Though Ireland is rich in heritage, I must say that my experience with both the nation and the holiday has been limited to savory experiences. Needing to come up with something for an office pot luck, I turned to the world of baking to find something good to bring. Apparently, putting Guinness Stout in cakes and bread is done quite widely, or at very least, lots of people write recipes about this combination. Having read quite a few of them, I determined two things. One, I needed to buy some stout (and had no idea if that would be challenging on the eve of Saint Patrick’s Day, but then I remembered I live in Boston) and two that I was probably going to make cupcakes, not a cake. I figured since beer-baking was new, I’d want to try it out before I shared it with a crowd. You don’t really want to start slicing a cake just to see if tastes good. In any case, they came out wonderfully and even my wife said they were as good or better than my signature best chocolate cake ever, which for me, was liking finding a pot of a gold at the end of rainbow.
Makes 24 Cupcakes.
- 1 cup Samuel Smith Chocolate stout
- 10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 cup regular unsweetened cocoa
- 2 + 1/4 cups superfine sugar
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1.5 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2+1/8 tsp of salt
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt, to taste
- 1 tsp maple extract or a tablespoon of maple syrup
For the cupcakes: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cupcake pan and use liners.
- In a saucepan, combine stout and butter, melt and then cool.
- Whisk together sifted cocoa and superfine sugar and add to stout-butter combo.
- In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well.
- Add to stout mixture.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
- Add to stout mixture.
- Whisk or just combine; use a #2 scoop to fill your cupcake trays.
- Whack your tray to reduce air pockets, place in oven for 22 minutes
For the frosting:Make sure ingredients are at room temperature
- Cream butter and cream cheese together.
- Add confectioner’s sugar.
- Add vanilla, maple syrup extract and heavy cream, add a pinch of salt.
- Mix until smooth.
Transfer frosting to piping bag (or equivalent) and frost cupcakes.
Many of my readers know about my white-whale like obsession with making an oatmeal cookie like those found at Petsi’s, a bakery in Somerville, MA. I have detailed in previous cookie recipes I have written here and here. In those recipes I discuss how I discovered the missing ingredient was butterscotch extract (heartbreakingly discontinued by Frontier Co-op). However good the cookies may have been, they were not EXACTLY right for some reason. This is despite soaking cranberries, using bread flour, and so much more. Baking has brought out my inner competitive spirit, so I cannot rest until I have cracked the code, and I think I have finally cracked the code.
How? Unlike the other recipes, I started again from the beginning, and by that I mean I did not use my own previous recipes as a base, but experimented with others— I started with the Cook’s Illustrated/Baking Illustrated recipe for “Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies.” Of course, I changed it a lot since I like cranberries instead of raisins and completely reject their assumption that cinnamon should be jettisoned in favor of nutmeg. And of course, I added Frontier Coop Butterscotch extract, which was the best butterscotch extract anyone makes anywhere. Aside from that, I had to make the following three changes:
- Ground Oatmeal! One thing that was stopping me was the use of whole oats. All of the recipes and recipe writers that I respect say to use whole oats because they are better for you and have a better texture. Those things are true, but after sampling and resampling Petsi’s cookies (what I do for you, readers) I realized that the cookie texture did not seem like mine, ergo not whole oats. So, I ground whole oats in the cuisinart (not till dust, but no longer whole). Bingo! Added a great flavor and texture that didn’t feel like someone trying to make me eat oats but not telling me!
- More Fat! Their cookies are soft in the middle and crispy outside. I figure they have some other liquid or fat besides butter. Oil? Cream cheese? Lard? Coconut oil? Many of these things were appealing thoughts, but ultimately they all changed the texture or flavor too much. Through research I came across a solution: Sour cream. Doesn’t change the flavor, but added a textural note that was heavily desired.
- Vanilla Paste! Oatmeal cookie recipes NEVER have vanilla in them, but I don’t know why. Vanilla makes everything better and my love has deepened when I found Vanilla bean paste, which is great for when you don’t want to add a tablespoon of liquid to your recipe but a plasma like paste is perfect.
Then I was ready.
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 16 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups quaker whole rolled oats, ground by pulsing them in a food processor
- 1/4 tsp butterscotch extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and set aside.
- Chop or grind walnuts, add them and cranberries to flour mixture.
- In a stand mixer, cream your butter and sour cream about three minutes.
- Add both sugars and mix until fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one a time.
- Add the vanilla paste and butterscotch extract.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just combined.
- Use a 2-inch scoop to form your cookies.
- Bake for about 22 minutes, until the edges are just browned.
- Let cool for five minutes.