Saturday, March 17, 2012

Guinness and Baileys Irish Cream Cupcakes

I'm at home this weekend for several reasons, the main one being that it is my best friend's Stag and Doe tonight! This is an event that we've all been looking forward to for some time, but I can tell that today is going to be a very long and busy day. Last night when the bridal party was getting together for some prep work one of the ladies said something to sum up the situation perfectly: "Your good friends' Stag and Does are something you look forward to so much, but if you're in the party, you don't really get to enjoy it that much." Of course she didn't mean that we won't be having a good time, but what she did mean is that we'll be busy working the games and such all night. And THEN doing clean-up afterwards. 4:00 a.m.? Most likely.

Keeping this in mind, I created some treats to keep us going in the hours to come. Guinness and Baileys Irish Cream cupcakes in honours of St. Patty's Day. While the thought of Guinness in cupcakes might turn you off (if you're not a fan of the dark ale like myself), I'd be surprised if you weren't reaching for a second one. The cake is incredibly light and moist- which I'm attributing to the carbonated beer- which gives a lovely deep chocolatey taste with just the slightest hint of Guinness. And ohmygosh. The frosting? Baileys Buttercream. Might just be my favourite... I was licking up the leftovers in no time. And if that all doesn't sound good enough to you, let's just sweeten up the pot further. Inside the cupcake is a surprise: a Baileys chocolate ganache. In other words, this cupcake is pure heaven inspired by the luck o' the Irish.

You can't go wrong with this.
Yield: 24 cupcakes *I was able to get only 20, but I like my cupcakes a little fuller.

For the Guinness chocolate cupcakes:
1 cup stout (Guinness)
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Bailey’s ganache filling:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

For the Bailey’s buttercream frosting:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4-8 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish cream
*Note, I used up every last drop of icing on 20 cupcakes, so if you are able to make 24, and enjoy icing like myself, I would increase the amounts slightly.
Also, I didn't have any Baileys, but used a similar Irish Cream which worked out just as well.

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter is completely melted. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend. Add the stout-butter mixture and beat just to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 to ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth. If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler or give it a very short burst in the microwave (15-20 seconds). Add the butter and Bailey’s and stir until combined.

Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped. (You can use the refrigerator to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.) Meanwhile, cut out a portion from the center of the cupcake using the cone method (a small paring knife works best for this). Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe it into the cupcakes. (A plastic bag with the tip cut out works equally as well, and less mess after)

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated. Mix in the Bailey’s until smooth. Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading. Frost the cupcakes as desired.

Source: Annies Eats (adapted from: Smitten Kitchen)

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