Jeanne Ambrose and Lindsey Ambrose are a mother-daughter seasoned food-writing team who, between 'em, have done a lot of eating around.
     Jeanne creates, edits, and writes food, nutrition, and health features. Lindsey is a small-space gardener extraordinaire with a penchant for cooking fresh and local. She goes for full-flavored, somewhat-spicy cuisine with a flair for ethnic-fusion feasts. Read More >>


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Best Ever Irish Stout Chocolate Cupcakes

Photo by Richard Swearinger

Photo by Richard Swearinger

 

St. Patrick would be proud. It’s easy to dive face first into these chocolate cupcakes flavored up with Irish stout. You only need 1/2 cup or so to make this Double Chocolate Stout Cupcake recipe. We like to use chocolate stout, but any old stout will do. (You know what to do with the remaining stout, right? Slàinte!)

Double Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chocolate stout

1/2 cup butter (unsalted, please. If you’re using salted butter, ditch the salt, above)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 ounces dark unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped, or semisweet dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 slightly beaten eggs

Dark Chocolate Frosting (next page)

Coarse sea salt

12 bite-size pretzels

1. Preheat the oven to 350* F. Line muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Set aside. Stir together flour, soda, and salt. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring stout, butter, and cocoa just to simmer; stirring frequently. Add dark chocolate, stirring until melted. Remove from heat. Add brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Whisk in eggs until combined. Add flour mixture, beating until smooth.

3. Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full. Bake for about 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (Or just tap the top of the cupcake with your finger.  It should bounce back.) Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove cupcakes from muffin pan and cool completely on rack.

4. Pipe or frost with Dark Chocolate Frosting (below). Sprinkle coarse salt over each cupcake. Top with a pretzel. (Or skip the salt and crush the pretzels and sprinkle on top.

Dark Chocolate Frosting

Makes enough to cover 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or 4 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped)

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

¼ cup milk (add a splash of Irish cream, if you’d like to be more decadent)

1. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and chocolate over very low heat until butter and chocolate are melted, stirring constantly.

2. In a bowl, stir together powdered sugar and milk. Add melted butter and chocolate. Beat by hand until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Frosting will thicken as it cools. Stir in additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if frosting is too thick.

Crazy good fudgy brownies

One pot uber-fudgie brownies. No mixer required.

 

It’s a brownie baking kinda night. I typically double (in a 15 x10 inch pan or 13×9) or  triple the recipe and put them in a half-sheet pan (18×13) because these brownies are meant to be given away. They’re loaded with walnuts and well, chocolate. Don’t like nuts? Leave ’em out.

But, remember, walnuts are high in good-for-you fats that provide protection against a host of health problems. And dark chocolate, including bittersweet, has heart-healthy antioxidants and has been found to lower blood pressure. Never mind the butter and sugar. Surely the nuts and chocolate cancel out the butter-sugar concerns. I like to think these brownies are a health food.

 

Double batch of walnut-loaded fudge brownies baked in a jelly roll pan.

Walnut-Studded Dark Chocolate Brownies

1/2 cup butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped (bittersweet chips work, too)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8x2-inch or 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and bittersweet chocolate. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter and chocolate are melted. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir granulated sugar and brown sugar into chocolate mixture until smooth. Add eggs, beating with spoon until well combined.

3. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Stir flour mixture into the chocolate mixture just until combined. Stir in nuts and milk chocolate pieces (batter will be thick). Spread in prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is set but still soft. (A toothpick inserted in center will come out slightly gooey.) Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 16 brownies.

Tip: The secret to fudgy brownies is to make sure you don’t overcook them. For easy clean up,  line the baking pan with foil or baking

parchment, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Butter the foil. When brownies are baked and cooled, lift out the foil along with the slab of brownies. Remove foil and cut brownies.