Sophie and I walk in and the bartender knows us by name.
“Hey girls, what can I get ya,” Pete says in his sprawling Irish accent (still as endearing as it was the first day I met him, mind you), leaning across the bar to kiss us on the cheek. We’ve known him for a little over six months now. And I still get butterflies in my stomach every time he does this. (Can you really help but be slightly in love with the guy who provides you with beer and karaoke on Thursday nights? Never mind that he is mid-thirties. Married. With a child. Whose picture he enthusiastically shows you upon request. The answer is no. You can’t.)
The bar is small, but homey. An Irish version of Cheers where the regulars are a mix of Pete’s friends from back home (Ireland, not Queens. Don’t look at me like that. If there was a bar located across the street from your apartment building, you would know the bartender’s name, age, social security number, and street address as well. I am not a psychopathic stalker, I swear.) and us. The students who make up the Tri-Instutional medical and graduate schools. An unlikely mix, but it works somehow.
It was 7pm on a Monday night, however, and (though I wouldn’t put it past us to start drinking that early on a weekday) debauchery was not on the menu for the evening. No. We had come on business.
The game plan: sweet talk Pete into letting me hold a happy hour at For Pete’s Sake to raise money for my marathon.
As it turned out, it didn’t take much coercion. The conversation went something like this.
Sophie: So Joanne is running a marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and we were wondering if she could have a happy hour here on Thursday (karaoke night!) to raise money?
Pete: Anything for you ladies. Whenever you want, however long you want it be. We can make it work. Now let’s have a drink to celebrate.
How can you not be totally enamored with someone like that?
**The fundraiser of which I speak took place this summer when I was raising $4,000 to run the Nike Women’s San Francisco Marathon with Team in Training (October 18, 2009).
And that was how I had my first Irish car bomb.
While the name is vaguely politically incorrect (I take no credit or responsibility for it. Don’t kill the messenger.) the drink is not. At all. In any way.
Basically how it works is that a shot glass is filled with a mix of Bailey’s Irish Cream and Jameson’s whiskey. Which the drinker then drops into a glass that is three quarters full of Guinness. And chugs as quickly as possible before the Bailey’s begins to curdle.
Speaking from the point of view of someone who does not much like beer and certainly does not much like Guinness. This drink was a revelation.
However, one cannot be a hedonist every day of one’s life. And certainly not when one is supposed to be committing to memory the fact that the spinalis, longissimus, and iliocostalis muscles are located below the latissumus dorsi in the back. Or when one is responsible for wielding a scalpel at 8AM the next morning.
So I was quite thankful when I stumbled upon this recipe over at Smitten Kitchen (as, I’m sure, were my anatomy partners).
Chocolate Guiness cupcake. With a chocolate whiskey ganache filling. And topped with Bailey’s buttercream frosting.
Perhaps the most complicated cupcake I have ever made (and my first buttercream!). But also, according to all of my taste testers. The best.
We are talking bakery worthy here.
So while I know we are all supposed to be eating healthier for the new year. I am going to have to tempt you with these. You can save them for St. Patrick’s day if you wish, when all thoughts of New Years Resolutions are but distant and hazy memories. But I wouldn’t recommend waiting that long. They are just too damn good.
Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes
Makes 24, adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
8 ounces 72% dark chocolate (although Deb used bittersweet)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tbsp whiskey
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 stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.
Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Cut the centers out of the cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. I just used a knife to cut the outline of the holes and then scooped the little pieces out with a spoon. They were about an inch in diameter. Deb says you can use an apple corer or a 1-inch cookie cutter. But I had neither. It worked out fine. Either pipe the ganache into the holes or plop it in with spoon. Guess which one I did.
3 to 4 cups confections sugar (I think I used somewhere between 2 and 3 cups)
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
4 tablespoons Baileys
Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
[This is a fantastic trick I picked up while working on the cupcakes article for Martha Stewart Living; the test kitchen chefs had found that when they added the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings got less grainy, and tended to require less sugar to thicken them up.]
When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.
Ice and decorate the cupcakes.
Oh my, you have created my perfect dessert! This is so pretty. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I am so glad you did so I could find your blog. Its nice to find a well written blog. We did black velvet for new year’s eve, (I love Guinness so much) and I got the glasses perfectly layered, but my hand wasn’t steady enough for a slow shutter in the dim light, and the toddler broke my tripod! I’ll be taking some pointers from you. Thanks!
yeah banana was kinda weird….
but raspberry was amazing!
britney spearssssss sooooo a guilty pleasure.
