Once upon a time I entered a recipe contest. I did not win. It was an "Adventure" themed contest. I am not sure that my baking has ever been described as adventurous. Rustic? Yes. Delicious? Definitely. But there isn't a lot of crazy stuff for my KitchenAid to talk about with the other appliances, I suspect. So, while there was no prize for me, I came away with this incredible recipe. Hooray for me! I have made it for Christmas with an eggnog buttercream. I have made it for New Year's (twice)! And, I have made it to just enjoy all-round deliciousness. It is equally good with Guinness or espresso. The recipe can be made into cupcakes or an 8-inch round cake, as it turns out.
CRUST6 oz. crushed chocolate graham cookies
1 packet Starbucks Via or other fine/gourmet coffee powder
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons Semisweet Chocolate Chips
CAKE1 cup flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter
1/4 cup (generous) Chocolate Chips/Chunks
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons high-quality vanilla extract
1/2 cup Guinness Stout beer OR 1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso
FROSTING1 stick butter (room temperature)
3 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
1.5-2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon buttermilk
½ cup (generous) Chocolate Chunks, melted
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare 16-18 muffin cups with liners, OR prepare nonstick springform pan with butter, OR a buttered, lined 8-inch round pan
Prepare crust for bottom:
Using a food processor, or if crushing by hand a rolling pin and plastic bag, crumble cookies to crumb. Place crumbs in a small bowl and add packet of Starbucks Via to crumbs and stir. Melt butter and chocolate chunks together in the microwave. Start with 30 seconds and stir. If necessary, microwave another 20 seconds till the butter and chocolate are smooth. Stir. Drizzle ¾ of the warm chocolate over the coffee and cookie mixture and stir to combine. Put enough of the crumb mixture in to just cover each the bottom of the cup, or bottom of pan. Drizzle a drop of the remaining chocolate over each crust. Put in the warm oven for 2-3 minutes, then remove pan to cool and set.
Increase oven heat to 350 degrees.
To prepare the cake: In a large bowl mix flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together. Make sure it is well combined.
In the microwave (or in a double-boiler, if you prefer) melt a stick of butter with a 1/4 cup of semisweet chunks. Add butter/chocolate mixture, eggs, and vanilla to dry mixture. Blend with electric mixer for about one minute, or until well-combined.
If using beer, warm the Guinness stout (or other stout beer, if you like). If using espresso, brew two shots as you normally would. Add warm (not hot) beer or espresso to batter in two portions. After first addition, mix for 20-30 seconds. It will bubble upon mixing. Scrape sides, then add the remainder of the beer. Mix for an additional 30 seconds or until smooth.
Pour batter over crust in each muffin cup or in springform or round pan. Bake for 13-16 minutes for cupcakes (18-20 minutes for cake) depending on oven. Cupcakes may have a small dome in the center. Rotate pan front to back halfway through baking.
Mix butter and cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, in a couple of additions at a time, to desired sweetness/consistency.
Using an angled spatula, frost to a swirl on top. Top with chocolate covered coffee beans, if desired.