Servings: Makes 2 dozen cupcakes
Note: Milk stout is a sweet dark beer, available from many craft breweries. Segal likes Three Floyd's, a brewpub near her restaurant in Chicago. You can also substitute regular stout, available in most grocery stores. For the bittersweet chocolate, use a variety that has at least 70 percent cocoa.
To make milk stout butterscotch: Heat cream in a small saucepan over low heat until just warm. Combine sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil for 1 minute. Add cream in 3 batches, reducing for 1 minute between each batch. Divide butterscotch in half. In 1 portion, stir in milk stout; set both aside.
To make milk chocolate-milk stout liquid: Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk in the cream and 1/3 cup milk stout-butterscotch then transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make chocolate Swiss buttercream: Remove the bowl from a stand mixer and whisk together sugar, egg whites, and salt over a pot of simmering water until sugar has dissolved. Transfer bowl to stand mixer with a whisk attachment and beat on high until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to medium-low and add butter, in little pieces, until all butter is incorporated and buttercream is smooth and shiny. Add chocolate and vanilla and mix until combined. Set aside.
To make chocolate frosting: In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, then add chocolate, vanilla, and salt; combine well. Fold in buttercream from the previous step and reserved butterscotch (without the milk stout) and mix until thoroughly combined.
To make smoked almond brittle: Spray a sheet pan lined with parchment paper with cooking spray. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt butter, sugar, corn syrup, 1 teaspoon water, salt, and vanilla over medium heat, stirring until combined. Cook until mixture turns a golden color, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and pour mixture onto prepared pan. Let stand to harden about 1 hour.??Chop into dime-sized pieces, then combine with chopped almonds and melted chocolate in a bowl; evenly spread on same pan and refrigerate until hardened. Crack into various shards to use for decoration.
To make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin tins with paper liners and spray the top of tins with cooking spray. Adjust 2 oven racks to divide oven into thirds. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together coffee and buttermilk in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat oil and sugar on medium-high speed until combined. Add egg and vanilla; combine well. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients and wet ingredients in 3 batches, starting and ending with dry ingredients; combine well. Divide batter among 24 cups and bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean; switch positions of pans halfway through baking. Transfer pans to racks and cool completely in the pan.
To assemble cupcakes: Cut out the center of each cupcake with a 2-inch round cookie cutter or a sharp paring knife. Brush the interior of each hole with melted chocolate. Chill cupcakes until chocolate is firm, about 10 minutes, then spoon about 1 teaspoon milk stout-milk chocolate liquid into each hole. Frost tops of cupcake (leaving edge of cupcake unfrosted) with 1 tablespoon chocolate frosting and top with a shard of brittle. If not serving immediately, refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
From the May 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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