Oh, how I wish I lived in Boston again. This would be an absolute scream to present.
I think it must feel like a bomb went off in your head after downing that mix of alcohol! Now, in cupcake form, I think I can handle it 🙂 They look and sound delicious! I’m saving the recipe for St. Patrick’s Day.
You are a bad woman. I love it!
I get a little lost when u reach the bar :-))))
Love these elcious creations here and whatever crving had disappeared with ur last is right back on….oh ur stories …they make me grin and at times blush (a little embarsd)but no no …i love ur writing style and remember its the little birdie in the park here….and a big hi to Sophie ,ur roomy…wanted to wish her new year too but u have me so engrossed in ur little stories that al else is forgtten but couldn miss sayin it today and feel good that i did…
U know most goan veggies are laced either with freshly grated coconut or freshly squeezed cocnut milk…and they are fantastic…..specially the fresh locally grown greens…and garlic works magic as usual….
Disappeared with ur last post i meant (howard remember…) are back…
good luck with your fundraiser… Consider add ing a virtual fundraiser with a paypal button… I would pay a dollar for the risotto recipe and inspiration i now use often
These look like dynamite! I can’t wait to try them. I hope your fundraiser goes well.
these sure look like some weapons !!! all the best for the fundraiser events!
Excellent recipe! Must try these for my next get together. Thanks!
you should’ve brought one of these to your bartender 🙂
This recipe sounds amazing. Good luck with your fundraiser and look forward to hearing more about it. You’ll have to keep us posted.
This is a very interesting recipe! Beer in cupcake? Wow! I love how you decorated it!
You had me at the mention of Guinness. Yum.
Never heard of something like this before, I mean the combo..:-)Interesting..
Congrats on the marathon! I did the Nike Women’s in 2007 with TNT!
boy oh boy do those ever look amazing .
OMG why do I come to your site! this is pure torture!!!!!! seriously why did I come here?!?!?! lol
Mira, If you make that dessert on Luigi’s page, I want an invite! lol
Joanne, talk about a cupcake that has it all… this is one incredible dessert. I’ll take a ‘baker’s dozen’ please. (or should that be six pack?)
you always make me smile love your posts, and these cupcakes rock!!!!
You have a sweet bartender! Even though I don’t like to drink beer, I do like it in cooking and baking. Great cupcakes! 🙂
I bookmarked this on title alone! Also, I got your card and picture! I’m so glad I could help.
i want one, or five, or ten!
I’ll probably never have the drink, but I’ll definitely have the cupcake – it looks spectacular! Of course, anything with Bailey’s is good.
wow wow wow. could these BE any more amazing!?!?!
Oh, crap. I’m having friends for dinner next week and had already decided on Chocolate Chile Pots de Creme for dessert. Now you post this. What am I to do now???
These sound so incredibly decadent and rich. Just heavenly! I used to frequent an Irish bar too – the owners were so sweet and totally adorable. Your brought back happy memories.
Everyone needs a Pete in their life right across the street. For sure.
The cupcakes certainly sound bakery worthy, love Baileys, that frosting would easily become my favorite!
I have to say that the cupcake sounds much better than the drink! This would be great for the Iron Cupcake Challenge for this month!
They sound delicious…Imagine Pete’s reaction if you gave him one of these.
I just felt my sweet-tooth ache from the pictures alone. Looks so delicious!
Stout and chocolate cake…yum! I’ve tried it once and love it! All the best!
As an Irish gal, well, in my ancestry anyway, I totally approve of these cupcakes! Delicious and a great alternative to Monday night debauchery.
Those look so good! I was surprised by how a stout works in chocolate baked goods but it does!
Kudos to you on the marathon! You don’t have enough to do with med school???
Would have LOVED to have a Cheers type bar across the street! And it sounds as though Pete’s place is perfect. Aren’t you lucky?
Now I’m not a beer drinker- never have liked it. But with chocolate and whiskey? Going to have to try it to be sure. 😉
Wow living opposite a bar, and a nice one at that. Lucky you. Aside from the poor taste in the naming of that drink, the Irish are lovely warm friendly people. I can imagine that bar is excellent. Cakes look fantastic!
Such a clever recipe.
Love the entry and a big YUM! I had to hurry through the photos, clean eating for me for the next 12 weeks, almost tempted me too much here!
