Monday, March 28, 2011

Arbor Brewing's Espresso Love Bomb Cupcakes

In case you haven't already figured it out, these cupcakes are fashioned after the popular “Irish Car Bomb” cocktail that is so popular around this time of year.  The way the drink is made is that a shot glass with a mix of Baileys Irish Cream and Jameson’s Irish whiskey is dropped into a three-quarters full pint of Guinness, and then you chug the entire foaming, delicious mess -- before it curdles.  If you've somehow never tried this, it may sound utterly disgusting, but trust me, if you get it down before it curdles, it's smooth, delicious, and almost tastes like a milkshake.

How exactly this cocktail came to pass in baked good form is that I am the “official dessert bringer” to our friends' annual St. Patrick's Day party. Seeing as this was the eighth of these annual parties that our good friends Zach and Heidi have hosted, I'm slowly running out of desserts that either contain something with a bunch of green food dye, use Baileys Irish Cream or Guinness, or are in any other way considered to be “Irish" enough to pass with a Shamrock pick stuck in it. So with each passing year, I need to really expand my culinary imagination (aka get a little help from the internet).

Even though the Espresso Love Breakfast Stout isn't exactly Irish, I feel it was the perfect choice for this recipe, as it lends the perfect hint of coffee flavor to the final product.  Coffee and chocolate?  Yes, please!

For the cupcakes you will need:
1 cup Arbor Brewing Co. Espresso Love Breakfast Stout
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

For the ganache filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Baileys frosting:
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys
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).

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. 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. When you add the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings get less grainy, and tend to require less sugar to thicken them up.

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys 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 and they're ready to eat!

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.)

While the beer in the cake gets mostly baked out, the Baileys and whiskey are fresh and potent, so if you’re making this for people who don’t drink — ahem, nobody I know, but I hear such people exist — you’ll probably want to swap it with milk. The Baileys frosting recipe makes a pretty small amount of frosting — enough to just cover the cupcakes. Because they were so rich and this frosting so sweet, I felt it only needed a little. Double it if you want more of a towering effect.

Makes about 24 cupcakes.


Mike Tyson said...

I was happily surprised at the quality of the espresso. In fact, it was among the best I've ever had. Art of Espresso definitely has their beans and grind dialed-in. Love this place! Whenever I had a class in Muir or Reveille, I had to stop by Der optimal ekaffee to get a cup of delicious chai tea or white chocolate mocha….

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