Wednesday, March 16

guinness gingerbread cupcakes

For Saint Patrick's Day last year, I made an kitschy Irish feast for my Irish-born boyfriend - the ever predictable Irish stew, followed by Guinness & chocolate mousse. Yes, you read me correctly - Guinness mousse. I served it in a very generously sized beer glass and topped it with Bailey's spiked cream. He ate it, and then some, and I was so impressed with how Guinness can work in not only stews and cakes, but other sweet treats, too.

There's something so comforting about gingerbread and ginger flavoured things. The rich and warm spiciness always makes me happy, despite not really being able to eat nearly as much crystalised ginger as my Mum loves to. So naturally, the combination of spicy ginger and bitter stout would be a great match for this year's necessity for a somewhat-Irish recipe. And of course, David Lebovitz has a recipe for this very combination.

Ingredients (makes 12)
Recipe adapted from 'Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes' by David Lebovitz

For cakes:
125 mls Guinness
1/2 cup mild-flavoured molasses or treacle
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
3/4 brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup glacé ginger, finely chopped

For frosting:
125 gms cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
zest and juice of 1 lime

For candied lime peel:
3 limes, washed
2 cups water
1 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp light corn/glucose syrup

For the candied peel, remove the zest from the limes in strips with a small shard knife or vegetable peeler. Try to avoid removing the white pith as it will be bitter, but if this is unavoidable, it's easy enough to remove it by laying your strips flat on a chopping board, pith side up, and run a small sharp knife along the strip to remove it. Cut the strips of zest into matchstick size slices.

Put the peel into a medium saucepan and cover generously with water. Bring to the boil and cook until the peel is soft and translucent, about 5 - 6 minutes. Drain the peel and discard the water.

In the same saucepan, bring 2 cups water, sugar and corn syrup to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add the drained peel and decrease the heat over a gentle boil for about 20 minutes, or until the syrup is thick and the peel is translucent. Allow to cool. You can store any unused peel and syrup in a clean jar in the refrigerator for  about 2 months.

Preheat the oven to 175C. Line a standard 12 capacity cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

For the cakes, in a large saucepan bring the stout, molasses and oil to a boil over a medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the baking soda until dissolved - this will foam up but will quickly settle back down. Stir in the brown sugar and allow to cool until tepid.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Whisk the eggs into the stout mixture, followed by the flour mixture until just incorporated. Gently stir in glacé ginger. Divide the batter evenly among cases and bake cakes for about 22 - 24 minutes, until just set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For frosting, beat cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Add 1 cup icing sugar and beat on a low speed, increasing to a high speed as powder is incorporated.  Add remaining icing sugar, lime zest and juice. You may need to add more icing sugar (I just pour it in, unmeasured, as I go) depending on the humidity and your preferred consistency. Spread or pipe a small dollop onto each cooled cake. Top with cooled lime zest.

In the midst of cooling and mixing ingredients into the stout mixture, I had serious doubts-- It just smelled far too musky and malty to be delicious. But it really works, and works very well. The lime cream cheese works really well to offset the cake, and next time would make the lime as tart as I could. You could omit the candied peel if you're not feeling up to the extra step, an decorate with some more finely chopped glacé ginger.

Recommended baking soundtrack - Wooden Wand: Wither Thou Goest, Cretin.


  1. Goodness me that icing is just perfect! Happy St Patrick's Day to you! :D

  2. These are as close to perfect as one can get. The icing on the cupcakes appears to be flawless. I am new to your blog and have spent some time browsing through your earlier entries. I really love the food you feature here and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  3. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Mary!
    And happy St Pat's day to you too, NQN :)