Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Buttercream and Salted Caramel
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.
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.
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).
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.
- 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
- 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)
- 3½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, oil and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, combine together the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
This concludes this week’s boozy posts. Have a good St. Patrick’s Day! Get your Irish on!…or just eat a cupcake.