St. Patrick’s Day Disaster! Espresso cupcakes with Bailey’s buttercream

What could go wrong?
What could go wrong?

In previous years, on March 17th I served as living proof that Irish Americans could successfully ignore St. Patrick’s Day.

In New York this was a matter of necessity.  I had to mentally distance myself from the marauding frat party that seemed to begin at about 9 in the morning.  I share no DNA with broseph over there throwing up green beer on the sidewalk, I’d say to myself.

Now that I’m in DC, I have a little more mental space to get festive with it, and to take advantage of the opportunity to experiment on my friends with a new recipe.

Enter the Irish coffee cupcake (or a variation thereon).

♫ Suggested listening: something from Dublin’s hardest working soul band. ♫

(and one of my favorite movies.)

Click to listen: The Commitments – “Mustang Sally”

The second batch actually came out OK.
Cute!  But shriveled lava chunk-like in texture.

Disclaimer: this is not a success story.

At least not entirely.

I am not an experienced baker.  I am a sautée-er, a roaster, a griller.  Baking, and dessert-y things in general, are not my strong suit.

I’ve never made cupcakes before.

So why, when Martha Stewart presents me with a perfectly reasonable recipe, do I go buckwild and decide that I’m going to make angel food mini cupcakes instead?  I’ve never made angel food.  The most I know about it is that it’s fluffy and it’s generally upside down.  And I’ve certainly not seen it in cupcake form, let alone mini.

But if you can cook, you can bake.   Right?  ….right?

I made an angel food batter, added 2 tablespoons of espresso powder, and stuck the first batch in the oven.

When my mini-cupcakes came out rather like pumice stones, I said to myself, maybe angel food is not suited to mini-cupcake form.  But after a little research, I found out that some people do it perfectly fine.

Well.  Good for her.

The moral of the story is, when working with an unfamiliar medium, especially baking, follow the directions.  Don’t go rogue and give yourself over to chef hubris.  DO WHAT MARTHA TELLS YOU.

There’s a happy ending, however: Bailey’s buttercream frosting is off the chain.  Here’s how I made it.

Bailey's frosting

Ingredients – Bailey’s buttercream

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2.5 cups powdered sugar
  • At least 4 tablespoons of Bailey’s

Instructions – Bailey’s buttercream

  1. Soften your butter (don’t melt it).  Add your powdered sugar about a cup at a time, whisking all the while.
  2. Add your Bailey’s into the mix.  Whip until even-textured and fluffy.  Or use an electric mixer.

Ingredients – cupcake recipe I should have followed

 Says Martha:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons instant-espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Instructions – cupcake recipe I should have followed

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour water over espresso powder; let cool. Combine espresso with milk.
  3. Beat butter and granulated and brown sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with espresso-milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
  6. Fill 15 cups (of two 12-cup muffin tins) three-quarters full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool; turn out cupcakes from tins.
  7. Top each cupcake with 2 tablespoons frosting; dust with espresso powder.

Next time, that is what I will do.

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