When is a chocolate cupcake not just a chocolate cupcake? When you make it with Double Chocolate Stout Beer! Finding the perfect chocolate cake can be daunting: too dry, too sugary, etc. Complex flavors are much more enjoyable than single notes, and this recipe for Chocolate Stout Cake achieves that complex combination I am always striving for. The Stout beer used in the batter adds a warm rounded flavor that accents the dark Dutch chocolate cocoa nicely. The beer also helps to keep the cake crumbs light and moist.
This cake is at its peak of flavor a day or two after it’s baked, when all the flavors come together to create the quintessential chocolate cake. Of course, every delicious cake is incomplete without a delicious frosting. I chose one of my favorites: Kids’ Buttercream from the Whimsical Bakehouse and turned it chocolate with the addition of dark chocolate cocoa powder.
To top the whole thing off I patted chocolate cake crumbs (made from an extra 8″ x 8″ cake) all over the frosting to give my cupcakes an almost velvety, flocked appearance. I really think these cupcakes are the edible equivalent of the little black dress-elegant, sophisticated and perfect for any occasion. Since these were for a celebration, I also added some cute flag toppers, which are easier to make than you might think.
Let’s make cupcakes:
The recipe calls for Guinness Stout Beer but I decided to up the chocolate factor by using Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. The Chocolate Stout really helped to enhance the chocolate flavor and I highly recommend using it if you can find a bottle at your local supermarket (I know they carry it at City Beer Store). I began by simmering the stout and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. After the stout and butter came to a simmer I whisked in 1 1/2 cups Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder and, even though the recipe didn’t call for it, I added 1/2 tsp. of instant espresso powder to help bring out the chocolate even more. Once the mixture began to thicken, I set it aside to cool slightly.
Time to preheat the oven. The recipe calls for 350 degrees but I baked mine at 375 degrees to make sure I got enough height to my cupcakes. Sometimes raising the temperature helps to keep cupcakes from “deflating” or caving in on themselves.
In a large bowl, I whisked together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and set aside. In the electric mixer I beat together the eggs and sour cream until blended and then added the slightly cooled stout mixture until combined. Next I carefully folded in the flour mixture and beat everything on low speed until completely mixed. Time to fill the cupcake papers!
I transferred my batter to a measuring cup as I find this makes for much easier (and less messy) filling of cupcake papers. I filled each paper 3/4″ full- do not overfill your papers or the batter will spill out all over your oven! I baked the cupcakes for 19 minutes. Altogether I made 24 cupcakes and with the remaining batter I greased and filled an 8″x 8″ cake pan and baked it for approximately 20-30 minutes until done. I let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes in the pan then transferred them to wire racks until completely cooled. I let the 8″x8″ cake cool for 30 minutes in the pan then transferred the cake to a big bowl and used a fork to tear into small crumbs.
Time for frosting! I doubled the recipe for Kids’ Buttercream and added 2 cups Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder. This chocolate frosting is SO GOOD! Try not to eat too much, save some for the cupcakes! I used a medium sized scoop to get even mounds of frosting on each cupcake. After each cupcake got a “scoop” of frosting, I used a small offset spatula to smooth it into a nice mound. Each mound was then covered in cake crumbs, lightly pressing them into the frosting so that they’d stick.
When all the cupcakes were finished, I topped them off with some flags that I made just for the occasion. Here is how you can make some flags for yourself: You will need patterned paper, toothpicks and a glue stick. I also used some 3 Dimensional Paint that I bought at my local craft store to make a “pearl” on the top of each finished flag.
Pick out a pretty patterned paper that will fit your computer printer (Flax has tons of designs and colors to choose from for around 50 a sheet). Use a desktop publishing program to create 4 1/2″ long by 1″ deep rectangles. These will be your flags. Inside the rectangles type in any short message you’d like, and place evenly on the left and right sides of the rectangles. Make as many flags as you need, then print the page. Cut out each of the rectangles and fold in half. I notched mine to look more like a flag. Open the rectangle and spread with glue stick. Quickly place a toothpick in the fold area and close the two sides together. Place under a heavy book for a few minutes to dry. After making all the flags I stuck them into some floral foam to keep them upright. I squeezed out a little drop of 3 Dimensional Paint to create “pearls” on the tops of my flags. Let dry for an hour or overnight before using.