In honour of celebrating all things Irish during the month of March, say hello to the lovely and boozy reason I bake – these cupcakes! Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes* are my favourites ever. They are why I nearly always have Bailey’s Irish Cream on hand. Their devastatingly seductive aroma is why I cannot resist eating at least three of these in one sitting. A stout-infused** chocolate cupcake base is cored, filled with Bailey’s-spiked ganache, and iced with Bailey’s-spiked buttercream. The flavours and the textures are absolutely divine. I did my best to capture the anatomy of these cupcakes in the header photograph.
The cupcake base is amazing by itself. When coring these for filling with ganache, I find that I savour each bite of the little centres rather than merely setting them aside or throwing them outside to get all of the little woodland creatures hammered. The stout that is incorporated into the cupcake batter doesn’t make the cupcakes taste like stout per se, but intensifies the chocolate flavour like nobody’s business. The crumb is gloriously moist and soft. This cupcake base is everything chocolate cake should be. These are a groovy choice for St. Patrick’s Day, being, as they are, made with Irish booze. Try tinting the icing green for St. Patrick’s Day, decorating the cupcakes with green sprinkles, etching little uilleann pipes into the tops – decorate your little heart out!
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Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
Yield: About 24 cupcakes
For the ganache:
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 TBS butter
2 tsp – 2 TBS Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur
For the cupcakes:
1 cup stout
16 TBS unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
For the buttercream:
4 sticks butter, at room temperature (I use salted butter)
4 – 6 TBS Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur (use more Bailey’s if you wish)
6 cups powdered sugar
2 – 4 TBS heavy cream, or enough to achieve desired icing consistency
sprinkles or chopped chocolate for garnish (optional)
For the ganache:
Place chocolate and butter in a medium heat-proof bowl. Bring heavy cream to boil and pour immediately over chocolate and butter; let stand 2 – 3 minutes. Whisk until smooth and totally blended. Whisk in Bailey’s, starting with a small amount and adding more to taste. Set aside to cool to room temperature and thicken to icing, or piping, consistency.
For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cupcake tins with paper liners.
Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream just to blend. Add the stout and butter mixture and beat just to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pans for 5 – 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the buttercream:
Place softened butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. You really want to beat the heck out of the butter for a creamy buttercream! Add 4 TBS Bailey’s and beat until blended with the butter (this took several minutes for me). Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth. Add 2 TBS of heavy cream and another TBS of Bailey’s and beat until blended. If necessary, add more cream and / or Bailey’s until the consistency is as desired and the Bailey’s flavour is strong enough for your tastes.
Once the ganache has firmed enough to be piped, cut a hole in the center of each cooled cupcake. (I used a paring knife and cut out cone-shaped sections from each cupcake, but you could also use an apple corer to remove a piece from the center of each cupcake. However, I found the cupcakes to be too soft for an apple corer, which is why I switched to a paring knife.) Place ganache into a piping bag fitted with a wide tip or a ziploc bag with a corner cut off (snip the corner off after filling the bag with ganache), and pipe ganache into the hole of each cupcake.
Place a portion of the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice, or into a ziploc bag with a corner snipped off (remember to cut the corner after filling bag), and swirl icing onto the cupcakes. Garnish with chopped chocolate, green sprinkles, tiny faeries – whatever you fancy!
*These cupcakes are named after the “Irish Car Bomb” drink – which does not denote actual Irish car bombs, but instead alludes to the elements of that strangely popular drink. Firstly, the drink itself: a pint of stout is poured; in a shot glass, Bailey’s and whiskey are poured together; the shot glass is dropped into the pint of stout; and the whole thing is chugged as quickly as possible to prevent the Bailey’s from curdling. The stout is a “sidecar,” or accompaniment for a second type of alcohol, and the combination of whiskey and Bailey’s is known as a “bomb.” In bartender parlance, the drink’s name is shortened to “car bomb” instead of “sidecar bomb.” The “Irish” portion of the name stems from the fact that all elements of the drink are traditionally Irish – Irish whiskey, Irish stout, and Bailey’s, which is, of course, Irish.
**I always use Murphy’s rather than Guinness, because its flavour is less sour. You see, Guinness intentionally sours a percentage (I think it’s 3%) of each batch in order to mimic the taste of its brew from centuries past, when storage in wooden casks would sour the stout to a degree. Murphy’s is less well known than Guinness, but I think it has a deeper taste and is more nuanced. Draught Murphy’s is pretty incredible.
Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats