Chocolate-Stout Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

June 26, 2012

I'm not a fan of romantic comedies. I like romance and comedy, but I don't think they need to be fused into 90 minutes of predictable "quirky girl" antics, and yawn-inducing happy endings. I like movies that throw curve balls. Sorry, 95% of Jennifer Aniston movies. (Ouch, I know.) Apologies.

Okay, I admit that I'm slightly jealous of the fact that the quirky girl always gets the guy. And while I'm outwardly showing my disdain by muttering sarcastic zingers, inside I'm actually huddled in a blue Slanket eating a rapidly-disappearing pint of Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream and sipping from a never ending grasshopper.

Just like the movies, I think food sometimes needs a good plot twist...something that will keep people guessing and prevent self-deprecating inner-monologues, and lethargy.

Even though this recipe does include the beloved, yellow citrus fruit that I use in about 95% of my recipes, this time I paired it with some assertive stout. They hit it off in a big, non-annoying, not too much TMI, kind of way!

Who knew?

The Guinness chocolate cupcakes that I made a while ago were so popular, that I decided to use the recipe again, only with a different stout. ( But one that was equally intense, and just as exquisitely bitter.)

Feel free to use your favorite kind of stout or ale. I would not recommend using beer. What makes these cupcakes so substantial (and adult), is that wonderful, deep, rich stout flavour. Without the stout, they would just be happy, albeit boring, chocolate cupcakes.

Stout gives them their mojo.

To compliment the stouts intensity, I made a sprightly, elegant, lemon buttercream.

I adore this pairing!

They're a bit like a cupcake version of an alcoholic, lemony-chocolate creamsicle. Does that make sense? The cupcakes themselves are unbelievably moist (something which can't be said for all cupcakes). But it's the perky, twangy, lemon buttercream that truly makes this recipe dance.

As an added bonus, I used 1/4 cup of super-fine sugar in the frosting. A few years ago I ran out confectioners' sugar, and I had to improvise with granulated sugar and a food processor. It was a delicious discovery!  For some reason, I just love the added texture. If you don't think you would be a fan, just omit the granulated sugar amount and carry on with the recipe as it's written. :-)

Hopefully, you'll be just as over the moon in love with these swashbuckling darlings as everyone else was. Unlike some movies, they have just the right amount of everything to satisfy just about anyone.

(Any leftover lemon buttercream can, and should be, used as a pretzel dip.) 

Chocolate-Stout Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

for the tipsy cupcakes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
12 oz. of dark stout (light beer will not yield the same rich, boozy results)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup oil
1/2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 room temperature eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk (measured out and left at room temperature for about 20 min.)

for the lemon buttercream frosting
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (medium or large lemons...don't worry about specifics)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (optional. It's mostly for texture)
1 cup (that's 2 sticks), unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 to 4 cups of confectioners' sugar (You probably won't need 4 cups, but have an extra cup on hand just in case.)1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Prepare the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners. (This recipe will make about 24 cupcakes.)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking Soda, ground ginger, salt, and sugar; Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment (or any large mixing bowl, it you're using a hand-held), combine the Guinness, whole milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until combined. (If it's too slushy, you can turn the speed down to low.) Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minuter after each addition. Add the buttermilk and beat until well combined.
Slowly add the dry mixture and beat until just incorporated. The batter will be thin and it may even be a little bit lumpy...that's okay, they will bake up beautifully. Promise.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. [Note: Since the batter is so thin, it's much easier to fill the liners using a measuring cup with a pour spout.] Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans half-way through the baking time. The tops should spring back when lightly touched and a thin knife inserted into a center cupcake should come out clean. Remove pans from the oven and allow the cupcakes to rest for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Ready the buttercream, for tomorrow, we ride! (Don't ask. I don't know.) Place the lemon zest and granulated sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Process until the sugar is fine. (Don't worry about over or under-processing...just as long as it's thinned out and the lemon zest has been fragrantly incorporated.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and the lemon/sugar mixture on medium speed until creamy. (About 3-5 minutes.) On low speed, gradually add 3 cups of confectioners' sugar, beating well after each addition. Add the salt and the lemon juice, and beat on medium speed until everything is well combined and airy. If the frosting is too thin, add just enough of the remaining confectioners' sugar to make it thick and lovely. If it's too thin, add just a splash more lemon juice. Pipe the frosting onto the cool cupcakes, or simply frost with a small off-set spatula.

Garnish as desired. Enjoy to heart's content.


  1. I'm all for a sprightly buttercream and a recipe that dances...this post made me smile, love! (And the cupcakes are adorable!) :)

  2. I came to read about that lemon tea cake I saw a teaser for a few days ago, but was completely distracted by this. It sounds delicious, and it's been too long since I made chocolate stout anything.

  3. Hi Valerie, What a great muffins. But my favorite part of this post is a quote... :)

  4. I love that quote... LOL!

    Your cupcakes look extremely good! A divinely boozy treat.



  5. Looks absolutely delicious! I would so love to try some. I love lemon buttercream so I know I would love this recipe!

  6. That's a great plot twist!

    And while in theory I love romantic comedies, so few of them are worthwhile, I rarely watch them anymore.

  7. YES! love the pretzel garnish!

  8. What an interesting combo, I love both flavors separately, I'll have to try them together. It looks fantastic. Have you ever seen the french film called "romantics anonymous"? It's most definitely a romantic comedy, but doesn't follow the standard plot lines and between chocolate and paris and the humor, I promise, you'll be smitten.

  9. @Anna, Thanks for the recommendation! I haven't heard of the film, but it's foreign, which is an automatic plus. :D

  10. I love your writing as much as your baking, and that's saying something because your treats are pretty dang amazing. :)

  11. Yes, that quote is priceless. I love the idea of stout in a cupcake.

  12. i just love finding unexpectedly delicious flavor combinations! this sounds wonderful and i cannot wait to try :)

  13. I on the other hand love cheesy romantic movies - comedy or not, even with all their predictability and especially the cheesy endings where everybody lives happily ever after!

  14. Stout in my chocolate cupcakes? Oh yeah, I love boozy stuff! Especially because I can't drink alcohol (severely allergic), but I LOVE cooking with booze, though :)

  15. Hi Valerie

    What brand of Stout did you use in this recipe.

  16. Hi Valerie

    I need to cut this recipe in half, I divide all the ingredients in half, but I'm stuck on the 3 eggs, what would be the measurements for the eggs.

  17. @Jackie, I used Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout in this recipe, but any kind of stout should work beautifully. (Guinness is always a great option!)

    Dividing an egg is tricky, but it can be done. Here's what I do: Crack the egg in half and place it into a small bowl. Whisk it a few times, just to combine everything, and then carefully, add about half of it to the batter. (Hold half of the egg back with a spatula or knife as you're pouring.) Don't worry too much about getting exactly half of the egg. Just get enough of it in there to help with the binding.

    I hope that helps! :-)


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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