Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting are drizzled with a caramel made from Bailey’s Irish Cream; the perfect sweet ending for an Irish meal.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcake with Irish Cream Frosting and Drizzle

I’ve wanted to make the Chocolate Stout Cake from Barrington Brewery in Barrington, MA for the longest time; since 2002 when I first saw the recipe in Bon Appetit magazine. How it constantly got away from me is a mystery but it did and yet I never forgot about it; especially since discovering, much to my own surprise, just how much I love Guinness Stout Beer. Finally it was time and I decided to use that cake recipe to make these Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting.

The delicious Barrington chocolate cake with chocolate frosting magically turned into cupcakes with an Irish Whiskey frosting and I thought perfect if finished with a drizzle of Bailey’s Irish Cream Salted Caramel. Go big or go home right?

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Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting and Bailey's Salted Caramel Drizzle

I decided this year it was time for new photos for a great recipe so of course things went awry. I came very close to considering this an epic fail. The Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes both flowed outside the liners and also sank in the middle making for a worse subject than in the photos I considered no longer acceptable.

I did one tray at a time and after the first misstep I removed some of the batter from the liners and tried again. Nope, not gonna work; same thing happened but to a lesser degree.

SO many things that can wreck havoc on baking at a mile high, actually we’re at 6200′. Was it the overcast day which might have lowered the air pressure just enough to make that difference in this already tricky environment? Was it too much leavening; not enough liquid? What the heck?

I was thinking about Chef Gerhard from Denver’s D Bar Restaurant mentioning to me when I visited his restaurant that a simple temperature change to my oven would be all that’s needed for Denver and he was right. But, since a move a bit south I had been experiencing more issues and had a suspicion in the back of my mind.

Since moving to the city of Castle Rock, could that be the difference? A quick internet search and I find that, son of a gun, we’re 1,000 feet higher! I feel like an idiot for not knowing that for 4 years, but better late than never right? I’m going to have to do some testing to find my cupcake baking sweet spot but seems I’m going to have to get used to leavening changes again.

Rest assured; this won’t happen to you. I use tried and true baking recipes for everything I post; whether my own favorites from years past before I moved to Denver or those from popular sources. While I make the necessary adjustments as I prepare the dish in my kitchen; those changes don’t get translated to the recipe shown since I want to share them with people in more than just a few states.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting
Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

What did I do to rescue these Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes for today? Well if you look closely you can tell the cupcakes have been trimmed of their flying saucer edges and you can’t see the divot but who doesn’t love more frosting right?

Yes, I’ll need to test some more for myself to get those High Altitude adjustments fixed, but I’ve also learned to flow with the mishaps, I will suffer through myriad cake and cupcake challenges and never ever consider leaving Colorado. I also didn’t remake these…and none of my friends noticed; they just loved the flavors!

For you flatlanders? You don’t know how lucky you are that stuff just works (and so will this recipe!).

Using Guinness doesn’t make them taste like beer although I can discern it’s presence but the chocolate and caramel notes of the beer complements the chocolate of this batter. Which is what I always expect espresso to do so I threw a bit of it in there too!

The frosting and drizzle together are pretty sweet but the cake is not; it’s closer to bittersweet so I thought they were perfect together. Another confession? I like to drizzle but I’m also taking photos and it adds a nice flourish to cupcakes. If you’re not a drizzler? No problem, these are delicious with or without.

These Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting would be absolutely fantastic on any day but certainly the perfect dessert for a St. Patrick’s Day party. Sláinte!

