I was so proud of myself on March 18th, all ready to post my St Patty’s day cupcake recipe, having photographed, lightroomed, and typed up my notes. Everything was ready, and then I decided to watch a video while drinking a glass of water and in my excitement over…something, knocked the water glass into my keyboard.
So after a week of laptop rehab (a garbage bag and some industrial strength silica gel packets) I’m finally ready to post! So without further ado, a recipe I’ve been waiting to make for a long time and one I hope you enjoy as much as my friends and I did.
I’ve had my eye on Nigella’s Guinness cake for far too long not to have just come up with an excuse to try it. But what better time than a St Patrick’s day birthday party? This cake is very dense, but not super sweet, leaving the sweetness up to the filling and frosting. Cream cheese frosting is not only my favorite but exactly what Nigella calls for in her recipe so I started there, but half way through I was out of frosting and still had a tray of unadorned cupcake tops so I whipped up a ½ recipe of quick buttercream to make up the difference. It didn’t taste as decadent but it did stiffen up beautifully and when I poured green sprinkles over the frosted spirals they ran down and collected in the valleys of the frosting which I thought looked rather charming, so I’ve listed both frosting recipes below.
GUINNESS CUPCAKES WITH BAILEY’S FILLING (or Car Bomb Cupcakes)
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Guinness Cake
For the Cupcakes
1 cup Guinness
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 cups caster sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup sour cream
1tbsp vanilla extract
For the Ganache Filling
5oz dark chocolate
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream
I made both cream cheese and buttercream frosting. One for taste and one for looks but turns out several people prefer the buttercream anyway (who knew). Double either of these to cover all cupcakes in one frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting (the most delicious and more rustic look)
1 8oz package cream cheese
1-1½ cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream
Buttercream Frosting (more ‘icing’ taste but beautiful for decorating)
4 Tbsp butter
1½ -2 cups icing sugar
1-2 Tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream
For the Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350f and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Combine Guinness, butter and sugar in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add cocoa and sugar and whisk continuously until smooth. Remove from heat.
In a mixing bowl sift together flour, baking soda and salt to combine and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the eggs and sour cream for a couple minutes. Add the chocolate and Guinness mixture and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients in a few installments, mixing slowly and only as much as necessary to combine. You can finish this step by hand with a rubber spatula for gentler mixing.
Pour batter into lined muffin tins about ½-¾ full. Bake until cakes pass the toothpick test, about 16-18 minutes for full sized cupcakes, 11-12 for mini cupcakes. Let cool before filling.
For the Ganache
Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium low heat. When cream begins to simmer remove from heat and immediately add the chocolate, broken into small chunks. Let sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. Add the butter, also cut into small chunks, and baileys and continue to stir (or whisk) until smooth.
Using a large round piping tip or small end of a funnel to cut out the centers of the cooled cupcakes. Aim for about ¾ of the way down and ¾ to 1” diameter for full sized cupcakes and ½” for minis.
Using a small spoon, piping bag, or zip lock with the corner cut off (my favorite) pour the ganache into the cut out centers. Let settle and come back to fill up to the top if filling sinks into the center.
For the Frosting
Cream Cheese: whip cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy (As fluffy as cream cheese will get) slowly sift icing sugar over cream cheese, whisking well after each addition. Finally add Baileys (or other flavor of choice). Add a bit more sugar if your frosting is too thin.
Buttercream: Whip butter (at room temperature) in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly add sifted sugar to the butter a couple tablespoons at a time. (Rumor has it this is the trick chefs in the Martha Stewart Test Kitchen use to keep their quick buttercreams smooth and creamy. It also means you need less sugar for the same stiffness, which I’m all about, generally considering buttercreams to be too powdered-sugar-sweet.) When desired consistency is reached add Baileys or other flavoring and whisk a bit more. Add sugar if your icing thins but it shouldn’t.
Pipe frosting onto cupcakes using a large star shaped piping tip or spread on liberally with a butter knife. giving the effect, as Nigella says, of a frothy head on the top of a pint of Guinness.
Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Less amenable to the classic cupcake spiral but lovely if you're going for the 'frothy guinness head' look