The Black and Tan is a classic drink, with a pale ale on the bottom and a dense, thick stout at the top. This cupcake is an inverted version. The cake is altogether rich, sweet, and complex, and dairy free, as well; we used very dark high-quality cocoa, so the batter was almost black! The frosting is also dairy free, and it’s a twist on a toasted marshmallow, balancing out the beer flavor of the cupcake. This frosting has the benefit of being pareve, but it will only last in peak form for 6 hours or so, so this is something to make in the morning for an afternoon event or in the afternoon for an evening party.
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) Earth Balance nondairy margarine, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (212 grams) dark brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (89 grams) dark cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 4 ounces dark chocolate, melted
- 2 cups stout beer, preferably Guinness
Toasted Brown Sugar Marshmallow Frosting:
- 4 large egg whites
- ½ cup (110 grams) dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
To make the cupcakes:
- If you are using a convection oven, preheat it to 325°F, or if you are using a conventional oven, preheat it to 350°F. Line 2 (12-cup) cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside. (If you haven’t melted the chocolate yet, do it now or it will be too hot to use).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the margarine, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla bean paste, and mix at medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs to the margarine mixture, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the melted chocolate and mix well. Add half of the flour mixture and half the stout, and mix well. Add the remaining flour mixture and stout and mix well. Scoop into the prepared cupcake pan.
- Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are puffy and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting:
- Fill a medium saucepan about ⅓ full with water, set it over medium-high heat, and bring to a simmer. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites and sugars and begin mixing at medium speed. Once the sugar is dissolved, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes, take the bowl off the mixer stand and set it on the saucepan, double boiler style, making sure that the bowl is not touching the water. Vigorously whisk until the mixture gets fluffy, and all the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove the bowl and return to the stand mixer. Attach the whisk attachment and mix on high for 3 to 4 minutes, until fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix well to combine.
To assemble the cupcakes:
- Frost the cooled cupcakes. Then, light a butane torch and toast the frosting until it is a chestnut brown. It will keep for about 6 hours; after that, the cupcakes may absorb some of the frosting, but it will still be yummy.
- The cake portion was loosely inspired by a nice chocolate cake recipe at Food and Wine. Find it here.
- Melting chocolate can be a little tricky. You can do it in a double-boiler (you can even make your own out of a bowl set over a pot of boiling water, but make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) as long as the water doesn’t come into contact with the chocolate (it makes the chocolate seize up). You can also melt chocolate in a microwave, as long as you check it every 15 seconds AND MAKE SURE THAT YOU STIR IT every time you check. Why? Because chocolate heated in a microwave retains its shape, even when its interior is hot and melted. If you just rely on a quick look-see, you may end up overcooking the chocolate.