Beer might not be an ingredient that you expect to bake with, but it can be a surprisingly versatile addition to both sweet and savory baking. Beer has many layers of flavor — layers that can add a lot of complexity to a recipe if you know how to pair them.
One great combination is rich Guinness beer and chocolate, and that pairing is illustrated perfectly in this batch of Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes. The unexpected ingredient takes these indulgent cupcakes from an everyday baked treat into something extraordinary.
Worthy of a pot of gold? Just maybe.
Choosing your beer
Guinness is a heavy stout beer. Stouts are dark, flavorful beers that are typically made using roasted malt or roasted barley.
Stouts can have a wide range of flavors, but it is typical to find notes of chocolate, cocoa or coffee in them. These flavors are exactly what make stout beers pair well with chocolate in the first place and, while you can serve a stout along side of a chocolate cake, this recipe uses beer in the batter.
The cupcake batter starts off in much the same way as other chocolate cupcakes, using a base made with sugar, cocoa powder, butter and vanilla. Both beer and buttermilk are added to the batter, giving it a hint of butter flavor and intensifying the chocolate flavor that comes from the cocoa powder.
The beer can be used at room temperature or cold — I recommend cold if you are planning to drink the rest of the beer, not bake another batch of cupcakes with it — and it will not make a significant difference in the cupcakes either way.
End result? Delicious!
The cupcakes are very tender and have a deep, dark chocolate coloring to them. You’ll smell a hint of the roasted malt from the Guinness, but primarily you’ll taste and smell chocolate in each bite.
The cupcakes are very moist and will keep well for several days after baking, so they are a good option if you want to do your party prep a day or two in advance. If you are baking ahead, be sure to store the cupcakes in an airtight container before you use them.
I always enjoy chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, both for the color contrast and the contrast in flavor. In the case of these holiday cupcakes, a white frosting gives you the opportunity to add some colorful sprinkles and have them really stand out. I used our Swiss Meringue Buttercream for this batch of cupcakes, though any vanilla frosting is going to be delicious here.
Guinness chocolate cupcakes
Yield: 12 cupcakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup Guinness (or other stout beer)
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup baking tin with paper liners.
Sift together all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in egg. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the Guinness, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, mixing until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 2-3 minutes, then turn them out on to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
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