Sometimes when I get ideas for fancy meals or cakes or drinks, and I get sad because I mostly cook for myself, I suggest that Dave throw a party. This works out well because I get to make something creative and fun and Dave and his scientist roomies get a reason to throw a party (witness the Halloween party, wherein I built a cake designed to look like a thoracic cavity, complete with white-chocolate bones and fake blood, served inside a stuffed shirt and pants to further the illusion you were actually eating someone).
Last weekend, we (they) threw a St. Patrick's Day party, giving me the opportunity to make more delicioso and holiday-appropriate desserts. I've already posted about my Guinness cake: a sheet cake cut out in the shape of a pint, with white cake and chocolate frosting for the stout and chocolate cake with white frosting for the foam. But my show-stoppers were my shotglass cupcakes.
I came up with the idea sitting at work and wondering about how to combine cake and/or cupcakes with St.Paddy's favorite accoutrement: alcohol. I thought about maybe a beer-based cupcake or liquor-based frosting, when I wondered about cakes with liquid centers, and specifically, liquor centers. After some designing, testing, and help from Stef--the amazing baker of The Cupcake Project*--I came up with a basic cupcake, center hollowed out and "caulked" with melted chocolate. After a few minutes in the freezer, the chocolate hardens to an edible shotglass, which can be filled with Bailey's, Guinness, amaretto, chocolate liqueur, whatevs. It's like taking a shot except instead of chasing with a beer you eat a cupcake.
For a few weeks before the party, I tested different flavors and techniques, narrowing it down to a chocolate cupcake with amaretto buttercream frosting. Last time I was in Boston I tested the shotglass part--not so difficult although perhaps a bit time-consuming--and it came out mostly ok. Unfortunately, I made them around 10am, since I had to catch a bus later in the day, and the idea of that much sugar + alcohol left me a little queasy, physically and morally. However, Dave, who has no such qualms, enjoyed his very much.
Come the actual day of the party, I was a little concerned for time, since I was also pulling together the Guinness cake and also needed to clean up, decorate, and sleep so that, unlike the last party, I wouldn't need a power-nap halfway through. All in all it took me about 4 hours--not so terrible considering all the cupcakes I was making. I used 1 2/3 boxes of chocolate mix (the remaining 1/3 made up part of the Guinness cake) and mixed my own frosting, which turned out awesome. I started with regular-sized cupcakes (a few weeks before I'd tested extra-large cupcakes but didn't see much of a difference in usability). After they had cooled, I took a shotglass--a long and thin one, not short and squat--and made rings in the center of the tops. Using a spoon, I scooped out the center, making sure to leave a little cupcake at the bottom and take out any loose crumbs.
After that, I made a double-boiler by sitting a metal bowl on top of a pot of boiling water. I poured in about 2 cups of Nestle's milk chocolate chips and stirred them until they were fully melted. After that, I dropped a spoonful of the melted chocolate into the cupcake hole, spreading it around until it covered all sides and the top rim. This is especially important, as any holes in the chocolate would lead to leaks later. I stuck them in the freezer for about 15 minutes to let the chocolate harden.
While the cupcakes were freezing, I mixed up the frosting (recipe below). I went with amaretto buttercream, after extensive tests :). I went with the easiest recipe I could find (when testing it, Kevin said "This tastes like butter, amaretto, and sugar!" And I said "There's a reason for that."). Because the recipe only covered about 8 cupcakes, I had to triple it, leading to some lovely, overpowering smells of amaretto. It had a little more of a kick than I'd planned, but given the context, worked out fine. I frosted the cupcakes, making sure to keep them smooth and low so that people didn't get frosting mustaches when going in for shots. And using some green sugar crystals, I decorated half of the cupcakes to give a nice contrast.
I was a little concerned that people would be confused/turned off by the shotglass cupcake idea, but I shouldn't have been worried--drunk people loooove baked goods. We left a huge bottle of Bailey's next to the cupcakes (courtesy Kevin), passed the word that you pour alcohol inside the cupcake, and let people have fun. And it was fun! Mostly, people would pour in the Bailey's, spilling some on themselves, the cupcakes, the cake, then sheepishly look around before stuffing the whole thing in their mouths. Some people were a little more dignified, choosing to sip the liquor and nibble the cupcake, but generally the shot-takers were very full steam ahead. Since I had the rumbly in my tumbly that would eventually turn into the flu (I was very sanitary in my prep, though. No food-borne illnesses), I declined one of my cupcakes for something a little more substantial (baked ziti!), but it was worth it just to see the happy smiles, frosting-covered faces, and drunken antics of my friends <3.
AMARETTO BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
6 tablespoons softened butter
9 tablespoons amaretto
4 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 or 2 hours before beginning, set out butter to soften
Blend all ingredients together
If too thin, add more confectioner's sugar, if too thick add more amaretto
Makes enough frosting for 24-30 cupcakes
*I wrote to Stef, to see if she had any suggestions for filling cupcakes with liquid and she suggested trying chocolate liqueur cups, which you can buy on Amazon. I searched high and low for the cups, and despite the one dusty box my mom dug out from her closet, I discovered that these cups can't be had for love or money anywhere in Boston or New York. Since I've had some success working with melted chocolate, I went that route, but Stef made her own--ridiculously adorable--versions. Since she's preggars, Bailey's was I guess out of the question, so she instead made an Oreo cookie cupcake with the center filled with milk for dipping. It is just about the sweetest thing I have ever seen.