chocolate guiness and whiskey cupcakes with baileys frosting

irish car bomb cupcakes

The second I spied these cupcakes on Smitten Kitchen, I was obsessed. And it took me oh, just 24 hours to get to my obsession and actually materialize it. Sometimes when you’re inspired – you’re inspired. And if you show me a baked good that has not one but three types of alcohol in it, well, I’m completely defenseless. And if it happens to have an Irish theme to it, that pretty much settles it – I’ll be making the dessert in question that very evening. Not to mention, Deb made her cupcakes so pretty (when does she not make dessert pretty?) that I went home, muttering under my breath something about finally getting my cake decorating kit out and it was about bloomin’ time (thank you Paul and Sharon!)

not at all ocdbest. beer. ever.
boozy ganachethe tiniest bailey's bottle EVER!!

In the next few days, I learned that these cupcakes (which were a smashing success at a friends’ game night party – for whom I have this message – please do not stop making such strong margaritas else our Coyote Ugly rendition will be nowhere as fierce) – contained the trifecta of beverages used to make a cocktail with a rather sensitive name – The Irish Carbomb. The cupcake offers you Guinness beer in the cupcake batter, Jameson in the chocolate ganache and Baileys liqueur in the frosting.

waiting to be bakedboozy cupcakes
making a little well for the ganacheempty

According to some folks, ordering this particular drink at an Irish pub will get you a black eye or a missing tooth. My Irish friends all confessed to me to have ordered it on more than one occasion and their eyes/teeth remained intact and don’t see what the big deal is about the name. Still, I can see why some might not appreciate the drink name – given it’s not my invention, I suppose it is what it is. It is a name with a not such glittery connotation.

irish car bomb cupcakes

In any case, these were terribly fun and easy to make and I know they look a little much and complicated. And it was my first time ever piping the frosting, so you see that even for a beginner, this was not such an ordeal. In any event, I thought they were nowhere near as difficult as the Sweet & Salty Cake, which gave a few gray hairs here and there (don’t worry, I got highlights and no one can tell anymore!)

irish car bomb cupcakes

And because Deb wrote about how sweet and strong the frosting was, I decided to make the frosting even more sparse omitting it from the center and thus creating little cupcake flowers. There. Pretty, right? I kind of liked them that way and my friends did too. Some people wound up having two, in fact. For me, one was more than enough as, while I liked them, they were quite powerful and sweet.

irish car bomb cupcakes

If you’re thinking of an Irish-themed dessert for St. Patrick’s Day, think no further than this! These cupcakes are a true homage to the Irish bar offering (not entire Irish bar offering though) – and will add a festive touch to any way you choose to celebrate, be it a home-cooked meal or a bar crawl in your local town.

irish car bomb cupcakes

Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes with Baileys Frosting
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

While I really dislike the taste of Baileys, the flavor of it in the frosting is really lovely, actually and while strong, not like what you’d expect. The amount of frosting isn’t that much, so frost your cupcakes sparingly – and because the frosting is so sweet, a little will go a very long way.

Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting (see Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

Make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling:
Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes:
Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way and circle it around until it comes out with the cake part inside. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Keep those to snack on – I did! Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top. (It helps to slightly chill the ganache after you put it inside the piping bag – that way you can control how much you squeeze out.)

Make the frosting:
Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. By adding the sugar slowly, you get a smoother, less chalky taste to your frosting.

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Ice and decorate the cupcakes. I copied Deb and used a star tip and made little “poofs” everywhere and sprinkled it with various colors of sanding sugar for a pretty effect.

Deb’s do ahead tip:
You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day. (Longer, they will start to get stale.)


  • kdiddy

    “The second I spied these cupcakes on Smitten Kitchen, I was obsessed.”
    Me, too! I’m making them this weekend and I can’t wait. I’ve been talking about them for weeks!

  • Rona

    These look and sound awesome. Perfect timing for the corned beef and cabbage dinner I’m invited to on Tuesday. Can’t wait to try these.
    Great job on the icing Radish!

  • Amanda

    I am heading out to pub crawl today and while I know everyone would love me to bring these cupcakes, I fear that if I did, they’d be snatched up in a second by drunk, rowdy guys. And I have been known to be mighty selfish when it comes to dessert :) So I plan on making these on Tuesday, in the safety of my own home, with my friends. Ha! I’m such a brat.

