These cupcakes are really delicious. The batter with Guinness and cocoa in it has a depth of flavor that is unlike any cupcake I’ve ever had. There is just an edge of bitterness from the beer and coffee but also a nutty/earthy essence that is somehow more grown-up then most cupcakes. They bake up into marvelous, moist little cakes which are filled with a luscious semisweet chocolate ganache and topped with coffee buttercream frosting that entwines all the flavors together into a wonderfully balanced confection.
I found the original recipe at Smitten Kitchen and it was a doozy with whiskey in the filling and Baileys in the frosting. Rem was taking them to his bocce league and we were looking for something a little less potent. Since the alcohol in the Guinness gets mostly baked out, I decided to try the cake part of the recipe but skip the other hard stuff.
The first batch I made was quite good and very well-received but the bittersweet chocolate used in the ganache was too dark for my taste and the buttercream too sweet. (Photos, by the way, are from both batches.) Changing the chocolate to semi-sweet was an easy fix for the filling. I remembered a chocolate cake my mom used to make that had coffee frosting and decided to try adding instant coffee to the buttercream. I also used salted butter instead of unsalted and added some vanilla to round out the flavor and this combination really made all the difference. The decision to use instant espresso instead of instant coffee was made because I wanted to buy the smallest jar at the grocery store! I encourage you to try it with the instant espresso because these really turned out to be, as one friend said, “the best cupcakes” she’d ever had.
If you are looking for scrumptious cupcakes, give these a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Mocha Guinness Cupcakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes
You will need a 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer to cut out the centers of the cupcakes and a piping bag or plastic bag with the corner cut off for piping the filling.
1 cup Guinness (or other stout)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
Chocolate Ganache Filling Ingredients:
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy cream
Espresso-Vanilla Buttercream Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. instant espresso (I used Medaglia d’Oro)
2-3 Tbsp. heavy cream
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
4-5 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Put cupcake papers in 24 cupcake cups. (We have two muffin tins that each hold 6 muffins, so I had to bake these in two batches).
Bring the Guinness with the two sticks of butter to a simmer in a heavy saucepan. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool while you continue.
Stir together flour, sugar and baking soda in a large bowl. In another large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together eggs and sour cream. Add the Guinness-cocoa mixture to the egg mixture and beat to combine.
Add the flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.
Divide batter among cupcake papers, filling about 2/3 full. I used a 1/4 cup measure to scoop out the batter from the bowl. Bake cupcakes until toothpick comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack.
For the filling: Put the chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl Heat cream to a simmer in a heavy saucepan (cream can froth up and boil over easily, so keep an eye on it) and pour over the chocolate.
Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. Let the ganache cool until thick enough to be piped. I put it in the fridge, taking it out every 10 minutes to stir it until it was thick but soft enough to still be piped.
While ganache is cooling use your 1-inch round cookie cutter or apple corer to cut a plug out of the center of each cupcake. If you go all the way through to the bottom, pinch a bit off of one of the cores you’ve removed and push it back down in the hole. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip or a plastic bag and cut off the corner and fill the holes in the cupcakes to the top. Put the cupcakes in the fridge so ganache sets up.
For the frosting: Put espresso powder in a small bowl and stir in 2 Tbsp. heavy cream, set aside. Whip the butter in a bowl using an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time.
When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, add vanilla and the espresso-cream mixture and beat until combined. I used 4 cups of sugar. If frosting seems too thick, add remaining 1 Tbsp. heavy cream, if it is too thin beat in a little more of the powdered sugar. Frost the cupcakes – I used a piping bag with a star tip but it can also be spread on.
Let me know if you make these cupcakes. Thank you for stopping by!