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Cupcake Rack Filled with Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting and a Bailey's Salted Caramel Drizzle
Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting and Bailey's Salted Caramel Drizzle

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting

These are the epitome of an adult cupcake for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Guinness is added to a chocolate base and the cupcake is topped with Irish Whiskey frosting. It is indulgent and DELICIOUS!!
4.82 from 50 or more votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Cakes, Cupcakes & Cheesecake
Cuisine american, irish
Servings 24 Cupcakes
Calories 315 kcal


For the Cake

  • 1 cup Guinness beer
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder unsweetened
  • 1 tablespoon dry espresso powder optional
  • cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the Bailey's Drizzle

  • 6 ounces Bailey’s Regular or Salted Caramel
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

For the Frosting

  • 1 stick butter softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons Irish Whiskey


To Make the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake tin by adding cupcake liners.
  • In a medium saucepan on low heat, combine beer and butter and keep on low until butter dissolves.
  • Once butter is melted, slowly whisk in sugar, cocoa and espresso until they have completely dissolved.
  • Set mixture aside and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes (room temperature is fine but no hotter).
  • In the meantime, sift together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl, then set aside.
  • Mix together sour cream, vanilla, and eggs. Beat on low until combined then slowly blend the chocolate into the sour cream and eggs, keeping mixer speed on low.
  • Add flour one cup at a time and mix on medium speed until well blended but do not overmix.
  • Pour cupcake mixture into the prepared cupcake lines to about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick insert into the middle comes out clean.
  • Cool cupcakes in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

To Make the Bailey's Drizzle

  • Combine the Bailey’s and sugar in a saucepan and cook on medium until the mixture is reduced by half. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using.

To Make the Frosting

  • Cream the softened butter in the bowl of a mixer. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until well combined.
  • Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add the Irish Whiskey one Tablespoon at a time and combine thoroughly. If necessary add a bit more powdered sugar for correct consistency.
  • Spread on cupcakes with a knife or offset spatula or pipe using a piping bag and tip. Let the frosting set up a bit before drizzling with the Bailey’s drizzle.


Nutrition Facts
Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting
Serving Size
1 Serving
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword chocolate, cupcakes, dessert, Guinness, st patricks day
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  1. Do these need to be refrigerated? I’m making them today to serve tomorrow (and bring a couple to family the next day). Thank you!

      1. 5 stars
        Thank you kindly! These came out awesome. I love cooking savory dishes and often shy away from baking or desserts. Making these is way outside of my comfort zone but your recipe was easy to follow and they are delicious (from the tastes I sneakily took). I even substituted gluten free flour for my celiac husband and they are perfect. My family visiting tomorrow for St. Paddy’s Day love dessert (and booze) and will enjoy this very much. Thank you for your quick response as well! Cheers!

    1. Closest I get are some cookies with a ton of sprinkles I’m afraid…would that work? I’m decorating some this week for Easter with a fun mixture of colors!

  2. Super Rezept. Ich werde es am Wochenende ausprobieren! Sieht auf jeden Fall schon mal lecker aus. Ich hoffe, mir gelingt es genauso gut 🙂
    Danke und beste Grüße

    1. Whoops… thanks for that catch Lindsay. I’ve revised the recipe to include those instructions to pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Enjoy!

    1. Someday maybe I won’t have any return…which will be good because it means that I can live with all the photos on my site. Yes ideally I would change a few that I’ve taken in the last 4 years but for the most part, it’s the ones I did years 5-8 that need a redo. Especially if it’s a good recipe and it’s represented with a shabby dress. 🙂

  3. Would vanilla cupcakes balance well with the frosting? I have a few guests who aren’t a fan of chocolate *sigh*. Could I make the frosting and Baileys sauce the night before? Would it keep well in the fridge over night?

    1. They would be fine; not quite the contrast but still good nonetheless. You know how frosting hardens a bit? If you make it the night before just make sure you affix a piece of saran wrap to the top of it so you don’t have to deal with incorporating the crunchy bits that will develop…but other than that I see no reason why it wouldn’t be fine. Just let everything come to room temperature before frosting. Enjoy! (It’s all about the frosting anyhow) 🙂

    1. I doubt you can. I made these in my kitchen and shared the recipe on my blog so they’re meant for a home baker to re-create.

    1. That is not really a problem. I still have some in the freezer…safe from all kiddos and just for me! 🙂

    1. Well they sure are good. I’ve saved a couple of a friend by freezing them. She better get here quick! 🙂

  4. I can’t imagine trying to bake at that altitude! Makes me wonder how the bakeries around there operate. But these cupcakes – oh. my. goodness. How delicious! I’ve made cakes with Guinness and really appreciate the depth it adds. Plus that Bailey’s drizzle – what a great idea.

