Ever. He said he hates when someone sells a cupcake and it doesn’t really deliver on the flavor they describe in the name. My sister is visiting for the week and she told me that she really doesn’t even like cake, but she agreed with my husband. This was the best cupcake she’s ever had. Ever. She also said that she would never have seconds of a cupcake, but trust me when I tell you that my whole family, including my sister who isn’t fond of cake, was negotiating splitting another one….and then splitting another one. Yeah. They were good. Really good.
There’s the rich dark chocolate cake, then the lightness of the filling with the yummy taste of Bailey’s. The ganache on top is fudgy and almost chewy and works perfectly with the cake. The sprinkle of chocolate shavings is not only pretty, but it adds great flavor and a bit of texture to the creamy topping.
By the time we had them for dessert, they had been in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. I decided I didn’t want mine to be cold and I didn’t want to wait, so I stuck it in the microwave for a few seconds. My filling melted a bit, but it was still so good. I can tell you it’s delicious cold, especially if you like cold cake. Otherwise, I would take them out about a half hour or so before serving and let them sit at room temperature so they can warm up a bit. I think I like them best that way.
Like the ganache, I’m giving you a full filling/frosting recipe. You might have a cup or so left over. It all depends on how much you fill and how much you top, but the amount in the recipe will give you plenty to do whatever you want to. I decided to generously fill and conservatively top.
You’ll also have all of those cake crumbs left over from coring out your cupcakes. (That’s if you didn’t decide they were free game while you were coring :) Save the extra crumbs in a bowl and cover it. Save your extra ganache, cover it and store it in the refrigerator. Stay tuned. We’re going to use those for tomorrow’s post.
Chocolate Stout Cupcakes filled with Irish Cream. You’ll see tomorrow that it’s a delicious tradition…
that keeps on giving.
Chocolate Stout Cupcakes filled with Irish Cream
For the cake:
- 1 cup stout I used Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout
- 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sour cream I used light
For the Filling/Topping:
- 8 ounce block of cream cheese
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 6 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream or other cream liqueur
For the ganache:
- 3 Tablespoons corn syrup
- 6 ounces heavy cream
- 12 ounces dark chocolate chopped into small pieces (I used Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Pounder Bar)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Chocolate shavings for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray muffin pans.
Bring the stout and butter to a simmer in a heavy sauce pan. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until combined.
In a separate large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream until combined.
Pour a small amount of the slightly cooled stout/chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and beat to combine and warm up the mixture a bit. Pour in the remaining chocolate mixture and beat until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add the flour mixture to the egg/chocolate mixture and fold slightly with a rubber spatula (so that flour won't fly everywhere), then beat with mixer briefly. Then use the spatula to fold any unmixed flour into the batter until completely combined. (We're folding instead of beating longer to avoid adding a lot of air to the batter and overmixing.)
Scoop into prepared pans filling each cup about 2/3 full. You don't want to over fill or the batter will rise up and over the top of the cup creating a lip on the edge of the cupcake. This will make it harder to remove from the pan.
You should get about 18-24 cupcakes depending upon how full you fill them. Fill any remaining empty cups half way with water to prevent the pan from over heating.
Bake for 16-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Mine took exactly 18 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes or until firm enough to remove while still warm. Run a knife carefully around the edge of each cake if necessary to help remove. Transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
Make the filling/topping. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla and beat until combined and sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
Whip the heavy cream until it reaches soft peaks, drizzling in the Bailey's throughout the process. Continue to beat until you get stiff peaks. You may not get normal stiff peaks because of the addition of the liqueur, but you should at least get to the point where your beaters are clearing a path and leaving a defined pattern in the mixture. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until combined and then use the electric mixer to fully combine and whip it back up a bit. Cover and store in refrigerator until you're ready to top the cupcakes.
Using a cupcake corer, knife or pastry tip remove the core of the cupcake. If using a pastry tip, you'll need to turn it while you press it into the cupcake. I used a knife to scrape a little more out and make more room. Whatever method you use, you need to insure you've preserved the bottom piece of the core so that it can be replaced later.
Using a round pastry tip, or a heavy food storage bag with the corner snipped off, fill the core of each cupcake leaving just a bit of space for replacing the bottom. If your bottom piece is too thick, cut some of it off so that it is thinner and press the piece back into the bottom of the cupcake as if you were plugging it back up. Repeat until all cupcakes are cored, filled and re-plugged.
Place all filled cupcakes on a tray and set aside in the refrigerator while you make the rest of the toppings.
Make your chocolate shavings by taking a sharp knife and shaving the chocolate from the edge of a bar as if you were cutting slices. Slice so thin, they are shaving off. This works best with a thick piece of chocolate. If you get any pieces that are too thick or too long, just run your knife through them a few times until you get the texture you want. I used Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Pounder Bar. You'll need about a tablespoon or two of shavings.
Make the ganache. Combine the corn syrup and heavy cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside.
Take cupcakes that have been waiting in the refrigerator and dip the tops straight into the ganache making sure the entire top is covered. I swirled the cupcake in circles above the pan to help release the excess chocolate, then flipped it right side up and placed it back on the tray.
Use the remaining filling from the refrigerator to top your cupcakes. I used the same round tip I filled the cupcakes with, but you can spoon it on top or use another plastic food bag with the corner snipped off to top them.
Sprinkle with chocolate shavings.
Store cupcakes in refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator 20-30 minutes before serving to let them warm up a bit, but you can also serve them cold, if you prefer. They are delicious both ways.
*You can bake the cupcakes the day before and store them in an airtight container at room temperature to get a head start on the process. Then, you can make and do all of the filling and topping the next day.
*You don't have to use a chocolate stout; pick whatever you like. Many use Guinness for this recipe.
*You can use regular unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe, but Dutch process will give you a smoother, more mellow flavor.
*Use full fat cream cheese for the most stability in your frosting. I use Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
*Cake recipe adapted from Epicurious
Frosting/Filling adapted from Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting
Ganache recipe from Alton Brown
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