Friday, June 1, 2012

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting and Nutella Glaze

No two things go together better than gratuitous violence and cupcakes...! With the Memorial weekend premiere of History's Hatfields & McCoys, the classic feud inspired me to think about opposing flavors. From a baking standpoint, chocolate and vanilla could not be more at odds. The sweet depth of flavor that chocolate provides battles nicely with the light, flowery taste of vanilla. Although moonshine was the more appropriate liquor of choice in post-Civil War Appalachia, the thought of it in a cupcake makes me cringe. A good dark beer will do the trick for this cupcake. It provides a strong foundation to balance out the buttery vanilla frosting. To add even more of a contrast to this decadence a creamy homemade Nutella glaze tops it all off. The following is one of my "stand-by recipes" for brownies, which also makes for a wonderfully dense cupcake, and the dark beer gives it a great kick!

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup of dark beer, room temperature
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla; add eggs and beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, and baking powder and gradually add to the wet mixture. Using a large serving spoon or an ice cream scoop fill baking cups 2/3 of the way full and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cupcakes may shrink a bit after they have cooled, but don't fear the frosting will hide any imperfections!

Vanilla Bean Frosting

  • 2/3 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • Half of a vanilla bean, with seeds scraped from the center OR 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 6 - 8 cups of powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter until smooth, add the milk and 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar until it reaches the desired consistency. If you opt to use the vanilla bean, (and you should, it's SHAMAZING!) carefully slice it down the middle with a paring knife and gently scrape the seeds from the open pod. If vanilla extract is more convenient for you then add it and ensure that the frosting is well flavored.

After the cupcakes have cooled, you can spread the frosting with a rubber spatula or use a piping bag and a 'big star' tip to create designs if you wish. If you cannot contain yourself any longer or you are one of about four people left on the planet who have not experienced the awesome-ness that is Nutella then you may skip the last step and politely stuff your face. But you just don't know what you are missing...

Nutella Glaze

  • 1/2 cup of Nutella spread
  • 1/3 cup of milk
Over low heat in a small saucepan heat the milk and Nutella together and mix with a whisk. Don't allow it to come to a boil, it will thicken in about 8 - 10 minutes, but you have to babysit it, no running away to check Facebook or anything of that nature!

After decorating and glazing your cupcakes step back and admire the beauty you have created, you may even want to share them with family or friends, but no one will blame you if you keep them all to yourself. The Hatfields & McCoys unfortunately couldn't get along, but the chocolate and vanilla flavors in these cupcakes marry very well together! They are even Autumn-approved...

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