In honor of the fact that there are essentially three words for beer here: beer, meaning the local Liberian beer called Club, Heineken, or Guinness. There are several types of Guinness here, which never ceases to amaze me (so much selection in even the smallest of Liberian bars and restaurants!), and also is extremely exciting because I love Guinness, and I love baking with Guinness. One of my favorite recipes is one that I used to make for parties back in the States, and it was always a huge hit. I’m thinking with the expat crowd in Liberia it will be even more so, and I also want to try the frosting with a great South African liqueur, Amarula, that is similar to Baileys.
I got the idea and the overall recipe from the outstanding smitten kitchen, and adapted ever so slightly. The original cupcakes are based on the Irish Car Bomb drink, but I’m admittedly a bit lazy, and haven’t ever made the Whiskey Chocolate Ganache filling. So it’s optional – feel free to add it in, or enjoy without! And finally, when making don’t let the fact that everything is from scratch daunt you – they’re super easy to make, and so worth it!
Guinness chocolate cupcakes – makes about 24 cupcakes
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
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
Whiskey Chocolate Ganache filling for the cupcakes – optional
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey
Baileys buttercream frosting
4 cups confections sugar
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperatue
4 to 4.5 tablespoons Baileys
First, for the cupcakes: preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/176 degrees Celsius. On the stove, bring the cup of Guinness and 1 cup butter to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Once simmering nicely, add in the cocoa powder and whisk for about a minute until smooth. Take off the flame and allow to cool slightly.
While cooling, add the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt to a large bowl and whisk together. In a separate large bowl beat the eggs and the sour cream with an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer until blended. Pour the Guinness mixture into the bowl with the egg mixture and beat until combined, about 10 to 20 seconds. Pour all of the flour mixture into the liquid and beat with the hand/stand mixer on a low speed until totally combined. The mixture will be fairly liquid at this point, and spoon the liquid into the cupcake tins, lined with 24 cupcake liners. Place the cupcakes in the over for about 17-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set on a rack to cool.
If you decide to make the ganache (and I’ve had these cupcakes both ways, so don’t feel as if you have to add it to make the cupcakes delicious, as they taste great with or without!) – first, chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl, or a small sauce pan. Heat the heavy cream over the stove until it is just simmering, and then pour over the chocolate in the bowl. Set aside for a minute, and then stir until the mixture is smooth. Add the butter and whiskey, and stir. Let cool until it’s cool enough that you can fill it into a bag and manage the bag without burning your fingers.
To fill the cupcakes, take a 1 inch round cookie cutter – or if you are like me and don’t have one of these on hand, you can also take a knife and cut a small hole into the cupcake – don’t cut all the way through, aim for about 2/3 of the way through the cupcake. Use the knife or a small spoon to remove the circle of cupcake, and eat those on their own, or with any remaining frosting or ganache you have – even better if mixed in a bowl with vanilla ice cream with a bit of Baileys poured on top! Once the ganache is cooled, ideally you would use a piping bag with a circle tip, or you can also take a plastic baggie, cut 1/4 of an inch off the corner of the baggie, fill with the ganache and simply pipe into the cupcakes.
Finally, for the frosting – whip the butter with a hand mixer or your stand mixer, for a few minutes until it’s fluffy. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing the butter/sugar mixture in between each cup. Once you’ve added two of the cups of powdered sugar, add in three tablespoons of the Baileys. Mix, and then add in the remaining cup of powdered sugar. Mix, and then add the remaining tablespoon of Baileys. If your hand slipped and you added in too much of one of the ingredients then add either more powdered sugar or Baileys until you get the right consistency, which is creamy but also slightly stiff so it holds its shape on the cupcake.
Then, take either your piping bag or a knife, and pipe/smear onto the cupcakes. And that’s it! They are going to taste amazing, and please enjoy!