Ok. The Weatherman is going to a bachelor party this weekend in Dallas. Not just any bachelor party. His best friend’s bachelor party. I also happen to be good friends with this bachelor, so obvs I needed to make cupcakes for this bachelor party. (Should I just called him The Bachelor? Yes.)
What’s that? Cupcakes aren’t bachelor party food?
Here was my train of thought: bachelor party –> boys –> beer. This is how I decided to make chocolate stout cupcakes, in the style of Smitten Kitchen. Oh, and I filled them with caramel Hershey’s Kisses.
I wanted something more special for The Bachelor though. So here was my second train of thought: beer –> pretzels –> potato chips. This is how I decided to include a pretzel-potato chip crust in my cupcakes.
So here we have a chocolate sweet-salty cupcake bomb. Obvs it was necessary to add a couple more touches to these babies. Clearly I hadn’t gone far enough yet.
Cue salted caramel buttercream, à la Sprinkle Bakes.
Not enough yet? Party cupcakes deserve a garnish. I don’t think one lights candles at a bachelor party, although I suppose I’ve never been to one, so perhaps one does. But in case not…
I think a potato chip-pretzel-brown sugar toffee fits the bill. Don’t you?
Why I would choose to bake all of these things in one afternoon, I don’t know. It was tiring. And I’m trying to give myself a little more breathing room in my dress for The Bachelor’s wedding in 3 weeks. It has a 26-inch waist. This is a little less than necessary. Making cupcakes, caramel, buttercream, and toffee all in one day requires lots of tasting. Um, quality control people.
The Bachelor is one of my favorite people though, so I made some sacrifices for him. They were worth it.
Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for chocolate stout cupcakes uses Guinness, but I do not like Guinness. Seeing as I had to buy a 4 pack of something, I thought I might as well buy something I’m willing to drink, or at least blend into a milkshake or something. (Dumb. 26-inch waist!!!) So I bought Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. It is yummy, and I like watching the creamy head float to the top of the glass when you pour it. The alcohol taste bakes off in these cupcakes, leaving behind a light, dreamy crumb. Just because the alcohol bakes off though doesn’t mean you don’t get rich undertones of stout-ly flavor.
Heather at Sprinkle Bakes has absolutely nailed salted caramel buttercream, so no changes were necessary. It means making your own caramel, and I highly suggest you do this. Don’t be afraid. It just requires your attention for about 8 minutes, and it makes for a life-changing frosting.
As for the crust and the toffee, I don’t think I need to explain my fascination with pretzel baked goods. Potato chips can only make these things better. (This is kind of strange, because I don’t ever eat potato chips or pretzels. But add sugar and butter and I won’t say no.)
Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Pretzel-Potato Chip Crust
Makes 24 cupcakes
1 cup Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (you could use Guinness if you like it)
1 cup (= 2 sticks unsalted butter)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream (you could also use buttermilk, but sour cream makes for slightly richer cupcakes)
For pretzel-potato chip crust
1 1/2 cup pretzels (NOT unsalted)
1 1/2 cup potato chips
6 TBS unsalted butter, melted
1 bag (normal sized) of Hershey’s Caramel-Filled Kisses
1. For crust – Preheat oven to 350ºF with racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners. In a food processor, pulse pretzels and potato chips until finely ground. (You could crush them in a ziploc with a rolling pin too.)
Transfer to a small bowl and pour melted butter over the crumbs. Toss until combined. Put a heaped 1/2 TBS of crust mixture in each cupcake liner and press gently so it lines the bottom of the liner. Bake for about 9 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and let cool while you make the batter.
2. For cupcakes – In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine butter and chocolate stout. Heat until butter melts and mixture begins to simmer. Turn off the heat and add the cocoa, whisking until no lumps remain. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sour cream until combined. Gradually add the cocoa-stout mixture, whisking to combine completely. Sprinkle flour mixture over wet ingredients and stir gently with a rubber spatula until incorporated.
4. Pour batter over pretzel crust, filling each cupcake liner until it’s almost full. (I had enough batter left over to fill a small oven-safe ramekin…which became my very own cupcake.) Bake cupcakes about 16 minutes, until the top springs back with pressed lightly with your finger. Let cupcakes cool in pan slightly until cool enough to handle, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. When cupcakes are cool, cut a small hole out of the top of each cupcake, using a small knife or an apple corer. You want enough room for your filling, so cut sort of deep. Save the part you cut out!
Unwrap all the Hershey’s Kisses (this is kind of a pain, I admit) and place in a small non-stick saucepan. Melt over medium heat until smooth. Spoon about a tsp of melted filling into each cupcake, then replace the cut-out tops. (While the cupcakes are cooling, before you fill them, you can work on the frosting or the toffee…)
Salted Caramel Buttercream
Makes enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 TBS water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup salted butter, room temperature
1 tsp salt
3 cups powdered sugar
1. For caramel – Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling, like such:
Without stirring, cook until the caramel is a deep amber color, about 7 minutes. Apparently I have a hot spot on my trusty electric burner, so I gave in to the temptation to swirl my pan a little bit to distribute the amber color that appeared in one spot before anywhere else. It turned out ok, so swirling is acceptable…but don’t stir!
2. Put on your oven mitt. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cream and the vanilla. The caramel will bubble and hiss and sound angry, but actually it’s happy you added the cream. Just watch the bubbling! Put the pan back over medium heat and stir until it’s completely smooth. Remove from heat, pour into a glass jar or measuring cup, and allow it to cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile…
3. For buttercream – Beat both butters and salt with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until fluffy and combined, about 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Pour in the caramel and beat on medium-high speed until combined and fluffy. Refrigerate the frosting, covered, until ready to use. Frost cupcakes as desired, either by piping or using a small offset spatula. (I did a little of each.)
Pretzel-Potato Chip Brown Sugar Toffee
Makes…enough. A sheet pan’s worth.
about 1 cup potato chips (thick-cut or wavy cut are best)
about 1 cup mini pretzel twists or mini rods
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup unsalted butter (I never said this was a light dessert…)
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spread potato chips and pretzels in a single layer on the baking sheet.
2. Combine brown sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Boil for 3 minutes, then immediately pour over the pretzels and potato chips. Don’t worry if it doesn’t cover the whole baking sheet…it will spread out in the oven. Bake toffee for 4-5 minutes. (My oven also apparently has a hot spot.)
Let cool completely, then break into small pieces. Try not to eat half of it in the process. Place a small piece on the top of each frosted cupcake. Leftover toffee will keep in an airtight container.
Since these cupcakes contain beer, they would definitely be fitting for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration! And look…I know this whole thing involved a lot of steps, but I promise the end result is worth it. You can also always just pick certain elements of the recipe, and don’t worry about the whole thing. But I would be hard pressed to pick my favorite element…so I say just go for it. What cupcake flavor combos should I go for next? Thanks for reading, happy baking!