Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

I‘ve never been much of a “novelty” drinker; that is, I will choose a glass of whiskey with a cube of ice over some mixologist’s overwrought ginger-infused absinthe concoction any day. Because I went to college, though, where $40,000 in student loans taught me mostly how to open a beer bottle with a cigarette lighter, I make an exception for the “Irish Car Bomb.” It’s a staple among crowds of rookie drinkers: Drop a shot glass filled with equal parts Irish whiskey and Baileys Irish Cream into a pint glass filled 3/4 of the way with Guinness draught beer. When the liquor hits the beer, all hell breaks loose, the drink immediately begins to overflow, curdle and explode, and you tilt the whole mess back in a few big gulps, the foamy mixture of beer and booze sliding easily (and quickly!) down your throat and directly onto your liver.

My last experience with Irish Car Bombs was three years ago at a restaurant called “The Whale’s Tail” in Oxnard, California. I was having a nice, casual lunch with my mother and sister at a seaside seafood restaurant; the kind of place with Bloody Mary-soaked wall-to-wall carpeting and tipsy septuagenarians tilting gin-and-tonics at noon on a Wednesday. What should have been a breezy family lunch changed course rapidly when my sister, herself no stranger to a barstool, causally mentioned that she had never tried an Irish Car Bomb. Ever the loving little brother, and with my mother looking on, I insisted she try one immediately. We received our drinks, and with a count of three, dropped our shot glasses into our beers, where they immediately overflowed their glasses, sending my sister into a fit of giggles so severe, that she was unable to finish her drink. The very patient waitress and I explained that she shouldn’t worry, and that she should just try again with another one. Fresh drinks, 1-2-3, clink, foam, giggle fit, curdled beer, sighing waitress. One more try. Fresh drinks, 1-2-3, clink, foam, giggle fit, curdled beer, sighing waitress. On her fourth attempt, she was finally able to compose herself, and managed to drink her Irish Car Bomb down, without spilling a drop. Meanwhile, in my capacity as coach, I had finished the four I had been served in about twenty minutes, which made walking across the room surprisingly difficult, and has kept me from having another since.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

All that has changed, now. Jillian and I have a new daughter, and my sister is married and pregnant with a son of her own. This year, there won’t be any Irish Car Bombs, any public intoxication, or any fistfights with someone in a “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirt. This St. Patrick’s Day, the closest we will come to that kind of debauchery is consuming our whiskey, Bailey’s, and Guinness in cupcake form.

All of the elements of this cupcake work beautifully together. The Guinness adds a subtle richness to the chocolate cake, which develops just the slightest crispy crackle on its exterior. The cupcakes are filled with a Jameson-spiked dark chocolate ganache, and the whole shebiggle is topped with a surprisingly light, definitely boozy Bailey’s-soaked buttercream frosting. That combination of sugar, fat, and booze is enough to quicken your pulse and make the world seem like its spinning off its axis with just one bite. In other words, they’re perfect for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup Guinness stout
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

For the Jameson dark chocolate ganache filling:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Jameson Irish whiskey

For the Baileys buttercream frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

Method:

For the cupcakes:

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a cupcake or muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring Guinness and butter to a simmer. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

In a large bowl, stir flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt to combine. In a standing mixer, beat the egg and sour cream until combined. Slowly add the Guinness and chocolate mixture, and stir until combined. Add flour mixture, and continue stirring until completely combined.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Fill each cupcake liner to 2/3 full, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out completely clean, about 17-20 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and allow to cool completely on rack.

For the Jameson dark chocolate ganache filling:

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Finely chop the chocolate, and place in heat-safe bowl. In a small saucepan, heat cream until simmering, and pour over the chocolate. Allow to sit for 1-2 minutes, and then stir using a rubber spatula until smooth. Add butter and whiskey, and continue stirring until combined. Let cool while you prepare the buttercream.

For the Baileys buttercream frosting:

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Using the whisk attachment in your standing mixer, whip butter on high speed for five minutes. Reduce speed to low (unless you want to cover your kitchen and, ahem, camera, in a fine mist of powdered sugar), and gradually add powdered sugar until incorporated. Add the Baileys, and increase speed to whip for another 2-3 minutes.

To assemble cupcakes:

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Using a paring knife, carefully cut a cone-shaped hole about 2/3 of the way down into the cooled cupcakes, eating the removed cupcake centers as you work. Transfer the ganache to a piping bag with a wide tip, and fill the cupcakes with the ganache.

