Modifying cake recipes.
This St. Patricks Day I made these cupcakes for my work. They are called Car Bomb Cupcakes after the drink. It is a chocolate cupcake made with Guinness stout, filled with ganache that is infused with Jameson whiskey and topped with chocolate buttercream flavored with Bailey’s Irish Cream. The amount of alcohol in the whole recipe for about 24 cupcakes is still not as much as one of the drinks it’s named after. They are very tasty though.
This recipe is one of the ways I use alcohol to modify an ordinary cake mix. I substituted the stout in the recipe for the exact same amount of water. You can do this with almost anything.
Keep in mind that if you use something with carbonation, it will react differently with the leavening agents, in this case, it will cause a slightly higher amount of rising in the cupcake than usual. I also do this with strawberry cake mixes and add moscato. This will make the batter slightly sweeter, and if you use a Moscato di Asti, with bubbles, it will rise slightly too.
I would caution using the harder spirits like whisky, tequila, etc. strait up for the water, they are not even close to the same properties as water. You could experiment with diluting them with water. I have not tried this, yet, but I’m thinking of a margarita cupcake… maybe limeade in the cake mix, tequila in the white ganache filling, or a lime curd with the tequila, and a lime buttercream sprinkled with salt??? Sounds like a new dessert to try.
If you don’t drink alcohol, try substituting coffee for the water in the chocolate cake mix, then add instant espresso to your buttercream and you have mocha cupcakes. Almond milk, coconut milk, orange juice, and flavored sodas would work as substitutions too.
This is not a new concept, there are whole books out there on how to take your cake mix to the next level. You should check them out too, but to get you started, here is the recipe for the Car Bomb Cupcake.
Non-pudding in the mix Chocolate Cake Mix-follow the directions except substitute stout for the water in the recipe. You should pour the beer about 15 minutes before starting.
For the Ganache:
1 # semi-sweet chocolate, the best chocolate you can afford
1 cup heavy cream
1 T Jameson Whisky, or your choice.
Heat the heavy cream to almost boiling. I use the microwave. Then pour over the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Stir with a whisk until an emulsion occurs. The ganache will be thick and glossy, no greasy spots or separation. Let cool to room temperature. This can be done ahead of time. It will be easier to control when piping into the middle of the cupcake. This recipe is much larger than you will need for the cupcakes if you don’t want extra for ice-cream or eating, then cut the recipe down to 1/4 # chocolate and 1/4 cup heavy cream and 1 tsp whiskey.
For the Buttercream:
1 cup butter, room temp
1 # powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
@ 2 T Baileys Irish cream liquor
Cream the butter and add the powdered sugar about a cup at a time, just to not make a huge mess.
Add in the vanilla and Baileys and mix until smooth.
Hollow out the middle of the cupcake. I used a small cookie cutter for regular size cupcakes, but for mini cupcakes, I use a large round decorating tip. Just push it down into the cupcake, but not all the way to the bottom. If the cake doesn’t come out with the tip or the cutter just use a knife tip to dig it out. These are your little snacks for making these cupcakes.
I use a disposable piping bag to fill the holes with the ganache. I can control the amount that comes out by how large a hole I cut. The less set up your ganache is the faster it will flow and the holes are never as big as you think they will be.
After you fill the holes, you can spread the buttercream on with an offset spatula or butter knife it that’s what you normally use, or you can use a star tip pastry bag to decorate them.
I had some decorations to sprinkle on them, but it is up to you.
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We would love to hear about your ideas for cupcake combinations that you come up with. Leave a comment if you think of any.
I’m a wife, mother, pastry chef and amatuer gardner. I travel as much as possible, can what I grow, and taste as many new things as possible.