“A QUARREL IS LIKE BUTTERMILK, ONCE IT’S OUT OF THE CHURN; THE MORE YOU SHAKE IT, THE MORE SOUR IT GROWS.” Irish Saying.
The only quarrel that will likely start over these pretty black and white Irish Cream cupcakes is who will get the last one! Buttermilk is one of the key ingredients in these light and airy cupcakes. In baking, buttermilk reacts with baking soda to give your product a light texture and also prevents your baked goods from browning too quickly. A huge thank you to Roxana, of Roxana’s Home Baking; and the founder of The Chocolate Party for pairing chocolate with buttermilk this month! And since I am a year round fan of Bailey’s Irish Cream, I knew that I would be making these buttermilk cupcakes. They are soft and light in texture, with a mellow chocolate flavor; but the Irish Cream is everywhere in this recipe.
I am usually a fan of a more dense texture in cupcakes. And these are really light and fluffy. But they are so good in such a subtly sweet way, that I could eat these with no icing at all!
The Irish Cream is in both the white and chocolate batters. It is added to the bottom layer of chocolate ganache and then mixed with a little powdered sugar for the center swirl of icing as well. These were easy to make and easy to frost. But I’ll give you a couple of helpful hints in the course of the recipe that I learned while making these Irish Cream cupcakes.
The first thing I wanted to address is the type of cupcake papers you use. If you are a cupcake fanatic like me, I’m sure you collect all sorts of pretty liners. And while I often mention products that I LOVE to use, such as King Arthur’s Flour and Sticky Fingers Lemon Curd; it’s rare that I mention a product I don’t like.
I am all for supporting the environment. I support my local farmers. I drink tap water. I recycle. I HATE these If You Care baking cups!
I thought they would be perfect to use since they have a plain and rustic look. And actually, I intended to remove them so that the black and white cupcake itself, would be the star. But they are waxy and flimsy and could not support the batter. The papers caved before the batter could cook and you are left with gaps along the sides of your cupcakes that look like this.
This is the first brand of cupcake papers that I’ve ever used that did this. I am not sure I would try them again. If you want to be environmentally friendly, since you will be removing the papers anyway, I’d just spray the muffin tins with a baking spray, or grease and flour the tins. So on to the recipe . . . . .
Yields: 2 dozen cupcakes
Level of Difficulty: Easy
CHOCOLATE & IRISH CREAM CUPCAKES:
- 1 stick of butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups of all purpose flour
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 3/4 cups of sugar
- 1/4 cup of Irish Cream liqueur
- 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk
- 3 ounces of semi sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare 2, 12 cup muffin pans (2 1/2 inch) by lining them with paper cups or by spraying them with baking spray.
In a microwave safe bowl, warm the 3 ounces of chocolate in the microwave in 30 second spurts. Stir after each session. This took me a minute and a half. Set the bowl of melted chocolate aside to cool as you prepare your batter.
In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar until it is light in texture. Scrape down your bowl as needed. I start off slowly, and then crank my mixer to medium high speed. Slowly add the sugar. And then add the Irish cream and the vanilla extract. Continue to beat this until all is combined. Then add your egg whites one at a time. (Oddly, when you crack 4 egg whites into a bowl, you have a bowl of egg whites. But as you start to add them, they actually DO tumble out one at a time!) Just be sure you beat the egg white into the mix before adding another. And continue to scrape down the bowl as needed.
Beginning and ending with the flour, add your flour to the mix in 3 additions, and your buttermilk in two. I have my mixer on low and make sure that everything is well mixed before adding the next ingredient. Transfer about half of the batter, or roughly 2 1/2 cups, to another bowl. Stir in the cool, melted chocolate.
Here’s the next tip I wanted to share. The chocolate batter is a little thicker than the plain Irish Cream batter. But I found it easier to fill the muffin tins if you just refrigerate both batters for about 20 – 30 minutes. Otherwise, the batters run into one another while you are trying to spoon them onto separate sides of the muffin cups! I’m sure you could just scoop equal amounts into each cup and swirl with a toothpick to get a pretty marbled effect, too. But once the batter has chilled and is thicker, use a Tablespoon or soup spoon and place the chocolate batter on one side of the muffin cup; and the Irish Cream batter on the other. Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 of the way.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are springy to the touch. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
Now on to the luscious Chocolate and Irish Cream ganache. I would recommend making this while the cupcakes are baking so it also has time to cool and thicken. The Irish Cream ganache is particularly thick which is perfect to add contrast to the top of the cupcake. You may have to stir it up a bit before you are ready to use it.
CHOCOLATE IRISH CREAM GANACHE:
- 1/2 cup of whipping cream
- 6 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon of Irish Cream Liqueur
- 1 Tablespoon of butter
- a pinch of salt
In a small saucepan, bring the whipping cream just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate chips. Let this sit off the heat for about 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until all the chips are melted and the chocolate is smooth. Add the pinch of salt, the vanilla extract and the Irish Cream and stir until it is combined and smooth. Set aside to cool and thicken.
IRISH CREAM ICING:
- 1 cup of powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons of Irish Cream liqueur
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Combine all of these ingredients together in a small bowl until they are smooth. This icing will be thicker than the chocolate ganache. You may add just a splash of cream if you need to loosen it up before using. Stirring helps, too!
Remove the cupcake from the paper lining if desired. I think it looks pretty to display the black and white cupcakes on their own! Spoon a little chocolate ganache on the top of the cupcake. And then spoon a smaller amount of Irish Cream icing on top of the chocolate. Use a toothpick to swirl the Irish Cream icing through the chocolate.
These icings are really perfect for me, since I prefer cupcakes that are more cupcake and less icing. But I also left several plain. They were just that good!
And be sure to check out what my fellow chocoholics did with buttermilk and chocolate at The Chocolate Party this month!
Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens magazine.