Easy chocolate cupcakes with a boost of flavor from your favorite stout. Topped with chocolate buttercream frosting and flakey sea salt!
FOR THE CUPCAKES:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup stout or porter
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 and 1/4 cups flour (measured correctly by scooping and leveling)
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (you may not need it all)
- Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE MIXTURE:
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add stout to saucepan and whisk to combine. Bring to a low simmer.
- Add cocoa and whisk to combine. Remove chocolate mixture from heat and set aside.
MAKE THE BATTER:
- Whisk sugar and eggs together in a large bowl (or use the paddle attachment in the bowl of your stand mixer).
- Add flour and salt to bowl and mix until just combined. The mixture should be relatively dry and resemble a coarse biscuit dough.
- In a separate bowl or measuring cup, add apple cider vinegar and milk. Add baking soda and stir to combine. The mixture will foam up as the soda reacts with the vinegar.
- Stream milk mixture into your mixing bowl a little at a time, whisking between each addition, until fully incorporated and no lumps remain.
- Add vanilla to batter and stir to combine.
- Grab the chocolate mixture you made before and stream it a little at a time into the cupcake batter, whisking between each addition, until you have a smooth, thin batter.
BAKE THE CUPCAKES:
- Line two cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
- Transfer cupcake batter to a large measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring (you may need to do this in batches).
- Pour batter into cupcake liners until they’re 3/4 of the way full.
- Bake cupcakes at 375 degrees F for 15-17 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove cooked cupcakes to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.
MAKE THE FROSTING:
- Add room temperature butter to a large bowl and use a hand beater or spoon to lightly cream the butter (you can also do this with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk or paddle attachment).
- Add cocoa, powdered sugar, salt, and half of the heavy cream to the bowl. Set your hand beater to a low setting and beat until frosting starts to pull together, then increase to a higher speed and beat frosting until smooth.
- If frosting is too thick, add additional cream 2 Tablespoons at a time, beating between each addition. If frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, beating between each addition. Frosting should be relatively thick and able to hold its shape.
FROST THE CUPCAKES:
- Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a large piping tip (we used an 18-inch decorating bag fitted with a large coupler and 1M piping tip). Pro tip: Stand your piping bag up in a drinking glass to make it easier to fill!
- Frost cupcakes.
- When you’re ready to serve, top each cupcake with a sprinkle of flakey sea salt. Serve immediately.
A note about salt. Add salt to these cupcakes within 4 hours of serving. If the salt sits on the frosting too long, the flakes will dissolve into the frosting and won’t be as pretty or visible. We prefer large, flakey Maldon Salt or Jacobsen Sea Salt here.
Adjustments and Substitutions. Use coffee in place of stout if you like (or check out our favorite coconut oil cupcakes for an alcohol-free version of this recipe!) Buttermilk may be used in place of the apple cider vinegar and milk mixture. You will need to adjust baking times if you’d like to make these cupcakes as mini cupcakes or as full cake layers. Mini cupcakes typically need just 10-12 minutes to bake, while 8″ cake layers need 25-30 minutes. If you bake this cake in alternate sizes, use your judgment and use the oven light to keep an eye on it.
What beer should I use? Use any dark beer you like! Stout, Milk Stout, Chocolate Stout, Porter, and Vanilla Porter all work well here. See the post above for some of our favorite brands! When in doubt, go with Guinness.
Storing and Freezing Cupcakes. Store cupcakes in an airtight container on the counter for 2-3 days. They also freeze well – see our Cupcakes 104 tutorial for all of our best cupcake freezing and storage tips!
Ingredients and Equipment. We prefer Maldon Salt or Jacobsen Sea Salt for topping these cupcakes. Use good-quality vanilla and cocoa powder here for best results. These cupcakes were baked with Wilton Cupcake Liners in a Wilton Cupcake Pan and frosted with an 18-inch piping bag, large coupler, and Wilton 1M piping tip. We love using our OXO cake tester in place of toothpicks to gauge doneness. We’ve also had good luck using reusable silicone cupcake liners.
This batter may be thinner than you’re used to – don’t worry! It’s supposed to be quite runny and will bake up just fine.
This recipe was originally published in 2014 and has been updated for ease and clarity.
Keywords: baking, holiday, birthday