Vale IPA Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate and Passionfruit Ganache

This year’s RSPCA Cupcake Day was held on Monday 19h of August. After my efforts last year, it was expected that I’d take my beer cupcakes to the next level. So I thought about what I could do to top last year’s Hefeweizen cupcakes. The answer was easy – use India Pale Ale instead. And dark chocolate. And passionfruit…

I checked a few IPA cupcake recipes on the net, but they all used pre-made cupcake mixes that I didn’t have access too. So I decided to use the same basic recipe I used last year and just replace the wheat beer with an IPA. I made a small batch of this recipe last week and the results were good; you could get the fruity qualities from the IPA and not much bitterness. But overall they tasted pretty similar to last year’s cupcakes – if you weren’t a beer geek, they’d probably taste the same. I had to do something to take them to the next level, and that something would be the frosting.

My frosting ideas came down to two options; play it safe and use a passionfruit frosting (to accentuate the main fruit flavour I was getting from the IPA), or try to create a ‘Black IPA’ experience by using dark chocolate. I asked people for their opinions and got a 50/50 split. So I decided to combine my ideas and make a dark chocolate passionfruit ganache. Yeah, it was a total MasterChef moment.

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I must admit, I was pleased with the results. It didn’t create the ‘Black IPA’ experience IPA was hoping for, but the passionfruit, dark chocolate and IPA worked well together. I didn’t win a prize this year (prizes were only awarded for cupcake decoration…epic fail), but the cupcakes received some pretty positive comments. The star was definitely the ganache, even though it dominated the flavour and hid the beer in the background. It was a shame, but then again it’s probably best not to smash people’s palates with IPA when you’re trying to raise money for the RSPCA.

You can find the cupcake recipe here (thanks again to The Cupcake Project). Just replace the wheat beer with an IPA of your choice; I went with the Vale IPA, because a) it’s readily available at my local BWS, and b) it has a big passionfruit flavour (which was the inspiration for these cupcakes in the first place). I also replaced the lemon zest with grapefruit zest, because I figured that was more IPA’ish.

To make the ganache you’ll need a 300ml bottle of cream, a 250g packet of Dark Chocolate melts, and a passionfruit. Put the cream and passionfruit pulp in a saucepan and heat it until it nearly boils, then turn off the heat and let it cool a bit (I mixed throughout, don’t know if this helped or not). Put the chocolate in a bowl over a simmering saucepan of water (which is a bain-marie I think?) and strain the cream into the same bowl. Mix the cream and chocolate together, and once it’s combined let it cool in the fridge. Then, cover you cupcakes with it!
I should mention that I don’t think my ganache worked out properly – instead of being shiny and smooth it went a bit grainy and dull. I don’t know if this was from the passionfruit or because I accidently splashed water into the mix when it was hot (I’m a clumsy baker). It still tasted great though, which is the important part I guess.

I’m probably going to tweak this recipe further to try and bring more or the IPA flavour into the cupcakes…but I want you to do the same thing! Try the recipe; use a different IPA, different fruits, whatever you feel like. Just make sure you let me know the results, because the perfect IPA cupcake is within reach.

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