Oh boy! These little treats combine my favorites: cupcakes and beer. Rarely does the occasion present itself where the two meet gracefully… until now. Enter the Chocolate Stout Cupcake. These have rich chocolate flavor with notes of creamy coffee from the stout (and a hit of instant coffee grounds). Add local walnuts, and you’ve got one satisfying cupcake!
Beer lovers and cupcake lovers rejoice!
Don’t forget to support your local brewer and select a stout made nearby. You don’t have to travel to Ireland to get good beer.
Locavore note: When it comes to baking supplies, most will likely be traveling some distance. Vanilla and coffee, for instance, come from tropical climates. But compared to shipping cases of beer, spices and coffees come in a smaller mass and last much longer. By sourcing dairy locally, these cupcakes stay fairly “green.” And depending on where you live, you may even be able to find locally-sourced flour.
Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
1 cup stout beer, such as Sierra Nevada Stout
1 ½ sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 scant cup Valrona cocoa powder (this type of cocoa has a richer, deeper cocoa flavor)
2 cups organic granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup organic buttermilk
1 teaspoon instant coffee grounds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
Farmers’ market fare: eggs, walnuts, butter
Locally sourced from California: buttermilk, stout
Grocery store (non-local) products: cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, coffee, vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine stout and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Allow butter to melt, stirring occasionally. When butter has melted, remove pan from heat. Whisk in cocoa powder and set aside.
Lightly grease cupcake pans.
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and instant coffee. Pour this into the cocoa mixture (which should now be cool) and whisk together until combined. Add this to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Mix in the walnuts.
Fill cupcake tins 2/3 full. Do not over-fill them, because the batter will expand outward (not upward) and make sloppy-looking cupcakes. It also helps to allow the filled pans to rest for 10 minutes before baking. This creates a perfect peak on each cupcake.
Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow to cool in the cupcake pan for about 5 minutes, and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely. When they are cool, frost with chocolate ganache.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
1 cup chocolate chips (I use 65% cocoa, or dark chocolate chips)
½ cup hot coffee, or water with 1 Tablespoon instant coffee grounds
Using a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips for about 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir with a spoon. Return to microwave for another 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir.
If some of the chips have begun to melt (they won’t melt into a liquid, which is why you need to stir to determine whether they’re beginning to melt), stir in about 2 Tablespoons of the hot coffee and stir again. If the chips do not melt completely, return to the microwave again for about 15 seconds. Remove and stir. Do not overheat! Chocolate will become hard and impossible to melt if you overheat it. Continue to add hot coffee a few tablespoons at a time, stirring until the chocolate becomes creamy.
You should have a creamy chocolate that can be spooned onto each cupcake. Drop about 2 Tablespoons onto the top of one cupcake. Using the back of a clean spoon, evenly coat the top of the cupcake with the ganache. Repeat until all the cupcakes are topped.
You may want to make the ganache a ½-batch at a time to ensure the chocolate doesn’t harden before you are done.