As I was making these Guinness Cupcakes, I couldn’t help but think of St. Patrick’s Days gone by.
See, I never think of March 17 as the day for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The parties, the shamrocks, the green beer – all that happened well before the actual day on a charming little holiday known as Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day. Or more simply: Unofficial.
One word. One day. One extremely bad idea.
It all started back in the 90s when a tavern owner in the University town of Champaign, IL decided his establishments were missing out on a lot revenue when the drinking holiday to end all drinking holidays fell over spring break when the students were away from campus and spending their beer money in tropical paradises instead (or if you’re like me, you didn’t have any beer money, let alone tropical paradise money, so you likely spent your St. Paddy’s Day marking down clearance fleece at Old Navy.) So, he came up with a little event he dubbed Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day. The Friday before Spring Break (not the Friday everyone left campus for break, the Friday before that) he would open his bars at 8:00 a.m., dye his kegs green, encourage everyone to put their Irish game faces on, and come party.all.day.long.
Needless to say, the students liked this idea. A lot. So did the other bar owners. They joined in the fun, also opening their doors bright and early and slinging green beer. And so, Unofficial became the highlight of the UIUC social calendar. A full day of drinking, fighting, vandalism, property destruction, emergency room visits and stomach pumping! YES!
Where do I sign up?
In all seriousness though, I liked to have a good time as much as the next person in college, and I’m not saying I never did anything kinda stupid – sure I did! Who hasn’t? But I never actually participated in the Unofficial festivities in all their glory. My freshman year, I wasn’t old enough (have to be 19 to get in the bars in Champaign, I was still 18 at the time.) Sophomore year, I think I went home that weekend for some reason.
Junior year, I had a particularly difficult exam scheduled that day. Partying before exam = FAIL. Just ask the people who were kicked out of the test and given a zero. They’ll tell you ALL about it. Then senior year, I had a job interview. In St. Louis. So, needless to say, I missed out on most of what many UIUC students would say is the best day ever. Meh. My junior and senior year, I got to go have a green beer or two in the evening and that was all the Unofficial fun I needed, really. Those nights usually ended up pretty low key, as the people that had been at since 8 a.m. were no longer upright and/or conscious. Made for a nice evening with friends!
My green beer days have been replaced by days of cleaning and cupcakes. And that’s okay. I’m all old and responsible now so I can deal. Somewhere along the lines I just naturally transitioned from bars to bleach and from pints of beer to cups of cake. HA! It was so effortless, so seamless and quick, I didn’t even notice! How can that be?
I can still have a rockin’ good time though. Oh yes. And I still enjoy a few libations every now and then – nothin’ wrong with that! I’ve already declared my love for booze in cooking and baking – so St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to reminisce about those crazy college days, reach behind the bar and make a loaded cupcake.
These Chocolate Whiskey and Beer cupcakes from Smitten Kitchen would certainly fill the void left by the spilled green beer and wayward cigarette burns of party days gone by. And do a much better job at it too! I ended up taking a few shortcuts to make the process a bit quicker without sacrificing the flavor. Or the alcohol.
I decided to skip the whiskey ganache filling. As delicious as that sounded, I just wasn’t feeling the extra steps and extra ingredients. So instead, I made the Guinness chocolate cupcakes and piped on a chocolate Bailey’s Irish Cream frosting instead of the Bailey’s buttercream. All the taste, but a lot less prep! They turned out great! The cake was super moist and had a great warm, almost malty flavor we really enjoyed. The frosting was to-die-for! LOVED it. Chocolate and Bailey’s is a match made in heaven! All in all a great St. Patrick’s Day treat!
For the Cake:
- 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 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
For the Frosting:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
- 2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream
- 4 to 5 tablespoons of milk (more or less as needed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 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, about 17 minutes.Rotate the pans front to back once halfway through baking. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely. Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes.
- Make the frosting: Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and Irish Cream/milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups frosting.
One Year Ago: Pineapple Butterscotch Bars – a different combination that’s surprisingly delightful!