Lovely day for a Guinness (cupcake)


I want to hate cupcakes, really I do. But they’re so cute and easy to eat. When I got married, we served cupcakes instead of a tiered cake because they were handheld, tasty and much less formal, though my editor will never let me live it down. “How could you possibly be an editor at a baking magazine and not have a cake at your wedding?! Shame on you,” she says.

Whenever I ask professional bakers for their opinions on cupcakes, their response is almost always the same (unless they own a cupcake-only shop). They would rather spend their time making a product that can’t be easily replicated at home by the consumer, which is why they are loath to sell cupcakes. Fair enough. But most if not all of those bakers have also admitted that not only have they added a line of cupcakes to their menu, but that they always sell like crazy. So there. The product we all love to hate and hate to love has finally made it onto my blog.

But I digress. Onto the Guinness cupcakes.

What I love about these cupcakes is that the slight bitterness of the stout counters the rich sweetness in the cake and adds complexity (and all I have to do is pour some in with a little melted butter). And seeing how we’re a month away from St. Patrick’s Day and all…

This recipe came from my British friends over at This site has tons of baked product recipes (everything from Valentine’s Day recipes to pancake ideas) and video primers on practically everything to do with baking. While all their recipes use the metric system, they have a simple conversion tool built into the site. (I hear that we’ll be transitioning to an all-metric system stateside anyway.)

What I also love about their recipes is the language is just slightly more luxurious than our standard recipe style. Sometimes we add vanilla essence instead of vanilla extract. Batter is poured into paper cases, not liners. And we cool the cupcakes on wires, not racks. Nothing like injecting a little richness into the dry world of recipe writing.


Guinness cupcakes
adapted from BakingMad


    8 ounces Guinness (sip the rest while you bake)
    8 3/4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
    14 ounces granulated sugar
    1 1/2 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    5 ounces buttermilk
    9 ounces AP flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/8 teaspoon salt


    1 3/4 ounces butter
    10 1/2 ounces confectioners’ sugar
    4 1/3 ounces cream cheese (full fat)

For the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 340F (depending on your oven, you might want to bump this up to 350F), and line a cupcake tin with 12 paper liners.

Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan and add the butter. Heat gently over medium low and stir until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and add the cocoa powder and sugar, stirring until well mixed.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract and buttermilk then add this to the mixture in the saucepan.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Slowly add the contents of the saucepan to the dry ingredients and mix by hand or with a hand mixer until the ingredients are all well combined.


Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 of the way. Bake the cupcakes for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave the cakes on a cooling wire to cool completely.


For the icing:
Mix together the butter and confectioners’ sugar until there are no lumps, then add the cream cheese and mix until light and fluffy.


Spoon the icing onto the cupcakes and smooth over using the back of a spoon to create a frothy, Guinness-like topping.

I’m heading to Ireland!

In a few weeks Sean and I are heading overseas with two dear friends for 11 days of driving through the south and west of Ireland. After months of research and Guinness-infused meetings, we’re ready to see the quaint towns and salty wind-swept green countryside that make up this gorgeous, rugged place.

During our last meeting, I prepared Guinness-braised beef in honor of the first three days of our trip, which will be spent in Dublin over St. Patrick’s Day weekend. This dish of tender beef, rendered bacon and vegetables lacquered with a thick sauce of Guinness, beef stock and wintry herbs is perfect for winter months when wearing many layers of clothing hides those few extra pounds we need to keep ourselves warm.

Nearly empty Guinness

Resources used: This recipe comes from Cooking with Friends, a sweet little cookbook with gorgeous photography that’s wonderful for any kind of entertaining. I really like the addition of the steamed red potatoes in this dish. Cooking them separately and adding them right at the end allows them to maintain some texture and keep their lovely brick colored skins.

Guinness-braised beef

    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    2 pounds beef stew meat, such as beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
    Kosher salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 medium yellow onion, large dice
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 1/4 cups Guinness stout beer
    2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
    1 bouquet garni (two bay leaves and a few sprigs each of parsley, thyme and rosemary tied with butcher’s twine)
    1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
    1 pound red potatoes (skin on), quartered
    Freshly parsley, chopped

Method: In a large, heavy-bottomed pot heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper, and sear it in batches until brown. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate; cover with foil to keep warm.

Turn the heat down slightly, add the bacon and cook until brown and crisp. Remove, and add to the plate with the beef.

Now add the butter and onion, and sauté for 8-10 minutes until tender and slightly brown. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, to remove the raw flour taste. Pour in the Guinness and stir to incorporate the flour, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom.

Return the beef and bacon to the pan (along with their lovely juices), and add the carrots and bouquet garni.

Add the beef broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 2 hours until the beef is very tender, stirring occasionally.

While the meat cooks, prepare the potatoes by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Remove, and set aside.

When the beef is tender, pull it out along with the bacon, onion and carrot and transfer it to a large bowl. Raise the heat to medium high, and cook the braising liquid until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Check the seasoning, and adjust as needed. Return the beef, bacon, onion and carrot to the pot, and stir in the potatoes.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve. Serves 4. It might seem like a lot of beef, but truthfully, this meal served exactly 4 slightly ashamed yet very ravenous people.