there are some desserts that when you bite into them, you close your eyes and feel like you and that dessert are the only two people/things in the world. there is no one else in the room and none of the responsibilities of life are looking over your shoulder. it’s just you, that bite of deliciousness, and the romantic music playing in your head. or… something like that. anyway, these cupcakes are apparently one of those desserts. at least, that’s the reaction i got when i served them recently.
chocolate, beer, and pretzels. this might be my new favorite cupcake flavor combination. the beer is a good, dark guinness stout, which has just the right amount of depth to bring out the richness in the chocolate. and the saltiness of the pretzels complements those flavors perfectly. it’s one of those flavor combinations that gets better as you chew and it hits different points on your palate.
in addition to looking awesome and being made up of a perfect flavor combination, these little mini cupcakes were also an excellent combination of textures. the cake was soft and moist, and the frosting was light and fluffy. and the pretzels added a great crunch. if i didn’t tell you, you probably wouldn’t know that there was beer in them just from biting into one – but if you looked for it, you would just barely taste it in the background. it adds a whole new layer of complexity to an already-yummy chocolate cake.
chocolate, beer, and pretzels. in a cupcake.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup guiness stout
- ½ cup earth balance
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3¾ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup - ½ cup guiness stout
- about 3 cups mini pretzel twists
- preheat the oven to 350°f and line a mini-muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. add the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract, and mix until it is all just barely combined. add the stout and mix until it is thoroughly combined.
- pour the batter into the cupcake liners so that they are ⅔ full (about 1 heaping tablespoon each). bake them for 13-16 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs on it). transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
- in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the earth balance until it is light and fluffy. add the melted chocolate and vanilla and beat until combined. slowly add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until it is incorporated. add ¼ cup of the stout and raise the mixer speed to medium. beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. if necessary, keep adding more stout, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
- set aside 36 of the mini pretzels for garnish (or enough for however many cupcakes you ended up with). put the rest of the pretzels in a large ziplock bag and coarsely chop them by rolling over them with a rolling pin. transfer the crumbs to a shallow plate.
- once the cupcakes are cooled, top each one with a dollop of chocolate stout frosting - you can use a piping bag, or just a spoon. roll the frosting into the crushed pretzels so that it is coated, then press a whole pretzel down into the middle. viola!