Fighting the Winter Blues: Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes
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.
1 cup granulated white or raw sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
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.