Guinness and chocolate cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream frosting for St. Patrick’s Day

18 Mar

First of all: Yes, things look a little different around here! Sorry for the various changes to the site in the past few days; I’ve been fiddling around with its appearance in an effort to make this blog a little more personalized. I think I like where it’s ended up. But I’m a bit concerned about using typekit fonts, as I’m not sure if they’ll show up correctly for all my readers. So, it would be quite helpful if you could let me know if the font you’re seeing for the blog title and post titles looks like Times New Roman–it’s not supposed to! Thanks. :)

I’m a proud Irish-American lass–with the freckles to prove it–so I felt that making a St. Paddy’s Day-themed treat was obligatory. Of course, I realize that the holiday is actually a good deal more American than it is Irish, and I’m also sadly aware that it perpetuates some negative stereotypes about the Irish…but I see no harm in a little green-themed, boozed-up fun, as long as we keep those things in mind. At the very least, I figured, baking for St. Patrick’s Day would offer a fun new way to enjoy whiskey–which is something I can appreciate any day of the year!

I knew that whatever recipe I chose would have to involve whiskey, Baileys, and/or Guinness, and I did indeed find quite a few recipes that satisfied that requirement. I was shocked to find, though, that there were very few decent-looking recipes that involved putting Baileys in the batter (not just the frosting)…any idea why that is? It seemed like an obvious concept, yet all I found were Baileys buttercream recipes. So I ended up going with a simplified version of Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for chocolate whiskey and beer cupcakes, based on the (controversially named) “Irish car bomb” cocktail. The recipe called for Guinness, Baileys, and chocolate–and honestly, what sounds better than that?

My only problem? All I had was Guinness lager–not Guinness stout, as called for in the recipe (and all the others I’d found). I’m not much of a beer aficionado, so I don’t know the real difference between the two…but I do know that there is a difference, and I wasn’t sure whether it would have a big impact on my final product or not. I couldn’t find any information on the interchangeability of lager and stout in baking, though, so I decided to just go for it.

Featuring Seamus, my kitchen leprechaun!

Step one was to simmer the Guinness with butter and cocoa powder on the stove. This created a nice, creamy, yummy-smelling chocolate mixture.

I got worried, though, when I took it off the heat and the ingredients started to separate. The mixture got kind of lumpy and black streaks appeared in the chocolate. I was concerned that it would mess up my batter, like the chocolate mixture I made for my first batch of cupcakes. But I had no real choice but to soldier on.

Here’s something exciting: this was the first time I’d ever baked with sour cream! In the past few weeks, I’d read a lot of recipes that called for it, and it sounded like a great way to make your cake smooth and moist. I was happy to find it was easy to work with and eliminated the need for milk or oil.

My final batter looked good, although the beer (or the butter, I couldn’t tell) still wouldn’t blend completely with the other ingredients.

The cupcakes came out looking smooth and uniform, but a little flat. Although I’ve read about it, I still don’t know all the factors that decide how much a cake will dome as it rises…that’s something I’ll need to keep learning.

Whether or not they were supposed to rise any more than they did, they tasted fantastic. I’d read that the beer flavor would mostly bake out, and it did, but it also seemed to enhance the chocolate flavor. The cakes turned out moist and chocolatey, and I’d definitely make them again! I wonder if there’s a way to add more beer, or a different kind (maybe that’s why you need stout), to achieve a stronger beer flavor…any ideas? Regardless, these made my kitchen smell excellent.

Sadly, I was way too lazy to make the ganache filling called for in the recipe. But if you’re making these and feeling up to it, do it–I’ll bet it tastes amazing!

It was time to move onto the frosting–woohoo! I adore Baileys (who doesn’t?), so I was really hoping the buttercream would turn out well. It was a simple buttercream like the kinds I’d made before, with just butter, sugar, and Baileys. And it was definitely easy enough to make.

But here’s the thing: I’ve decided that I hate making this kind of buttercream. I just hate it! I hate creaming sticks of butter that gunk up my hand mixer…I hate constantly needing to scrape it off the beaters…I hate adding the powdered sugar a tiny bit at a time…and, most importantly, I hate the grainy texture of the buttercream that this technique inevitably makes.

