Tag Archives: cupcakes

Guinness Cupcakes with Irish Cream Frosting


Originally published on sweetspot.ca

I’m smitten with Smitten Kitchen. Every time I visit the site, there is something that begs to be made.

In honour of St. Paddy’s Day, I tried the chocolate whiskey and beer cupcakes. This little cupcake is packed with a chocolate Guinness cupcake, filled with an Irish whiskey ganache and then topped with Bailey’s Irish Cream frosting. An incredibly moist and rich cake with a frosting that’s sweet, but not over the top.

I did run into some problems with this recipe:

  • There is such a thing as too much butter. When making the cupcakes, the batter separated resulting in an oozy layer of butter. I think I let the batter sit too long that caused the separation. Try having the eggs and sour cream already beaten to prevent this. Another solution is to use less butter, maybe 1/2–2/3rds the amount.
  • My ganache turned grainy. This was an easy fix, I just beat the mixture with an electric mixer until it was smooth as silk.

Despite these issues, the cupcakes turned out so well that I’ll be making another go at this for next year. Don’t fear the booze that’s in this recipe. You can only taste the Irish Cream in the frosting (don’t like Irish Cream? Replace it with milk or cream instead).

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A Zombie Ate My Cupcake!: Review

Shattered Glass

Looking for something spooky to make this Halloween? These cupcakes will fit the bill.

I was excited to receiver my copy courtesy of Thomas Allen & Son. These recipes are from Lily Vanilli who sells her wares in London. The book is full of awesome ideas that range from not-so-spooky to creepy (bleeding hearts anyone?).

I got a chance to try the Undead Gingerbread (which you will see in an upcoming post of Test Kitchen on SweetHome) and Shattered Glass.

Making the cupcakes was pretty straight forward with one exception: some of the ingredients were hard to come by. This is most likely due to being a UK book. I also had to go to a couple of different grocery stores to find canned cherries. I bought cherry pie filling as a stand by, but I didn’t end up using it although I’m sure it would work. I used canned bing cherries and it gave a nice dark colour. Being a UK book, the recipes come with weights for precise measurements and more accurate baking.

I thought making the “shattered glass” would be a challenge because I can never make candy right on the first attempt, but it went smoothly despite me finding a broken candy thermometer and having to judge the temperature manually. Here is the site I used on how to tell the different sugar stages. It worked and the candy was edible. Whew!

Pointers on making the “shattered glass”
– Be very careful making the candy. Sugar burns are incredibly painful with scorching temperatures of 300F. Long sleeves and your full attention is a must.
– I used the end of a rolling pin to shatter the sugar. There were a few pieces that went flying. I’m the accident prone type so I kept my distance and turned my head to avoid getting flying candy in the eye. If I were to make this again I would probably wear safety goggles just in case (yes I’m that accident prone).
– I couldn’t be bothered getting clear corn syrup so I used the golden syrup that was in my pantry. This gives the glass more of an amber colour. Maybe the shattered glass was from a bar fight gone wrong?

My kitchen was a sticky mess afterwards, but so worth it! The chocolate cupcake recipe is killer (no pun intended) and dense with a hint of coffee flavour. I felt the vanilla frosting was too sweet for my tastes, but my co-workers who love their sweets didn’t mind it one bit.

This is a fun book to have and you don’t have to wait until Halloween to try out the recipes.

I have an extra copy of this book, so here is my first giveaway!

What is your favourite Halloween treat? Mine are those yummy chewy caramels. Comment below by October 22 midnight EST. Contest is open to residents of Canada.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 12

1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (140g) superfine (caster) sugar
1 extra-large (US) or large (UK) egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (115g) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted twice
1/4 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 (80ml) sour cream
4 tablespoons strong espresso, cooled

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the egg vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly incorporated.
3. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.
4. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with sour cream. Then slowly add the cooled coffee.
5. Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter into the paper cases, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Cool in the muffin pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Vanilla Frosting

1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons full-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (360g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
2 tablespoons heavy (double) cream Note: I used whipping cream

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter in a bowl until smooth.
2. Add the milk, vanilla extract, two-thirds of the sugar, and the double cream, and blend until smooth.
3. Slowly add the remaining sugar, beating constantly until smooth.

Cherry Sauce
1 cup (125g) black cherries, very ripe and de-stoned or canned
1/4 cup (50g) superfine (caster) sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) water or juice from the canned cherries, if using
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour) or arrowroot

1. To make the cherry sauce, blend the cherries in a bowl using an electric hand blender, then place in a medium-sized heavy-based pan with the sugar, water, lime juice, and cornstarch or arrowroot. Heat on medium until the cherries begin to release their liquid, and then slowly bring, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and heat until the cherry mixture has thickened to the desired consistency (runny enough to pipe but thick enough to prevent bleeding into the frosting). Allow to cool.

Shattered Glass

oil spray
2 cups (500ml) water
3 1/2 cups (785g) granulated sugar
1 cup (250ml) light corn syrup (liquid glucose)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.

