Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes


Guinness infused, chocolaty cupcakes, filled with Jameson Irish whiskey ganache, topped with sweet and creamy Baileys buttercream. Did I get your attention yet??

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought to add beer to my cupcakes. Okay, I might have thought about it, but I wouldn’t expect it to taste any good. When I think beer I think… wings, sliders, football, barbecues, pretty much anything but cupcakes. But my friends, I have to tell you, combining a cup of stout beer like Guinness with this chocolate cupcake recipe resulted in a surprisingly moist, rich, chocolaty cake I would recommend to anyone.

Since St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner (March 17th to be exact) and Hoboken is celebrating with Lepre-con all day today, I figured now is a perfect time to introduce these Irish Car Bomb cupcakes.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with America’s staple St. Patrick’s Day cocktail, here’s what it contains: 3/4 pint of Guinness, 1/2 shot of Irish whiskey such as Jameson floated over 1/2 shot of Irish cream such as Bailey’s. The shot is dropped into the beer and chugged quickly, before the mixture begins to curdle. Some say it tastes like a chocolate milkshake. I must agree.

car bomb cupcakes

For those of you who are very familiar with this St. Patty’s Day drink-of-choice, are you also familiar with what an Irish car bomb is exactly? I would assume that if you’ve never looked into the meaning, you’d have no idea where the name came from. Well, it’s your lucky day (no pun intended), here’s a little history lesson!

From the 1960s to the later years of the 1990s, Northern Ireland was involved in a period called the Troubles. During the Troubles, war was declared and ongoing violence took place. On July 21, 1972, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) used 22 car bombs in the city of Belfast. These bombs took the lives of a few innocent people, while many were left severely injured. This day became known as Bloody Friday.

Many people these days find the use of the name ‘Irish Car Bomb’ to describe a popular drink to be offensive and distasteful, while some find it fairly harmless. In American culture, this is a drink we are simply accustomed to ordering on St. Patty’s Day. So next time you order one, you’ll know a bit of the history, too.

Now, I didn’t mean to be a Debbie Downer telling you the historical meaning behind an Irish car bomb, so let me lift your spirits a little. Irish car bombs as a drink are very tasty, but as a cupcake – even tastier! As I mentioned earlier, these cupcakes are alcohol infused from top to bottom (literally). Guinness is baked right into the cupcake batter, resulting in a rich, chocolate cake, Jameson is poured into warm ganache which is piped into the center of the cupcake, and they’re all topped off with creamy, rich, and decedent Baileys buttercream. Although the process to make these cupcakes many seem like a lot of work, they’re worth it, trust me. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

car bomb cucpakes

Irish Car Bomb Cucpakes
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 24 cupcakes

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2-3 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Baileys Frosting

  • 4-5 cups confections sugar
  • 2 ½ stick unsalted butter, at room temperatue
  • 6-7 tablespoons Baileys

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

The insides will look like this:

car bomb cupcakes

Frosting Directions: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Enjoy, and Happy Hoboken St. Patty’s Day!