I spent St. Patrick’s Day my junior year of college in Dublin. I drank whiskey for the first time while hiding behind trees in St. Stephen's Green, then walked buzzed down Grafton street and spent the evening getting Guinness and Irish kisses in the Temple Bar area.
While I can’t say I fit all of that into these cupcakes, they come pretty damn close. Guinness in the cake, whiskey in the filling, Baileys in the frosting. I put on some Corrs for added ambience. And the kisses came from my husband, who was very supportive of this recipe.
“Do you mind drinking up the Guinness I don’t use and then later eating it in a cupcake?”
These cupcakes have lots of parts, so in that way they are complicated, but it’s hard to go wrong, so it’s worth it. In fact, if you took all of the ingredients, dumped them in a bowl, and stirred, you could probably just eat that with a spoon and be reasonably satisfied. But if you follow the recipe, you end up with spongy chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate ganache filling and buttercream frosting. Make a little Irish coffee on the side, sit back, and be thankful for St. Patrick. And whiskey, of course.
This recipe is from someone I can only assume is a genius over at smittenkitchen.com and the instructions are based on the ones shared there (with some added tips on the best times to drink while baking):
· 1 cup 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
· 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (I used Teeling – a nod to the resurgence of distilleries opening in Ireland)
· 3 to 4 cups confections sugar
· 1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
· 4 tablespoons Baileys
Instructions: 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. [Pour rest of stout into glass and hand to husband.] Add cocoa powder to the beer and butter, 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 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
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. Add the butter and whiskey, and stir until combined. [Pour shot of whiskey into glass and drink it.]
Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped. If you have a 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, you can use those to cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. [I did it old-school style with just a paring knife.] You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. [Put the insides into a bowl, so you can eat them to test quality and consistency in the cupcakes. That step is really important. You may need to test several to make sure the cupcakes will be ok. You may need to pour another glass of whiskey and drink that with another sample to make sure all ingredients are sound.] Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip [or into a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off] and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
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.
When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys and whip it until combined. [Full disclosure, I added extra Baileys – to the frosting and then just to my mouth.]
When it comes to frosting the cupcakes, they are already so rich that just a smear of frosting on top seemed to do the trick. I suppose you could add green sprinkles or shaved chocolate or draw little Shamrocks. But I liked the way they resembled an Irish coffee just as they were.And then I wanted an Irish coffee – cup of coffee with a shot of whiskey, a spoonful of sugar, and some cream poured over the back of a spoon to rest on top.
I’ll leave you with some words to live by from my grandfather, who died on St. Patrick’s Day a few years ago:
“May the Lord keep us and bless us.
And may we always have whiskey for breakfast.”