Chocolate Stout Cupcakes—Sláinte Mhaith
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Being that I am somewhat Irish, I usually make the effort to make a special meal on this day. Last year it was Guinness Beef Stew, Irish Soda Bread and for dessert, Black & Tan Brownies (all Cooking Light recipes). This year, because I couldn’t find the right cut of lamb yesterday, I went back to the Guinness Beef Stew, which is a very good standard, but I switched it up with the dessert. Several weeks ago my colleague asked me if I had ever made cupcakes with beer. I knew that I had a recipe for Stout Cupcakes in my MS Cupcakes book, but they seemed a bit ho-hum. Then the lightbulb of ingenuity came on: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes! Wouldn’t you know it? I am not the first person to think of this. A few days later the recipe arrived in my inbox in the form of the Flour Confections newsletter.
If you have never had stout beer then maybe you’re wondering what would make me think of Chocolate Stout Cupcakes. Guinness makes the world’s most famous stout; it has a burnt flavour from the roasting of the barley, the main ingredient, which is most likely responsible for the common perception of a taste of coffee when consuming it. We all know that coffee plus chocolate equals scrumptious goodness, so it’s not that far of a leap to thinking that Guinness and chocolate would be heaven.
I am not sure that I can re-post FC’s recipe, but it was very similar to this one from Epicurious. The method, I thought, was a bit strange since I’m used to alternating dry and wet ingredients, usually in 3 additions of the dry, but I followed the directions faithfully, having had a ‘wee’ epic fail with my Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes a few weeks ago. The Chocolate Stout cupcakes do not disappoint! The stout flavour is very subdued, which is great if you’re not sold on that aspect, but not so great if you want a prominent stout flavour. If that’s the case, you may want to try Martha’s recipe, which contains no cocoa. In the case of these cupcakes, the stout flavour could be taken for coffee, but the result is so very moist and delicious, you won’t care.
I don’t remember if the newsletter recipe suggested a frosting because I wanted to go my own way on this one—I wanted to stick with the stout theme since I had a feeling that the cocoa would most likely overpower the stout taste—but I have since noticed that many of the recipes out there suggest a Bailey’s Irish Cream whipped cream or frosting, which I had also thought of, but I worried that it might distract from the stout flavour. I took about a 1/2 cup of the remaining Guinness, the portion that I hadn’t imbibed after making the cupcakes, and I reduced it to a few tablespoons by boiling. I added it, plus a splash of pure vanilla and some icing sugar, to a cup or so of whipping cream and whisked it into a stiff peak. The result was a delicious cupcake with an airy dollop of whipped cream, hinting of the stout in the cupcake. For a flourish I sprinkled on a little instant espresso powder. I will definitely make these cupcakes again, but I’ll reduce more stout for a stronger flavour in the whipped cream, for my own preference, but my taste testers seemed more than happy with it.
The cupcake love, however, may have been due to the fact that I plied them with alcohol. I served the cupcakes with the traditional Irish Coffee: a nice cup of brew with a good shot of Irish Whiskey, a wee teaspoon of sugar and a dollop of whipped cream. After you plop on some of that whipping cream you can see the lazy trails of cream spiraling down into the coffee. In fact, I’m drinking some right now as I’m posting this. Could be that this is my first drunk post. I’ve basically been drinking since I started baking the cupcakes this afternoon, which is a very uncommon occurrence for me. Soon I’m going to start professing my undying love for a certain tall, blonde, Viking vampire, my fictional boyfriend, whose anti-hero virtues are extolled on one my favourite blogs, where the writers also sometimes post while drunk. Love ya, SVB! If I start telling the rest of y’all that I love you, just stop reading….Kiss me, I’m Irish!