…the results of Tuesday night’s baking and last night’s finishing touches. Just in time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (everyone’s Irish today, right?).
To make these beauties I used a recipe that by now feels like an old, reliable friend. The recipe, plucked from the salivary-gland stimulating pages of Nigella Lawson’s Feast cookbook, is for Chocolate Guinness Cake. I cannot tell you how many times I have made this cake in actual cake form; a cake that truly defies expectations for a chocolate cake because it is, after all, made with one of the world’s finest beers (or stouts, to be semantically correct). The cake comes out a deep, dark, enigmatic chocolate colour…almost black, really…it is superbly moist, not too sweet, with a very faint iron-like, almost metallic hum undoubtedly imparted by the namesake tipple. I traditionally top it haphazardly with a tangy, subtly sweetened cream cheese frosting with the final effect being that of a pint of Guinness itself.
Only recently I came up with the idea of transforming the cake into cupcakes because, well, who doesn’t love cupcakes?? Aside from the very in-vogue factor of cupcakes these days, they really are the perfect party dessert…you get one all to yourself to do with as you please. It worked like a charm – I kept the recipe exactly the same and cut the baking time to a third of that for the cake. It made 18 perfect little cakelets.
The first time around I kept the cream cheese frosting – why mess with a sure thing, right? This time, however, I swapped it for a delectable vanilla buttercream frosting as I needed something a bit more shelf stable to withstand their final destination at a bake sale table(minus a couple for tasting just to be sure they were good and well a couple of “rejects” that didn’t live up to my standards ;)).
What can I say, vanilla buttercream frosting is a new food love. Sure I’ve had it before in it’s most common incarnation as icing on a store-bought slab birthday cake, but homemade buttercream? A different story all together. It was good. Really good. I couldn’t help but steal a few spoonfuls here and there and then lick the bowl, spoon, spatula and, ashamedly, the piping bag, clean. It was smooth, and rich and yes, still as cloyingly sweet as the commercially made version but with a mellowness that only real butter and vanilla extract can lend. Clearly vanilla buttercream frosting elicits the same mysterious reaction as a jar of Nutella…I just cannot resist the temptation when it is in my environment!! (More on the Nutella thing in another post). But I digress. Finally, a sprinkle of green sugar sparkles and that was that.
I promise I will share the recipes for the Chocolate Guinness Cake and Vanilla Buttercream Frosting tomorrow, but now I have some business to attend to…a pint of Guinness awaits!
PS If you don’t know who Nigella Lawson is…please, I beg of you, do check her out.