    1. It’s really not that hard once you get a system and for me the oven temp thing worked for years; I just had not thought that my moving south also meant going up higher! I’m sure bakeries get a recipe that works and then it works every time.

  5. Hallo,
    Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes sehen echt lecker aus.
    Danke für das Rezept und die Fotos.
    Ein sehr interresanter und hilfreicher Beitrag.

  6. But…. just think how many “failed” cupcakes you got to eat! I saw the photo of these floating around Facebook and had to come ogle. And get the recipe. They are fabulous and I’ll bet they are crazy good!

    1. I can’t afford failed cupcakes so I just ‘transitioned’ the failed ones into successes! They looked a bit like flying saucers and I used a kitchen shears to cut off the outside of the saucer!

  7. I love, love, love that you’ve used 3 Irish alcohols on this one dessert. Home run Barb! When I was doing research for the section of the book on high altitude, it said you have to make adjustments for every 1000 feet. I’ll bet you get it figured out quickly. But in the meantime, just keep creating these stunning beauties and we will all flock to admire and dream of tasting them! Amazing!

    1. Well I wanted to make sure it fit the notion of IRISH right? I’m part Irish; much like these cupcakes. 🙂

      The real problem with high altitude is that it’s tricky. More sensitive might be a good word. A little bit of cloud cover can change it from it’s normal ‘not normal’ baking status so if you’re cooking at high altitude you better be ready to punt; it’s been my saving grace.

      I’m not sure I agree about the every thousand feet rule Jane; I concur with Keegan that making it work at 5,000 or below is minimal and his tip for baking worked like magic. But as you advance higher from there, it does get trickier and it took me finding out that 30 minutes away meant 1 mile further up and that made a difference. Probably just a slight change in leavening difference. Funny but I have always had any issues I’ve experienced with cakes or cupcakes but never bread; maybe yeast is more high altitude friendly? 🙂

  8. I can’t imagine having to deal with altitude when baking. Enough to give one an attitude. 🙂 Wouldn’t have noticed anything wrong with these if you hadn’t told us. Good stuff — thanks.

  9. I’ve made the Guinness stout cake from Barrington Brewery several times – it’s a winner. Still, no matter how good it is, your cupcakes are way cuter. I can’t imagine the gyrations you have to go to in baking at high altitude – kudos to you for even trying! And the fact that you persevered until you got blog-worthy cupcakes – amazing.

    I love Progressive Eats too – and you’re so right, there’s something about cooking in a group that gets the creative juices flowing.

    1. It’s really not so bad…there are just those days. I’ve had more people tell me they couldn’t stand it but I’m serious Laura; I’ll take high altitude over high humidity any day!

      And thanks…I told ya…I’m the best at fixin’ stuff. Lots of frosting doesn’t usually hurt and no one complains. 🙂

  10. If you hadn’t fessed up, no one would know what happened :)) They looks absolutely Gorgeous and so perfect. Part of joy in cooking and baking is to have a setback once a while. They make for better stories don’t you think?

    Now save me one or three of these 😀

    1. I have a friend who has insisted I share some of the travails of high altitude baking; this was perfect right? I’ll put some in the freezer now!

  11. My Guinness cake is based on the Barrington recipe too. So good. And you prettied these babies right up–I am glad high altitude doesn’t keep you from baking, because your baked goods always look perfect and inviting and hunger-making.

    1. Thanks Jenni and truth be told, I can’t let it bother me; it’s something I love doing. I should do a blog for high altitude with a twist. ‘How I Fixed My High Altitude Fails’ Because except for the mentioned angel food cake, I always do! 🙂

  12. Flying saucers? You’d never know—your yummy mound of frosting disguised any imperfections perfectly! The caramel drizzle is certainly the crowning glory—I’m loving these cupcakes!

    1. Thanks so much Jeanette; and maybe it’s time? For me the key to boozy anything, whether cocktail or cupcake, is a light hand. The booze should complement the food, not overpower it. Even with three different components it turned out just perfect; wish I could send you one!

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