I hope you enjoy our monthly Progressive Eats posts as much as I do; working with a group of peers is fun and maybe gets the recipe adrenaline going a bit more than usual and I like that…maybe even sometimes need that. This month Megan from the blog Stetted has asked us to do a recipe that includes beer, wine or spirits so of course I decided I wanted to include both beer and booze. I’ve wanted to make the Chocolate Stout Cake from Barrington Brewery in Barrington, MA for the longest time; since 2002 when I first saw it in Bon Appetit magazine. How it constantly got away from me is a mystery but it did and yet I never forgot about it; especially since discovering to my surprise just how much I love Guinness Stout Beer. I decided to finally use the recipe (which has been duplicated like a bazillion times on the web) for these cupcakes today but switched gears in several ways. Except for the snafu I’ll be sharing with you, it seems to have all been good. How much did I switch gears? Well, this delicious chocolate cake with chocolate frosting magically turned into Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting and maybe just a drizzle of Salted Caramel Irish Cream. Oh yes I did!
I mentioned a snafu. The story of my life when baking. I’ve lived in Colorado for 30 years; the land for which those small notes were always included on box cake mixes for ‘high altitude baking.’ I had no idea what it meant but as I became a better baker and did away with boxes and moved to baking from scratch I had to learn. The bottom line is this – in our thinner air, baked goods will rise faster as they bake. Without some adjustment, they will often get to maximum volume but not yet be baked and they have nowhere to go but back down. Cakes with sinkholes are not uncommon. Cupcakes will fall and spill outside the edges of their wrappers and it’s not a pretty sight.
For the most part I’ve made it work usually with just digging a divot out of any leavening with my pinkie finger (I wanted less rise and this is one way to accomplish that) and then a couple of years ago I met Keeghan Gerhard, a local restaurant owner and pastry chef and one you might recognize from his long time serving as a judge on the Food Network‘s Last Cake Standing. We were at the bar of his restaurant and he was making dinner for a group of us and it was nice; just chatting. I asked him for his advice on cooking at high altitude and he said that he thought the many revisions he had seen were for the most part not necessary at Denver’s altitude but he did recommend one thing that made a huge difference. Raise the oven temperature 10 degrees and start checking for whether the baked good is done 10-15 minutes earlier. Made sense; that extra heat would bake something quicker and have it be less inclined to fall and crater. Worked great for almost everything and if something still had an issue? I doubt I will ever conquer every baking situation (can you say Angel Food Cake) but I have long thought of myself as a master fixer upper!
So what happened on the day I baked these cupcakes? For some reason I had an epic fail. The cupcakes both flowed outside the liners and also sank in the middle. I did one tray at a time and after the first misstep I removed some of the batter from the liners and tried again. Nope, not gonna work; same thing happened but to a lesser degree. SO many vagaries…was it the overcast day which might have lowered the air pressure just enough to make that difference in this already tricky environment? What the heck? I did remember Chef Gerhard mentioning that this change would be good for Denver and I had this funny, in the very back of my mind suspicion. Since I’m further southwest now that I’ve moved to the city of Castle Rock, could that be the difference? Oh my…maybe; we’re 1,000 feet higher! Guess I’ll have to do some further testing to find my cupcake baking sweet spot but it might include temp, time and leavening changes. Doesn’t this sound like a blast? Don’t answer that question but know why I never chose to do a baking blog. While I love to bake I knew it would be problematic occasionally and I just don’t need the stress. What did I do today? Well if you look closely you might notice the cupcakes have been trimmed of their flying saucer edges and well you can’t see the divot but who doesn’t love more frosting right? Oh, by the way…don’t cry for me Argentina; I will suffer through myriad cake and cupcake challenges and never ever consider leaving. I’ll take low humidity in the summer any day over perfect altitude for cupcakes!
Rest assured; this won’t happen to you. I use tried and true recipes for everything I post; whether my own favorites or those from popular sources and while I make the necessary adjustments as I prepare the dish in my kitchen; those changes don’t get translated to the recipe shown since I want to share them with people in more than just a few states. You know what the real truth is? I’ve found that making things work has become one of my strong suits and few people that I share goodies with have any idea that I consider them a problem; they still have the expected taste and texture with sometimes more frosting…I mean, how bad could that be right?
These were absolutely fantastic on any day but would be the perfect dessert for a St. Patrick’s Day party too. The beer doesn’t have a strong taste as much as it serves to complement the chocolate. Which is what I always expect espresso to do so I threw a bit of it in there too. The frosting and drizzle together are pretty sweet but the cake is not; it’s closer to bittersweet so I thought they were perfect together. Another confession? I like to drizzle but I’m also taking photos and it adds a nice flourish to cupcakes. If you’re not a drizzler? OK by me; these are fantastic with or without.
Be sure you check out my friend’s posts after the recipe too; a virtual plethora of boozy recipes. I’m sure you’ll find something you love. Cheers!
Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting
For the Cake
- 1 cup Guinness beer
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder unsweetened
- 1 Tablespoon dry espresso powder (optional)
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 2 eggs large, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Bailey's Drizzle
- 6 oz Bailey's Regular or Salted Caramel
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
For the Frosting
- 3 sticks butter (24 oz.)
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4-5 Tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey
To Make the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake tin by adding cupcake liners.
- In a medium saucepan on low heat, combine beer and butter and keep on low until butter dissolves.
- Once butter is melted, slowly whisk in sugar, cocoa and espresso until they have completely dissolved.
- Set mixture aside and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes (room temperature is fine but no hotter).
- In the meantime, sift together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl, then set aside.
- Mix together sour cream, vanilla, and eggs. Beat on low until combined then slowly blend the chocolate into the sour cream and eggs, keeping mixer speed on low.
- Add flour one cup at a time and mix on medium speed until well blended but do not overmix.
- Pour cupcake mixture into the prepared cupcake lines to about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick insert into the middle comes out clean.
- Cool cupcakes in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
To Make the Bailey's Drizzle:
- Combine the Bailey's and sugar in a saucepan and cook on medium until the mixture is reduced by half. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using.
To Make the Frosting:
- Cream the softened butter in the bowl of a mixer. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until well combined.
- Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add the Irish Whiskey one Tablespoon at a time and combine thoroughly.
- Spread on cupcakes with a knife or offset spatula or pipe using a piping bag and tip. Let the frosting set up a bit before drizzling with the Bailey's drizzle.
Boozy Cooking – Dishes with Beer, Wine or Spirits
- Carbonnade Beef and Beer Stew from Mother Would Know
- One Hour Ham and White Bean Soup from Miss in the Kitchen
- Rum Jerk Chicken from Stetted
- Peruvian Pisco Roast Chicken from The Heritage Cook (Gluten-Free)
- Red Wine and Pork Pasta Sauce Food Hunter’s Guide
- Sous Vide Chinese Drunken Wine Chicken from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting from Creative Culinary
- Irish Cream Pots de Creme from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter Ice Cream Sauce from Pastry Chef Online
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is Boozy Cooking and is hosted by Megan Myers, who blogs at Stetted. For our Boozy Cooking dinner, we all created recipes using beer, wine, or spirits.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.