Friday, April 30, 2010

Car Bomb Cupcakes

Guinness stout cupcakes, whiskey chocolate ganache, Baileys buttercream frosting. Oh my.

I saw this recipe a while ago on Smitten Kitchen, and have been wanting to make them ever since. The opportunity came when the hubs and I were invited to a Bachelor/Bachelorette the weekend of St. Patty’s day. I may not enjoy chugging (aka choking down) the curdled shot that is a real Irish Car Bomb, but a cupcake that is inspired by it? Yes, please.

I've seen so many blogs that say this cake/cupcake recipe is their go-to recipe for a no fail chocolate cake. I can see why. These were some of the moistest cupcakes I've ever tried, and remained so even when kept in the fridge for several days. The alcohol is essentially baked out during the cooking process so, while the Guinness did add a little ‘something’ to the cupcake itself, I really don’t think anyone would be able to tell there was beer in it.

The cupcakes were supposed to be filled with a ganache spiked with whiskey, but used bourbon as my weapon of choice because that’s all I had. I put it all in a gallon-sized ziplock bag and snipped the end off to fill the little cavity I created in the cupcakes. It was pretty fun to watch the cupcakes begin to bulge and swell as they were filled to capacity with chocolate. The ganache itself was a pretty solid nugget when the cupcakes were cold, and only a little less solid when it came to room temperature. You could easily bite through it, but I think I was picturing a more truffle-like filling and may alter the recipe next time to reflect that. It was still amazingly tasty, and I’d make it again in a heartbeat. The alcohol is raw in the ganache, but it wasn't overpowering as I expected, it just added a nice touch of flavor.

The Baileys buttercream was the pièce de résistance, and it was my favorite part of the cupcake. I do think I may have licked some directly from the bowl. One of the tricks from Smitten Kitchen was to add the powdered sugar a little at a time, and that really seemed to work for me. The Baileys frosting definitely has the biggest punch of any of the cupcake components, but I loved it. However, if that isn’t your thing, go ahead and use half milk/half Baileys, or all milk if you want to omit the alcohol completely.

This is not a complicated recipe by any means, but the 'wow' factor is definitely there.

For the record, my friends had a wonderful party, and even got to see the Chicago River dyed mutant green. I really hope they enjoyed their treats!

Best wishes to them both for a long and happy marriage!

Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
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
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional, I used 2 teaspoons of bourbon, and a little more may have ‘accidentally’ dripped into the bowl.)

Baileys Frosting

3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (milk, heavy cream, or combination)

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. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

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. (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 (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. I used a grapefruit knife and grapefruit spoon to cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You could easily use a paring knife as well. You want to go about 2/3 of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom. Feel free to eat those centers. Or wait to dip them in any leftover frosting. Then eat them. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top. (Here I just used a quart sized ziplock baggie with the tip cut off)

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Ice and decorate the cupcakes.

Do ahead: 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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