Friday, July 15, 2011

Manly men like cupcakes too...

Warning:  This post has absolutely nothing to do with fondant whatsoever.  It does have lots to do with baking and cake batter which is the foundation for all great fondant pieces.  :) 

My husband, Kody, recently asked me to make a batch of "something" for the Roads and Grounds crew at the base where we reside.  "Cupcakes!", I say with delight.  Not often do I have the opportunity to make those delicious little bits of fluffy cake topped with swirls of frosting.  "Cupcakes?", he says uncertainly.  "These are for men.  Men don't want cupcakes."  Well, I was dead set on proving him wrong.  Men WILL want cupcakes and they're going to want THESE cupcakes. 

I first found this recipe through my cupcake-baking friend, Tracie.  She has a little baking business in Sicily and made these for St. Patty's Day last year.  I drooled all over my laptop as I gazed fondly at her photos posted.  You can see them for yourself at Batter & Bowl.  Now, at long last, I had the chance to try the recipe.

I followed the same recipe shared by The Mess Pot who in turn got it from Smitten Kitchen.  I did make some slight alterations, mostly in the fact that mine are definitely more "kid-friendly" containing less uncooked alcohol than the original recipe shared.

OK, so here's the process.  You start with these ingredients: 2 sticks of butter and 1 cup of Guinness or another stout.   

 Put those in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it simmers. 

Then whisk in 3/4 cup of cocoa powder until smooth.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

For the next step you will need 2/3 cups of sour cream and 2 large eggs.
 In your trusty KitchenAid, beat them together to combine.
 In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 1 and a half teaspoons baking soda and 3/4 teaspoons salt.

Add the chocolate-butter-beer mixture and blend on low speed for just a bit.  Then I used my handy dandy scraper to fold in the chocolate mixture entirely leaving me with a floofy bowl of batter.

 Fill 24 cupcake liners 2/3 - 3/4 of the way full and pop in a preheated oven set at 350.  The recipe says 17 minutes but mine took about 20.  Here they are!  Look at those cute little cakes just barely peering over their wrappers.  Time to cool you little fellas down on a rack.
 Any guesses as to which one is the cupcake I made myself for dessert?  Hee hee!  :)  Jumbo cupcakes and I have a very special relationship. 
 Now the original recipe cored out about an inch of each cupcake and filled them with chocolate ganache.  (VERY YUM!)  However, I ran out of time and had to skip that delicious step. I would definitely try that if I make these simply cannot go wrong when it comes to decadent chocolate ganache!  :)
I did go ahead and make the Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting.  I doubled the recipe below thinking that would be enough to cover my double batch of cupcakes. 
BUT I clearly was out of control with how large my mounds of swirled frosting were and I only made it about half way with the recipe's frosting. 

That's OK though because, you see, I don't particularly like powdered sugar based frosting.  To me, they're too sweet.  Some LOVE it and I used to be one of them but as I've, oh so gracefully, aged into my early 30's my taste buds have changed.  Plus, this gave me the opportunity to play with some fun candy oils that my wonderful husband bought for me.  Thankfully, in my refrigerator I have my "In case of emergency" supply of Swiss meringue buttercream.  I whipped my buttercream and flavored it with Irish cream candy oil to top the remaining half of the cupcakes.

Here's one with the recipe's frosting:

And here's one with the Irish Cream Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
Ooo, look how delicious it looks cut in half!

And two last shots of the big happy bunch:
One with plain tops...
And one when I remembered that I had a bag of whoppers sitting in my cabinet...

Here's the recipe Mess Pot shared:

Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting
Printer friendly recipe
Source: Smitten Kitchen

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as 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

Ganache Filling

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting (see Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work) (I used a knife and did something similar to the cone method where. I just made a circle in the cupcake. The cupcake is so moist that the section just comes right out.)

Make the cupcakes: 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.

Make the filling: 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.

Fill the cupcakes: 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.

Make the frosting: 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.

[This is a fantastic trick I picked up while working on the cupcakes article for Martha Stewart Living; the test kitchen chefs had found that when they added the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings got less grainy, and tended to require less sugar to thicken them up.]

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.

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.)