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CHEF JESS: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes, Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting a perfect pair

St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow, and I will be celebrating in a sweeter fashion this year. Even though I like to cheat my way through desserts by using pre-made mixes, there is one part of a cake that is definitely better when it is homemade: Butte...

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting are a sweet way to celebrate your St. Patrick's Day. (Jessica Karley Rerick, Accent contributor)
Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting are a sweet way to celebrate your St. Patrick's Day. (Jessica Karley Rerick, Accent contributor)

St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow, and I will be celebrating in a sweeter fashion this year. Even though I like to cheat my way through desserts by using pre-made mixes, there is one part of a cake that is definitely better when it is homemade: Buttercream frosting.

Making frosting sounds much more difficult than it is, but it can really be made in a few simple steps:

1. Gather your ingredients ahead of time. You will want your shortening and butter to be at room temperature so they can whip properly. I used a 50/50 shortening to butter ratio to help my frosting be more stable. You can use 100-percent butter, but beware because the butter will melt at a lower temperature than the shortening. If your room is too warm, your frosting may slide right off your cupcakes. I also used powdered sugar, vanilla, a pinch of salt and a small amount of Irish cream liqueur to make them not only more delicious but to also give them a little holiday flair.

2. Use the paddle attachment. When you cream the butter and shortening together using your stand mixer, it is essential to use the paddle attachment. The fats should be evenly combined and smooth. It may be tempting to use the whip attachment, but that will incorporate too much air into your frosting. If you are planning to pipe your frosting onto the cupcakes, you won't want any air disrupting your beautiful pattern. If you are a frosting "spreader," either way would be fine, but you will still get a smoother and creamier outcome by using the paddle attachment.

3. Slowly add the powdered sugar. I find it works best to add the sugar a half cup at a time. You also will want to use a low speed on your mixer so everything can start to combine before increasing the speed. Once the full amount of sugar is added, turn the mixer to medium high and whip until smooth. You will want to scrape down the bowl of the mixer once or twice to ensure you don't have any sugar left in powder form on the bottom of the bowl, a common problem if you own a KitchenAid brand mixer. I purchased a new off-brand paddle a few years ago that helped me with that issue.
4. Add the flavorings. To make my buttercream more festive, I added Irish cream, but you can use any liqueur you'd like or milk. You also can use more or less depending on the amount of flavor you would like it to give or how thick you would like your frosting to be.

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Cupcakes

As for my cupcakes, I said I like to keep those simple, but I did do a little something special with those, as well. To keep with my St. Patrick's Day theme, I decided to make Chocolate Stout Cupcakes.

To make the cupcakes, I simply followed the instructions on the cake mix box but used Guinness in place of the water. I heard from my reviewers that they passed the taste test.

For myself, I had to stick with a devil's food gluten-free mix and sadly had to skip the Guinness. Of course, the Irish Cream Buttercream was gluten-free, so I didn't have to miss out on that. Whew!

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

1 box devil's food cake mix (I used Pillsbury; if you use a different one, adjust your oil, stout and eggs accordingly.)

½ cup vegetable oil

1 cup Guinness stout

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3 eggs, whole

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix slowly for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for an additional 1½ minutes.

Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and fill them ⅔ full. Bake for 19-23 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool before frosting.

Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

⅓ cup shortening, room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

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pinch iodized salt

⅓ cup Irish cream liqueur or milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In bowl or mixer using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the shortening together. Slowly add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until starting to combine.

Add salt and turn speed to medium high and whip until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl occasionally.

Add Irish cream or milk and vanilla. Turn speed back to medium and whip for an additional 30 seconds. Add more liquid if frosting is not at your desired consistency.

Store in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before frosting cupcakes.

Related Topics: RECIPES
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