Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Irish Cupcakes

In honor of the holiday yesterday, I made Irish-themed cupcakes. They feature Guinness stout in the batter, Baileys Irish Cream in the buttercream frosting, and a filling of chocolate ganache. (Ganache is basically a chocolate truffle: a mixture of chocolate, cream, and a bit of butter.) It was my first time making a filled cupcake, and it went very well. First, I cut out a "plug" from each cupcake using my smallest Ateco circular cutter. The plug clung nicely to the interior of the metal cylinder, easily pulling out when I withdrew the cutter.

Then I piped the still-soft ganache into the center of each cupcake:

I had extra ganache after all the cakes were filled, so I piped out bite-sized bits of ganache into candy papers to make "naked" truffles. (To make them proper truffles, first warm them up to room temperature and then roll them in a coating--like cocoa powder or finely ground nuts.)

I frosted the cupcakes using a star-shaped pastry tip and lightly sprinkled them with green sanding sugar.

Here's the finished product! The Guinness in the batter wasn't detectable; it just added a certain smoky depth. (It reminded me a lot of my family's traditional chocolate birthday cake, which has a cup of strong coffee in the batter.) The ganache was a rich, dense surprise for the unsuspecting eater. My favorite part was the Bailey's-laced frosting. The addition of the liqueur transported a regular frosting to something heavenly.Note to the bakers out there: These cupcakes do not "dome up" when you bake them, making them perfect for when you want a flat-topped finished product. They'd be the right choice if you were laying a complicated fondant "cap" over your cupcakes, or if you wanted to emulate the look of a Hostess cupcake.

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