How to Make an Iron Druid

Kevin, showing off the completed product.

Kevin, showing off the completed product.

No, this isn’t going to be a blog post on the process of binding an iron amulet to your aura to protect you from magic while not hindering your own. Hunting pixies to feed to the iron spirit is just to damned time consuming. If you’re lost, go read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.

This is about making the Iron Druid cupcake, one of the two cupcakes I set up as homage to the series and characters. Also the one I know from memory, so easier for me to blog on. The Snugglepumpkin involves making the cupcake dog friendly so is a bit trickier. At the end of the blog I will leave the instructions on how to transform the Iron Druid cupcake into the Wayland Rock N’ Roll cupcake. D0n’t worry, the instructions are easy to follow.

The Prep

Bring 1 cup of stout and 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter to a simmer in a pot. (Optional: If you cut the butter in half, you’l get a more stout tasting cake. Not quite as moist, but also not as crumbly.) Once they are simmering, whisk in 3/4 cup of Dutch process high-fat cocoa until the mixture is smooth. Once fully combined, set aside to cool. You can put it in the fridge, but don’t leave it too long. You don’t want it to set, just not be steaming. (Note: You can use any stout beer you like. I normally use Guinness myself, though One Barrel Brewing in Madison has an oatmeal stout I want to try working with.)

Mixing it Up

Once your cocoa-stout mixture is cool, preheat your oven to 350. If you have a kitchen helper, have them paper 24 cupcakes into tins. (2 tins of 12 each) This will have things ready for the batter.

In a large bowl (NOT your mixing bowl), whisk/mix/shift together 2 cups of flour with 2 cups of sugar, 1.5 tsp of baking powder and 3/4 tsp of salt. (I usually just mix them together with the whisk. Sifting is time consuming, messy and doesn’t alter things that much with this recipe.)

In your mixing bowl, mix together 2 large eggs with 2/3 cup of sour cream on medium speed until smooth. Scrape the sides to be sure it is fully combined.

Pour your stout cocoa mix into your egg cream mix and blend on low speed until just combined. If your stout mix is to hot it will start to cook the egg. This will make you hate your life.

Mix in the dry ingredients into the wet and mix on medium speed until there are no lumps. Scrape the sides and bottoms to make sure you have a good blend. You don’t want some with clumps of dry stuff in them at the end.

Fill the 24 papers about 2/3 full (I use an ice cream scoop with a scraping trigger on it) and put into the oven. Bake for 17-19 minutes. The middles may still be moist when coming out (especially if you used the full cup of butter). You can leave them in until fully dried on the top, but that might burn the bottoms. You’re going to core the middle out anyway.

Give Them a Touch of the Irish

Here is where we diverge. What is listed below is the recipe I use for the Iron Druids. The notes on changing for Rock n Roll follow that.

Put 2 cups of dark chocolate in a bowl with 2 tbsp of softened butter, a slight drizzle of agave (about a tbsp or so) and 2 tsp of whiskey. In a pot, bring 1 cup of heavy cream to a simmer. Once steaming, pour the cream into the bowl. Let sit for about 60 seconds before whisking the holy hell out of it. Beat it like it owes you money! The goal is to get it smooth and melt all of the chocolate. For ease, use good dark chocolate chips. The higher quality and darker the better.


Use more cream to give you a soupier ganache. The more wet the filling, the more likely it will be to soak into the cake, so don’t go to crazy.

To make a Wayland Rock n Roll cupcake (named so for the batch I made for a concert where I made the adjustment), use double the whiskey in the ganache. It isn’t too much, but definitely puts more kick in the cake.

What kind of whiskey should I use?

In the YouTube show, Put It In Your Mouth, Charles St. Micheal answers the same question about wine. “Cook with the kind of wine you like to drink.” The same goes here. I use Johnny Walker Red as it is Scotch that I like. Sure, it costs more, but you use so little in baking, you have to like drinking the stuff for the other 95% of the bottle.

In future versions, I might use some Jesse James Dupree bourbon, because the band Wayland is managed by him and they have a bottle of his stuff on stage from time to time. Also, because… why not?

Frosting on the Cake

Here you can go two routes, a white chocolate cream cheese frosting, or an Irish cream frosting. Both are essentially the same, just one has Baileys mixed in with it.

Take a stick of softened butter and mix in your mixing bowl with 4 cups of powdered sugar. Once it is light and fluffy take an 8 oz block of COLD cream cheese and mix it in. Use your hands, get messy, and tear off chunks of it and throw it in like you’re dropping virgins in a volcano.

While that is mixing, take 2-4 oz of white chocolate (again, I use chips for ease) and melt in a bowl. Usually I add in a splash of milk or cream to help smooth it out. Just a dash. A tbsp or two tops. Normally for me it takes 1 minute in the microwave and some mixing with a fork.

Once the frosting is lumpy and sticking to the paddle, stop the mixer and scrape the frosting off the paddle and sides. Pour in the melted white chocolate and then beat on med speed and adjusting to high once the moisture is down. Beat it on high for as long as you like. It will make the frosting light and creamy. I’ll usually use the standard frosting for mine.

If you’re adding Baileys

Only add in about 2-3 tbsp of the Irish cream to the frosting. You can add them one at a time at the end and taste after each. If you want to do this, I would avoid adding the cream to the melting white chocolate. The more liquid, the soupier the frosting. This will make it harder to pipe on later.


For the Iron Druid, we had a Celtic bear design my wife piped out with chocolate. Those are a bit difficult to do, but are specific to the story. There are Celtic knot molds out there that are easier for you to work with should you go that route.

For the Wayland Rock n Roll cupcakes, we took pieces of strawberry Austrailian style licorice and put a small gumpaste “fuse” in the end to make it look like a stick of dynamite. (It’s the cake version of an Irish car bomb. Get it?)

Some time in the future I might do a video making it, but that all depends. I’m not the most photogenic person, and I make a mess when I make these. 😉


3 thoughts on “How to Make an Iron Druid

    • Excellent point.

      Once ganache is done and cupcakes are cooled, core out the center (only half way down at most) and then fill the hole with the ganache. Frosting goes over the top as normal, though you should probably pipe it on instead of spatula/knife frosting them.

      If you’re unfamiliar with piping frosting (my wife does the piping in our house), refrigerate them before frosting. It will make the ganache set.

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