Chocolate Baileys Cupcakes with Irish Cream Liqueur Shots

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup MINUS 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 tsp instant coffee powder dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water (or 1/2 cup espresso)
1/2 cup Irish cream liqueur (homemade or storebought, like Baileys)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Baileys Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Recipe below)
Irish Cream-Filled Chocolate Shots (Recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line standard muffin pans with paper liners.
In large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the egg, Irish cream, coffee (or reconstituted coffee mixture), oil, and vanilla extract. Beat by hand or with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined (no more than 1 minute).

Pour the batter, which will be thin, to fill the paper liners about 2/3 full. Tap the pan firmly against the counter one time to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack and let them cool completely there.

Once cupcakes are completely cool, pipe or spread buttercream onto cupcakes and top with Irish cream-filled chocolate shots (be careful to position them securely so they don’t spill). Enjoy!

Irish Cream Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes enough to generously frost 12 cupcakes

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp sugar
15 Tbsp unsalted butter, cool room temperature and cut into 10 pieces
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 to 2/3 cup Irish cream (homemade or storebought, like Baileys)

Combine the sugar and egg whites in the stainless steel bowl of an electric mixer. Bring a large pan of water to a simmer, making sure that the water isn’t high enough that it will not touch the bowl. Set the bowl in the pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and the top becomes foamy. Be careful not to curdle the egg whites. Remove bowl from heat.

Transfer bowl to your mixer and beat on high speed for at least 3 minutes, until the mixture holds glossy, marshmallow-like peaks and the bowl is completely cool (very important -- the frosting's consistency will be off otherwise). If using a stand mixer, switch to the paddle attachment, and add butter to the meringue a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition (at least 5 seconds in between). With the mixer on low, add the vanilla and Irish cream, and continue beating 1 minute to incorporate the additions and reduce air bubbles.

Irish Cream-Filled Chocolate Shots

XIAOLU'S NOTES: If you have extra chocolate leftover, you can simply spread it in a layer (about 1/4-inch thick) over some parchment paper or other non-stick flat surface and let it cool completely. Once hard, chop it up to use for chocolate chunks in chocolate chip cookie or other recipes calling for chocolate chips/chunks!

5 to 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped or chipped
1/3 cup Irish cream (homemade or storebought, like Baileys)

I used a mini-sized silicone mold, but mini foil cupcake liners inside of a mini pan should work as well. If using foil liners, be sure to spray the insides with oil first. Bring a small pan of water to a simmer, and set a small heatproof bowl filled with the chopped chocolate on top of the pan. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Turn off heat but keep bowl on top of the warm pan. Another option is to microwave the bowl of chocolate at 30 second intervals, stirring in between each, until fully melted and shiny.

Using a small pastry brush, brush the inside of the molds or liners with an even layer of chocolate. Freeze mold or pan for 5 minutes, then brush another layer of chocolate over the first layer. Repeat the previous step one more time (for a total of 3 chocolate layers). Freeze for 20 minutes, then unmold the cups by peeling of one side of the silicone (or foil liner) carefully. Keep cool until ready to use. Fill with 1 teaspoon of Irish cream to serve.