Cupcakes (makes 22-24):
1 cup flavorful dark beer (I used Double Black IPA)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (or instant coffee if needed)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine the beer and butter in a medium or large saucepan and melt over medium heat (make the pan big enough to hold all of the above ingredients). Once melted, remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa, sugar and espresso/coffee powder.
Whisk the sour cream, eggs and vanilla together and add them into the chocolate butter beer. Sift the flour and baking soda into the batter and fold it all together. Pour into a cupcake pan (3/4 of the way full) and bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely on a rack. I baked these a day ahead of frosting them.
4 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, kosher or sea
Combine the water, sugar and corn syrup over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon which won’t conduct heat and cause crystallization. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat up to medium/medium-high and cook the sugar until it is caramel colored. You shouldn’t stir the pot at this point – just swirl it around occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Once the caramel is of the right color, pull from the heat for 30 seconds and then add the cream. The cream and sugar will bubble up a lot so watch out.
Then add the butter, lemon and salt and stir until combined. The easiest move now is to pour the caramel into a glass container like a measuring cup and put it aside until you make the frosting.
Salted Caramel Frosting:
1.5 sticks butter at room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese
4-5 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup salted caramel
Beat the butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Sift 2 cups of powdered sugar into the butter/cream cheese and beat to combine. Add the cooled but still pourable salted caramel into the bowl and beat to combine. Sift the remaining cups of sugar into the bowl, 1 cup at a time, and beat to combine. You are beating to the desired consistency and sweetness that you want but make sure it’s not too runny. Frost the cupcakes (that are completely cool) and sprinkle with a few flakes of salt.