03/13/2014 02:45 pm ET Updated May 13, 2014

Have Your Cake and Drink It Too

Guinness cupcakes to celebrate St. Patrick's Day come in two flavors. The traditional Irish Guinness cake is a dense spice cake with raisins that you can "cure" like a fruitcake adding a wee touch of Guinness to it every day up to a week before March 17. These I love to top with hard sauce spiked with Irish whiskey and dark chocolate shavings.

Then there is the modern innovation, American in origin, adding Guinness to a chocolate cake.

I hate decisions like this so I make both! This is why we have holidays. Holidays give us an excuse for excess! And excess is a memory aid. For example, ten years from now someone will say, "Remember St. Paddy's Day, 2014?" the reply will be, "Is that the one where we had two kinds of Guinness cupcakes? Traditional and chocolate?" "Indeed, the very one." And you will suddenly remember the whole day right down to what you wore, it was green.

Traditional Guinness Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Hard Sauce and Chocolate


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mace
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 cups seedless raisins, currents or a combination of dried fruit
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2/3 cups Guinness
  • 4 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a cupcake pan with heavy-duty cupcake liners. They will stand up better to the extra stout you will add.

Sift the flour and spices and half the baking soda together into a large bowl or food processor with the metal blade fitted. Mix well or pulse until combined. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, or pulse, until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the fruit, lemon rind and sugar, and stir or pulse to combine.

Add the beaten egg to the mixture and mix or pulse briefly again. Dissolve the remaining baking soda in the Guinness then add to the mixture as well and mix until well combined. Finish the rest of the Guinness yourself.

Halfway fill the cupcake liners. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Then lower the temperature to 300°F / 150° C, cover the top of the cup cake pan loosely with a sheet of waxed paper, and bake for a further 1 1/2 hours.

The cake should be a deep brown color and firm to the touch when finished. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely in its pan before turning it out and peeling off the waxed paper. This is a "fruit" cake so it keeps very well in an airtight container for a week or so. To "cure" it, pierce cupcakes with a knife and "feed" them a tetch more Guinness every day until you serve them. Always finish the rest of the Guinness yourself. It's not just for pubs any more.

Make a hard sauce by combining equal parts butter and confectioner's sugar and whipping them in a food processor. Add Irish whiskey, a teaspoon at a time, until the texture is light and fluffy. To serve, top each cake with a dollop of hard sauce and garnish with grated dark chocolate.

Quick and Easy Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Cream Icing

Don't have time for scratch cup cakes? Just take your favorite box chocolate cake. Substitute Guinness for the liquid that the box calls for and bake according to directions.

For Bailey's frosting, whip 8 ounces cream cheese with one softened stick of butter. Add four cups of confectioner's sugar and cream together. Add Bailey's by the tablespoon until the texture is fluffy, probably 2 or 3 tablespoons.

Erin Go Bragh! (Ireland Forever or Irish 'Til Doomsday, if you ever wondered.)