17 February 2011

Birthday Cupcakes

I really have no excuse for the delay in posting this.  I had it written a week ago!  I was just waiting to upload the pictures, and apparently that took me an entire week.  Because these recipes are a little complicated, I'm trying something new with the post.  Let me know what you think of this format!  Well, better late than never...

There are a lot of things my dad and I don't see eye to eye on, particularly when it comes to food and drinks.  Cake is a perfect example.  We were recently discussing what kinds of cupcakes I should bake for our joint birthday party.  The recipe he wanted me to make has probably been in my family since before I was born (and its entirely possible my grandma has been making them since before my mom was born, I really have no idea).  I guess the way he sees it, if it ain't broken, don't fix it!  I prefer to experiment with flavors and textures, which is just lost on him.

My family was visiting this past weekend to celebrate my birthday and my dad's birthday.  My dad (reluctantly) agreed to let me cook whatever cake I wanted, as long as I got him a little chocolate frosting and kept the booze away from his cupcake.  But I decided, since its his birthday too, to honor what he really wanted me to make.  The result?  I made 2 kinds of cupcakes.  Thats 2 full batches, both of them super rich, for a total of 48 cupcakes.  Who wants to help me eat leftover cupcakes!?

I made an old family recipe, Filled Cupcakes, for my dad.  This is a regular old chocolate cake mix from a box, with cream cheese chocolate chip filling, which almost tastes like cheesecake inside your cupcake.  It is topped with, of course, chocolate frosting from a can.  Of course if you have a favorite chocolate cake batter or chocolate frosting recipe, go ahead and use it.  I stuck with the boxed mix and prepared frosting because (1) I was trying to stick with what my dad likes and this is how he knows the recipe, and (2) I was already making one batch from scratch, so adding another would have been unnecessarily complicated and way too much work.  But how's about we just stick with the keeping it traditional story!

I also made a cupcake inspired by an Irish Car Bomb.  If you aren't familiar with this drink, pour Bailey's Irish Cream and Jameson Irish Whiskey in a shot glass, then drop that in half a pint of Guinness and chug the whole thing before it curdles.  I don't particularly enjoy drinking them.  In fact, that's putting it nicely, in all honesty, they gross me out.  But the flavor combination makes a surprisingly delicious cupcake.  It is a Guinness chocolate cupcake, filled with Jameson-infused ganache and topped with Bailey's buttercream.  I added a little bit of coffee to the cake as well.  Stouts in general have some coffee flavor notes, so I thought the coffee would compliment it.  Plus, I really enjoy this combination of flavors in Irish Coffee (just try it: add some Jameson and Bailey's to your next cup of black coffee).

In the interest of full disclosure: I'm not terribly fond of Guinness.  Something about the combination of the rich color and flavor seems to clash with the light body.  So I used a Young's Double Chocolate Stout that I had in the pantry to make the cake.  It doesn't really make a difference in the cake itself, but I drink the leftover beer and I like Young's better (and Young's is still British, so at least I used something from across the pond).  Moral of the story: use whatever stout you like to drink.

Another note about Guinness and Young's:  If you are going to buy one of these, buy one in a can with a widget in the bottom.  Just ask someone at your local beer store that sells beer singles (ahem: Total Wine!) and they can point you in the right direction.  These beers are so much better from this kind of can!

Filled Cupcakes
family recipe
makes about 24 cupcakes
1 package of your favorite chocolate cake mix
     3 eggs*
     1/3-cup vegetable oil*
     1 1/4-cup water*
8 oz cream cheese
1 egg
1/3-cup sugar
12 oz chocolate chips
1 t vanilla
1 tub of your favorite chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 350-degrees (or whatever your cake mix calls for).  Like the wells of a cupcake pan with cupcake papers (we don't want the cupcakes sticking!).  I've gotten cheap cupcake liners before that stick to my final product.  If you've ever had a problem with this, go ahead and squirt your cupcake liners with a little non-stick food spray.

Make the cupcake batter:  Prepare cake mix according to package directions.