By the way, I didn’t even know I had spinalis, longissimus, and iliocostalis muscles! 🙂
You rock Joanne!
They look delicious.
Dear Joanne, I thoroughly enjoyed the story that went with these cupcakes. They really look good. I am going to make these cupcakes for my brothers birthday, but that is not until March. I know he would love these! Oh,I do agree Claudia Roden is a genius! I just got into this cookbook and I feel as if I want to try everything! The best part is that everything seems like it is very healthy eating. Well,I enjoyed chatting! Blessings to you. Catherine
What a great story, and Pete sounds like a total sweetheart. I’m glad you get to have your fundraiser there! These cupcakes literally take the cake, they look so fantastic!
oh yeah, this is what I want right now!!
How cool is that to have a local bar/pub across the street from your apartment building with an over the top cool bartender named Pete.
You provided a wonderful introduction to this fabulous cupcake recipe. This would be a phenomenal recipe to use for St. Patty’s Day too.
Hope you are staying warm.
This recipe reminds me of a Maida Heatter recipe for a Bourbon chocolate cake I have always wanted to try, I will say this: cupcakes are easier to consume!
By the way, I am giving away some goodies I brought back with me from Lebanon, in case you’re interested!
They look so yummy! I am going to save this recipe for our annual St. Patty’s Day party for the people who don’t want to drink. Thanks for another great recipe and story!
Now that is a bomb!
Guinness and sour cream and chocolate….OH MY. And thenw whiskey in the frosting! WOW..what a flavor combinations.
We had a little neighborhood bar on our corner when we lived in Chicago and we loved that bar. That’s actually where we met most of our neighbors and the owner was a sweetheart and always thinking of our little neighborhood. I miss that community feeling now that we live out with the cows and pigs!
Definitely saving this recipe! Funny car bomb story…
My husband was at work dinner and one of the directors ordered a “car bomb” when the waitress was taking drink orders. She asked if he wanted a water or a chaser and he looked confused. She clarified that it was a shot and not a beverage. He was so embarrassed that his male ego had him try to play it off. So he goes, “Yeah, that’s fine, that’s what I want.” Everyone was on to him, that he had no idea what a car bomb was. To this day, they all make him do a car bomb when the go out together. It’s pretty funny because he’s not a fan of them at all!
You know it’s the accent, right? I fear that if I ever go to Australia, I might leave Paul for some other man…who, no doubt, would be a complete asshole, but his accent would send me into a trance.
I’m not a drinker, but I have been known to thoroughly enjoy a dessert infused with booze. Oh yes. I would love these cupcakes.
This is random, but everytime you mention Sophie I go, “what?”
Anyway….Can I be your taste tester too? Or do I actually have to live in NY? Grr….Looks SO good!
I just found your blog! You have some really yummy recipes… I can’t wait to browse around some more 🙂
Gosh I wish I was a girl… perks from bartenders and amazing cooks!
They look so decadent and so good–bakery worthy for sure! 😉
The depth of flavour here would have us guessing what ingredients we had here.
Awww Pete sounds like such a charmer – it would be hard for me to pick between him and your gorgeous cupcakes!
Who needs shots when you can have these cupcakes? Btw, I think these would be adorable served with the frosting “shots” in shot glasses, and you eat the cupcake by first taking the “shot” and then a huge bite of that chocolatey goodness. I need to make a trip to that bar too!
I think I would turn into a total lush if I knew an Irish bartender with an accent 😀 I saw these cupcakes awhile back on Closet Cooking and made a mental note. Even though they look like a lot of work, I bet they are delicious!
Sounds so delicious! What killer cupcakes. 🙂
Holy hell, Joanne! I may just love you. Those look amazing, and you’re totally speaking my language with the guiness and the whiskey…and the Bailey’s…. speaking as a former bartender myself and inveterate lover of the bottle….thank you for posting this! I may not be able to man up enough to make them, but I will definitely drool.
I HAVE to try these!
These look amazing, you are so creative! Good luck with your fundraiser.
they look so amazing that I think I’ll buy a Guinness to try them YESTERDAY!
Guinness cupcakes are lovely.
And much more suitable for high tea on a Sunday afternoon than the real thing. 🙂
I’m making a version of those for Mardi Gras this year! Anything where you mix alcohol and food seems very appropriate! Sooooo excited to make these now that I’ve heard you’ve gotten rave reviews!