Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Luck of the Irish Cupcakes

A few years ago I made St. Patrick's Day cards that had a verse inside which said--"If You're Lucky Enough to be Irish, then, You're Lucky Enough!"  Our oldest daughter, Erin, said to me "What does that mean?"  Frustratingly, we (Kelly and I) attempted to explain it to her, but she kept saying, "I don't get it."  We were about to give up when she cracked a smile; she really made us work for it!

However, needless to say, I consider my Irish heritage very seriously and loved hearing stories about how my ancestors came to America.  Stories, that I know most of us Americans can relate to.  These cupcakes combine two products associated with the Irish--Bailey's Irish Cream and Guinness Stout.  I first made this chocolate cake last year when I discovered the recipe at King Arthur Flour.  The cake has a can of Guinness in it and makes the most wonderful deep chocolate cake I'd ever had.  It easily makes a 3-layer cake and the recipe includes the directions for a bittersweet chocolate ganache, although I made my favorite chocolate buttercream from the Buche de Noel cupcakes back in December.  I actually iced the cupcakes two ways:  with the chocolate buttercream and a Bailey's Irish Cream buttercream shamrock and with a large swirl of the Bailey's buttercream with chocolate shavings on top.
The later is definitely for "Adults Only" since it has 1/2 cup of Bailey's in it, but you can really see the richness of the dark chocolate cake underneath in comparison to the swirl of icing!

The recipe easily makes 36 cupcakes and, I discovered yesterday, you can purchase just one can of Guinness, in case you're not a fan, to make the cake.  Eighteen years ago, on our trip to Ireland, we tried it in in pub and it is definitely an acquired taste, but I love cooking with it.

Chocolate Stout Cake

1- 14.9 oz. can of Guinness Stout
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Double Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch processed cocoa
4 cups granulated sugar
4 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line muffin pans with cupcake papers.

Measure the Guinness Stout and add water to equal 2 cups of liquid.

Place in a medium sauce pan.  Cut butter into one-tablespoon pieces and place in the pan with the stout.  Heat on medium until the butter melts.  Whisk in the cocoa and set aside.

In the KitchenAid, using a paddle attachment, or a large bowl and hand mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream.  Add the Stout mixture and beat on medium to combine.  

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients--flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredients, all at once and beat just until combined.  Pour or scoop the batter into the paper-liners three-quarters high.
Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes--be careful not to overcook.  The cupcakes should just spring back when lightly touched.  
Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove to a rack and prepare the frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream:
Click on the link for the buttercream I used on the cupcakes with the shamrock.  I used #808tip to swirl the chocolate buttercream, then used about a cup of the Bailey's Irish Cream buttercream, tinted green and piped with a #21 tip.

Bailey's Irish Cream Buttercream:

4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
6  cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cups meringue powder (optional, but makes the icing fluffy)
1/2 cup Bailey's Irish Cream*
1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream

*If you want to make these cupcakes "kid-friendly" use Irish Cream flavor and increase the amount of heavy cream to almost 1 cup.

Cream the butter, half the sugar, and the meringue powder, if using.  Add the Bailey's and beat on low to combine.  

Add the rest of the sugar and heavy cream to create a fluffy buttercream.
Use a #808 tip to pipe a swirl on top of the cooled cupcakes and top with the bittersweet shards.
 I created the shards of chocolate by melting about 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, then, pour the melted chocolate on a sheet of parchment paper and spread thinly with an off-set spatula.  Roll up the parchment paper and refrigerate until hardened.  When you unroll, the chocolate breaks into nice shards for garnishing.  Enjoy!

Saint Patrick became the patron saint in Ireland in the 17th century.  It is said that he used a shamrock to symbolize the trinity.  When Kelly and Erin went to Ireland to visit some family friends, they brought me back a shamrock.  I still have this shamrock taped behind to one of the most recognized Irish Blessings~
May the road
rise up to meet you,
May the wind
be always at your back,
May the sun 
shine warm
upon your face,
and the rains
fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you
in the hallow
of His hand.

I traveled to Kentucky last year on St. Patrick's Day, bringing a loaf of my Cheddar Soda Bread to Kelly, Matt and Ari.  Now, until we meet you always, my sweet daughter.



  1. These look incredible! I think I might make last years Drunken Irish cupcakes and these Bailey's cupcakes tomorrow. Happy St. Patricks Day!!!

    I love you :)

  2. Mmmm, these look so decadent! Dark chocolate and Bailey's - what a delicious combination. I also like it served in a glass with lots of ice. :D

    Sending good thoughts and much love to you my friend. -m

  3. I hear you Mary! Happy St. Patrick's Day

  4. oh Susan..I think I drooled on my keyboard.
    Happy St. Patrick's Day.

  5. You forgot to mention I didn't understand the saying on maddie's st patrick's day bib: 'tis herself!
    Wish I had time to bake...I picked up cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery in NYC after craving them from your post!