Thursday, December 8, 2011

Guinness and Red Velvet

Well, hello there! It's been a while, I know. 'Busy' doesn't really begin to cover it, but I'm here now. And with a renewed love of baking no less. So perhaps the tiny sabbatical was necessary. I'll admit, I was getting to the point where I was beginning to--well not hate precisely--I suppose not love baking. When it's all you do, all day, every day it can start to lose its lustre.

However, a couple weeks ago my sister asked if I would make red velvet cupcakes for a baby shower and I said yes because why not? I hadn't made cupcakes in a while, and I had yet to break in my shiny new KitchenAid stand mixer (which is heaven, by the way). And after making them, and decorating them, I stopped and realized I'd really enjoyed the entire process. I'd had fun. So all is not lost on the baking front. I just need some variety.

The red velvet recipe I used was from Martha Stewart and they got rave reviews. Now, confession, I never actually tried one because I didn't have any extras. So I can't actually give you a run down on what they tasted like or the merits of the recipe. I can tell you that if you're going to make red velvet cupcakes I highly recommend investing in some high quality red food colouring, because you use so much less than the grocery store variety (Club House, etc.).

Also, when doubling the recipe make sure you've doubled all the ingredients, because it's not fun emptying batter back into the bowl after scooping half of it into cupcake cups when you realize you're short on flour and that's why it looks a lot like soup.

Another confession, what I like best about red velvet cake of any kind? The cream cheese icing. I am actually always mildly concerned about red velvet cake because that (see below) requires a lot of food dye.

I would like to find a recipe that uses beet juice to get the colour, I know they're out there, and when I find and test one I'll let you know.

On an entirely separate note: isn't my stand mixer pretty?

As always I overestimated the amount of icing I needed for decorating. There is almost nothing I hate more than running out of icing when I'm baking and having to make more in the middle of decorating, so I always err of the side of way too much. Especially having run out of icing when you really don't want to (i.e. weddings). So I decided that I would make more cupcakes and use up what was left of the cream cheese icing.

I settled on Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes. This recipe is all over the internet on different blogs and websites and I couldn't find the one I used the first time I made them this past March, but this time I used the one here and they tasted exactly the same.

These cupcakes are divine. I mean really, just so good. I'm going to have to keep this cake recipe around to use in layer cakes because chocolate cake was meant to taste this way. The Guinness rounds out the flavour beautifully and adds just a hint of something, a bit bitter, a bit sweet, a bit 'please sir, I want some more.' I really can't say enough about this cake except: make it! Make it now!

They bake up wonderfully and have a gorgeous texture, kept moist by the sour cream. I had a picture of them baking in the oven that I was going to post until I realized that the flash had betrayed how truly filthy the back of my oven is, so you get them post-baking instead. One day when (if) I clean my oven I'll have mid-bake pictures for you.

The first time I made them I did use the whiskey ganache and the Bailey's icing that accompany the cake recipe and they are completely worth it. It's the best of the Irish wrapped up in a cupcake. On the other hand I would eat them plain, no icing, no ganache, nothing. Just the cake. That's how good they are. So seriously, if you're going to be making cupcakes any time soon, make these ones. They might even help you fall in love with baking again.