What’s with all the dessert lately? Are Monique and I nourishing our sweet tooths (teeth?), or what?
Well, there are a lot of occasions for sugar lately. Between her little sister’s birthday request for chocolate-chocolate-chocolate cupcakes and the cake I’m about to share with you, I’m pretty sure we’re both going to have to double up on the exercise this week! (I’ll let her tell you all about her new adventures in spin class when she posts next. But let me tell you, it’s nice to not be the only one hobbling around the office!)
Our friend decided to throw a surprise party for her husband’s thirty-first birthday and asked a few of us to help with the details. My part was the dessert since she knew my husband and I used to bake and decorate custom cakes as a way to make a little extra cash on the side. We’ve long since “retired,” but it’s still fun to dust off the piping bags once in a while. Considering her party’s theme was all about Manly Men (billiards, poker, cigars, whiskey and women) it made perfect sense to go with a cake that called for alcohol every step of the way. The week before I ran through two trial recipes and while one of them tanked (and hard), this one may be the most delicious boozy cake I’ve ever tasted! It’s called an Irish Car Bomb and to make this little number you’re going to have to dig out the Jameson, Baileys and Guinness.
The cake, pictured here with billiard ball cookies and dominio rice krispy treats! Forgive the blurry picture. I’m pretty sure I took this sometime after the hostess called me into the backyard to help her out with a little Jameson problem. As in, there was too much. Now there isn’t.
I have never actually had an Irish Car Bomb at a bar. I’m told you have to chug it and I’m not much of a chugger. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d choke and make quite the spectacle, so I try to stick to things that are sipping-acceptable. Though, if it tastes anything like this cake, I’m quite tempted to give it a go someday. Or at least try to share it with someone who’s more seasoned with that sort of drinking strategy.
I’m going to give you the recipe to make cupcakes, because sizing this recipe to make a cake that could have easily fed 40-50 people isn’t helpful for anyone… unless you’re baking for a drunken army, then e-mail me and we’ll talk!
This recipe comes from the Brown Eyed Baker who made just the most adorable cupcakes out of it! I halved the ingredients in the butter cream frosting, because I simply ended up with way too much. If you’re the type that likes your frosting more than your cake, by all means double the frosting portion back to it’s original recipe and go to town!
- For the Cupcakes:
- 1 cup Guinness
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- ¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoons salt
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey
- For the Baileys Frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2.5 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
- Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.
- To Make the Whiskey Ganache Filling: Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.
- To Fill the Cupcakes: Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large decorating tip), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping back with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
- To Make the Baileys Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.
Though these pictures will show you nothing about cupcakes, they will show you how to go about making your own playing card cake for your next Manly Man birthday party. Bob, my husband, is the gorgeous hand model in these photos (just in case you wondered when I sprouted so much dark arm hair).
We made four cake pans worth of cake, but to get the correct angle on the playing cards we had to make a cut and sacrifice a little bit (…right into my mouth).
This is what the ganache looks like after it’s melted down. I think making ganache is one of the most interesting bits of kitchen magic. Look how Willy-Wonka’s-Chocolate-Factory-smooth it gets!
We spread the ganache onto the cake, using it as tasty glue to keep our cuts nice and tight and the cake stuck firmly onto the cutting board.
That nifty device is a cake lifter. I know it sounds absurd, but that little guy has paid for himself a thousand times over. I don’t just mean the dollars and cents of having to re-do a cake if it goes crashing to the ground, but the emotional upheaval and potential tears when it happens at one in the morning are just not fun. (So I hear.) So! Get yourself, or the baker in your life, a cake lifter.
I know you all know what butter cream frosting looks like, but I want to lick this picture. I want you to want to lick it, too.
Crumb coat, how I hate thee. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of dyeing and rolling fondant, but what I hate more is not having a perfectly smooth cake. Making a crumb coat is the first step to that smooth finish, but the second step is still a mystery to me. For this cake I just had to let go and let it take on a more organic feel. Frosting is not perfect! It will have waves! And when it does, I will not be judged! (I said in my most hopeful voice.)
This is what your crumb coat is supposed to look like as you send it into the ‘fridge to set up. Try not to hate your cake at this point. Try really hard.
With a little fondant and a lot of patience, you get playing cards!
A couple notes on this cake:
1. The cake is perfectly moist and stays so even a few days after baking, but it’s also extremely dense! I wish I’d weighed this monster before I took it to the party because I found it difficult to carry into the house (with yoga-tired muscles and high heels).
2. The alcohol taste is strongest soon after baking. While picking at leftovers today at the office, my coworkers discovered the booze flavor diminishes with each passing day. Our current theory is evaporation, since the only part that’s baked in is the Guinness.
3. If you don’t care to stagger after eating dessert, there are a couple substitutions you can make to get the same texture and weight, but lose the alcohol. Instead of Guinness try coffee (Monique’s suggestion!). Ditch the Jameson. Instead of Bailey’s, you could try a little coffee there, too, or just some vanilla or other extract of your choice. Butter cream and sugar without any extra flavor is just indistinctly sweet.
4. Most importantly: The easiest way to finish baking a cake for 40 people is to find yourself a sweet, patient Canadian man who uses his day off to bake all the cake before you even get home (using only one pan, four times). Also? He doesn’t put up any fuss over going shopping to buy the ingredients and takes it upon himself to do everything except for the frosting, ganache and some small detail work. Yes, if you find an “assistant” like mine, you too will finish your baking commitments long before midnight, but you may find yourself owing a few shoulder rubs. A small price to pay, I think! (Thanks, honey!)
4a. If you find someone like #4, marry him. Immediately. Before he realizes all his future roads will be paved in cake (and yarn, in our case).