Stout Little Cupcakes

21 Feb

I mean it!  There’s stout in these!    (Fortunately, Guinness Extra Stout, North America is vegan according to Barnivore.)

I was going to do a writeup of some of the more practical and also-delicious things I’ve made lately that are backlogged, but I feel like I don’t make enough pretty things to post here, so I am posting this takeoff of the Chocolate Stout Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World, which we all know is the only cupcake book for vegans.  Be happy!  Now you have a recipe to impress your coworkers, friends, and other people who need impressing.

The only change I would make is to not whisk the dry and wet ingredients for two minutes, as suggested in the original recipe, because I personally think that’s over-mixing and it resulted in slightly crunchy tops, despite a moderate sugar content, smooth batter texture, and a constant oven temperature, which I watch like a hawk while I am cupcaking (thanks, oven thermometer.)

The original also called for a crumb topping, but I had just made a crumb topping for the ginger snap-apple-peanut butter thing I have in my fridge right now, but I don’t like cupcakes to be smothered in sugar and fatty toppings, so I decided to go a little different.  Chocolate and raspberry go together!  So I made a half-recipe of raspberry buttercream frosting, a little chocolate ganache, and got out some powdered sugar/unsweetened cocoa powder (trust me, you’ll like it!) to make little pink flowers crowned with an eensy ganache truffle rolled in cocoa powder.

They turned out pretty attractively!

Cupcake group photo. See, not too terribly boob-shaped.

They’re a little boob-like, thanks to the lighting that is washing out the color of my icing (because I’m an awful photographer), but if you’re really worried about it, add extra red to the icing and make your rosettes bigger and more floral.  You can also substitute a little piece of fruit for the ganache drop, but personally I like them fine this way, and think their appearance as boobs is questionable enough to serve in settings unrelated to the Vagina Monologues.

In the interest of preventing well-intentioned cupcake disasters (and strudel sadness), I am making a “Challenging” category for this blog–stuff that requires special equipment, assembly, lots of time, or exotic ingredients.  This would probably fit here–both ganache and frosting should be prepared ahead of time, for example.

Click through for this moderately-challenging recipe!

Stout Little Cupcakes with Raspberry Icing and Ganache Drops

Special equipment: Pastry bag and tips/attachments for piping; hand mixer; cupcake tins and liners; wet/dry bowls; small Tupperware containers; patience.

Start with the ganache:

1/4 soymilk
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp chocolate extract (optional)
4 oz of semisweet chocolate chips (roughly 1/3 bag)

In a small saucepan, bring the 1/4 soymilk to a boil.  As soon as it starts to bubble, pour it out into a bowl and add all the other ingredients.  Mix until melted.  As soon as it is melted, cover it and put it in the freezer.  The fridge will not chill it enough to not be a pain in the neck later.

Now for the icing!

1/2 cup margarine
3/4 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp raspberry syrup (the type of syrup used in coffees works well, the original recipe suggests avoiding pancake raspberry syrups–but you can probably make it work if you somehow have raspberry extract)
few drops of red food coloring (optional)

Let the margarine soften a touch, then cut it up into small blocks and start creaming it with the powdered sugar using your hand mixer.  Once smooth, add the flour to detract from the greasiness of the creamed margarine (without sweetening!)  You could use a little cornstarch/arrowroot if it is super-runny, but mine was just a little too gooey for my taste.  Pour in the raspberry syrup and vanilla, and cream together with the hand mixer.  If the color is too pale for you, and you want it to be raspberry red, add a little red food coloring.  (You may even want to drop in just a touch of blue, since the hue of red that raspberries have is definitely a cooler one.)  Cream again and taste; add additional sugar or flour to sweeten (or tone down) the icing.  It can be a bit sweet, you’ll be sprinkling bitter cocoa powder over it.  Put the icing in the fridge in an airtight container while you’re working.

Time to make cupcakes!

Note: These are not super different from regular chocolate cupcakes; if you want to go back to just-chocolate, replace the stout with an equal quantity of soymilk at the beginning of the recipe (so you mix 1 cup soymilk with the vinegar) and up the flour and baking soda content slightly (no more than 2 tbsp and 1/4 tsp, respectively, to account for the beer’s properties in the recipe here.)

3/4 cup soymilk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup and 2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup stout beer
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a smallish mixing bowl, combine the soymilk and apple cider vinegar.  Set aside while you sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder and soda.  Add the other liquid ingredients plus sugar to the soymilk (so combining the stout, oil, sugar, and vanilla with the soymilk/vinger mix) and beat until foamy.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches and beat until smooth (original says about two minutes; I would err on the side of a little less time.)

Fill each of your lined cupcake pans about 3/4 of the way full, and bake in the preheated oven for 20-22 minutes.  (Check your oven temperature before you put in the cupcakes, and use your oven light to watch the temperature, but don’t open the oven!  You don’t want to disturb the poor little cupcakes.)  Toothpick-test at the 20 minute mark and bake more or remove accordingly.

Allow to cool five minutes in the pan; once they are warm to the touch, let them finish on towel-covered cooling racks.  (This is a great time to eat dinner if you like to bake things while you make dinner, which I do.)

ONCE THE CUPCAKES ARE COOL TO THE TOUCH, and not a minute sooner, you can start decorating.  (I seriously can’t count the number of times I’ve seen sad, melted piles of frosting online because the cupcake temperature melts the frosting.)

Set up a paper towel.  Remove the frosting from the fridge and start by sprinkling some powdered sugar on the cupcake tops.  If the frosting isn’t relatively malleable by this time, zap it in the microwave for five seconds.  It should be room temperature.  Set up your pastry bag and scoop that icing in.  Decide how you want the rosettes to be shaped (maybe a test on the paper towel, yes?) and start piping.

Once the icing is on, sprinkle some cocoa powder on a plate and get the ganache out of the freezer.  Use a 1/4 teaspoon measure to scoop ganache out of the bowl (it will defrost so quickly!  You must work more quickly!) and roll it in the cocoa powder.  Press into the rosettes, and get those babies into the fridge in an airtight container as quickly as you can!  If you have trouble getting the ganache out of the measuring spoon, use the end of a plastic fork to scrape it out.

Now your cupcakes are ready!  Eat them all yourself.

Cupcakes gonna cupcake.

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