Introduction: Irish Coffee CUPcakes

Fact: alcohol is like bacon. It just makes everything better. I love a cheeseburger, but I LOVE a bacon cheeseburger. And coffee is my friend, one of my best friends. But an Irish coffee… Yes Please!

Now that summer has finally hit my house, and hit hard, it’s way too hot to really enjoy a traditional Irish Coffee. That’s why this Irish Coffee CUPcake (henceforth referred to as "cupcake" so that nobody thinks I am yelling at them) is perfect. Delicious, moist chocolate cake filled with a creamy chocolate/coffee/Baileys ganache and topped with a Baileys spiked whipped cream. Can you tell I like Baileys?

Step 1: Make the CUPcakes

The chocolate cake that I used is perfect for this cupcake. It's moist and amazing but not too chocolaty or sweet (trust me, the ganache will make up for that!), with just a hint of coffee. It's a recipe adapted from Ina Garten.

- Butter, to grease the cups
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (the STRONGER the better)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and mix until well combined. In another bowl, add the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Using a hand mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and mix just enough to incorporate.

I used some antique ceramic coffee mugs to bake my cupcakes. I prepared each cup by rubbing with a little butter. Since you'll be eating these cupcakes with a spoon I suppose you could skip this step, but butter is like bacon (which is like alcohol, in case you forgot). Pour the batter into the prepared cups and place on a baking sheet. I used my 1.5oz cookie scoop and put 3 scoops in each cup. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool.

If making regular cupcakes, line a cupcake pan with liners and bake for approximately 18 minutes.

Step 2: Make the Ganache

While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the ganache.

- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons freshly made coffee (again, as strong as possible!)
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2 2/3 cups dark chocolate chips

Combine the cream, Baileys and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the coffee. Pour the mixture over the chocolate chips and let sit, covered with a dish towel, for 2-3 minutes. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the sauce is smooth.

At this point, the ganache will be very thin. Place it in the refrigerator and it will firm up to the perfect filling consistency.

WARNING: this ganache is delicious. You may be tempted to eat it all and tell yourself it's some type of amazing soup. I say go for it, just make sure you save some for the cupcakes.

Step 3: Make the Baileys Spiked Whipped Cream

This is my go to recipe for whipped cream from The Food Network. You can substitute the Baileys for 2 teaspoons of your favorite extract for any flavor whipped cream. Use it, love it, commit it to memory.

- 1 teaspoon gelatin
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2-8 Tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

 In a medium bowl, mix together the gelatin and 1/4 cup of the cream. Let gelatin bloom for 5 minutes, then place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. (This step is VERY important. If any gelatin remains undissolved, you're whipped cream will still be delicious, but lumpy.) Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool to tepid. In the meantime, whip the remainder of the cream with a hand mixer until slightly thickened. Add the confectioners' sugar and whip to the consistency of shaving cream. Fold 1/2 cup of the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture, then fold the rest into the remaining whipped cream. Fold in the Baileys keeping in mind that the more you add, the thinner the frosting will be. For me, 8 tablespoons was perfect.

Step 4: Fill, Frost, Decorate, Devour.

Hollow out your cupcake. I use a lemon juicer which works much better for this purpose than it's intended one. Using either a squeeze bottle or piping bag, fill the cupcakes with the ganache.

Pipe the whipped cream on and decorate with a few coffee beans. Microwave the remaining ganache, stirring every 10 seconds, until thin enough to drizzle over the cupcake with a knife.

These cupcakes will keep well for a few days in the fridge and can even be frozen, but who am I kidding? They won't last long enough to worry about that.

Make these cupcakes. You won't be sorry. Also, I swear I'm not an alcoholic.

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