The Chocolate Pubcake

What is a “pubcake?”  Because Urban Dictionary hasn’t defined it (yet), let me break it down for you:  it’s a glorious combination of all things you want to find at your local sports bar: salty pretzels, peanuts, and beer.  And for good measure, I’ve added chocolate.  Because who don’t like no chocolate?

I used chocolate stout in the cake batter and made a super simple chocolate buttercream then topped them off with peanut butter filled pretzels.

“Trish, how did you come up with such a novel idea?”  Simple: I didn’t.  While I’m flattered by your assumption, the fact is that I did not come up with the brilliant combination of stout, chocolate, and pretzels.  I was actually inspired by a post from Baker’s Royale called Beer & Pretzel Cupcakes.  You should check it out, it’s pretty awesome.

I was determined to pair a fabulously flavored and moist cake with a simple light chocolate buttercream.  I searched far and wide on the internets and wasn’t really happy with what I was finding.  I have this weird sense for when a recipe is kinda “meh.”  So I went to one of my absolute favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, to find a cake recipe that would fit the bill.  As usual, Deb delivered.  She adapted a recipe from the Barrington Brewery in Massachussetts; and I, in turn, adapted her adaptation.  I used chocolate stout instead of Guinness because I wanted a richer chocolate flavor.  I left out the chocolate chips because I wanted the stars of the show to be the frosting, cake, and pretzels.

As far as the buttercream, I wanted something that wasn’t too rich.  I wanted something to really complement the richness of the cake and the salty crunch of the peanut butter pretzels.  So I found a fabulous recipe at The Savory Sweet Life.  It’s a classic buttercream that  melts in your mouth, but isn’t too sweet (despite containing about three or four cups of powdered sugar).

And why peanut butter filled pretzels?  Well, they’re freaking delicious, so I don’t need much more of a reason than that.

Alright, enough chit chat.  Let’s get to it!

Makes 24 cupcakes

Chocolate Stout Cake

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 2 c. of all purpose flour
  • ¾ c. of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ tsp. of salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) of unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 c. white sugar
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. Young’s Chocolate Stout
  • ½ c. sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line two cupcake tins with paper baking cups.  In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer), cream the butter and sugars until the sugars almost dissolve, making a pale yellow paste.  Then, add in the sour cream and beat into the mix until incorporated.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating for about three minutes.  Now comes the scary part: adding in the stout.  If you do it without simmering the stout (like I did), you’ll have a weird looking clumpyish batter.  I promise you, this will not affect the flavor or how the cupcakes turn out.  But if you want to play it safe, simmer one and a quarter cups of the stout for several minutes (until the stout reduces by about 1/4 of a cup).  This will also cook off a decent amount of the alcohol as well.  So, we’re adding in the stout until it’s evenly mixed in the rest of the batter.  On to the next thing!

While the mixer is still going on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, about a quarter of it at a time.  After each addition, scrape down the sides of the bowl.

After mixing completely, fill the cupcake tins 2/3 full and place in the preheated oven.  Let them bake for 15-18 minutes, until a knife pierced through a cupcake comes out clean.  Let them cool completely before frosting them.  Which brings me to the next recipe….

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Slightly adapted from Savory Sweet Life

  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 72 peanut butter filled pretzels (for garnish atop the frosted cupcakes)

In a large bowl, sift together the cocoa and powdered sugar.   Cream the butter in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, until completely smooth.  On the lowest setting, start adding in the sugar/cocoa mix about 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  After the final addition, you should start to see the mix stiffening up.  Not to worry, because now you’re going to add your vanilla extract and blend.  Then add in the heavy cream one tablespoon at a time.  If you like the consistency after one tablespoon, then you’re done.  I wanted my frosting to be rich and creamy (but still stiff enough to show the swirls from my piping tip), so I added four tablespoons of the heavy cream.  Whip the mixture for several minutes to make sure the frosting will be stiff.  As usual with any frosting, add more powdered sugar if you want more stiffness and more heavy cream if you want it to be more…well, creamy.

On a side note, I’ve decided the word “creamy” is going on my list of inherently gross words.  Like “moist.”  :::shivers:::


Now that we’ve got our cooled cupcakes and delicious frosting, it’s time to put it all together.  Now, you can frost these bad boys however you like. You can use a spatula and lay it on thick.  Or you can pipe the frosting on there.  I recommend checking out this tutorial for frosting cupcakes.  This one’s pretty good, too.  Either way, if you’re piping, you’ll need large frosting tips.

Note: don’t be too generous with the frosting of these cupcakes with this frosting recipe.  First, you don’t want the frosting to devour the cake before you do.  And second, you’ll run out of frosting for all 24 cupcakes (like some people here…)

Once you’re done frosting, garnish each cupcake with three peanut butter filled pretzels.  It’s an awesome combo!

Okay folks, I hope you enjoy and please try out this recipe! Let me know how they turn out for you.  Until next time, get the cake!


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