I just finished reading a really moving book that tells the true story of Sasha Martin, called Life From Scratch. The book is sad, inspiring, raw, and sensitive. Along the way you feel the mood and emotion of her childhood as she moves into adulthood. Each chapter is a blessing of recipe(s) from her life’s journey. One of the recipes is a Chocolate Guinness Cake with Baileys Buttercream which I’ve adapted into cupcakes and added a bit of extra chocolate fudge frosting as a bonus. I’ve seen cake recipes before that use Guinness so I was especially excited to try this, and it was fabulous. Pick up her book if you haven’t read it- it’s a great read.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!
Chocolate & Guinness Stout Cupcakes
recipe adapted from the book Life From Scratch by Sasha Martin
yield: 16 cupcakes
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 Cup Guinness Extra Stout Beer (take the beer out ahead of time and let sit on the counter unopened so that it is not cold)
1 Tbsp Vanilla
3/4 Cup unsweetened Cocoa powder
1 1/2 Cup sugar
1 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, room temp
Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a small saucepan heat the butter until just melted, then whisk together with the Guinness, vanilla, and cocoa. While the Guinness mixture is cooling, line cupcake tins with paper liners. Whisk together the sugar, flour, and baking soda in a large bowl. Pour the Guinness mixture onto the dry ingredients, and then whisk in the 2 eggs. When the batter is shiny and smooth, pour it into the wells of the cupcake tins filling 2/3 full; exactly 1/4 cup of batter. Bake for ~ 15-20 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean. (baking time in a regular oven is around 19-20 minutes. I used my convection oven at 325° F and baked mine for exactly 15 minutes). Cool completely.
Prepare a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (or your choice of tip) and fill each side of the bag with chocolate fudge frosting and Baileys frosting-it’s handy to use a “two tone” piping bag if you can find one.
Dark Chocolate Fudgy Frosting
recipe adapted from Sweetapolita
1 Cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1 Cup plus 3 Tbsp confectioners sugar
1/3 Cup (40 g) extra dark unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s extra dark)
1/4 Cup hot water
1/4 Cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
generous pinch of salt
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli) melted and cooled
In a food processor place all but the melted chocolate and pulse until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and pulse until smooth. Chill frosting is not using right away.
Bailey’s Irish Cream Buttercream
recipe from Life From Scratch by Sasha Martin
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 lb. confectioners sugar, sifted
2-4 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream
Whip the soft butter until fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar on low speed, then increase to medium high, and drizzle in enough Baileys to get the buttercream loose and fluffy. To achieve a whiter frosting whip it 5-10 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.
Who wants a whoopie?! I could use anything about now that gives me a hint of a mental boost. I’m sure my readers on the East coast of the U.S. right now will agree. Hang in there- Spring is coming! How can you be mad when you say the word whoopie? My computer keeps trying to auto change it to whoopee every time-clearly hinting to me with a mind of it’s own that I need to whoop it up a bit more than usual. Note taken.
I’ve been wanting to make whoopie pies for a while now, but wanted to forgo the traditional marshmallow filling. A couple of years ago I made this whopper buttercream for a filling in a buche de noel, and remembered how yummy it was. There are crushed whoppers in the buttercream which boosts the malt flavor even more. Who doesn’t love a good whopper? I love the flavor combination of chocolate and malt, and now that I have a container of malted milk powder I’m going to have to bust out some more recipes I supposed with malt! These are fun for a party or casual gathering. If you don’t know what a whopper is, you might know what a malteser is (if you hail from somewhere besides the U.S.) This recipe is adapted from a recipe called Devil Dogs from the Cookbook Baked Elements. Enjoy!
Keep the batter spaced well when scooping, as they spread when baked….
Chocolate-Malt Whopper Whoopies
yield: ~ 12-13 whoopie pies
Chocolate Whoopie Pies
yield: 12-13 assembled sandwiched whoopies
recipe: adapted from “Devil Dogs” in Cookbook Baked Elements
2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 Cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (such as Valrhona)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
1/4 Cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 Cup vegetable shortening, room temp
1 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1.5 oz. dark chocolate (60-72 %), melted and cooled (I used Guittard “Extra Dark” 63 % chocolate chips)
1 large egg yolk
1 Cup whole milk +1 Tbsp. vinegar (Or you can use 1 Cup buttermilk)
Whisk the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a glass measuring cup place the milk and vinegar and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add the brown sugar and vanilla and beat (about 3 mins.) until fluffy-stop to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Add the cooled chocolate and yolk and beat until combined. Note: I used the microwave to melt my chips and it took me exactly 60 seconds total heat time-which I stopped several times to stir the chocolate as to avoid burning).
Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop the mixer often to scrape down the sides and bottom of work bowl. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to mix gently one last time and gather the batter into the middle of the bowl. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.
Prepare sheet pans with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400° F.
Remove chilled batter from fridge. Using a 1 oz. scoop (2 Tbsp.), scoop and place batter onto prepared sheet pans, leaving 2 inches of space to allow for spreading while baking. Bake for 10 minutes or until cakes spring back slightly when gently pressed. Do not overbake. Allow to cool on pans completely, then carefully use a spatula to gently scrape underneath to remove. Note: the original recipe says to chill the cakes on pans for 10 minutes then remove, but I found that the cakes fell apart too easily with this, so I advise allowing the cakes to cool completely on the sheet pans then removing gently. Another helpful tip: I found that chilling the cakes (unassembled for about an hour before filling them also helps the cakes to firm up a bit which helps them stay firmer once assembling).
To Assemble: Scoop a generous amount of buttercream filling (recipe below) between two cakes and serve immediately. If not serving immediately, store assembled cakes in the fridge in an airtight container or in a container covered with foil.
Malted Buttercream with Crushed Whoppers
recipe adapted from the Book: Baked Elements
2 Tbsp. boiling water (I do this in a coffee mug in the microwave)
4 Tbsp. (1/4 C) malted milk powder (such as Carnation)
1/2 Cup heavy cream
6 Tbsp (1/4 C + 2 Tbsp. ) whole milk
1/4 Cup flour
1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 C confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Cup Whoppers Malted Milk Balls + more (if desired for garnishing outside of pies)
Dissolve the malted milk powder in the boiling water and using a spoon, stir and smoosh the powder as necessary against the side of the mug to ensure all of the powder dissolves.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the cream, milk, and malted milk mixture. Whisk in the flour gradually and stir constantly until mixture reaches a boil and becomes thick, about 3 minutes. Set the mixture in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes.
Cream the butter and confectioners sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until fluffy. Remove the cooled malt mixture from the fridge and slowly pour in the mixture with the mixer on low. Once all the milk mixture is added, add in the vanilla and turn up the mixer and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy.
Place the Whoppers in a freezer type ziplock bag and using a heavy saucepot crush the candies until coarsely crushed.
Fold in the crushed whoppers into the buttercream.
Note: You can make the buttercream a day in advance if desired and store in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to assemble whoopies- let the buttercream come to room temperature and rewhip by hand (vigorously) with a spoon to allow the buttercream to become fluffy again.
Note: you can crush additional Whoppers and roll the finished/assembled whoopies in crushed candies if desired.
There are certain things in life I cannot live without.
And salt-(preferably kosher salt).
Don’t even think about taking my salt away. It will not be pretty. You will see an ugly side of me you don’t want to encounter. Remember the scenes when Lou Ferrigno turned into The Hulk? Yeah, it’s something like that. I’m sure as I advance in age some day- some balding, stern Dr. will tell me I have to give up salt- and then I will wrestle him to the ground and feed him a salted caramel cupcake. He will take one bite and come over to the dark side. Immediately.
Please don’t lecture me. It will do NO good. This is right up there with convincing me to floss my teeth every day. Don’t bother wasting your words. Your attempt is futile. I love my salt. I especially love sweet and salty. I REALLY love salted caramel. You will have some salted caramel leftover after making these-You’re welcome. Pour it over vanilla ice cream.
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
makes 24-28 cupcakes
2 Cups sugar
1 3/4 Cup all purpose flour
3/4 Cup extra dark brute cocoa (such as Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs, room temp
1 Cup whole milk, room temp
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Cup hot strong coffee
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two standard size muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the sugar and sift the next 5 ingredients over the sugar directly into the bowl. Combine with a fork to mix. In a glass measuring container mix the eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla with a fork. Add the egg mixture to the mixer bowl and with the paddle attachment beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes; stopping once or twice to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Stir in the hot coffee and carefully mix by hand with a large spatula. The batter will be very thin. Pour batter into prepared lined tins; no more than 2/3 full. Three measured Tablespoons is about 2/3 full; it’s helpful to measure out one into a well and then you can eyeball the rest. A scant full standard size ice cream scoop is another good way to get 2/3 full. Resist the urge to over fill as you don’t want to get cupcakes that spill over the cupcake liner- but rather you want a more flat cupcake. Bake in 350° F preheated oven for about 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs. Allow cupcakes tins to cool completely over a wire rack. Frost with caramel frosting and drizzle with salted caramel drizzle.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
4 sticks (2 Cups) unsalted butter, softened
8 Cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 tsp. whole milk
1 Cup of (cooled) caramel (see recipe below)
2 tsp. kosher salt
In a stand mixer cream together the butter until soft. Add the sugar about one cup at a time and beat until smooth. Beat in the milk then add the cooled caramel and salt and beat until smooth.
