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Fighting the Winter Blues: Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

February 2, 2011

It’s snowing again here in Iowa, which means I need chocolate.  The Gentleman Marathoner trains outdoors throughout the winter — running in snow, in ice, in freezing cold temperatures.  I don’t share this sort of Midwestern fortitude, so I spend my exercise time on an indoor trainer, dreaming of cycling in the spring sunshine.  These lingering months of snow and fierce winds are not only keeping me off my favorite bike trails, they’re giving me a bad case of cabin fever.  Some of my favorite treats to ward off the winter blues are craft microbrews and dark chocolate, so a batch of Guinness chocolate cupcakes seemed like the perfect antidote.

These light, moist cupcakes have the perfect balance of chocolate and stout flavor.  The versatile recipe will make two dozen big cupcakes, or a 9-inch layer cake in two round pans; bake at the same temperature for just a little longer than the cupcakes.  I like to use silicone baking cups, which are a little on the small side, so I end up with two dozen smaller cupcakes and one 8-inch round (single layer) cake.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup granulated white or raw sugar

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

12 oz. Guinness stout

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter or line muffin tins or cake pans (see introductory note, above, to select sizes).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined.

In a second large bowl, beat together the oil and sugars.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in the sour cream and vanilla extract.  Gently whisk in the Guinness until just combined; the mixture will be foamy and bubbly.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until batter is uniform, but do not overmix.

Immediately divide the batter among the baking cups or pans and bake for about 20 minutes (cupcakes) or 25 minutes (cake layers), until the center springs back when lightly touched.  Cool for 10-15 minutes, and then turn out of the pan(s) onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.


Cream Cheese Frosting

Sweetened, condensed milk is my secret ingredient for cinnamon roll icing, but it imparts such a wonderful flavor that I have started using it every time I make cream cheese frosting.  Its hint of caramel flavor pairs well with these cupcakes.

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 stick (2 oz.) butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup sweetened, condensed milk

2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Beat all ingredients together until light and fluffy.  Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


  1. spencer Tomczak permalink
    February 2, 2011 9:07 am

    “yum!”. Looks like I have a baking project for tonight.

  2. February 3, 2011 9:43 am

    Nice! I didn’t realize that your partner is a runner. Me too! (He’s surely faster than me, though.). I can recommend some good marathons in this area if he is ever interested! Making these cupcakes will just force me to run longer. (Sigh.)

  3. February 3, 2011 11:53 am

    Thanks, Kaye. The Gentleman Marathoner is trying to do a marathon in as many different states as he can (for as long as the body holds together!) CA’s Avenue of Giants is this spring, and Chicago is next fall. Let me know your favorites in this region, and I’ll pass them along. As for the cupcakes — well, a large part of my motivation to work out is so I can eat delicious treats! lol

  4. February 3, 2011 11:54 am

    It’s a killer combo, right? Enjoy, cuz. 🙂

  5. February 4, 2011 7:37 am

    St. George is the premier event in Utah, although I’ve never done it. I did live in that area for two years during college. I highly recommend Logan (in the fall). Ogden is huge, too. I tried to get in this year, but it was full. Instead, I’m doing Utah Valley for the first time. I’ve done Salt Lake three times. Park City is beautiful, but hard. Other notables (that I haven’t yet tried) are Bear Lake, Little Grand Canyon, Moab (GORGEOUS area with six or seven national/state parks), D-News (SLC again), and a new one in the 4-corners area. As for Idaho, Mesa Falls is BEAUTIFUL and mostly downhill. I did that one in 2009. With the right planning, you could hit a couple in the area within a week’s time. ALL of the marathons in UT are run on Saturday. You could do a Sunday ‘thon in CA, make a beautiful drive to UT via Vegas or Reno and do a UT ‘thon before flying home. Instant vacation!

  6. February 4, 2011 9:13 am

    Wow, you are a fount of marathon knowledge! Thanks so much for the info, and if we do end up taking a vacation through your neck of the woods, I’ll be sure to blog about the food highlights, too. 🙂

  7. spencer Tomczak permalink
    February 5, 2011 10:49 am

    They turned out GREAT 🙂 We also bought 2 sixers of Guinness and taste-tested them ALL, till be found the ‘perfect’ bottle for the recipe.

  8. February 7, 2011 4:17 pm

    I appreciate your dedication to researching just the right bottle. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the cupcakes!


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