Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Buttercream and Salted Caramel

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Caramel and Buttercream

When I was growing up, my mom always steered me away from desserts that included any kind of booze. She didn’t do this to keep her youngest daughter off the sauce, but because she thought alcohol added nothing to desserts, and therefore should be avoided.

Ever since my first lick of dark chocolate liquor ice cream many years ago, it became clear that she and I disagreed on this very, very important issue.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Buttercream1

Earlier this week I made some rosemary brown butter bread with Hoegaarden, one of my favorite beers. Today I’m focusing on yet another one of my favorite brews: oatmeal stout. My friends laugh when I order this, because when I’m not having oatmeal stout I’m either having white wine or the lightest beer on the list. It might be the fact that oatmeal stout simultaneously reminds me of coffee and chocolate (two of my favorite things), or it might be that it has tons of flavor without being overpoweringly hoppy. For whatever reason, I love it, and who needs to justify love?

While we’re talking about feelings, I must admit that I do NOT love whiskey. The 25% Irish part of me judges myself, but I can’t help it. In my eyes, whiskey belongs only as a supporting ingredient in baked goods…like in salted whiskey caramel and whiskey buttercream, you know, for example.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Buttercream2

There’s not enough beer or whiskey in this recipe to put off the alcohol averse (like my mother…), but these cupcakes do have a nice kick. I’d even say that the kick is necessary, because otherwise you might just die of sugar overload (and not “die” in a good way…I mean you actually might not survive).

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Buttercream6

The cake is soft and light, with the dark stout giving a bit of depth to the supremely chocolatey cake. The filling, which is a mixture of caramel and buttercream, could be overpowering without a bit of liquor and salt, which come together to make a magical creamy whipped center.

This concludes this week’s boozy posts. Have a good St. Patrick’s Day! Get your Irish on!…or just eat a cupcake.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Buttercream and Salted Caramel

A wonderfully moist cupcake filled with salted whiskey caramel and whiskey-spiked whipped buttercream!

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


Chocolate Stout Cupcakes:

  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • ⅔ cup white sugar
  • ⅔ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup good-quality cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 cup oatmeal stout, slightly warm

Salted Whiskey Caramel:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Irish whiskey (or to taste)
  • ½-1 teaspoon kosher salt (or other coarse salt)

Whiskey Buttercream:

  • 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Irish whiskey


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine together the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.
  3. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the egg, oil, and buttermilk mixture. Once everything is incorporated, gradually beat in the warm beer. Make sure to beat or whisk until all lumps are gone. Note: the batter will seem thin, but no need to worry; the thin batter contributes to the light and airy finished product.
  4. Coat cupcake liners with nonstick spray, then fill cupcake liners slightly over halfway full with batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  5. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the caramel. Over medium heat, combine the brown sugar and water. When it starts to boil, add the butter. Add the heavy cream, whiskey, and vanilla just as the mixture begins to boil again. Boil for 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Once cooled, taste and add more salt/vanilla/whiskey if you'd like.
  6. For the buttercream, beat the butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating on medium-high speed. Once it's all incorporated, add in the vanilla and whiskey, and beat on high for 2-3 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  7. Core the cupcakes, either using a cupcake corer or cutting into them at a 45-degree angle with a small knife. Fill halfway with caramel, then finish by piping the buttercream into the center and on top. Drizzle with leftover caramel.

I'm sure you could go super Irish with this recipe and use Guinness, but the Beast isn't a Guinness fan, and I wanted the leftover 6-pack to be enjoyed by both of us.


34 Responses to “Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Buttercream and Salted Caramel”

  1. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — March 14, 2013 @ 9:01 am (#)

    These look seriously unreal! Love this idea!

    • Veggie — March 14, 2013 @ 9:26 am (#)

      Thank you! :)

  2. Alexandra — March 16, 2013 @ 4:45 am (#)

    OMG… These just make me want to go through the screen and eat them all. I absolutely love your blog!

    • Veggie — March 20, 2013 @ 3:09 pm (#)

      Thank you so much!

  3. Erin — June 12, 2013 @ 2:03 pm (#)

    I am going to make these this weekend! Do you think I can make the buttercream the day before I need it, and refrigerate it until I am ready to pipe it on Sunday? Would it need to be re-beaten do you think? Any advice is appreciated! =)

    • Veggie — June 12, 2013 @ 2:30 pm (#)

      I like to make my frosting the same day to ensure it’s as fluffy/creamy as can be, so I can’t say for certain if it will work as well the next day. It would probably harden some in the fridge, but if you whip it up with a mixer for a few minutes I would expect that it would pipe on well. Let me know what you think!

