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Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

These wonderful, rich, chocolatey cupcakes can be made with any dark beer (stout or porter), but I made the effort to buy something called "chocolate stout," which is dark chocolate-flavored beer. The original recipe is from the King Arthur Flour catalog.

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Servings: 48

Prep Time: 00:45

Cook Time: 00:15

CUPCAKES:

1 1/2 cups dark beer, preferably a chocolate stout*

1 1/2 cups butter (yes, that's three sticks)

1 cup dutch - process cocoa**

3 cups flour

3 cups sugar

2 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3 Large eggs

2/3 cup sour cream

FROSTING:

2 cups heavy cream

1 pound bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate***

Preparation

1Preheat oven to 350. Line 48 muffin cups with foil cup thingies. (The original recipe says to make 30, but that's way too big. You want the cupcake to be somewhat below the level of the liners so that you have room for the glaze.) Give each one a quick spray with Pam. That makes it much easier for people to get the foil off when they're eating them.

2Put the butter and stout in a large mixing bowl and heat in the microwave on 50% power for 3-4 minutes, or until the butter is melted. The power of your microwave and the softness of the butter will all affect the time. Whisk in the cocoa until smooth and cool the mixture to room temperature. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, and the eggs and sour cream is yet another small bowl. Then use a mixer to beat the egg mixture into the cocoa mixture, then add the flour mixture and beat that in at low speed, scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat for one minute. Scoop the batter into the muffin tins, filling the cups about 1/3 full. You can bake them in batches if your oven doesn't do a good job with multiple pans. I have a convection oven and still do the switching-around business halfway through baking. Since these are so small I've shortened the baking time to 10-12 minutes, but be sure to test them with a toothpick to make sure they're done--the toothpick needs to come out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pans and then turn them out onto a rack and cool completely before frosting.

3Heat the cream to simmering, best done in the microwave, say 3 minutes at 50% power. Then mix in the chocolate until smooth. You may have to do some additional heating, again at 50% power. Stir in the vanilla. If your cupcakes came out small enough, just spoon a portion of the still-liquid mixture onto the tops, and it will spread out and then harden. If your cupcakes came out bigger for some reason, you can refrigerate the glaze until it's stiff enough to spread.

Additional Notes

*I bought Young's Double Chocolate Stout from a local liquor store. If you can find a 12-oz. can or bottle, that will give you the correct amount. Some containers are more in the 14-oz. range, so i guess you'll have to drink the rest! (I don't like beer, so I try to find the smaller can.)

**The type of cocoa is IMPORTANT. Dutch-process cocoa is very dark and has a different flavor from regular cocoa, plus it has a different acidity and so reacts differently to the leavening. You can usually find “Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa” in the grocery sore. I have also bought Dutch cocoa at Costco.

***I usually use Ghirardelli's bittersweet chocolate, which you can buy at the grocery store in 4-oz. bars. If you want a sweet frosting you can use semisweet, but I think the bittersweet goes best with the flavor of the cupcakes.

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