Thursday, March 19, 2009

Car Bomb Cupcakes

Happy Belated St. Paddy's Day! I was a busy baker leading up to St. Patrick's Day, as I felt the need to bake not only for my husband's work but for mine as well. When I saw these from Deb at Smitten Kitchen I knew exactly who would appreciate these.

I brought these to work and delivered them to my old project teammates. I knew they would appreciate them after seeing them party in Ireland during our large annual meeting in '07 (one of the perks to working on an international project). After about 30 minutes in the break room, my inbox started to flood with emails of thanks.

Ready for the drive into work (sorry for the poor lighting...this was at about 6 am)

I managed to save one to split with the husband, since I know he appreciates all things Guinness. He really liked them but I think deep down he was looking for more of a Guinness flavor. I agree that the Guinness turned into more of a nutty flavor that enhanced the chocolate taste more than standing up next to it. I might try to experiment a few more times since this might be something he would like for his birthday in June.

I think my favorite part was the frosting. I am not a fan of American style all. I always feel the sugar between my teeth and have not been able to find a recipe that is smooth...that is until now. Apparently it wasn't the recipe, it was the method. Adding the sugar a few spoon fulls at a time made all the difference. I plan to make all my buttercreams like this from this point on. As noted below, I added 2 sticks of butter to my mixer and realized I only needed one, so I proceeded like I was going to double the recipe (who doesn't like extra frosting). When I added the first 4 cups of confectioner's sugar, I was liking the consistency and I was extremely pleased with the taste test, so I added the Baileys into the frosting and piped the frosting onto the cupcakes. I added a few green sprinkles for a little St. Paddy's Day flair.

Guinness Cupcakes (from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes 24 cupcakes

1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

~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.

Ganache Filling

8 oz bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
3 tsp Irish Whiskey (optional)

~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.

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 and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Baileys Buttercream Frosting *It was getting late when I was preparing the frosting, so the notes in italics are from me.

3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar (I used closer to 4 cups)
1 stick (4oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used 2 sticks)
3 to 4 Tbsp Baileys Liquor (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination)

~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. (I measured out 3 cups of confectioner's sugar in a large bowl and used a whisk to separate any clumps before adding it to the butter)
~When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, 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. [I used a star tip and made little "poofs" everywhere and sprinkled it with various colors of sanding sugar to keep it looking festive for New Years. I bet shaved dark and white chocolates would look gorgeous as well.]

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.)

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