Guinness is Good for You

Christmas has come and gone, as has the 4-day weekend that went along with it. The snow seemed to follow us down South this year, which is an extremely rare occasion in December. I didn’t like that part, but the rest of the trip, for the most part, was a blast.

Plus, the majority of the gifts I took home were cookbooks, or cooking paraphernalia of some sort. A girl like me can’t complain about that.

One of the highlights of said cookbooks was David Lebovitz’s newest brainchild, Ready for Dessert (thanks, Les!). I haven’t had the chance to read the book from cover to cover (yes, I do read cookbooks… shut it), but I most certainly hunkered down for a few moments after ripping the gift open to peruse long enough to find a seemingly sure-fire recipe to test out over the holiday.

It should be no surprise that I stopped, dead in my tracks, at a recipe with these two words: ginger and Guinness.

I’ve really developed quite an affinity for dark beers lately, and Guinness is an obvious go-to in that category – they are chocolatey, nutty, and perfect for this weather. I’m sure most any porter or stout would work here, and had I been in an area loaded with a plethora of microbrew choices, I probably would have gone for a Breckenridge Vanilla Porter or a Left Hand Milk Stout (gotta support the southpaws, since I’m one of ‘em!), but really, you can’t go wrong with Guinness. Plus, it’s good for you, remember?!

Although I had no doubt (ok, a little, since the batter appeared ‘watery’), these cupcakes did not disappoint. They are light and fluffy, each bite into the ‘cake creating a small indention, but then a quick spring back – like the dough for bread when first kneading. The ginger and Guinness are definitely palpable, but so is the molasses, and we all know how much I love that. Naked, they are certainly sweet, almost cloyingly so, but the frosting, kicked up with a few squirts of lime, adds enough zip to provide perfect balance. They smell fresh, bursting with citrus and all things good in the world.

You could make them now, today, and finish up 2010 with a bang. Or you can hold out for a couple of days, and start the New Year off right – with more ginger, more molasses, and even better – more Guinness. That’s a resolution I can easily stick with, and you should too.

Guinness-Gingerbread Cupcakes w/ Lime Frosting
Adapted, barely, from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert; makes 12

time commitment: 1 hour, plus cooling

printable version

ingredients
cupcakes
1/2 c Guinness
1/2 c molasses
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 t baking soda
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
1 1/3 c ap flour
1 1/4 t baking powder
2 t g ginger
1 t g cinnamon
1/8 t g nutmeg
1/2 t salt
2 large eggs, room temp
1/2 c finely minced candied ginger, plus garnish

frosting
4 T unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
3 T lime juice
1 T whole milk

instructions
preheat oven to 350 F. line 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

in a large saucepan, bring Guinness, molasses, and oil to boil over med-hi. remove from heat and whisk in baking soda until dissolved. stir in brown sugar and let cool.

in a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.

whisk eggs into cooled brown sugar / Guinness mixture, then whisk in flour mixture until incorporated, being careful not to overmix. stir in minced ginger.

divide batter among cupcake liners and bake 22-24 minutes. cool completely on a wire rack.

meanwhile, make the frosting. beat butter on high speed until smooth and with speed on low, add in 1/2 of the powdered sugar. scrape down sides, add the lime juice and the remaining powdered sugar, and beat again, finishing by adding the milk. beat until fluffy, and add more lime juice if desired.

frost cooled cupcakes with lime frosting and garnish with ginger, if desired.

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