Do you ever just look at images like the one above and tilt your head in adoration? I’m totally doing that right now. It’s as if the pretzel is saying, “Hey, Marta, you’re pretty fantastic for making us. How about you devour me like a little savage?” And I’m over here all, “Yes, little Chocolate Stout-Pretzel Cupcake, I will devour you.” Is it crazy that I talk to my food? It can’t be.
This, my friend, is my ode to St. Patrick’s Day. No, I’m not Irish- although my maiden name (Daly) is. I mean, I may be Irish, the way our country’s history is set up, but I don’t claim to be. Anyway, back to the decadent image. This is a Chocolate Stout-Pretzel Cupcake with Bailey’s Buttercream, topped off with a drizzle of caramel sauce and even more pretzels. I’m going to show you how to make it so that you can celebrate St. Paddy’s day properly. If you gave up alcohol for Lent- sorry for ya’!! Naw, I’m just kidding. If you did, I’ll explain how you can adjust the recipe to not screw up your walk with Jesus.
Chocolate Stout and Pretzels are Made for One Another
…they really are. Have you ever drank Guinness while eating pretzels? It just works. I think it may be the maltiness of the pretzels that goes perfectly with the creamy brew. When you add dark chocolate to the mix, you’re bound to end up with something delightful. I went a step farther and added a drizzle of caramel, which seriously pushes this dessert over the top.
Use mini-pretzels (just because they look better when garnishing), Guinness (or other stout), cocoa powder (Dutch processed), flour, granulated and brown sugars, eggs, milk, and butter for the cupcakes. We’ll get to the ingredients for the buttercream later. The caramel sauce, you can either make yourself using this recipe, or purchase it at the store. I’m pretty sure that there’s no doubt of which one I recommend.
Make the Pretzel Base
I wanted to add as much pretzel flavor as possible to these cupcakes. To incorporate the pretzels into the cupcakes, I’m crushing 70 of them in a plastic bag using a rolling pin. Roll the pin right over the sealed bag (squeeze out the air, first) until the pretzels crumbs are fine. Take out 1/2 cup of the crumbs for garnishing the cupcakes later. These crumbs will be mixed with four tablespoons of melted unsalted butter to create a crust- much like a cheesecake crust.
Place cupcake liners into your cupcake tin and add a tablespoon of the pretzel mixture to each cupcake liner. Press the crumbs down a bit with your fingers to pack them. Now, pop the cupcake tins into your preheated 375°F oven and bake for 5 minutes. Once the time is up, remove the pans from the oven and allow the pretzel crusts to cool while you make the cake batter.
Prepare the Ingredients for the Chocolate Stout Cake Batter
I always harp on the importance of blending cake batters, and on how all of the ingredients should be added in a certain way. I’ll give that up for Lent and give you the expedited version of how to mix this cake batter.
Measure out the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and powder, and salt, then use a sifter to sift them together into a separate bowl.
In a large measuring cup, combine the whole milk and the Guinness. One thing I can’t leave out is the importance of having all of your ingredients at the same temperature. While drinking warm beer is gross, it’s going to have to be room temperature to create the balanced batter you need. The butter, eggs, and milk that we’re going to use need to be, as well.
Make the Batter
Use an electric hand mixer to cream (or mix) together the sugars and the butter. Stop after getting shot with sugar crystals and realize you forgot to add the vanilla extract. Add it.
If you want an added boost of chocolate flavor, add a teaspoon of Rodelle’s chocolate extract. Add the eggs to the mix, one at a time, beating until they’re incorporated into the mixture.
Cream everything together, on medium-high speed, for 6-7 minutes. You want the mixture to look fluffy. Scrape down the bowl at least twice while you’re creaming the butter, sugars, and eggs.
Add one-third of the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low until the flour has been incorporated. Scrape down the bowl.
Add half of the milk mixture to the ingredients in the bowl and blend until it’s mixed in. The batter will look like it’s curdling- it’s supposed to, so don’t spazz out. Scrape down the bowl once again (just…let’s just agree that every time you add something and blend it in, you’ll scrape down the bowl, okay?)
Repeat these last two steps (1/3 of the flour followed by the remaining milk, followed by the remaining flour). Blend for a minute after scraping down the bowl one final time.
Use a number 16 scoop to scoop the batter into the lined cupcake tins. Bake for 20 minutes at 375°F, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, or until a thermometer reads 210°F. When the cupcakes have finished baking, remove them from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Whip Up the Buttercream
Use a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, to begin the Bailey’s Buttercream. First, cream together the shortening and room temperature unsalted butter. This is American buttercream, hence the use of shortening. Once the butter and shortening are smooth, add the salt, then gradually add the powdered sugar. Please do so on the lowest speed possible, because I’m not trying to hear that you have sugar all over your kitchen because of me.
Scrape down the bowl a few times as you’re mixing. Once the sugar has been incorporated, crank the speed up to medium-high and get it fluffy-ish. Switch to the whip attachment.