I realize that all these things are the reality of making quick and easy buttercream. And I accept that. I’ll probably even keep making it, just because it requires less time and fewer ingredients than other techniques. But I’m dying to try a new approach–one that involves a stovetop, eggs, the whole shebang. I contemplated going for it yesterday, but wasn’t brave enough to do it with the Baileys. Instead, I’ve decided that for my next project (probably), regardless of the cake flavor, I’ll just try to make a plain vanilla buttercream by a new method.

Despite the grainy texture, my Baileys buttercream turned out really well. I added a little more Baileys than called for in the recipe, because I wanted it to be creamy and extra-Baileys-flavored. I also whipped the hell out of it with my hand mixer, which made for a wonderfully fluffy texture.

Since it was still so light in color, I went ahead and added some dye until I’d achieved a pale shade of minty-green. Then I swirled it on, sprinkled ’em, and had a lovely batch of boozy St. Paddy’s cupcakes.

I would absolutely make both this cake and this buttercream again. The buttercream, especially, has made my list of favorite recipes. (Still, I’d love to find a new way to make it…)

Seamus thought they were pretty good, too! And he would know. He’s a leprechaun.

I’ve submitted this to a few different recipe link-fests! Click these buttons to check out other people’s recipes of the week.


14 Responses to “Guinness and chocolate cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream frosting for St. Patrick’s Day”

  1. Veronica March 18, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Wow! Those look great! Anything with chocolate, Guinness, and Bailey’s Irish Cream has got to be good. I love the professional look of the cupcakes when they were done too. I never can get mine looking that nice! Keep up the great post and enjoy your cupcakes.
    I also like the new look of your blog. Very nice!

    • leighbakes March 18, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

      Thanks so much for your kind words. :)

  2. lifewith4cats March 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    I love the new theme background and the title fonts are nice bold calligraphy. Everything looks great to me including those awesome looking cupcakes.

    Do you have any idea what a sloppy baker I am? Picture frosting on every surface and batter spilled on every pan. You are truly an example to live up to. :)

    • leighbakes March 18, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

      Hehe! My secret? I don’t take pictures of the countertops after I’m done using them and before I’ve cleaned ’em…covered in sugar and various kinds of goop. ;) But thank you, that’s incredibly sweet.

      And glad to know the blog’s looking okay! Though I’m not sure it compares to your adorable kitty header. :)

  3. Cake is Life March 19, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    These cupcakes look so perfect! I struggle with them and they aggravate me! But these look so yummy I might just have to try them! :) I love dark beer and chocolate…such a great combo!

    • leighbakes March 19, 2011 at 11:12 am #

      Thank you! And yes, they go together perfectly. These tasted great, although like I said, the beer flavor pretty much disappeared. Next time I’d use a stronger beer!

  4. Amy March 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    These look delicious! Way to go, Leigh :) And a beautiful presentation too. Wish I had one of those cupcakes right about now…

    • leighbakes March 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

      Well thanks! Wish I could give you one. :)

  5. Tina March 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    There is ONE DAY left to link up GREEN recipes……

    And starting today on THIS WEEK’S CRAVINGS Linky Party we are featuring CHOCOLATE… CHOCOLATE… and MORE CHOCOLATE. We would love to have you link up any great chocolate recipe!

  6. carochoe March 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    haha now this sounds like a good time indeed! thanks for your sweet comment. First time baking with sour cream too? It’s the best! have you tried working with mayo too?
    Keep going, Leigh! and thanks for stopping by too!

    • leighbakes March 21, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

      I haven’t, although I had a roommate in college whose favorite dessert was mayonnaise cake. I thought that was odd, but I shouldn’t knock it ’til I try it. ;)

  7. Tina @ MOMS CRAZY COOKING March 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    Thanks so much for coming back and linking to THIS WEEK’S CRAVINGS “CHOCOLATE”, we are already enjoying over 100 recipes, so make sure to stop back by and see them all. It’s gonna be one SWEET week!

    And don’t forget to come back next week (Monday) for “HIDDEN INGREDIENT”… “What can you hide in your recipes?”

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