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?
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 SmittenKitchen.com
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
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)
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.)