I am not really a pastry chef. Most of the time, I’d rather have the savoury than the sweet. It’s my theory that the creators of American Food Holidays threw in cupcakes whenever they came up with a blank: check out Dea’s cupcake throwdown; and Della’s cupcake petits-fours. I am no queen of cupcakes, like our friend Heather, co-owner and co-founder of Cupcakes in Vancouver.
Cupcakes make me feel… housewifely. Not a terribly familiar feeling, nor welcome. To get in the mood, I threw some Blossom Dearie on the stereo.
There oughta be a moonlight savings time
so I can love that man of mine
until the birdies wake and chime
If I was going to be a housewife, I don’t think that’s the kind I would be. I pulled out Blossom (sorry, Dearie), and put on Concrete Blonde.
Love is the ghost haunting your head
Love is the killer you thought was your friend
Love is the creature who lives in the dark
Sneaks up, will stick you and painfully pick you apart
A little dark, non? But really – admit it – we all sort of want, or want to be (or both) the kind of housewife who meets you at the door with a kiss that turns into a bite, drags you inside by the scruff of your neck while you yelp, “let go of my ears! I know what I’m doing!” and she says “prove it.” (I’ll leave the rest to your imagination, but don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.)
This slightly dark image perfectly symbolizes the kind of cupcakes I wanted to make. I thought of savoury. There’s a whole debate raging out there, apparently, about savoury cupcakes. But I ask you, when is a cupcake no longer a cupcake? When does a cupcake become a muffin or a scone? I think there’s an essential character to a cupcake. It has to be cake. So while you shameless bacon-eaters can make lovely caramelized bacon cupcakes, as soon as you start adding whole wads of cheese and ham… they turn into scones.
I found what I was looking for at Big City, Little Kitchen: Guinness Cupcakes! The authors say “the beer adds richness and
moisture”… but I’m not sure I buy that. A stick of butter is half a cup, folks, and don’t forget the sour cream. Just FYI I used light sour cream (and light cream cheese in the icing) but I’m not sure how much of a difference it made, with all that butter and beer.
I followed the advice of one of the commenters and substituted Guinness for milk in the icing. I also threw in a scant teaspoon of cocoa, to bring the colour more accurately to Guinness “foam”. They’re pretty damned good. Not too sweet. I like the cream cheese icing, not being a fan in any way of buttercream icing (* shudder *). Interestingly, neither the cupcake nor icing on its own tasted all that “Guinness-y”, but together, they imparted a subtle Guinness flavour.
Would I make them again? Doubtful. I would still rather spend my calories on dinner (or eggnog). But a worthy endeavour, nonetheless.
Cheers! ~ Eva
P.S. Betty Boop apron again – somehow it seemed to fit.