1. Line a shallow tray with aluminum foil, ensuring there are no gaps (any gaps between sheets can be sealed using spray oil). Spray the mold all over with oil spray at least 30 minutes before using.
2. Mix together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in an old saucepan and bring to the boil with a candy thermometer inserted. Let the mixture boil, stirring continuously, until it reaches 300F/150C. Pour the mixture very quickly and carefully into the oiled mold and let it cool.
3. Pop the mixture carefully out of the mold when it has cooled completely. I used a meat tenderizer to tap it in the center and it cracked into perfect shards.
4. Cover the top of your cakes with frosting, then insert a shard of “glass” into the center of each cake. Using a pipette or spoon, drop some cherry sauce onto the glass as fake blood.

A Zombie Ate My Cupcake! by Lily Vanilli. CICO Books, $19.95. Buy now. Recipe reprinted with permission.

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Toronto Cupcake Meetup

Toronto Cupcake Meetup

On Twitter I saw a tweet about a Toronto cupcake meetup at The Drake Hotel that Cupcakes Take The Cake was throwing. I immediately sent an e-mail to rsvp. Then I remembered how shy I am. Was this a good idea?

I overcame my shyness (maybe all that sugar helped?) and had an absolute blast! Everyone there was super nice and friendly and I got to meet Juanita from Sweet Things, someone whose blog and twitter I follow. Juanita brought the cutest cupcakes

Toronto Cupcake Meetup

We We got to sample 4 different flavours: vanilla with a homemade marshmallow, coconut, pistachio cupcake with lavender frosting, and a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and edible gold leaf sprinkled on top.

Toronto Cupcake Meetup

It was interesting to hear everyone’s opinions on the cupcakes. A majority of people liked the vanilla cupcake, but I thought it was too sweet for my tastes. My favourite of the bunch was the coconut cupcake. This was surprising for me as it was the one I least wanted to try. I’m not a big fan of coconut at all, other than coconut cream pie. This cupcake tasted like coconut cream pie! It had a huge pile of coconut frosting bathed with shredded coconut and hidden in the cupcake was a custard filling. Delicious! The chocolate cupcake would be good for a lover of dark bitter chocolate. It was incredibly rich and the frosting looked like a sour cream chocolate ganache. The pistachio and lavender one was my second favourite out of the bunch.

Toronto Cupcake Meetup

Before I didn’t know what the appeal was with cupcakes, but I get it now. For me it’s like a mini cake where you can try different flavours in bite sized amounts. If you’re ordering a cupcake, you don’t have to commit to ordering an entire cake.

Toronto Cupcake Meetup

Toronto Cupcake Meetup

Big thanks to Cupcakes Take the Cake for setting this up. It was awesome meeting Rachel and everyone who was there!

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Chocolate cupcakes

The last time I made buttercream that wasn’t just butter and icing sugar turned out to be a huge failure. It would just melt into a grainy puddle. I had wanted to make cupcakes with bourbon buttercream for a “meet the neighbours” event and I ended up having to leave the tops bare with just caramel drizzle. I was so distressed about my buttercream results that I e-mailed the author wondering what I did wrong. To my surprise I got a quick e-mail back and once I get the courage I will try making the recipe again. Flipping through the Cake Bible it looks like the recipe may have been a mousseline buttercream as Rose states the butter must be at the proper temperature otherwise it becomes a puddly mess.

It was a friend’s birthday and his favourite treat are chocolate cupcakes. What better way to test out a Cake Bible recipe? I made the All American chocolate butter cake and used the chocolate neoclassic buttercream. I overbaked the first batch by about a minute or 2 and they were a bit dry. If you leave them for a few hours or overnight, they become fudgier. I had almost wrote this recipe off because it wasn’t mind blowing, but I think I’ll give it another chance making sure not to overbake it. The chocolate neoclassic buttercream is to die for! I’m not a huge fan of frostings, but this is definitely worth making and piling on a cupcake. I also had no problems with the buttercream, it was a breeze to pipe with and held up quite well.

Chocolate cupcakes

Recipe for cake here
Recipe for buttercream here

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Life is Sweet

I spotted a cupcake shop taking my dog to the vet and knew I had to pop in for a visit afterwards. I wish I had taken a picture of the store front because it’s such a cute little place. I looked around a bit before placing an order for a mango-lime and an earl grey with orange cupcake. Being in the store was so inspiring and I hoped one day I would have a little store of my own. I ended up talking to the owner, Clair Sutton, who was nice enough to listen to my rambling about my dream of selling cookies. She gave some good tips and said if I had any more questions to call her! How nice is that?!

Anyway, back to the cupcakes. They fulfilled my cupcake craving nicely and I loved the frosting! It wasn’t too sweet and the mango-lime cupcake made me want a margarita. The earl grey cupcake was also delicious. If you’re in the area, they’re definitely worth checking out.

Life is Sweet – A Cupcake House
2328 Queen St. E. (at Kingswood)
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 7:30-6, Saturday 9:30-5, Sunday 10-4
Flavours: vanilla bean, chocolate, mint chocolate, lemon drop, earl grey with orange, butterscotch, chocolate chip, coconut, white chocolate, and seasonal specials

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