Sunday, December 06, 2009

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

I had high hopes for these cupcakes, and I was not disappointed. Please note that the frosting needs to "set" in the fridge for a while, so you'll want to make it first and then bake the cupcakes afterwards. Also, if you're like me and find baking to be easy but cooking to be a bit of a challenge, you may have trouble with the caramel. The first time I tried to make it, I burned it and had to start over. But all's well that ends well.

Salted Caramel Frosting
(adapted from here)

* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 8 tablespoons water
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 3 cups confectioners' sugar


1. Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. To avoid weird chunks or crystallization, I recommend that you only stir for a second or two and then just swirl the pan periodically as it's heating to dissolve the sugar.

2. Once the mixture is clear, bring heat to high. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color. My recipe said it would take about 6 to 7 minutes to get to dark amber, but I think it actually took considerably longer.

2. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth. (NOTE: The last time I made these, I poured the cream and vanilla in very, VERY slowly and stirred with a plastic whisk as I was adding it. I got a lot less chunking that way. Voila, you have caramel! Set aside until cool to the touch, about 25 minutes.

3. Combine butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add confectioners' sugar, and mix until completely incorporated.

4. Turn mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add caramel. Beat frosting on medium-high speed until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until stiff, about 45 minutes, before using.

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes
(Stolen from Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe)

* 1 cup Guinness stout
* 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
* 3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
* 2 cups sugar
* 3/8 cup sour cream
* 2 large eggs
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 24-inch muffin pans with paper liners. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.

2. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into cupcake pans (about 2/3 full), and bake until risen and firm.

(Makes 24 cupcakes)

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