      • Erin — June 12, 2013 @ 2:33 pm (#)

        Will do! I actually want the frosting to be pretty stiff (going to attempt a cupcake “bouquet”, GULP, and need it to hold) so I think I’m gonna give it a shot the day before. Will let you know how it turns out!

        • Veggie — June 12, 2013 @ 3:36 pm (#)

          Sounds great (and impressive)! Let me know how it goes!

          • Erin — June 17, 2013 @ 8:16 pm (#)

            Success!! The cupcakes themselves were delicious!!! I used a chocolate stout instead of oatmeal, and will admit I was concerned when I was filling the liners as the batter was really thin, but this was honestly the perfect cake. I did forgo the caramel since I made the cupcake bouquet and I wasn’t sure how that would work, but did make the whiskey buttercream which was awesome as well. This is definitely a keeper recipe! Thanks so much for sharing!

          • Veggie — June 18, 2013 @ 8:55 pm (#)

            I’m so glad you liked them! Using chocolate stout sounds like a GREAT idea! :)

  4. Saturday — July 3, 2013 @ 5:05 am (#)

    Great recipe. Now, since I’m not from the US, I just need to change the measurements into Gramm and Celsius.

  5. Kayla — July 6, 2013 @ 12:13 am (#)

    I doubled the recipe, and it appears to be making a few more than 36 cupcakes. I was concerned that I doubled an ingredient wrong as the batter is a bit thin, but reading that same statement in another comment has soothed my fears a bit. That combined with the fact that the finished product is amazing, I am quite pleased with this recipe = ) Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Veggie — July 6, 2013 @ 10:06 am (#)

      So glad you’re enjoying them! I need to make them again soon :)

  6. Ally — August 6, 2013 @ 7:18 pm (#)

    LOVE this recipe! I want to make a layer cake for a friend’s birthday. Do you think I will need to double this recipe to make a 3 layer cake with 8 inch cake pans?

    • Veggie — August 11, 2013 @ 9:29 pm (#)

      This recipe is actually adapted from a 3-layer cake I’ve made before, so it should work as-is! :)

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  9. Rochelle — January 2, 2014 @ 11:11 am (#)

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you for this recipe! It was a big hit :) I tweaked the caramel by adding rum to it. It was a proper move. Happy New Year!

    • Veggie — January 2, 2014 @ 11:19 am (#)

      Awesome, glad you liked it! Happy New Year!

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  14. Jo — October 4, 2014 @ 10:09 am (#)

    About to make these a second time because they were such a huge hit the first time- friends told me it was the best cupcake they’d ever had. Thanks for the recipe!!

    • Katie — October 4, 2014 @ 10:11 am (#)

      Awesome! Thanks for the comment! :)

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  18. Nora — April 19, 2015 @ 4:00 pm (#)

    Just made these for my husband’s birthday and these are the best cupcakes ever!!!! So moist and the caramel and buttercream topped them off perfectly!

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  21. Sarah — March 16, 2016 @ 11:29 pm (#)

    Just wanted to suggest that you edit the recipe to include the vanilla extract in the cupcake ingredients. I forgot vanilla extract was listed and never added it which made the cupcakes less sweet.  Also I think the caramel instructions need to be much more detailed. I followed yours and the caramel came out like a soup even after cooling. Since caramel is pretty temperamental it would be nice to have more detail as to what it should look like at each step. 

  22. Patrick — June 10, 2016 @ 12:48 am (#)

    I made these cupcakes the other day and the flavor was good, but they turned out a little dryer than the other cupcakes I made. I didn’t inject the caramel into the cupcakes because I wanted the cupcake to stand out and the caramel to be a feature. (Though I will say the caramel was amazing! The texture was perfect and the flavor, oh the flavor! I put a tsp of salt in and it was just the right amount of salty and sweet.) I can usually eye the batter to know when it’s been mixed enough, but this one was a challenge due to the extra liquid and made the batter very runny (As you said it would). Would that effect the texture of the cupcake or did I do something wrong? Otherwise, a marvelous recipe and I will certainly be making the caramel again.

    • Katie — June 10, 2016 @ 10:01 pm (#)

      Hmm, I’m not sure. It is a very liquidy batter, but these have always turned out very light and moist for me. I usually mix until just combined, so perhaps you overmixed the dough? I can see how it would be hard to know when to stop mixing. I’m sorry they were dry, but I’m glad you like the caramel!