By now you probably know I am pretty big on holidays, especially the food aspects of them. St. Patrick's Day presents an opportunity to make traditional Irish foods or at least things that we now associate with the holiday as traditional foods. I have made black and tan brownies with Guinness for the past three years, and while I absolutely love and enjoy them, I wanted to do something different this year. After paging through The Irish Spirit, where the black and tan brownie recipe is from, and searching numerous food blogs and recipe databases, I decided to use a chocolate stout cake recipe from the King Arthur Flour Web site.
I planned to bring a dessert to my friend's St. Patrick's Day party and figured cupcakes might travel a little better than a cake, so I altered the recipe slightly to make mini cupcakes instead. The recipe yielded so much batter that after I made 48 mini cupcakes, I still made a three-layer cake! (More on that soon.)
I was planning to get some Guinness, but then I remembered I had received a bottle of Choklat Stout at a holiday party and thought that would be a perfect substitute. You can taste undertones of the stout in the moist, chocolate cake, but it's not overpowering.
Unlike most cakes that dry out as time passes, the cupcakes actually became more moist and fudgy the next day. That could partially be because for good measure, I piped ganache inside each of the mini cupcakes before piping more on top to decorate them.
Everyone at the party really enjoyed the cute and festive cupcakes. I recommend these if you're having or attending a St. Patrick's Day party. They're sure to be a crowd-pleaser!
Chocolate Stout Mini Cupcakes (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
(yields 48 cupcakes plus a three-pound three-layer cake with batter to spare)
2 cups stout or dark beer, such as Guinness
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa
4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
Frosting (I ended up making two batches)
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan, and heat until the butter melts.
Remove the pan from the heat, and add the cocoa powder. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray or line two mini cupcake pans.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, beat together the eggs and sour cream.
Add the stout-cocoa mixture, mixing to combine.
Add the flour mixture and mix together at low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix again for 1 minute.
Fill each mini cupcake cup with about 1 heaping tablespoon of batter.
Bake one pan at a time for 12 to 14 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool on a rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes from the pans and let them cool completely on the rack. (You can continue to use the remaining batter to make more cupcakes, or you can make a cake. See the original recipe on the KAF site for directions on making a cake. I'll show you what I did with the remaining batter in an upcoming post.)
For the filling and frosting: Place the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and whisk until the mixture is completely smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until the ganache thickens slightly, about 30 minutes.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a small round tip with some of the ganache. Then return the remaining ganache to the refrigerator to chill until it is spreadable, about 2 hours. Stir it occasionally to check the consistency. (You can always microwave it if it gets too solid.)
Gently insert the piping tip into the center of each cupcake and squeeze until you feel pressure.
Don't worry about leaving holes in the tops of the cupcakes; you'll cover these when you frost the cupcakes.
At this point I wrapped the cupcakes and put them in the fridge overnight because I wasn't bringing them to the party until the next day. (You can do all of this the same day though.) I took them out the following day, microwaved the ganache for a few seconds, and filled a piping bag fitted with a small star tip with the thickened ganache.
I piped in a swirl pattern on some cupcakes and just did a small squeeze in the centers of other cupcakes. Then the fun part: I decorated them with green shamrocks and sugars.
Then, since I was running low on ganache (and still had that whole cake I needed to frost), I made a fresh batch of ganache and decided to glaze the tops of some of the cupcakes with that. You can simply microwave the ganache you already have until it has a thinner consistency if you want to decorate your cupcakes this way.
Carefully plunge just the tops of the cupcakes into the thin ganache and twist your hand slightly as you pull the cupcake up from the ganache, so the ganache stays on top and doesn't drip down the sides. Sprinkle with green sugar before the ganache sets completely.
I don't know about you, but I'd be happy to find any of these rich, ganache-filled goodies at the end of a rainbow!
Don't forget to stop by to see my chocolate stout layer cake... and whatever I end up deciding to make for dinner. Are you making anything special for St. Patrick's Day?