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Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Legend of Drunken Cupcake (aka Guinness Cupcakes)

In honor of St. Patty's Day (again), I decided to make another Irish-themed dessert -- Guinness Cupcakes! The best part is, they only called for 1 bottle of beer, which means there were 5 bottles left over!
I pulled this recipe off of the Food Network. It got great reviews, and I was intrigued by the idea of using Guinness as a cupcake additive. Don't get me wrong, I've used strange mix-in's before -- tomato soup cake springs to mind -- but I would have thought Guinness was a tad too bitter to use in a dessert. And yet, with its (slight) chocolate notes, I was curious to see how a Guinness chocolate cupcake would shape up. So without further ado:

These cupcakes are chocolate, paired with a cream cheese icing. The visual effect is literally supposed to be like a little pint of Guinness, in cake form.

Ingredients (cupcakes):
3/4 C cocoa (recipe called for unsweeteded, all I had was dark and it worked fine)
2 C sugar
2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 stick of butter, melted
1 bottle of Guinness or other stout beer
1 tbls vanilla
3 eggs

Directions (cupcakes):
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl (I hardly ever do this when it is directed, but I'm glad I did this today, because the cocoa had lumps. You could also sift the dry ingredients directly into the combined wet ingredients if you want)
3. Combine beer, butter and vanilla in a separate bowl

Here is the Guinness and butter
4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the sour cream
5. Gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing to remove any lumps

6. Divide the batter between 2 muffin tins (grease or spray the tins, no muffin cups), filling each well 3/4 full
7. Bake at 350F for 24 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through
8. Cool completely before frosting

Ingredients (Cream Cheese Frosting):
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 C heavy cream, add more as needed to reach desired consistency
1-1lb box confectioner's sugar

Directions (Cream Cheese Frosting):
1. Beat cream cheese until fluffy, gradually add heaavy cream
2. Slowely mix in sugar until fully incorporated and smooth, adding more cream if need be
3. Frost cupcakes and store in the fridge

These cupcakes smelled outstanding while they were baking. Because they weren't in muffin cups, the edges carmelized a little bit.
I tried one fresh out of the oven, and was surprised by the flavor. First of all, even without icing, they are very yummy. They taste mostly like dark chocolate cupcakes, but the stout is definitely there, and it really complements the chocolate well.

The icing came out rich, with a great flavor. I added a little vanilla, which is something I typically do with icings regardless of whether the recipe calls for it or not (unless I think another extract, like almond, would work better with the flavors).

The icing cut the stout flavor just a bit, and really made for a nice visual presentation. I think cream cheese icing is the best pairing for these cupcakes, because a buttercream would be way too sweet, and wouldn't contribute much to the flavor.
I would definitely make these cupcakes again, they had a rich flavor with unique undertones. So far, everyone has really liked them. Make sure you have room in your fridge to store 24 cupcakes, however, since the cream cheese frosting necessitates cold storage.

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