Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Pretzel Frosting

How do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? Except for that one time I celebrated it in the epicenter of all St. Patrick's chaos, Dublin, I really don't do a lot to recognize St. Paddy's Day. I mostly think about it as being my best friend's birthday. I don't bother wearing green, and I give dirty looks to anyone who tries to pinch me.

So it's not a big deal to me. But if you think I'm not gonna use it as an excuse to make themed baked goods, well, you haven't been reading this blog very carefully.

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A lot of Guinness chocolate cake recipes make their way around the interwebs this time of year, so this isn't anything groundbreaking. In fact, I purloined the cupcake recipe from my own Guinness Triple Chocolate Cupcakes I made last year. But I gave them a makeover with sweet and salty pretzel frosting, made from Milk Bar's pretzel crunch.

Beer + pretzels is kind of like the adult's peanut butter + chocolate, no? Not that peanut butter + chocolate can't be the adult's peanut butter + chocolate. Actually, I think the best solution here is just to make it beer + pretzels + peanut butter + chocolate and then we've got the best of all possible worlds.

*makes a note for next March*

Maybe you're wondering, what makes this pretzel frosting more special than any other pretzel frosting? Well, I'll tell you. Because we're pulverizing Milk Bar pretzel crunch instead of pretzels, we're boosting the sweet and salty factor by approximately 5x. To make the crunch, pretzels are tossed with butter, sugar, a little salt, and the (not-so) secret ingredient, milk powder. The mixture is baked to crunchy perfection, and when blended into buttercream adds a much more dynamic pretzel flavor than your average plain, naked pretzel could ever dream.

Whether or not St. Patrick's Day hooligans are your thing, I'm pretty sure these cupcakes with have you dancing an Irish jig - and without imbibing several pints of actual Guinness first (though if you were to choose to finish the bottle of Guinness after measuring out what you need for the recipe...plus a couple more...you certainly won't hear any protest from me).

How do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

- Molly

Guinness Pretzel Cupcakes

Double Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
2/3 cup stout (e.g. Guinness)
1/3 cup milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add the vanilla extract, vinegar, oil, stout, and milk. Mix the batter until smooth, then fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into 12 baking cups. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from baking pan and allow to cool to room temperature.

Pretzel Frosting

1 1/2 cups pretzel crumbs

1/4 milk powder

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

2 sticks butter, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

4-5 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Put pretzels in the food processor and process to a fine chunks, similar to graham cracker crumbs. Toss the pretzel crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients. 

Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional tablespoon of butter and mix it in.

Spread crumbs evenly in a pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then pulverize into dust in a food processor.

Beat butter and one cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add two more cups powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and one cup of pulverized pretzel crumb. Beat until well combined. If desired, add one or two more cups of powdered sugar until frosting reaches desired consistency. Beat for four minutes until very fluffy.

Cupcake recipe previously featured in Triple Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes.