Stout Cupcakes with Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I’m guessing that you have caught on to the fact that I am not a big fan of beer; however, toss in some sugar and chocolate and I am all about it. These espresso stout cupcakes were inspired by an actual bottle of espresso stout beer I found at my local market.

Although it was $4.99 a bottle, I thought it would be the perfect addition to Stout Week and immediately placed it into my cart. Before baking the cupcakes, I had my buddy, Corey, taste a small sip of the beer to find out if the espresso note was detectable. He concluded that although it was slightly noticeable, it was definitely not overpowering.

I pumped up the espresso factor by adding instant espresso granules to the batter. Espresso acts to intensify the flavors of cocoa and stout, without overwhelming.

I gave the cupcakes a quick dip in a pool of glossy ganache, but they still needed a little something. Sifting through my collection of cupcake decor, I had a moment of brilliance (however fleeting!) and remembered the bag of dark chocolate covered pretzels I’d stashed (read: hidden from myself) in the pantry.

Seriously, what goes better with beer than PRETZELS?

Stout Cupcakes with chocolate covered pretzels

Yield: 36 cupcakes


For the cupcakes

1 (12-ounce) bottle stout (I used espresso stout)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant espresso granules dissolved in two teaspoons warm water
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

For the Ganache

12 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate; chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Finishing Touches

Chopped chocolate covered pretzel twists
Fine grain sea salt


For the cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the stout, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and espresso.

3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Add in the sour cream and mix until combined.

4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, and baking soda. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the stout mixture. Batter will be thin.

5. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until risen and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool completely on wire rack.

For the Ganache

1. Place chocolate in a large heat safe bowl. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium heat until it just begins to boil. DO NOT walk away from the stove. The cream could boil over and you will be with a big mess to clean up.

3. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate and let it sit for five minutes.

4. Begin stirring the cream with a wooden spoon or whisk starting in the center of the bowl and working your way outward. As you stir, you will see the cream and chocolate come together. Allow your ganache to cool for 15 minutes and stir in vanilla. Let ganache sit at room temperature for another 3-45 minutes before topping cupcakes.

To decorate cupcakes

Invert the top of the cupcake into the bowl of cooled ganache, use a spoon or offset spatula to spread evenly. Finish cupcakes with chopped chocolate covered pretzels and a tiny pinch of fine grain sea salt.


- Cupcakes are best served the day they are made due to the fact that the pretzels will soften overnight.
- adapted from Dave Lieberman

48 Responses to “Stout Cupcakes with Chocolate Covered Pretzels”

  1. sara — March 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Wow-ee these look tasty! I so love salty + sweet together, and I love the idea of chocolate and pretzels. Yum!

  2. I. Die. Damn, I forgot to buy stout when I was out this morning!

  3. Tracy — March 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Haha when I read this the first time I read, “…to find out if the espresso note was delectable.” ;-) It does sound delectable though – especially with the pretzels on top! Love the sweet/salty combo!

  4. Beer and pretzels is genius! You’re on a roll with the beer theme this week.

  5. Miranda @That's What She Said — March 17, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Ah, these look amazing. I was going to try a “Green Velvet” cupcake today with Irish Whiskey cream cheese frosting, but got lazy. These look better though!!

  6. Amanda — March 17, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Do you enjoy making a fat pregnant lady drool? Cause EVERY time I come here that is what I do! :)

  7. Jessica — March 17, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    These look incredible! I may be sending the hubby by the store for a bottle of espresso stout on his way home from work ;-)

  8. Kate — March 17, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Brilliant! I made Guinness cupcakes yesterday, but only had enough Bailey’s buttercream to do half of them. I know what I’m topping the other half with now!

  9. DessertForTwo — March 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I’ve seen A LOT of Irish themed posts today, and I must say this is the by far the best one! Looks sooo yummy!

  10. Cookbook Queen — March 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    I am not a big fan of beer either, but I am a fan of beer in cupcakes!! These look the pretzels on top!!

  11. Karissa — March 18, 2011 at 12:20 am

    Those look divine….and it’s not helping my indecision on what to bake. :P

  12. Joyti — March 18, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Yum! I did a full cake of chocolate and guinness a short while ago, but looking at your gorgeous cupcakes, I wish I did these instead. They look fabulous.

  13. Erica — March 18, 2011 at 8:25 am

    These look delicious! Love the pretzel topping

  14. Katrina — March 18, 2011 at 8:26 am

    The pretzels on top of these really make the cupcakes look awesome. Great recipe!

  15. Yuika — March 18, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Fabulous! The pictures are amazing and it makes me hungry. May I ask what camera you’re using? I’m taking up a course on food photography and would love to hear from you. Thank you! :D

  16. I LOVE the beer/pretzel/chocolate combo!! These are beautiful.

  17. Laurie Jesch-Kulseth — March 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Your cupcakes look delicious — I’ll be making them this weekend :). Love the choc pretzels on top!

  18. Vimitha — March 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    That looks sinfully yummy… Can u pass me the whole lot?

  19. dyingforchocolate — March 18, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Beer and chocolate and pretzels. What could be better? These would be great any time! I used us all my Guinness this week and tried to buy some more yesterday. My local shop was out! Love your photos. Recipe looks good, too!

  20. crustabakes — March 19, 2011 at 12:31 am

    OH yum! What a moment’s stroke of genius with that pretzels as decorations .Those pretzels would most definitely add that very slight touch of saltiness I so love in my desserts!

  21. Anita Menon — March 19, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Such fantastic flavours together. It looks stunning to say the least.


  22. Lauren at Keep It Sweet — March 19, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Sweet and salty plus crunch from the pretzels? These are right up my alley!

