Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lucky Green Guinness Cupcakes

For some reason St Patrick's day was never a big thing when I grew up. I don't know if it was just my immediate circle, or our Afrikaans culture, but somehow it just completely passed me by. I knew there was an Irish holiday called St Patricks day, and it included some Guinness and a parade, but that was about it. I wouldn't be able to say when it was, or even who said St Patrick was.

Then I moved to New Zealand for a new adventure, and my first night out with my new friends happened to be St. Patricks's day. I wore a green top, had my first Guinness and hated it.I was hooked. Every year I made a point of going to an Irish pub wearing green, although I draw the line at ever drinking Guinness again. But still I didn't know anything more about this Irish holiday.

So when the new Sugar High Friday challenge turned out to be St Patricks day, hosted by The (ex)patriate's Kitchen, I reckoned I needed to do some research. This is what I learnt:
  • St Patricks day in Irish is Lá Fhéile Pádraig
  • St Patrick used the three-leaved Shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish.
  • The holiday is held every year on the 17th of March, unless the date falls within Holy Week 
  • Seattle paints the traffic stripe of its parade route green
  • In 1962 Chicago dyed its river green to check for sewer leakage, and has done so ever since on St Patricks day
So what to make for Sugar High Friday? After some thinking, mostly about the correct pronuniation of Lá Fhéile Pádraig, I decided on broccoli cupcakes with a chocolate Guinness icing. I found this cupcake recipe in an article geared towards teaching children how to eat good food. It claims to get them to eat their greens without even realising it. Now I don't have any experience in trying to get children to eat their vegetables (yet), but I'm unconvinced that these cupcakes will do the trick. The broccoli taste is quite pronounced. This wasn't a problem for me, as I quite like broccoli, but I'm not sure how fussy kids will feel about it. I unfortunately didn't have access to any fussy kids to test my theory, thank goodness,  but all the adults who had them loved them.

Then again, that might be because of the icing. This is a recipe from Jamie Oliver via Heather from Eggs, cream and honey, and she called it Chocolate Insanity. I don't know about you, but anything called something so provocative makes me sit up and take notice. And I must agree, it was gorgeous. Very chocolaty and rich and smooth and something, and that something is the Guinness. Nobody I asked could name the secret ingredient, which is good if you want to keep the recipe a secret. I love having a few recipes up my sleeve that people can't work out. Then again, I've never cooked for chefs, so I might just be kidding myself.

I borrowed a custom from the Christmas pudding custom to make these cupcakes lucky. Before icing them, I hid a $2 coin in one of the cupcakes, and told everybody that whoever found it would be extraordinarily lucky for the year to come. That lucky somebody turned out to be me (totally by accident, I swear), so I think I might go and buy some lottery tickets.

Lucky Green Guinness Cupcakes

2 eggs
1/2 cup (125ml) olive oil
3/4 cup (165g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (200g) finely chopped broccoli
1/2 cup (90g) finely grated zucchini
1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour
1/2 cup (80g) wholemeal self-raising flour
1/4 cup (25g) cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 190°C.  Line your muffin tin with paper cases.

Whisk eggs, oil and sugar together in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spoon into prepared cases and bake for 15-20 minutes, until done. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

If you want, hide a coin in one of the cupcakes. Pour some of the Chocolate and Guinness Insanity over each cupcake. Let it set before serving.

Chocolate (and Guinness) Insanity
100ml Guinness
100ml double cream
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
100g dark chocolate, chopped
Sea salt

Put the beer, cream and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until it comes to a boil and then take it off the heat. Stir the chocolate into the hot cream mixture with a small pinch of salt.


  1. Great cupcakes! What a clever way to use the "sauce". Have to try it with Guinness. I have Harry Eastwood's cookbook and she is all about using veggie's when baking. She doesn't use brocoli but things like courgette, pumpkin, squash, potato etc. It is quite a good way to get kids to eat veggies without them knowing particularly if you have a picky eater like me.
    It's funny when I was in the States St Paddy's Day was a really big deal but now that I am in England not so much! I have been enjoying everyone's posts about it though.

  2. Ooh delish! I've made similar cupcakes and they're so good. The Guiness makes it just gorgeous! Happy St Patrick's Day! :D

  3. What I found when I went to the liqour store is that Guiness comes in many forms. They had Draught there which isn't so bad so I had to have a glass on St. Paddy's Day. I should have saved the rest to make these!!!!!

  4. Veggies and cocoa, how cool is that? I loved your lemon polenta cake recipe as well.

  5. What an original and even subversive recipe! I am not sure i will try it soon but I would love to taste it! Love the cream though, it looks really like the kind of ganache I would go for!

  6. The icing is definitely the best bit of this recipe, thanks again Heather! Highly recommended.

  7. Hi Adele. So delighted to discover your blog: I love your classy zebra-stripe banner! I'll be popping in often. Thank you for visiting my blog.

  8. Hi Juno. Thanks for visiting! Looking forward to seeing you again.

  9. Mmmm my kids will eat broccoli but I think they'd protest against finding it in cupcakes! The icing sounds amazing. I might have to try it on a chocolate cake one of these days.
    We've never marked St Patrick's Day either. I didn't realise it was so big outside Ireland!