Hooray! After weeks of practice cupcake baking, the Cupcake Challenge is finally here! (Quick recap - today is the RSPCA Cupcake Day. We are participating at work with a little bake off, with all proceeds going to the RSPCA.)
As soon as I saw these cupcakes on Hold the Beef, I knew immediately that I wanted to make them for the Challenge. Because - well just listen to the description - a chocolate Guinness cupcake, filled with a chocolate and whiskey ganache, and topped with Baileys buttercream... swoon!
I baked a practice batch a couple of weeks ago, and discovered that the cupcakes were as delicious as they sounded. You can't taste any alcohol in the cupcakes, but the Guinness does seem to add something that I can't describe. There's no bitterness from the stout - most likely because there's two cups of sugar in the recipe! I've heard chocolate Guinness cake being described as very rich, but in cupcake form it's moist and not at all heavy. The other bonus of the Guinness is that you get more than a cup of liquid in a can, so you can drink the rest while you bake the cupcakes!
The middle of the cupcakes are filled with a chocolate whiskey ganache. I know, it couldn't possibly get any more decadent.
For the Cupcake Challenge, I also made fondant toppers. I made ducks, penguins, little cupcakes, sheep heads, bunnies and bumblebees. I actually purchased some Playdoh to practice with before making these! Fondant doesn't have exactly the same consistency as Playdoh (it's softer) but I found that practicing with Playdoh still helped a lot.
I was quite pleased with how the fondant toppers turned out - I think my favourites are the sheep heads and maybe the bunnies.
(The toppers aren't on the cupcakes because I didn't want to put them on until the last minute.
So what do you think? Do you reckon I have a fighting chance in the Cupcake Challenge?
Chocolate Guinness cupcakes with chocolate whiskey ganache and Baileys buttercream
Adapted from Hold the Beef, and originally from Smitten Kitchen
I have adapted some of the measures to metric but not all of them. I know that you're not supposed to have a combination of weight and volume measurements in a recipe, but that's the way I bake. The buttercream recipe is thanks to Maria who has been unbelievably helpful in all things cupcake!
For the cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness
225 grams unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups plain flour, sifted
2 cups caster sugar
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (I used 3 eggs, as mine were small)
2/3 cup sour cream
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. (The first batch of these I baked, I managed to get 28 cupcakes. With the second batch I made larger cupcakes and only got 18.)
In a saucepan, heat the Guinness and unsalted butter until simmering. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
In a mixer, beat together the eggs and sour cream. Add the Guinness mixture, and beat to just combine.
Add the flour mixture, and beat briefly on a slow speed until combined.
Spoon into the cupcake liners, and bake for about 17 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
For the ganache:
230 grams good quality dark chocolate, chopped in rough pieces
2/3 cup thickened cream
30 grams butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (or more to taste - I used double this quantity and would still have been happy with more!)
Either melt the chocolate and cream in a double boiler, or do what I do and put the chocolate and cream in a microwavable bowl. Microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring between bursts, until melted. Add the butter and whiskey, and stir until combined. Set aside to cool slightly.
Filling the cupcakes:
When the cupcakes are cool, use a small knife and cut cone shaped chunks out of the middle of the cupcakes, making sure that you don't cut all the way to the bottom (the other recipes say to use an apple corer or biscuit cutter but I found it easier to just use a knife). Eat the cupcake middles as you go and remember that the bigger holes you make, the more you get to eat! Spoon the ganache into the cupcake holes and fill them to the top.
For the Baileys buttercream
250 grams unsalted butter, cut into cubes and at room temperature
3 cups sifted icing sugar
2 tablespoons Baileys
Beat the butter in an electric mixer on high until it is very pale and fluffy.
Gradually add the icing sugar (I do this a tablespoon at a time), beating well between additions. Beat until the buttercream is very fluffy - about 5-6 minutes.
Heat the Baileys in the microwave until it's very warm. Add to the butter cream and beat on high for another couple of minutes. Pipe on top of the cupcakes.