Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day! AND Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Frosting

Guinness Bottles
Like all good Americans with any connection to Ireland, no matter how remote, I am a fan of St. Patrick's Day.  When I was in preschool the leprechauns would visit and on March 17th we would wake up to little green footprints, green milk and even green toilet bowl water (I just asked my dad if he would do this for me again so I could relive my childhood, and I'm not gonna lie, I would be super excited to wake up to a green toilet [update: he did it! Best dad ever]).  Anyways, most people switch over from green milk to green beer at some point and these cupcakes are a nod to the boozy reputation of the Irish.  If you peruse the foodie blogs at all you have probably come across some variation of the Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's frosting, if not well, here you are.  I thought they would be fun to make and a good holiday gimmick (a sort of 'beer in cupcakes, ha, how appropriate for St. Paddy's' kind of thing) but I honestly didn't expect you to really be able to taste the Guinness.  You can.  You can also taste the Bailey's in the frosting, which was so good some ate it with spoons right out of the bowl.  The stout cuts the sweetness some and adds an unexpected depth of flavor, and well Bailey's is just delicious.  This is most definitely my new favorite way to have Guinness, well aside from the Gravity Bar at the top of the Guinness storehouse and even there I could only manage half a pint, and as I can't really jet off to a rooftop bar in Dublin these cupcakes will have to do when I get a hankering for some Guinness.  I found the recipe on Our Family Eats.

Start with a Guinness.  One cup of it to be exact.

Melt the butter in the Guinness then whisk in the cocoa powder.  This will smell pretty tasty at this point,  you may even be tempted to taste it, I would advise against that.  It's like vanilla, I always thought it would taste good because it smells so good.  Not the case.

Meanwhile mix the sour cream and eggs together, I thought it made a lovely yellow.

Then mix your beer and cocoa into the egg mix.  Next add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.   Pretty standard cupcake procedure.

Fill your cupcake tins 2/3 of the way full (I have taken to ALWAYS using cupcake papers because its just too tragic if they stick) and bake for about 20 minutes at 350.

Once the cupcakes are cool, whip up the frosting.  I let the KitchenAid go to town on a stick of butter, an entire package of powdered sugar and 5 tablespoons of knockoff Bailey's until it was well mixed.

Slather thickly onto the cupcakes and enjoy.

Guinness Cupcakes from Our Family Eats
1 cup Guinness or other ridiculously dark beer of your choice
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 and line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers. 

Put the Guinness and butter into a saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and remove from heat.

Whisk together the four, sugar, baking soda and salt, set aside.

In a separate bowl (preferably one on an electric mixer) beat the eggs and sour cream together until combined.  Make sure your beer/butter/cocoa mixture isn't too hot (otherwise it can scramble your eggs and no one wants that) then add that to the egg mixture, beat until just combined.  Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until combined, this is the stage where you really don't want to overmix,  otherwise the cupcakes will get tough.

Pour batter into the muffin tins, filling each 2/3 of the way full.  I ended up with enough batter for 24 regular size cupcakes and about 10 mini ones.  The regular size ones took 20 minutes and the minis took 11.  Let cool completely.  Now, for the frosting.....

Bailey's Frosting also from Our Family Eats
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar
5 Tbs. Bailey's (or Ryan's as it were, a more affordable Bailey's)

Cream the butter, slowly add the powdered sugar and Bailey's and mix until it is all thoroughly combined, depending on your preferred texture and taste you can tweak this frosting recipe as you see fit.  For example, for less of that Bailey's flavor sub out some of the Bailey's with milk.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly (or Nutella) Bars

I am aware that in some places peanut butter has become a class c controlled substance, I myself work in a "peanut aware" environment, however for those of you who can eat peanut butter with wild abandon, you should make these.  And probably share them, otherwise you may be staring at the pan and wondering how you managed to eat the vast majority of them in approximately 24 hours.  Some of you may know that I am possibly the most indecisive person ever, it took me weeks to decide on a new cell phone plan, Cheesecake Factory style menus are a nightmare because there are far too many options, and I can spend ages trying to pick a movie to watch on Netflix.  Needless to say, I couldn't decide what filling to sandwich between the two peanut butter cookie layers in these bars, so I made a big pan and filled half with raspberry jam and the other half with Nutella.  And now, I cant decide which I liked better, both are such delicious and classic combinations, so good luck deciding what to do if you make them.  I am full of helpful suggestions aren't I?  I tweaked this recipe ever so slightly, although if you wanted to, you could just use this technique and substitute your favorite peanut butter cookie dough recipe instead.      

It starts like a basic peanut butter cookie, grease (or line) the pan, let the eggs and butter come to room temperature and mix the dry ingredients together.

Then cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars together, add the eggs and vanilla and then mix in the dry stuff.

Split the dough in half and press half into the bottom of a 9x13 pan and put the second half in the freezer.

Spread your desired filling on the dough, I have half nutella and half seedless raspberry jam.  I didn't measure this, just eyeballed it, keep in mind that the cookie bit is pretty thick so you want a good filling to cookie ratio so that you can taste it through all the peanut butter.

Take the second half of the dough from the freezer and crumble it over the top.  I didn't use quite all the dough because it seemed like too much, once the fillings were completely covered I took the rest and made a bonus cookie.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, the tallest bits of the crumble should be a nice golden brown.  Let cool before cutting.

Peanut Butter and Jelly (or Nutella) Bars from Sweet Pea's Kitchen
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup jelly (approximately)
3/4 cup nutella (approximately)

Preheat oven to 350 and either grease well or line a 9x13 pan.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
Cream the peanut butter, brown sugar and butter until smooth, then mix in the eggs and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Press half of the dough into the bottom of the pan and put the rest in the freezer.
Spread the jelly over half the pan and spread the nutella over the rest, or substitute whichever filling you so desire.
Cover the filling with the remaining dough, crumbling it into chunks about as large as marbles.
Bake for 30 minutes.  Cool before cutting.