  23. CaSaundra — March 19, 2011 at 9:24 am

    oo yum! Nothing beats a sweet and savory combo :-)

  24. Frank Price — March 19, 2011 at 10:46 am

    My wife is Janet Rudolph who writes Dying for Chocolate, She shared with me your recipe for Chocolate Stout Cake. While she did not make the cake, the photo satisfied my visual senses. I do hope that I will have the time to make the delicious cake myself that you so aptly described on your website. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water and I do know that it can be consumed on any day of the year and not just Saint Patrick’s Day As a matter of fact, I am going to request that Janet make it for me for my birthday.

    Thank you!


  25. Kerstin — March 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Love those pretzels on top! I’ll have to make these for my hubby!

  26. salome — March 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    He publicado tus brownies en el recopilatorio semanal de mis recetas favoritas, espero que no te moleste…

  27. kale @ tastes good to me! — January 25, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I LOVE stout! I am so excited to try these!! Oh wait… I cannot find stout in Ecuador. *sigh* Well I will keep hunting and bookmark these cupcakes for my culinary wish list. Thanks!

  28. Maggie — March 18, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Hey Jamie! Tried out these cupcakes last night and I’m posting the recipe (with a link to this page) on my cooking blog for my AP English senior project. Just thought I’d let you know these were such a hit, and I’ve been perusing your blog {and love it!}. Keep all the delicious recipes coming, I can’t wait to try more :)


  29. Jaime Luna — August 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Can you do this recipe with the favorited doctored up cake mix?

    • Jamie — August 5th, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      I haven’t tried it, so I am not sure of the exact measurements that would be needed. Sorry I am not more of a help. Thanks for stopping by!

  30. Jessie — October 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Girl, you are the queen of cupcakes! I wish I were your neighbor! :)

  31. Simone — October 2, 2012 at 1:34 am

    I might have unwillingly entered a double comment as I was in the middle and then something went wrong… Anyway, I was saying that I don’t really like beer either but these cupcakes look totally amazing and I’m thinking they would go down with the guys even better then usual!

  32. SimoneN — December 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

    [So crazy that a Simone was the last one to make a comment!]

    My boyfriend is a dark beer drinker and loves Stout and Porter. So when I was perusing your recipes and found this I knew I had to make them. I made them last night and I must say that the presentation of these are absolutely wonderful!! I never seem to get my ganache right but last night, it was PERFECT. I can’t say that Stout cupcakes are going down as my favorite, but everyone who has tasted them enjoyed them. Such a fun recipe to try :]

    • MBA — December 19th, 2012 at 9:31 am

      I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for stopping by and providing your feedback – have a great day!

  33. Mary — January 16, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I was wondering what you thought about removing the expresso granules. I am not a huge fan, but have a bottle of Chocolate stout that has minor notes of coffee already. Could I just add 2 tbsp of water instead of mixing it with the granules?

    • MBA — January 17th, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      I haven’t tried this recipe without the expresso, but I’m sure that it’s not necessary. Stop back and let us know how it turns out – have a great day!

  34. Sara Briggs — January 17, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Just made these for my husband’s birthday. They are amazing! The cupcake is so moist and chocolaty with the kick of espresso. I left off the pretzels because I knew he wouldn’t like that part. I would totally make these again! Thanks for the great recipe!

  35. Brandi — October 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    The Espresso stout cupcakes are AMAZING!! Well…I *think* they’re going to be amazing anyway. I haven’t actually baked them yet…I filled up the cupcake liners and then tasted the batter. Hopefully the 12 of them in the oven will be enough for hubby’s bday tonight cause I just looked down and the bowl is empty….whoops. I wasn’t able to find espresso stout so I substituted a dark chocolate infused stout, and also replaced the espresso grounds with some super strong instant coffee (couldn’t find espresso grounds either, at the only store in a 30 mile radius of my house). Still pretty freaking amazing, thank you…he may love me now but he’s going to be crazy about me when he tastes these babys!

    • Jamie — October 28th, 2013 at 10:36 am


      You’re substitutions sound wonderful, I hope they were a hit. Stop back and let us know! Have a fantastic day and thank you for following MBA!


  36. Brigid — December 9, 2013 at 9:05 am

    If I wanted to use butter instead of vegetable oil would it be an equal amount?

    • Jamie — January 10th, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Brigid, it would need to be an equal amount of melted butter.
      – Jamie

  37. Erica — December 23, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Come on guys…how am I going to May my NewYears Resolution ( annual lie to myself that I will curb my addiction to all things delicious ), while seeing things like this. I can’t wait to try this. I hate beer of any kind though, can you taste it when baking with it?

    • Jamie — January 10th, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Erica, when you bake with alcohol, the actual “alcohol” cooks off, leaving only the base flavors of the beverage. When it comes to stout, it’s quite chocolatey, so that’s what you’d taste.
      – Jamie

  38. Lindsay Abbassian — March 27, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    has anyone tried these with whole wheat flour? that’s all I have in my pantry

  39. D'Arcie — June 18, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    The flavor of these cakes are to die for! I subbed out the ganache fir a Maggie cream cheese frosting and bacon and good Lord it’s heavenly.

    My only question is they were quite dense and didn’t rise. I’m fairly new to baking, but this is the first time I’ve ever had that happen! What did I do wrong?

    Either way, I’d give then another shot. They are unbelievably good. Nom nom nom!

    • Jamie — June 19th, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      D’Arcie, I’m not sure why they didn’t rise. It’s pretty impossible to diagnose a baking problem over the internet, but I would check to make sure that all your baking ingredients are fresh.
      – Jamie

  40. Lauren — November 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm


    Quick question – how full do you fill each cupcake cup with batter before baking?

    Thank you!

    • Jamie — November 7th, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      You can fill each about 3/4 full. I hope this helps.


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