Guinness Stout-shake Cupcakes with Jameson’s Irish Whiskey Caramel Sauce

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St. Patrick’s Day is upon us once again, and I for one, couldn’t be happier. St. Paddy’s Day has always signaled the unofficial start of spring for me, with the promise of longer, warmer, sunnier days ahead. I always have fun trying to come up with an Irish-themed cupcake for St Patrick’s Day, looking for something  delicious and original. I was having a tough time this year, and was about to give up when I found inspiration in, of all places, Redbook magazine. In this month’s issue, Redbook included an article featuring several yummy-looking recipes using Guinness stout, including an amazing Guinness Milkshake.  This potent potable combines Guinness stout, ice-cream, shaved chocolate and caramel sauce, topped with whipped cream. Brilliant, right? (There was also a recipe for Guinness Candied Bacon, which I will definitely be trying soon…very soon.)

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Now the Guinness milkshake sounds awesome enough on its own, but I got to thinking, wouldn’t those ingredients make a fabulous St. Patrick’s Day cupcake? I definitely thought so and set out to prove myself right. I started with a chocolate stout cupcake, topped it with a fluffy marshmallow buttercream that calls to mind a delicious, creamy vanilla ice cream, sprinkled on a little shaved dark chocolate and topped it all off with a drizzle of Irish whiskey caramel sauce. Amazing! These cupcakes turned out so moist and  rich, so delicious and caramel-ly, with just a hint of that Irish spirit coming through. Perfect!

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Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

Thanks to Brown eyed Baker for this wonderful recipe!

1 cup Guinness Stout

1 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake tins with 24 liners. Combine Guinness and butter in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer,  beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, beating briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake tins. Bake for approximately 17 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack.

Marshmallow Vodka Buttercream

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups marshmallow Fluff

3 cups confectioners sugar

pinch salt

1-2 tablespoons marshmallow vodka, or to taste

Cream butter and marshmallow Fluff together in large bowl of electric mixer until well combined and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar, salt and vodka, mixing on low speed until combined, then on high speed until light and fluffy, approx. 5 minutes. One cupcakes are completely cool, frost as desired and drizzle with caramel sauce.

Jameson’s Irish Whiskey Caramel Sauce

This recipe makes a little more caramel sauce than you probably need for these cupcakes, but I suspect you’ll find a way to use it all up! Just store the leftovers covered in the fridge.

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup Jameson’s Irish Whiskey

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil 1 minute without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in Irish whiskey. Cool completely, stirring every few minutes.

Drizzle over frosted cupcakes.

Enjoy!

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Not Your Father’s Root Beer Float Cupcakes

18 Oct

 

IMG_3474As anyone who follows this blog knows, being on the cutting edge of whatever’s hot and trendy in the liquor cabinet is not my strong point. But this past summer I was actually able to ride the popularity wave of the hottest potent potable coming out your liquor store’s refrigerated case. I’m talking about Not Your Father’s Root Beer.

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For anyone not familiar, Not Your Father’s Root Beer is an ale brewed by Small Town Brewery that tastes exactly like root beer!  Not a regular beer with a hint of root beer flavor, this ale (that boasts a 5.9% ABV) tastes exactly like a root beer soda. Goes down like one too. Which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. NYFRB was so popular, the brewery was unable to keep up with demand, and it soon became a prized commodity. I won’t even tell you how much I was gouged for when I finally found someone who had a stash. Such a craze, it was like Beany Babies all over again.

Baking in the summer is virtually unheard of in my house. I can’t stand the idea of turning on the oven, heating up the kitchen, while my AC struggles to cool it all down. And the life span of a frosted cupcake in 90 degree heat is not good, not good at all.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy concocting sweet treats – I just try to find something that doesn’t have to be baked. This summer, NYFRB came to the rescue, in the form of Not Your Father’s Root Beer Floats. The ultimate summertime treat, you want to make sure the kiddies are in bed before you mix up one or two of these ice cream delights. Just pour NYFRB in a tall glass, drop in a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and let the party begin! They go down so easy, maybe a little too easy….delicious!

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But finally, baking weather arrived and I immediately knew what my first batch of baking was going to be: NYFRB Float Cupcakes. So easy to make, even easier to wolf down, these root beer chocolate cupcakes, topped with a marshmallow vodka frosting that tastes a little like whipped ice cream, won’t hang around long. Why not whip up a batch this afternoon?

