WE INTERRUPT YOUR PREVIOUSLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM (COFFEE TALK) TO BRING YOU SOMETHING HIGHLY DELICIOUS THAT YOU REALLY MUST MAKE REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE IRISH OR WEARING GREEN TODAY. THANK YOU.
I wrote that in my very best old-timey radio announcer voice.
So here's the deal. It is Friday, which means that we should be coffee-talking, but I threw a stray bottle of ale into my chocolate cupcakes the other day and it happened to be incredible. Coffee Talk will be coming to you tomorrow, but for today, on this very verdant March 17th, we need to talk about the magic of ale and chocolate baked together and covered in caramel.
I have no doubt that you have noticed my lack of holiday-themed treats. I do, in fact, make Mr. Pedantic heart-shaped egg-in-hole breakfasts come Valentine's Day, and you will not find me without a batch of peanut butter eggs at my side in April, but here, in this little space of internet, I like to keep things a bit less...Pinterest-y? I'll leave that to Martha Stewart.
However, I just could not resist sharing these very holiday-appropriate cupcakes, because while they are quite festive, they are equally delicious.
They are also the quickest cupcakes you will ever make. You do not even need to break out your stand mixer for these guys.
I wish I could properly describe the aroma of these cupcakes baking, but you will just have to bake them yourself to find out. All I can say is that the scent of rich chocolate baked with yeasty ale is pure heaven.
While the cupcakes cool, we need to tackle the frosting situation. Salted caramel and cream cheese just felt right.
See how smooth that frosting is? Doesn't it make your eyes so happy?
The key to a super smooth frosting is soft cream cheese and butter. If you try to use butter or cream cheese that is even slightly cold you will end up with little cold bits strew throughout the frosting.
It's been pretty cold these days around Norwyk Manor so I placed my butter and cream cheese atop my stove while the cupcakes baked, flipping them every so often so that the warmth was evenly distributed. Cheat code for the impatient.
A super simple homemade caramel goes into the frosting and the leftovers are used for drizzling.
I also sprinkled a bit of edible gold sugar over these little cakes because the neighborhood leprechaun told me too.
Let's forgo the pinching and shamrock necklaces and just eat cupcakes. Cool? Cool.
Chocolate and Ale Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting
makes 2 1/2 dozen / cake recipe adapted from Food 52
for the cupcakes
2 cups pure cane sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup amber ale
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin tins with nonstick spray.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine sugar, all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, ale, oil, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth; about two minutes. Then, whisk in boiling water. The batter will be quite thin but do not worry!
Divide the batter evenly amongst the 30 muffin cups, filling each only half way. These cakes will rise significantly!
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the cakes spring back when tapped lightly in the center. Do not open the oven during the baking time else the cupcakes will fall.
Place the cupcakes on cooling racks to cool while you prepare the frosting.
for the caramel
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
In a small sauté pan combine sugar, butter and water. Place over medium heat and stir until the butter melts and the sugar begins to dissolve.
Once the sugar has dissolved, cease stirring, and boil for 5-7 minutes, or until amber in color. Swirl the pan occasionally so that the caramel browns evenly, but do not stir or scape down the sides while the caramel is cooking. Once the color is correct, remove from heat and add vanilla, heavy cream, and salt. Be careful as the caramel will bubble and may splatter.
Once the cream has been stirred in, return the pan to the burner and whisk until the caramel is smooth.
Allow the caramel to cool to room temperature.
for the frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup salted caramel, cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and butter. Beat on medium speed with an electric hand-mixer until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and beat in heavy cream.
Continue mixing on the lowest speed while you gradually add confectioner’s sugar; scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.
When the frosting is smooth, slowly beat in caramel and vanilla extract.
Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes and drizzle with the excess caramel. Store in airtight containers and refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!