Cooking with Beer: Dark Chocolate Espresso Porter Cupcakes with Amaretto Cherries

63403776-DSC_3827In preparing for World Food Championships 2015, we were told that the first “Structured Round” of competition would be cupcakes.  I make cakes all the time, so cupcakes wouldn’t be a problem.  However, at world championships, just any cupcake won’t do.  No, that cupcake had to be amazing…the end all, be all of cupcakes…the most amazing, most creative cupcake I’d ever made.

After several trials and some pretty amazing cupcakes, I decided on a chocolate cupcake made with a smokey porter from Coppertail Brewing in Tampa, stuffed with amaretto cherries, and topped with vanilla buttercream and a beer syrup drizzle.

Cooking with Beer: Dark Chocolate Espresso Porter Cupcakes with Amaretto Cherries


  • 2 sticks butter-softened
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 pkt instant coffee
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • ¾ c. Special Dark Cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/8 c. Coppertail Brewing Night Swim Porter
  • Amaretto Cherry Filling
  • 3-12 oz. bag frozen dark sweet cherries
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. cornstarch
  • 3/4 c. Amaretto
  • Porter Syrup
  • 1-12 oz bottle Coppertail Brewing Night Swim Porter
  • 3 c. (24 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • Vanilla Buttercream
  • 2  sticks butter-softened
  • 2 c. shortening
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 4-6 TBSP milk


  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, instant coffee, and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients.  While mixing on low, add dry ingredients and porter alternately to butter mixture. Scrape down sides between additions.  When all has been incorporated, turn mixer to med-high and beat for 2 minutes.   Scoop batter into cupcake liners.  Fill liners 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 minutes for 15-25 minutes or until done—depending on cupcake size.
  2. Amaretto Cherry Filling
  3. In a pot combine all ingredients.  Cook over medium high heat until mixture boils, stirring constantly. Cook until thick.  Remove from heat.  Remove 24 cherries from mixture and allow to cool separately. Pour remaining filling into a food processor and pulse to rough chop the cherries.  Pour filling into a bowl to chill. Spoon ¾ filling into a piping bag for filling cupcakes.  Spoon remaining into blender or food processor and pulse to puree.  Pour puree into a squeeze bottle.
  4. Porter Syrup
  5. In a large sauce pan, combine ingredients and bring to a boil.  Stir/whisk continuously to prevent boiling over.  Allow mixture to boil for 15 minutes to reduce.  Remove syrup from heat, pour into a bowl to chill. When cool, pour into a squeeze bottle.
  6. Vanilla Buttercream
  7. In a mixer, combine butter, shortening, salt, and extracts.  Beat until smooth, scraping sides frequently.  Add meringue powder and half of powder sugar.  Mix on med-low until combined and smooth, scraping sides of bowl frequently.  Add remaining powdered sugar and small amount of liquid.  Mix until completely incorporated.  Add liquid as needed.  When everything has been incorporated, turn mixer to high and beat until light and fluffy.  Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large rosette tip for decorating.
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