This post appeared in the July 2011 Japan Blog Matsuri “Drinks in Japan,” hosted at NihongoUp.
ほろ苦い (horonigai): bittersweet; something that has a strong taste adults favor
“Can I lick the bowl?”
As Japan gears up for White Day, the day when men who received chocolate for Valentine’s Day prepare to return the favor, the aisles of the grocery feel as if Valentine’s Day never ended. While I dislike the consumerism of Valentine’s Day in the US, I do enjoy the culinary benefits: my favorite tea shops and bakeries make chocolate products, and Sapporo Beer teams up with Royce Chocolate to produce Chocolat Brewery’s (ショコラブルワリー) chocolate beer.
Each year, the companies do something slightly different for this seasonal event. This year, they sold two kinds of the beer—sweet (スイート) and bitter (ビター）—in two packs; presumably the man in a heterogamous couple would drink the bitter and the woman the sweet. My friends and I aren’t much ones for gendered drinking habits; we decided that the sweet beer would be best left to ice-cream floats, while the bitter chocolate beer was more enjoyable just to drink as dessert.
I felt that my dinner party needed a dessert other than beer, and then I remembered the Guinness cupcake I had once tried at Cake Nouveau. What better way to celebrate Chocolate Beer Day than by recreating this cupcake with Japanese chocolate beer?*
The cake is exquisitely moist and soft, and the flavor of the chocolate stout in the batter and frosting makes for a complex, luxurious cupcake. In fact, this recipe is so good that I’m convinced it will someday cause someone to fall madly in love with me.
Chocolat Brewery Cupcakes**
Yields ~24 cupcakes
The total amount of beer needed is about 350 mL, or one can.
- 250 mL [1 US cup] bitter chocolate beer or chocolate stout***
- 130 grams [4 oz. +1 Tbsp] butter (bataa, バター)****
- 85 grams [3/4 cup] unsweetened cocoa (kokoa paudaa, ココアパウダー)
- 260 grams [2 cups] unpacked brown sugar (sanontou, 三温糖)
- 200 mL [3/4 cup] plain yogurt (youguruto, ヨーグルト)
- 2 eggs (tamago, 卵)
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (banira essensu, バニラエッセンス)
- 200 grams [2 cups] all-purpose flour (komugiko, 小麦粉)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (juusou, 重曹)
- 100 g [4 oz.] cream cheese (kuriimu chiizu, クリームチーズ)
- 80 grams [5/8 cup] confectioners’ sugar (paudaa shugaa, パウダーシュガー; konazatou, 粉砂糖)
- 40 mL [1/6 cup] chocolate stout (may add more or less to reach desired consistency)
- A large saucepan
- A hand mixer (dendou hando mikisaa, 電動ハンドミキサー)
- Muffin tins (mafin kata, マフィン型）or muffin cups (mafin kappu, マフィンカップ)
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F). I did this in my oven range in silicone muffin cups, but a greased muffin tin will also work.
- Chop butter into 2-cm chunks. Place in a large sauce pan with the beer and heat over a low flame to melt the butter. (The beer does not need to be flat.)
- When the butter is melted, remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
- In a bowl, whisk the yogurt with the eggs and vanilla, then gently add to the beer mixture.
- Sift together the flour and baking soda, and fold into the batter.
- Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until an inserted chopstick/knife comes out clean.
- Let stand 10 minutes, remove from muffin tin, and cool completely on a rack.
- Using a hand-mixer, whip cream cheese until smooth.
- Sift in sugar, and beat.
- Add beer, and beat until smooth.
- Spread glaze over cooled cupcakes.
*If you enjoy beer, check out Beer Advocate!
**This recipe has been around the block the Internet. My version is based on Big City, Little Kitchen‘s “Beer Cupcakes!“. In my version, I use chocolate stout instead of Guinness; homemade yogurt instead of sour cream; halved the frosting, and used chocolate beer instead of milk in said frosting.
***If you live in the US, you can substitute Young’s Double Chocolate Stout for the Sapporo x Royce beer, or you can use a non-chocolate stout like Guinness.
****Make substitute half plain yogurt. I used one I made with ~2% milk, but I’m not sure about low-fat yogurt.