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Friday, September 18, 2009

Irish Carbomb Cupcakes

So...my husband is on the Christmas Party committee at work, and while he was deployed, he let me know that he volunteered my services to help out at the many bake sales they would have once they were back home. I was excited, considering I've been planning and scheming all the different things I wanted to bake and send to work with him anyways - this would give me a chance to bake even more. Anyways, three days ago he comes home from work and says "Oh, babe...I forgot to tell you...the bake sale is tomorrow..." and then gives a sheepish grin to try to keep me from getting mad. I almost let out my best Hulk impersonation, but then I began getting excited. I had just came back from a huge grocery shopping trip, and bought the things I wanted to make for a few different desserts, but couldn't decide what to make first. This would let me bake several things!

The first thing I wanted to make that I have been so excited about was the Irish Carbomb Cupcakes I found on Smittenkitchen.com. I love the idea of cooking with alcohol, but making innocent cupcakes to replicate the outrageous drink? Its just so naughty I had to send my husband to work with these! The cupcake and ganache filling had just a hint of the flavor of Guinness and whiskey, but the magic, in my opinion, is the Bailey's frosting. WOW! He came home yesterday, bake sale day, and told me people were hunting him down thanking him for the cupcakes and begging for the recipe. My head got a little bigger. Then earlier today he had a "mandatory" work picnic, and as soon as we arrived, people hovered around me calling me a genius and begging for the recipe! I had no idea that these would be so popular, and I was blushing like crazy. So, obviously, these cupcakes were an immense success! I implore you to try these - just not to send to school for your child's birthday!



Irish Carbomb Cupcakes
Yields 20-24 cupcakes

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 (or semi-sweet) chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)
Bailey's Frosting
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Bailey's (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 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.

6. 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.)

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