Add the Bailey’s Irish Cream and the vanilla extract to the mixture, then gradually increase the speed back up to medium-high and whip for 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape. Down. The. Bowl. Please.
After mixing, the buttercream should be fluffy, silky, and smooooooooove. That’s hood for having an even and regular consistency.
Decorate the Cupcakes
Once the buttercream is ready, and the cupcakes are completely cool (don’t want a Foodnetwork-icing-running-off-the-cake-with-two-seconds-on-the-clock-debacle, now do we?), grab a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip. Fill it with half of the buttercream (this makes managing the bag easier) and pipe a dot of frosting in the center of the cupcake. This dollop of frosting will help create that cute dome of frosting on top of your cupcakes. Now just pipe a swirl around and on top of the dollop.
Sprinkle some of those reserved pretzel crumbs on top of the frosting. Fill a separate piping bag with caramel sauce and drizzle an obscene amount over each cupcake. Seriously. It should be at least NC-17- the amount of caramel you drizzle.
Plunk a whole mini pretzel onto the top of each swirl of frosting and gawk. Ogle even. Do what you gotta do with the beauty that is staring you down.
See? Doesn’t it look like the pretzel is staring at you? It wants you to eat it. I promise you.
Enjoy these pretzels within 3 days. You’re have two dozen of them, so this is great for sharing with your friends and family…or eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on your own. That’s an idea, too. Be sure to pin this recipe for easy finding and baking, then share far and wide. I’ll love ya for it…not that I already don’t.
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Chocolate Stout-Pretzel Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream and Caramel Drizzle
Chocolate Stout-Pretzel Cupcakes
- 70 mini pretzels, divided
- 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 1 cup Guinness (or stout beer), at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed, light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon chocolate extract, optional
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup caramel sauce (link in post)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line two cupcake tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
Make the Pretzel Base
- Crush the pretzels to crumbs in a sealed plastic bag using a rolling pin. Reserve 1/2 a cup of the crumbs for garnishing the cupcakes later.
- Combine the remaining crumbs with the melted butter to create a crust that holds together when squeezed in the palm of your hand. Add a tablespoon of the pretzel mixture to each cupcake liner, pressing down a bit to pack them.
- Bake for 5 minutes. Once the time is up, remove the pans from the oven and allow the pretzel crusts to cool while you make the cake batter.
Prepare the Chocolate Stout-Pretzel Cake
- Sift the dry ingredients together, then set this bowl to the side.
- In a large measuring cup, combine the milk and the Guinness. Set this aside as well.
- In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat both sugars, the butter, and both extracts together.
- Add the eggs to the bowl, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl prior to adding the next egg. Mix on medium-high speed, for 6-7 minutes, or until the mixture looks fluffy. Scrape down the bowl at least twice while you're creaming the butter, sugars, and eggs.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients, alternating with the milk mixture, as follows: add 1/3 of the dry, mix just until blended in. Add 1/2 of the milk, mix just until blended in. Repeat until all of the ingredients have been added to the bowl. Scrape down the bowl's sides occasionally for an evenly mixed batter.
- Use a number 16 scoop to scoop the batter into the lined cupcake tins. Bake for 20 minutes at 375°F, or until a thermometer reads 210°F. After the cupcakes have finished baking, remove them from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Make the Bailey's Buttercream
- In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the shortening and butter until smooth.
- Add the salt, then gradually add the powdered sugar. Scrape down the bowl a few times as you're mixing. Once the sugar has been incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for one minute.
- Switch to the whip attachment and add the Bailey's Irish Cream and the vanilla extract to the mixture.Gradually increase the speed back to medium-high and whip for 3 or 4 minutes, or until light and airy. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally during mixing.
Decorate the Cupcakes
- Once the buttercream is prepared, and the cupcakes are completely cool fill a piping bag- fitted with a 1M tip- halfway with the buttercream.
- Pipe a dot of frosting on the top each cupcake, dead center. This dollop of frosting helps create a dome of frosting for your cupcakes. Pipe a swirl of frosting around and on top of the dollop.
- Sprinkle a generous pinch of the reserved pretzel crumbs on top of the frosting.
- Fill a separate piping bag with caramel sauce and drizzle a good amount over each cupcake.
- Top each cupcake's frosting with a whole mini pretzel.
- Enjoy these cupcakes within 3 days of preparation.
Alcohol-Free Version:Replace the Guinness with room temperature- brewed- coffee. Omit the Bailey's Irish Cream in the buttercream, as well. Thin the icing, as needed, with whole milk (up to 1/4 cup).
- These cupcakes should not be frozen after frosting. If you would like to freeze them, do so after baking and cooling. The cupcakes are okay to freeze for two months when stored in a freezer storage bag.
- The buttercream can also be frozen (for up to two months). Fill a plastic freezer bag with the buttercream and freeze. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator and re-whip until smooth.
Here are some of my favorite St. Patrick’s Day recipes: