Friday, March 12, 2010

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

I don’t think I fully understood that my family was Irish until we took a trip to Ireland when I was 18. I don't think I even realized that our last name Hackett was Irish, until we came upon a castle in the Ireland countryside with the same name. It was on that trip that I started thinking about heritage, tradition and my family namesake. It was also on that trip that I had my first taste of Guinness, and it was love at first sip. Unlike anything I had ever tasted; dark and rich, yet smoother than expected. After a pint of it, I felt full, like I had just eaten a large meal. And being underage for drinking back home, it made the whole experience seem slightly illicit. It was not until years later however, that I had my first Irish Car Bomb; which let’s just say was love at first chug.

If you are unfamiliar with what an Irish Car Bomb is; I will do my best to describe it. First, Guinness is poured about ¾ of the way into a pint glass. Then a shot glass filled with half whiskey, half Bailey’s Irish cream is dropped in to the pint glass and the mixture must be chugged quickly. If not drank quickly, it can start to curdle; not the most pleasant drink experience.
Something about the way all three ingredients combine creates a wonderful tasting mixture that I would best describe as a beer milkshake. This beer milkshake was love at first chug for my father as well. I will forever remember my college graduation dinner as the time we went to Cheesecake Factory and my Dad insisted on ordering an Irish Car Bomb, even though it was not on the menu. He had to order each ingredient separately, assemble the drink himself, and after spending a ridiculous $18 later he was happy. So happy that he ended up ordering two of them.

And somehow over the years, the Irish Car Bomb has become a Hackett family tradition. I guess you could call it our signature drink. At least a few times throughout the year, on holidays, birthdays and special occasions, we inevitably will have a round of car bombs. I know this may make us seem like a family with a drinking problem, but I swear it’s just our Irish roots, or something like that. Here we are at Christmas, chugging away. Classy, right?Classy or not, I loved the idea of turning this drink in to a dessert for St. Patrick’s Day. I had seen several interpretations of it on the Internet, typically a Guinness chocolate cupcake with some sort of Irish Cream or Whiskey frosting. But I loved the idea I saw on Smitten Kitchen, which was to fill the cupcakes with a whiskey chocolate ganache, and then top with an Irish Cream frosting.The resulting cupcakes were better than I could have imagined. The stout goes beautifully with the chocolate, and keeps these cupcakes incredibly moist. And the ganache hidden on the inside is a wonderful surprise. I decided to try a whipped cream frosting, as I’m not too keen on the way other frosting's can be too thick and sweet, and loved the resulting texture and flavor combo that came out.

The cupcakes start by melting butter with some Guinness in a pan until simmering.Cocoa powder gets mixed in, and then the mixture gets to chill out for a bit.
Flour, sugar, baking soda and salt get whisked together.
Eggand sour cream get mixed together until combined.
A little something like this.
Then the cocoa and stout mixture gets addedAnd finally, the flour joins the party, and you’ve got cupcake batter! Pour the batter into the cupcake tins and bake for 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
All right ganache, you’re next. Heat up some cream and pour it over some bittersweet chocolate. Let it sit for a minute.Then mix it until smooth. Mine wasn’t exactly smooth, but as it cooled the texture got better. Before you let it cool down, add a little bit of butter, and some Irish whiskey.
Once the cupcakes are cooled, you can scoop out the centers and fill them with ganache. I used a melon baller to scoop out the cupcakes, and then I filled a small plastic baggy with the ganache, snipped a corner off and used it as a piping bag to fill the cupcakes.

For the whipped cream frosting, simply whip heavy cream until extremely thick, adding sugar and Bailey’s as you go.

The whipped cream frosting can be piped on to the cupcake using a large pastry bag and tip:
Or, if you prefer a more rustic look, the frosting can simply be plopped on top, which is the way I went when I got lazy halfway through the frosting process. I got these cute little cupcake wrappers and toppers here.
These cupcakes are the perfect sort of dessert for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Or for anyone who loves Irish Car Bombs, and I think I just happen to know a few people who do.
Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the Guinness Cupcakes:
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Irish Whiskey Ganache:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey
For the Bailey’s Whipped Cream Frosting:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp Bailey’s

Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sour cream to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. (I used a ¼ cup scoop) Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the Irish Whiskey Ganache: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.

Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using a 1-inch round cookie cutter, or an apple corer, or a melon baller (it was all I had), cut or scoop the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. I went about halfway down the cupcake, and I just slightly ran out of ganache, so maybe only go about a 1/3 of the way down. Put the ganache in a plastic baggy and snip a whole on one end to use as a piping bag. Fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Put the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer, and start mixing on medium-high speed. After about a minute or so, add in the sugar and turn the speed to high. Mix until the cream is very thick (it should be a little lumpy, this will help it to stay thick and not melt as easily). Add in the Baileys and mix until combined.

Place the frosting in a piping bag with a large tip, and pipe on to the cupcakes as desired. Or simply plop some of the frosting on to each. Cupcakes will keep, in the refrigerator, for 1-2 days.


  1. I may just have to make these for my boyfriend if I can get my kitchenaid unpacked this weekend. He is Welsh but LOVES Guiness. They look fabulous.

  2. Thanks! And I think you'll be happy if you do make them, they are really good!

  3. I adore the pic of you guys downing your car bombs. Nick looks like he's wearing a party hat.

  4. I LOVE Irish Car Bombs.... I'll play the heritage card as well - good call ;)


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