Fill another pastry bag with the buttercream, and pipe onto the tops of cupcakes. Finish with sprinkles, if desired.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

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Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road." He currently owns and operates the Ancho Honey restaurant in Maine.

40 Comments

  1. ok…I had one of these today. And they are the best cupcakes that were ever, ever invented. I stand amazed. Congratulations, Malcolm, on Guinness based heaven.

  2. the best part of this post is that when i worked in california on a tallship, we docked in oxnard for a few weeks, right in front of the whale’s tail! too funny, small world!

  3. The recipe as written calls for THREE and A QUARTER tsp baking soda. This is not correct!!!! Should be 3/4 tsp. Had to toss out the first batch after it nearly exploded all over my oven.

  4. I made these today and they did come out great the second time… There is a typo in the recipe. The baking soda should be 3/4 teaspoon and not 3 1/4 teaspoons… I love your website anyway!!!

  5. This was such a huge hit with my family and friends on St. Patricks day (which is a holiday (like christmas) in my family) that it is requested at ALL family functions!!! Thanks you!!!!

  6. I doubled this recipe and made a dozen regular sized cupcakes and two dozen mini sized. The cupcakes on their own are delicious (I took the advice and ate the little cones I scooped out of the standard sized ones) even without icing. On the mini sized, I piped the ganache on the top, (too small to make an indentation), put them in the fridge until the ganache set up, then iced them. Yum!

        1. Louise, it’s common practice here in the States to drop a shot of Jameson into a pint of Guinness and refer to the concoction as an Irish Car Bomb. This recipe for cupcakes was inspired by that drink. I’m sorry that you don’t like the name. But there’s not really anything I can do about that.

          1. True that. I bet there are slew of politically incorrect drink names out there. When I was a college student / cocktail waitress in the mid-seventies, neither the Slow Comfortable Screw nor Sex on the Beach hadt been invented, thankfully. I am sure we had a few that were very offensive but at least they could be ordered without accidentally (or not) propositioning the 20 year old waitress.

        2. Unfortunately this is probably a drink invented by Americans while they were busy funding the IRA to make actual car bombs, without thinking too much about the consequences. Sadly, car bombs are starting to be used again over there. But still, as a cupcake they do look good. Just a pity about the name…

    1. Okay people these are cupcakes named after a drink not a political commentary. This is the problem with the world today you can’t say anything without someone getting offended . Bombs are bad, cupcakes are good, and Irish Car Bombs (the drink) are awesome. Get over it.

  7. I was directed to your site from another….and really pleasantly surprised…:) These sound wonderful and I will tuck the recipe away for St. Patrick’s Day…:) I will be making your cracker recipes first. We recently went out for dinner at a Japanese Steak house and I got to try “Sake Bombs” for the first time…..A glass filled 1/2 way with beer, chop sticks positioned over the glass with a shot of Sake on top….you pound the table until the Sake falls in and then you drink it down….now if you can come up with a cupcake for that I would be greatly impressed…..:)

  8. Best cupcake better I have ever tasted. The sour cream really gives the cakes a moist but light feel to it. The ganache was also SPOT on; so creamy and decadent yet not overwhelming. Frosting was also to DIE FOR.

    Thank you for this amazing recipe. Will be a keeper!

  9. Made these for my family today. They were a HUGE hit. OMG awesome. Light, moist, full of flavor!!! Several people said they were THE best cupcake they had ever had. Thank you so much for this recipe!!!

  10. O, so it IS a cupcake. thought it might be a drink, too. would make a nice drink. but a very very rich cupcake. might have to try. looks might rich and chocolatey for my tastes.

  11. Made these for my father’s birthday… amazing! I “taste-tested” the whiskey chocolate ganache and it took everything in me not to eat it all before they even got in the cupcakes! Thank you for the great recipe!

  12. Your cupcake name is vulgar, thoughtless and ridiculous. As someone who grew up when the troubles in Ireland were happening, I understand that car bombs kill and maim people. That is not a cute topic for your little blog or cake.

  13. I stay at home with the littles and love baking. I wanted to make these and send them in to my hubby’s work. Would they be “appropriate”?

  14. Malcolm, theses are the “bomb!” I have made probably 10 batches of these and they are still asking for more!! I tweeted it a little bit and instead of filling them I dipped them in the ganache…wow!!!

  15. The one time I tried an Irish Car Bomb, I too was with my sister. I almost ended up divorced. I can’t wait to make these.

  16. Can this recipe be doubled to make 24? I’m always more hesitant to make adjustments when baking than I am when cooking!

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