Triple Threat Irish Cupcakes

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Occasion:

I’ve always loved the middle of August. It’s pretty much the perfect time in the Upper Midwest. The weather is just about perfect and everyone always seems to have a beautiful sense of appreciation for it. We know that our much-too-short-summer is drawing to a close, but darned if we won’t squeeze every last drop of fun out of it.

Mid-August also coincides with two other things that make it even more wonderful. First, every year the great city of Milwaukee hosts the largest Irish Festival in the country.  For four glorious days, some of the world’s best Celtic musicians descend upon the shores of Lake Michigan for a weekend that full of music, merriment, and no small amount of adult imbibements. My family and I have gone all but one year of my life, and the year we missed was only because we were actually in Ireland that summer!

The second fun part of August is that both of my parent’s birthdays fall within just a few days of each other, usually right during Irish Fest. This year, I decided to make Irish Fest-themed birthday bakery to celebrate. They both love Irish whiskey, and my mom is a complete chocoholic, so I searched online for some inspiration. Lo and behold, I found the perfect cupcake- a decadent Guinness chocolate cake with a whiskey ganache filling and Bailey’s creme frosting to top it off. Perfect! I’m not sure whom to credit for this recipe, since it pops up all over the internet, but Smitten Kitchen appears to be the first one to post it: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/01/car-bomb-cupcakes/. I adapted it just very slightly.

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Three Irish adult beverages packed in this little guy!

Guinness Chocolate Cake:

1 cup Guinness
1 cup room temp. butter
¾ cup  cocoa
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Chocolate Whiskey Ganache Filling:

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60%)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 T. room temp. butter
3 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate chips. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.

Note: Smitten Kitchen’s recipe calls for 2 T. of whiskey. The ganache tasted pretty chocolatey, so at Hubs’s request, I upped it to 4 T. That may have been a mistake:) Wow, was it strong! I’m guessing that 3 T. would have been about right! It probably depends on what kind of whisky you use.

Bailey’s Cream Frosting:

1 1/2 cups room temp. butter
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar
4 1/2 T. Bailey’s Irish Cream

Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment for several minutes until it is very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Add the Bailey’s at the end and whisk a few more minutes until fluffy.

Note: I used the adaptation of the frosting from the Brown Eyed Baker’s blog, which calls for a little more butter than the original (because you can never have too much butter!)

Assembly:

Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped. Core the centers out of the cooled cupcakes.  Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top. Finally, pipe the frosting on top, decorate, and enjoy!
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