Caramel and (Salted Caramel Drizzle)
2 C sugar
1/2 C water
1 1/2 C heavy cream; nuke until slightly warm
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (save for salted caramel drizzle)
In a medium saucepan place the sugar and add the water and mix gently until the mixture resembles wet sand. Cook over medium high heat and let it come to a boil without stirring; until the caramel reaches a deep amber. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the heat. Carefully pour in the cream, it will bubble and spout a bit; whisk carefully until combined. Whisk in the butter and then divide caramel by half into two heat proof containers. Add the salt to half the quantity of caramel (for the salted caramel drizzle). Let cool.
I am having a total 70’s flashback today (in reference to my childhood) thinking about Neapolitan ice cream. In the 70’s it was still the cheap square cardboard boxes when it came to ice cream, and you didn’t have a million flavors like we do today. Somewhere along the line we transitioned into circular ice cream containers. What’s up with that?
Neapolitan ice cream was a frequent in our house growing up. I loved the first glance of those perfectly proportioned lines of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry when you first lifted the lid on the container. I was a naughty girl and always scooped from the strawberry stripe only. I’m sure my Mother figured it out. If not-she is certainly right now- reading this. For some reason I was not much interested in the chocolate or vanilla. Today I have grown out of my strawberry obsession and am an equal flavor opportunist.
Neapolitan macarons. You get all 3 wonderful flavors at the same time. Give it a try….
I did a couple variations on flavors. You could use vanilla swiss meringue buttercream to fill all or also choose to divide some of them and fill with chocolate ganache or even strawberry buttercream.
200 gms almond flour, sifted
200 gms confectioners sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
76 gms egg whites
200 gms granulated sugar
50 gms water
75 gms egg whites (room temp)
pinch of cream of tartar
1. In a large bowl combine the almond flour, and confectioners sugar and cocoa powder. Add the 75 gms of egg whites, and stir to combine. Set aside.
2. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine 75 gms of egg whites and the cream of tartar and begin whipping them on medium-high speed.
At the same time combine the 200 gms of granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan on high heat; bring to 240° without stirring while whipping the egg whites on your mixer simultaneously. You want the cooking sugar syrup to reach 240 degrees at the same time your whites reach stiff peaks. To time this; keep the stand mixer next to the stove so you can peek at the whites while still watching your cooking syrup. If you notice the whites starting to get too stiff before the sugar is done; slow down the mixer to low-speed.
3. Once the syrup is at 240 degrees, stop/take off the heat and start pouring the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl slowly with the mixer running on slow-medium at the same time; careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk to prevent hard syrup forming. Once all the syrup is in, crank up the mixer and whip the whites until very glossy and stiff.
4. Take the whipped meringue and place on top of the almond mixture and start to fold gently until all of the meringue is incorporated; careful not to deflate the mixture. You are looking for a thick consistency like lava. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip and pipe the cookies on parchment lined sheet trays; leaving at least an inch space between cookies. Take the trays and rap them hard on the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the trays sit out anywhere from 30-60 minutes; as long as it takes until when you touch the top of the cookies they are dry and no longer tacky to the touch.
5. Bake the cookies double panned (placing one empty tray underneath the piped cookies) one tray at a time in a 325° oven for about 15-18 minutes until the cookies are no longer wet on the bottom and appear dry. Sacrifice one if you have to test. Let the cookies cool on the tray. Sandwich with the filling. Store the cookies in the fridge covered loosely for 8 hours or overnight; this helps the cookies become even more chewy as the moisture from the filling helps the texture of the cookie.
Follow the same recipe as above except substitute the cocoa powder with 2 Tbsp. dried strawberry powder and add a few drops of deep pink food coloring gel in step one.
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add vanilla and and beat until smooth. Use a generous 1 tsp. full to fill macarons.
Note: any leftover buttercream may be frozen. Store in an airtight container. To use: thaw at room temperature and rewhip with paddle attachment. You may also make strawberry buttercream by dividing adding in some seedless strawberry jam and whipping to combine.
Assembling Neapolitan Macarons: match up one chocolate and strawberry mac cookie and fill with vanilla buttercream. As an alternative you may fill some with chocolate ganache.
Small batch chocolate ganache
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate, chopped fine
3 oz. heavy cream
In a medium bowl place the chopped chocolate. Heat the heavy cream on high until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for one minute before stirring to combine thoroughly. Place the ganache in the fridge while you make the cookies.