Make the filling:  In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until it is fluffy.  Add the sugar and eggs and mix well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Assemble and bake the cupcakes:  Fill each cupcake cup 2/3 full with chocolate batter.  Put a dollop of filling on top, about 1 heaping tablespoon.  Bake for 18 minutes (or according to your package directions).  Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Keep in mind you might stick your toothpick into a melty chocolate chip here, so be aware of that when testing for doneness.  When the cupcakes are cooked, remove and let cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
Ready to assemble

Decorate:  Add chocolate frosting.  If you want to make this pretty, you can use a pastry bag or a zip-top bag with the corner cut off to pipe your frosting.  I just used a butter knife.
Frost cupcakes with chocolate frosting

* These are the ingredients my cake mix called for.  I think these are pretty generic, but use whatever ingredients/quantities your mix calls for.

Car Bomb Cupcakes
barely adapted from smitten kitchen
makes about 24 cupcakes

This is a tedious process, but totally worth it.  Also worth noting: while the alcohol in the beer pretty much cooks out, the Jameson and Bailey's are not cooked at all, so there is some alcohol in the finished cupcakes.  You will need to substitute these ingredients if you are cooking for children or people who do not or cannot drink alcohol.

1 c stout
1 c (2 sticks) butter
3/4 c cocoa powder
2 T instant coffee (optional... I love coffee stouts, so this is a flavor combo I also like here)
2 c flour
2 c sugar
1 1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
2 eggs
2/3 c sour cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 c heavy cream
2 T room temperature butter
2-3 T whiskey (or cream, if you don't want the alcohol)
2 sticks butter
1/2 c Irish cream (or milk or cream, if you don't want the alcohol)
6-7 c powdered sugar
Special Tools:  1-inch cookie or biscuit cutter**, a couple of zip-top bags.

Make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees and line your cupcake cups with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.  Set aside.  Combine the butter and stout in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  Whisk in cocoa powder and coffee.  Make sure this is smooth, you don't want lumps of cocoa powder in your final product.  Let cool slightly.  In a mixer, combine the sour cream and eggs.  Add the stout mixture and mix well.  Slowly add in the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.  This will be a thick, slightly gelatinous batter, this is completely normal.  Fill your cupcake cups 2/3 full with batter (this should make 24 cupcakes).  Bake for 17-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
Simmer stout and butter

Mix stout, butter, cocoa, and coffee
Let cool slightly

Finished batter

Make the ganache:

Put the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl.  Warm the cream on the stove just until simmering.  Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let sit 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.  Add in the butter and whiskey, if using, and stir until well combined.
Let warm cream and chocolate sit 1 minute

Mix chocolate, cream, butter, and whiskey until smooth

Make the buttercream:
Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add powdered sugar 1/4 c at a time. Mix well after each addition, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  When frosting is thick enough to spread, add in the Irish cream (or milk) and mix well.  If the frosting has thinned out too much, you can add more powdered sugar until it reaches desired consistency.
Slowly whip sugar into butter

Finished buttercream

Assemble the cupcakes:
When the cupcakes are cool, use your 1-inch cutter to cut a hole in the middle of each cupcake, about 2/3 of the way to the bottom.  Remove the core... I use these as taste testers :).  Fill each hole with ganache, just to the top of the cupcake.  Top cupcake with frosting and decorate however you like.  I scrape all of the frosting in a zip-top bag, cut off the corner, and pipe the frosting on.
Use 1-inch cutter to remove center from cupcakes

Fill holes with ganache

Pipe buttercream on top of ganache-filled cupcake

**  I used a 1-inch round cookie cutter, like you would find in just about any cookie cutter set.  They also sell special cupcake corers at Target and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  But I would personally rather have a multi-tasker than a uni-tasker (thank you, Alton Brown).  If you don't have either of these, you can use a paring knife and just cut a hole in the top of your cupcake.  It won't be as pretty, but it is getting covered with frosting so does it really matter what your hole looks like?

1 comment:

  1. I got to taste these - the Car Bomb Cupcakes were my favorite (the chocolate are wonderful too)