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Chocolate Root Beer Cupcakes

Makes approx. 24 cupcakes

I used Betty Crocker for this recipe, so I am providing those directions here. If you use a different brand, follow the directions on the box, but substitute Not Your Father’s Root Beer for the amount of water called for in the directions.

1 box Devil’s Food cake mix

3 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/4 cups Not Your Father’s Root Beer, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners. Set aside.

In large bowl of stand mixer, combine cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil and NYFRB, mixing on low speed for 30 seconds, then at medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.

Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.

Marshmallow Vodka Buttercream Frosting

This frosting was the perfect topping for these cupcakes, reminiscent of both vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup marshmallow Fluff

pinch salt

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons marshmallow vodka

24 Maraschino cherries

In large bowl of stand mixer, cream together butter and marshmallow Fluff until well combined and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar, salt and marshmallow vodka, mixing on low speed until combined, and then on highest speed until light and fluffy, approx. 5 minutes. Frost cupcakes as desired and top with a maraschino cherry.

Enjoy!

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Zucchini Banana Snack Cake with Bourbon Icing

10 Jul Zucchini Banana Snack Cake with Maker's Mark Icing

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One of the joys of summer is having a small garden to tend to. Nothing too large, just a little patch in the corner of the yard where I can plant a few tomatoes, a pepper or two, some basil and mint (gotta have those mojitos!) and of course, zucchini. This was something I looked forward to every spring –  turning over the earth, planting my little seedlings, knowing that with the help of the summer sun and pop-up rain showers, in a few weeks I’d be harvesting my abundant bounty of fresh summer crops.

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Until Mr. Groundhog arrived. Mr. Groundhog, along with his wife and two small children, first appeared in my backyard 3 years ago, and have returned to my yard every year since. (Actually, I suspect it’s a new litter of pups each year, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same fat, old Mr. Groundhog.) That first year, Mr. Groundhog and family proceeded to make themselves right at home by gnawing holes in the fences on both sides of my property, presumably one for ingress and one for egress. I tried patching the holes, to which Mr. Groundhog responded by tunneling an enormous trench under each fence, the better to pass his prodigious fat self through, I suspect. That first year, the Groundhog family then proceeded to take advantage of my generous hospitality by sampling one half of each of my ripening tomatoes and squashes, and devouring entirely the blossoms off any and all flowers growing in any reachable container on my deck, petunias apparently the popular favorite.

Slow, but determined learner that I am, the next year I again planted my little seedlings, watching as they grew, looking forward to those summer-ripened vegetables. However, Mr. Groundhog, evidently having wintered under my deck, was more than ready to go and hungry from hibernation, wasted no time decimating those plantings before even the first tomato blossom appeared. That was also the year I switched from container flower gardens to hanging baskets.

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This year, I gave up. No garden plot for me, just a lush, green patch of grass where then garden used to be, and which Mr. Groundhog and family seem to enjoy nibbling on immensely. Evidently groundhogs are not picky eaters.

Which leads me to my current predicament – depending upon the mercy of others for their surplus garden produce. And which is how I ended up with one of those baseball bat-sized zucchinis – compliments of my sister, who came back from vacation and found her (groundhog-free) garden full of enough oversized gourds to supply the entire batting line-up of the Boston Red Sox. And which is what led me to stirring up a batch of this fabulous snack cake.

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I was in the middle of pulling together what seems to be the obligatory summer zucchini bread recipe, and was literally just about to measure out the vanilla extract when I was struck by a flash of inspiration. This recipe doesn’t need vanilla. What this recipe needs is bourbon, and lots of it! So I subbed in a healthy teaspoon (or two) of Maker’s Mark, threw in a couple of over-ripe bananas and topped the whole thing off with an amazing bourbon icing, and there you have it – zucchini banana snack cake with Maker’s Mark icing. A delicious, easy, healthy (sort of) summer snack cake perfect for the picnic basket or backyard barbecue…..just be sure to keep it away from Mr. Groundhog.

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ZUCCHINI BANANA SNACK CAKE

Recipe adapted from One Ordinary Day

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons Maker’s Mark bourbon

1 cup shredded raw zucchini

1 cup mashed ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bundt pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, sugar and Maker’s Mark until combined. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add shredded zucchini and mashed bananas and combine until well blended.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10  minutes, then remove from pan to cool completely.

MAKER’S MARK ICING

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 teaspoons Marker’s Mark

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon over warm or cooled cake.

Enjoy!

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