Being Chinese, I never really got into celebrating St Patrick’s Day. I always think of it as (another) excuse to get very drunk on Guinness – Isn’t that what weekends are for? That said, I recognise that a lot of people I know are of Irish descent and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a party? (Well, before it turns ugly and the fights and arguments break out).
My baking mojo isn’t completely back yet, so the office still aren’t getting baked goods as regularly as they used to, but I’m slowly getting there. Short of inspiration for what to bake, I came across this recipe and it was perfect; what could be more appropriate for St Patrick’s Day than Guinness Cupcakes with Baileys Icing? Looking at the ingredients, I had most of them already but there were odd bits which could be easily picked up from the supermarket. The method was very easy and it shouldn’t take too much time and in all honesty, I do feel a bit guilty for not baking so often for the office anymore so was determined to go ahead with it. That said, I got home and could only find one muffin tin because it’s been so long since I last baked. So I had to improvise and use tins that I normally use for Mince Pies (and lined them with paper cases). Right, onwards with making the cakes:
The wet ingredients (well, the Guinness, butter, light brown sugar and cocoa) are warmed up in a saucepan whilst whisking all the time until the butter has melted and everything has come together – You don’t want it all separated. Once everything has combined, let the mixture cool a bit.
Whilst the mixture is cooling, sift the flour, salt and caster sugar and bicarb into a large bowl, then add the (now cooled) cocoa and Guinness mixture to the flour and combine. The recipe talks about using a stand mixer but since I don’t have one of them, I used my trusty electric hand whisk. Once all the ingredients have been combined – If you used a hand whisk like I did the mixture will be very thick so keep it moving so you don’t break the whisk, add the eggs and sour cream, then mix again for a couple more minutes until smooth.
From here, spoon into a muffin tin lined with paper cases and bake in the oven for about 20mins (you can check they’re done if a skewer comes out cleanly after being inserted). Remove the cakes out of the tin and onto a cooling rack whilst you make the icing.
OK, here’s where I differed to the original recipe a little; the base of the icing was essentially a buttercream icing with some additional milk, Baileys and a pinch of salt. However, I’ve made buttercream icing more than a few times and my trusty recipe is to have double the amount of icing sugar to soft butter (*MUST* be soft – not melted – otherwise it won’t work), so I used those measurements and mixed the butter and icing sugar together until combined before adding the Baileys and mixing everything together. I must confess, I didn’t measure out the Baileys either and it was certainly more than the 2 tablespoons as suggested in the original recipe, so the icing was a bit softer that it should have been, but providing it didn’t slide everywhere, I knew it would set overnight anyway so it wasn’t too much of a bad thing.
From here, it was time to dollop some of the icing on top of the cakes and leave to set overnight. I had finished off the rest of the Guinness and was drinking the Baileys by this point so was not going to entertain any thoughts of piping the icing over neatly. Nor was I going to do any shamrock shapes or colour the icing green.
The house certainly smelled wonderful – The smell of warm chocolate cake never fails to get me salivating. They certainly looked good and judging from the responses from work colleagues, they tasted OK too. Perhaps it wasn’t advisable to drive afterwards if people were going to eat more than one (especially the icing), but it was a nice treat for the office from minimal effort. I’ll be making these again, perhaps with less Baileys in the icing next time..
The full set of photos can be viewed at my Flickr