  • Alana

    I, too, am planning to make these tomorrow! I’ve been keeping them in the back of my mind since the Smitten Kitchen post, and I’m so excited. Thanks for the pretty pictures and your take on these cupcakes… I should have my photos up in a day or two if you’d like. :)

  • Jen Jafarzadeh

    omg – I had seen these on Smitten Kitchen too, but now that I’ve seen you masterfully make Deb’s amazing cupcakes, I’m inspired to go for it. And I have a Martha Stewart cake decorating kit I have yet to break into — so funny that I’m not the only one. Your photos are fantastic!

  • Cristina

    I made them! And they were delicious and the recipe was excellent. The only problem I had was that I made 30 cupcakes and still there was a lot of leftover frosting. And I think I used less than you did. Do you know if I can freeze leftover frosting to use it again?

  • radish

    Christina – never frozen frosting, so I’m not sure. I googled it, however, and people recommend freezing it in a pastry bag or a ziplock, so it’s all ready to go next time you need it.
    Chocolate Angie – if you have the right tools in your kitchen, I think you should give them a whirl. I found them to be time consuming, but not tricky to make, but it’s hard to gauge with other people. Let me know how it goes if you attempt.
    Alana – yes, would love to hear how the cupcakes turned out/see pictures.
    And everyone else, thank you for your lovely comments! Deb’s recipe was/is truly inspirational!

  • Sarah

    I tried to make these today without cupcake liners in a non-stick pan = BAD IDEA. I am now making Irish car bomb cake instead of cupcakes as they are super crumbly and won’t come out in one piece without liners. But the crumbs taste delicious!

  • carolyn

    haha i was obsessed the minute i saw this recipe on smitten kitchen, too! unfortunately it has taken much longer for me to get past that point and actually bake these… i’m hoping to do it this weekend! i hope mine look as lovely as yours

  • Laura

    Love these, made my won for a friend one time… but instead of chocolate ganache, I tooke caramel sauce (like the stuff in the jar) mixed in a shot of whiskey and drizzled it over the frosted cupcakes….. An AWESOME additional dimention to the cake… try it next time!!!!
    Great site and recipes, I’m a fan!

  • christine

    Thank you Sassy Radish for these wonderful little cupcakes. I am not a baker and was pretty scared to even attempt this but my friend Rick is somewhat of a car bomb champion (he can drink one faster than anyone on the planet). We heated these up slightly before serving, not enough to melt the frosting but just enough to make them warm. They were a huge success.

  • Shuga

    When I made them we didn’t have enough powered sugar… so I cut the powered sugar with a cup of granulated sugar. The slight crunch makes it *THAT* much better… oh. and green sugar sprinkles. BOMB!

  • Fiona

    Just made this for St Patty’s Day – Big hit so far and I am thinking to co-workers will also give a big thumbs up!

  • Radish

    dana – not sure if you can keep them out awhile because it is buttercream – but certainly a couple of hours should be fine.

  • Alice Troxel

    Easier than coring the centers of the cupcakes, there is a piping tip you can get that is designed for filling cupcakes. I know that Wilton makes one, not sure about the Martha Stewart kit. I’m going to try them for my son this weekend coming, he comes home from his honeymoon on the 4th of July. Also, I have frozen buttercream for a couple of weeks without damage, don’t know how long it would keep, but what have you got to lose by trying??

  • Radish

    Alice – i liked the idea of coring because of the visual it created, but yes, I have those Wilton accessories, just never really use them.

  • Jenn

    I am so happy to have come across this recipe again, and even happier that you too felt there was too much sweetness in all the icing. I am preparing to make this for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s my niece’s 2nd birthday so the adults can have a little treat, too. She actually really likes these but mommy says “No”. Do you mind if I mention your site in my blog? I’m still new to the whole blogging thing and certainly do not want to step on any toes. Wish I knew some cool Irish toast to end this with…

  • olga

    Jenn – I’m so glad you like the blog – and absolutely feel free to mention the site! :) I don’t know any cool Irish toasts either, so we’re in the same boat.

  • Allison

    I have made these 3 times now.. I will only use this recipe !!! The only thing I changed (because I know my friends) I doubled, and sometimes tripled the bailys and Jameson. These cupcakes never last long where ever I bring them.

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