My gentleman's birthday is coming up, and being the most awesome girlfriend ever, I gathered up his friends and threw him a surprise party. Instead of making a cake, I opted for cupcakes, for the following reasons:
1) He does not really like sweets (I'll expand on this in a minute).
2) Everyone would be drunk, and cupcakes are much easier to eat.
3) I could decorate them with little flags and make them piratey.
I have never made anything so beautiful in all my life.
So here's what they are: chocolate stout cupcakes with salted caramel frosting. I used Steelhead Extra Stout for an extra-strong flavor, and added about a tablespoon of instant espresso powder to deepen the chocolate flavor. Both of these things helped to significantly reduce the sweetness and make it much more Gentleman-appropriate.
The frosting was also wonderful, and it worked so well with the cupcake to add an extra something special and counteract the bitterness. It's basically a buttercream with some homemade caramel mixed in. I won't lie; I really screwed up the caramel. Twice. The first time, I burned it. The second time, I accidentally hit the softball stage and when I added the cream the entire thing seized and was ruined. I ended up using the burned caramel. It turned out it wasn't too far gone and the richness of the buttercream hid the mistakes.
These worked out perfectly. They accomplished all of the things I had hoped they would. Everyone was drunk, everyone ate cupcakes. Some of the other gentlemen decided to smear frosting on each other (don't ask) and I can tell you that was much easier to clean up than cake would have been. Most importantly, my gentleman really liked them!!
Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting
From Dough See Dough via Pinterest
3/4 cup hershey's special dark cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce bottle Guinness Extra Stout, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Mini pretzel twists to garnish (I did not use these)
Sea salt, for topping
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 24 muffin tins or line with cupcake liners.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the stout, butter, vanilla and eggs. Beat together until combined. Mix in Greek yogurt until smooth and well combined. Carefully stir in dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time.
Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until cupcakes are domed in the center and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan before place removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
To make the salted caramel: place sugar and water in a 3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir carefully until sugar is dissolved, being careful not to touch the sides of the pan. Bring mixture to a boil and stop stirring. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until mixture turns a deep amber brown color, about 10 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and carefully stir in whipping cream and vanilla extract. Let cool for 1 hour.
To make the frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until well combined. Add in 1/2 cup of caramel and mix until fluffy.
Frost cooled cupcakes with salted caramel frosting and drizzle remaining caramel on top. Garnish with a mini pretzel twist and a tiny sprinkle of sea salt, if desired.