Thursday, March 20, 2014

Currently Craving - Dark Beer/ Chocolate Baking Combos


Want to make your own festive cupcake topper?  Cut a paper straw in half, cut a length of washi tape, cut, and write a message with  a sharpie.  Quick, cute, and easy.

So, I have let myself become completely overwhelmed with life and teaching and have abandoned my poor blog, so, here's to hoping I can get a few updates knocked out before the end of spring break! 

One flavor combination that I've been craving lately is a complex dark chocolate and I've been pleasantly surprised with the dark beer/chocolate combination that seems to pop up frequently around St. Patrick's Day. 

One of the first items on my list of ways to relax over break was to whip up some baked goods.  I'll be the first to admit I love cupcakes.  Who doesn't adore cute little cakes that are dolled up?  I opted to whip up some chocolate stout cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and, not to toot my own horn, but they turned out pretty darn tasty. 

I started with a chocolate Guinness Cake recipe I found on Simply Recipes and I made some slight changes.

Here's what you need to make your own:


Of course sprinkles are a necessity. 


CHOCOLATE STOUT CUPCAKES

Yields: Approx. 24 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of stout or porter beer, like Guinness (I used a local brew- Millstream Oatmeal Stout)
10 TBS unsalted butter
3/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/2 C. dark brown sugar
3/4 C. sour cream
2 eggs
1 TBS pure vanilla extract
2 C. all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (let's get real, a pinch will do.)
Paper cupcake liners

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the cupcake liners in your cupcake pan. 

Place the beer and butter in a large saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until the butter has melted.  Stir continuously to combine the beer and butter.  Add the cocoa powder and sugars.  Mix thoroughly.  Take the mixture off the heat and allow to come to room temperature. 

In a small mixing bowl, beat together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla extract until completely combined.  Add to the beer/butter mixture and stir well. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add the beer/butter mixture and whisk until fully combined.

Using a table spoon, fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full.  Allow to bake for 20-30 minutes.  Let the cupcakes cool fully before frosting with cream cheese frosting - recipe below. 

Frost and devour! 


CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 C. butter (1 stick), room temperature
8 oz. of cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
3 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

With an electric mixer or a lot of elbow grease, mix together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. 

Add the vanilla extract and mix until evenly distributed.

Slowly add the powdered sugar to the cream cheese and butter mixture, making sure to scrape the sides to ensure even mixing. 

Using a knife, spatula, or piping back, spread the frosting on your cupcakes. 


Another beer/chocolate recipe I've tried out lately was the adorable Sprinkle Bakes Guinness-Pretzel Truffle recipe.  While there is no picture included because the outcome of my baking did not turn out nearly as pretty as those pictured on Sprinkle Bakes, the final product was at least tasty.  Below is her recipe.


SPRINKLE BAKE'S GUINNESS PRETZEL TRUFFLE

12 oz. bottle Guinness Extra Stout (divided)
8 oz. semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup finely pulverized pretzel rods
3/4 cup crushed pretzels for rolling truffles
  1. Place 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. Guinness Stout in a 2 cup saucepan.  Set aside.
  2. Pour the remaining Guinness Stout in a separate small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cook until reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 15- 20 minutes.  Be sure to keep an eye on this because, once reduced considerably, it can burn easily.
  3. Chop the chocolate into pieces and place in the saucepan with the Guinness Stout. Place the saucepan over medium- low heat and let stand until the chocolate starts to melt.  Stir with a wire whisk to blend together the chocolate pieces, but don’t whisk vigorously – we’re not trying to incorporate air.
  4. When the chocolate is melted and smooth, begin to add butter 1 tbsp.  at a time. Whisk gently until butter is melted, and then add the 1 tbsp. Guinness Stout reduction.  Stir in the pulverized pretzels.
  5. Pour the chocolate mixture into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator until firm (or overnight).
  6. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Scoop out ganache out by the heaping tablespoon and quickly roll between your palms.
  7. Once all the chocolate is used up, chill the truffles in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to roll in crushed pretzels. These chocolates will keep for 7 days when stored properly in the refrigerator.  Roll truffles in crushed pretzels just before serving (so they’ll be crunchy!).

Tips:
  • Pretzel rods can be finely pulverized in a food processor.  Avoid getting large pretzel pieces in the ganache, it will give the finished truffle a lumpy, undesirable texture.
  • If crushed pretzels resist sticking to the chilled truffles, roll the truffles between your palms to warm them up, and then roll in the pretzels. The pieces should stick.
  • If you're watching your salt content, unsalted pretzels may be used in the ganache mixture.

OR...

If you're craving this taste combination and don't feel like baking anything, pick up a few bottles of Boulder Beer Company's Shake Chocolate Porter.  By far the best chocolate porter I have had yet.  (Pssst... It's also really good mixed with a fruit beer Van Diest Fruli Strawberry


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