Mini Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes Recipe

Have you ever been so inclined as to pour 1 part Jameson,  1 part Bailey’s Irish Cream into a shot glass, drop it into a freshly drawn pint of Guinness, and then chug the concoction as it fizzes over the side of the glass, swallowing like mad to choke it down the hatch before you notice that the whole thing has curdled?

Oh of course, ahem, me neither.

When I first saw this recipe on my favorite blog, Smitten Kitchen, I thought it was pure genius. I filed it away for months and months, waiting for the perfect boozy occasion, which came along in the form of a Hoboken barbecue hosted by some friends, Kathryn and Mo.
I had an internal debate over what to name these on the blog. When Deb at Smitten Kitchen first released her version, she had her Irish fans coming at her with pitchforks and torches, all up in arms over the name. She stayed the course for a while on the basis (and I agree with her on this point) that she was not the one responsible for naming the popular drink that contains the same ingredients on which these cupcakes are based. After a while though, she reasoned that when given the choice between offending people and offending no one, the best option is not to offend.

The only way Deb and I differ on this point is that her blog has a massive following from all over the world, and therefore there was a large subset who could potentially take offense to such a thing, while I can say with almost complete confidence that other than my Killorglin fan base, I do not risk losing readers over this.
But if I’m wrong, just say the word, and I will happily change the name.
Call these whatever you want, just don’t call them your run-of-the-mill, wait in a line of tourists on a street corner for three hours, overly sweet, easter bunny frosted cupcakes. First off, these are mini-sized, which I think are the best kind – perfect for two satisfying bites, without the sugar-high followed by the inevitable sugar-coma.

There’s a small bit of dark, exceptionally moist and delicious cake that embodies the complex flavors of chocolate and coffee, thanks to a large helping of Guinness in the batter. They’re filled with a dark chocolate ganache spiked with a generous helping of Jamesons Irish whisky, and then topped with a sweet swirl of Bailey’s Irish cream-enhanced frosting.

With all that boozy nostalgia, these brought me back to my college days, only with more sophistication (and moderation!). Make them for your next party and your guests will be transported back to simpler times, when studying for tests and running into that cute guy/girl in the quad was all there really was to worry about. That is unless you are still in school… like me in less than one week!

Mini Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
Adapted from Deb’s original recipe at

Makes 20 to 24 full-sized cupcakes or 40 to 48 mini cupcakes

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably 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

Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting
7 to 8 cups confections sugar
2 sticks (1 cup or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

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. 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 (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip (or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off) and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

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.

[Deb's note - really a good technique, take notice: This is a fantastic trick I picked up while working on the cupcakes article for Martha Stewart Living; the test kitchen chefs had found that when they added the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings got less grainy, and tended to require less sugar to thicken them up.]

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, stop adding powdered sugar and 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 using a piping bag or plastic bag with the corner snipped off.

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.)


  1. tory
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    oh my god. are you KIDDING ME?!?!?!


  2. Posted June 30, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    where do you shop for your fancy chocolate or hard to find ingredients?

  3. Paul
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Ha ha!! Great post Lauren. I promise not to be offended by the name if I can try these sometime!! They look great!

  4. Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Permalink


  5. Lauren
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Lauren – I often find what I need at Whole Foods – I like Valrhona (available in large hunks or in disks) and Guittard (available in big blocks by the pound). Chocolate in bigger, more economical quantities can also be found online – the two brands above are my go tos.

    Paul – Cheers to that – it’s a deal! I’ll be prepared next time you’re in NYC.

    Tory & FH – Yum, indeed.

  6. Laura
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    You made cupcakes? I thought those were banned from the blog?!?!? Would you be willing to try a recipe from Martha’s new cupcake cookbook? It has gotten rave reviews.

    Nice piping job–are you practicing for school? You’re going to be the smartest kid in the class :)

  7. Posted July 15, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Yes, these will be my boyfriend’s next birthday cake! What a perfect pastry for a boy who loves Jameson and favors Guiness. Thank you for sharing.

  8. erica june
    Posted August 25, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    i want to eat the whole pan. i am going to try these!
    i miss you and i want to come with Nora next time she visits.

  9. Julie
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I am so excited to try these. They look delicious! I am making them for a friend who loves Irish Car Bomb the drink and for an Irish Festival on St. Patty’s Day!

  10. Andrea
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    these look delicious!

  11. Julie
    Posted March 14, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    These are AMAZING! However they really need to be made as mini cupcakes! if you make them the regular sized cupcakes they are super messy, it would be so much easier to just pop the whole thing in your mouth!

  12. Kevin Staples
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    I just made these for friends after another friend posted them on Facebook. I noticed you have 7-8 cups of sugar for the frosting. Are you sure it’s not 3-4? The recipe I saw had 3-4, but I was using yours. I got cement from the 7 cups and ran into trouble. That’s 64oz, or maybe two entire bags of sugar for 2 sticks of butter. Am I wrong? Thanks, Kevin

  13. Posted March 17, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Kevin – Very sorry to hear you had issues. I doubled the original recipe – the original had 3-4 cups powdered sugar to one stick of butter – because to make swirls on the top of the cupcakes you need a lot of frosting. Just some troubleshooting here: the reason there is a range for the sugar needed is that there are variables (humidity, butter moisture, amount of starch added to the powdered sugar by the manufacture) that we cannot control. Adding the sugar in small increments is a way to control the end result, despite all these factors, and if yours requires less, you should stop adding sugar when you reach a desired consistency, even if that means adding less. If you haven’t tossed the frosting yet, add more booze to loosen it up.

  14. Dave
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I think those cupcakes look delicious. However I grew up in Belfast during the 70s and 80s and must say that I do not care for the name at all.

  15. Alyssa
    Posted January 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I. Cannot. Wait. to make these! I’m headed out of state to visit some good friends this weekend, and I traditionally bring them a batch of some crazy kind of cupcakes. I am running out of recipes to surprise them with, and I was worried that I might have to resort to a different treat this time, but then I found this. Herein lies my salvation. I just know they will LOVE them.

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