Irish Cream Cupcakes

Last night I was preparing cupcakes for a mini-women’s show that I am attending tonight. It’s a chance to let potential new customers try my product, so I wanted to take at least 3 flavours of cupcakes with me. Chocolate is a no-brainer, so I made a standard Devil’s Food Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting. I used the cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book. The chocolate frosting recipe is pretty standard: butter, cocoa (I use high ratio cocoa), icing sugar, vanilla and milk to thin it.

For my second choice, I picked a cupcake that was new to me until a few weeks ago. I had attended a Stella & Dot party (beautiful jewelry) at my friend Christine’s house; she is now a stylist for them. At any rate, it was the perfect opportunity to bring my cupcakes and possibly get some new customers, and Christine was only too happy to let me feed her guests. Previously I had made “Boobilicious Pretty in Pink” bachelorette cupcakes for Christine’s sister and the choice was between red velvet and chocolate. I actually dissuaded Christine from the red velvet because any that I had tried in the past I had found bland. For her party I decided it was the perfect opportunity to try making them.

Again I used MS Cupcakes for my recipe, but although I was determined to make red velvet, I was unprepared (me, no!). I didn’t have buttermilk, so I substituted 1/4 cup of sour cream mixed with 3/4 cup of 1% milk. I didn’t have oil, so I melted butter instead. I used Americolor Super Red for the colour and boy, was the batter red. While still a bit warm I tried them and they were falling apart! Not my idea of a good cupcake, but at that time of night, there was not much that I could do. I iced them with my cream cheese icing. However, after cooling in the fridge they were perfect and a big hit at the Stella & Dot party.

I have since made the red velvet cupcakes to the letter of the recipe and maybe it’s my imagination, but I think the version with the substitutions was slightly tastier. The bottom line is that I had underestimated the red velvet cupcake. People love that cupcake and it bears remembering that the baker’s taste is not always that of her customers.

I really wasn’t sure a week ago what to make for my third flavour. Definitely something non-chocolate, but what? I love coconut, but I’ve learned that it’s a love or hate flavour. Lemon is often popular, but I just made those and I subscribe to law of diminishing returns in my kitchen. Yesterday it hit me! St. Patrick’s Day = Irish Cream and I had the perfect base recipe. For vanilla cakes and cupcakes I use a two-stage white cake recipe from Martha Stewart, which involves folding in beaten egg whites to the batter. I love this recipe because it makes a moist, semi-dense and domed cupcake and for cakes, it is perfect for carving. Again, it’s all about taste, as some would prefer a lighter, airier cupcake. I use this recipe for my Eggnog Spice cake and cupcakes and basically anything for which I want to switch out the milk for another liquid.

For my Irish Cream cupcakes I substituted 1 cup of Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur and I increased the vanilla to 1 teaspoon, using Madagascar Bourbon vanilla. To “frost” the cupcakes I whisked 35% whipping cream by hand with 2 tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish Cream and 1 teaspoon of Tahitian vanilla until it could hold a peak. I have found that I tend to make butter when I use my Kitchen Aid mixer to whip whipping cream, plus it makes me feel like a chef when I whip by hand. If only I had a copper bowl, but stainless steel works just as well.

The result: a good cupcake, if a wee, very wee, bit boring, in my opinion. The taste and texture were good, but I would add instant espresso next time to deepen the taste. Some of the cupcakes I sprinkled with finely ground espresso. I am waiting for a “shipment” of my favourite instant espresso coffee, Medaglia d’Oro, to come from the US, via my mother, who is vacationing in Mesa, AZ. I have looked around Ottawa, even at Nicastro’s, an Italian deli and grocer, but I have not found it here. If anyone has seen it, please let me know! I tried Nescafe instant espresso powder, available in most markets here, but it tastes of chemicals.

I am giving away a box of cupcakes to a lucky women’s show attendee tonight. The labels that I made from Vistaprint really help make my cupcake boxes look professional, I think.

Happy Baking!