Guest post: Marlo makes cupcakes

The email starts: “I should change careers.”

My sister works for the federal government, so I don’t think that anyone would disagree.

Two of her co-workers celebrated birthdays last week. Marlo, ever the pleaser, decided to make them boozy cupcakes. The female got Sangria cupcakes. Her male co-worker got Guinness cupcakes. Upping the ante was Marlo’s first foray into buttercream. She loves her KitchenAid mixer (funny story on how she acquired it…a friend of a friend got divorced and the wife was looking to unload remnants from her broken marriage…Marlo got a high-end KitchenAid mixer for $50) and tries to use it whenever she can make the excuse to do so.

Of the Guinness cupcakes, she said, “The cake came out a little dense, but no one seemed mad.”

The sangria cupcakes had a slight problem. By phone, Marlo said that the frosting required a red-wine reduction that was supposed to be cooled. She broke a bottle of pinot grigio down to one cup and tried to cool it in the freezer. She thought it was cook after an hour. She was mistaken. The buttercream did a little curdling at first. Apparently, she was able to make it work, as no one complained and no one has been hospitalized.

Chocolate Stout Cupcake

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 bottle Guinness
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. In another medium mixing bowl, combine the beer, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

Lightly grease 24 muffin tins. Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out.

THEN, I made a basic buttercream frosting with my Kitchen Aid (2 sticks of butter, 4 cups powder sugar, touch of milk, 2 table spoons of vanilla… then whipped in 4 healthy tablespoons of Bailey’s in (if too soft, add more powder sugar). Once the cakes are cooled, ice those puppies. Add appropriate decoration… I shaved a chocolate bar I had in the pantry and added a little gold sugar sprinkles.

Sangria Cupcake

  • 1 butter-flavored cake mix (yellow or white will work fine too)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup Granny Smith apples, diced small
  • 1 cup green grapes, sliced in half (Marlo’s note: I also added peach and instead of green grapes I used black grapes.)
  • 4 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 cup red wine

Combine cake mix according to directions, I use oil, Buttermilk and 4 eggs to make it taste like it’s made from scratch. Fold in apples, grapes and orange zest. Bake as directed on box. As soon as they come out of the oven, brush the wine onto the tops with a pastry brush.

In a sauce pan on the stove, bring the red wine to a boil and let it reduce to one cup, making a red wine syrup. Place in fridge freezer to chill. Beat the buttercream frosting, and then add the red wine syrup. (Marlo’s note: Make sure you do this reduction wellllllll in advance. If the wine reduction and butter are not at the same temp. the butter will get funny.) Once the cake is cool, ice, and appropriately decorate. I made strawberry roses, because I know how.


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