drunken cupcake

March 19, 2012

Happy (belated) St Patrick’s Day!  I hope you were able to celebrate in this lovely weather, thoroughly free of snakes!  Our plans changed several times throughout the day, and when a request came for something “Guinness delicious”, how could I not oblige with the epic car bomb cupcake?  Even in the realization that the muffin tin was lost in the move (the horror!), drunken cupcakes were enjoyed by all (with a fork)!

P.S.  Happy One Year Anniversary to the Gorge!!

Greetings Gorgers, it has been a while!  The past two months has been filled with all the joys that house hunting, packing, moving, unpacking and settling in have to offer.  But now that the pots and pans are in place, the spice cupboard is filled, and the oven is in working order, it is high time to get back to baking!

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner (and Guinness specials aplenty in liquor stores everywhere), it seemed like a great time to appreciate all the ways you can enjoy stout.  Now, the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes are a certainly show stopper, but they are also a ton of work: Three separate recipes for the components! Coring tools! An insane amount of butter!  Ack!

May I introduce to you the Quatro Choco Guinness Brownies?

Quatro Choco Guinness Brownie ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (choco uno!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and sectioned
  • 8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped (choco dos!)
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips (choco tres!)
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/4 cup (10 oz) Guinness Stout, room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (choco quatro!)

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt until evenly combines.  Set aside.

Melt butter, bittersweet chocolate and white chocolate chips together in a double boiler under low heat, stirring constantly until completely melted and remove from heat.

If you are like me and do not have a double boiler, you can melt these together in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together on high speed until light and fluffy.

Add melted chocolate mixture to egg and sugar mixture, beating until combined.

Beat in the flour mixture.

Whisk in the Guinness and vanilla.  The batter will seem kind of thin, don’t worry.

Fold in the semi-sweet chips.

Pour into a greased (or foil-lined) 9×13″ pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center removes clean.

The hardest part: let the brownies cool uncovered at room temperature.

These are some decadent mo-fos.  The richness of four types of chocolate paired with the creamy moistness delivered by the stout make these brownies a danger to well-articulated sentences.  Please enjoy responsibly, with a solid glass of milk.

banana bread pudding

December 17, 2011

It’s that time again!!  Banana bread – wait for it – pudding!  Bread pudding made with homemade banana bread!  Because really, what else do you have to do the last weekend before Christmas?

Make Banana Bread.

Use your banana bread to make Bread Pudding.  Substitute dried cranberries and golden raisins for the sprinkled fruit and Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey in the whiskey sauce.

Ponder how bread pudding – with its bland name and less-than-photogenic presence – can be such a pleasant dish?!

summer bread pudding

June 20, 2011

My own dear dad was beyond thrilled way back in March when I made bread pudding for the first time, so I decided to revisit the dish with a summertime twist this Father’s Day.

For scheduling reasons, I fixed up a brunch spread for the occasion, telling my brother’s family I was preparing a “baked french toast thing” because bread pudding just sounds so blah and bland.  Both my dad and my brother have extraordinary  sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) and since it was their special day, I heightened the sugar factor by using dried bing cherries in place of the raisins and amaretto in place of the whiskey for the sauce.

Served with a fresh cantaloupe and blueberry salad, a pound of bacon, and a pitcher of orange juice, the fathers in my family were delighted with my efforts (almost as much as watching my brother’s three-year-old twins use their forks to spear blueberries one by one by one).

Happy Father’s Day, for the man who introduced the concept of breakfast-for-dinner, I gave him the gift of dessert-for-breakfast!

bread pudding

March 20, 2011

I have never made bread pudding before and I can’t recall ever being served bread pudding either.  It’s not the most enticing name, bringing to mind a marriage of croutons and Snack Packs – not exactly a winning combination.  However, when I called my father to tell him I would be crashing my parents’ belated St. Patrick’s Day dinner, the sound of delight in his voice was evident as I let him know a bread pudding would be joining me.

(By the by, when did a straight-forward corned beef and cabbage dinner become so delicious?!  In my childhood, this meal was synonymous with a sour soggy plate of stewed bland colors that my younger brother and I could bear only with the help of French’s mustard racing stripes and plugging our noses to ingest the rest.  My taste buds must be maturing now as I was absolutely enchanted in this year’s meal: the salty vinegar flavours of corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes contrasted wonderfully with the lightly sweet and creamy qualities of buttered soda bread and a Guinness.  I even went back for seconds!)

This recipe comes from what I’ve affectionately known my entire life as the Red and White cookbook.  The book has been a staple of my mother’s collection and I have inherited her mother’s copy of the same cookbook.  It is fabulously informative, divided by tabs into twenty separate sections, with color photos, and simple instructions with suggestions for variations on the recipes.  Best of all – it’s a binder!  A cookbook that lies flat when opened!!

This is a superbly simple recipe that I was able to bang out to completion in under one hour, including cooking time.  And if you were like me, having never enjoyed bread pudding before I’ll let you in on the secret: it’s custardy french toast for dessert!

This recipe yields 6 servings and has an accompanying Whiskey Sauce topping.

Bread Pudding Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups (about 4 slices) dry bread cubes
  • 1/3 cup raisins or other dried fruit

Dry bread.  There is a few way you can do this, either leaving the bread out overnight or toasting the slices.  I have a tiny toaster so I baked the slices for 15 minutes in a 300 degree oven.  Cut (for more fun, rip and tear) bread into cubes.  Place cubes in a baking pan.  (I have a 9″ round pan, but an 8″ round or 8×8 would also work.  Use what you have in your cupboards, most of the time it will be fine unless the dish is inappropriately large or small for the recipe.)

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.

Sprinkle raisins or dried fruit over bread.  The dried berry mix I had on hand has cranberries, cherries, strawberries, and blueberries in it.

Pour egg mixture over all, making sure each bread cube gets sufficiently soggy.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into a bread cube near the center comes out clean.

Whiskey Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 beaten egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey

Melt butter in a medium saucepan.

Stir in sugar, beaten egg yolk, and water.  Over medium-low heat, stir constantly for 5-6 minutes or until sugar dissolves and mixture boils.  (Serious stress on the constant stirring.  Otherwise, you’re going to have a hard-boiled egg yolk on your hands and that would be gross.)

Remove from heat and stir in whiskey.

Spoon sauce over warm bread pudding and enjoy the messy deliciousness!

I will certainly be revisiting this recipe in the future.  It is easy to make using basic ingredients, producing an uncomplicated dessert that is welcome to adaptations.  I plan to try this out again in the summertime with dried cherries and opting for amaretto or Southern Comfort instead of whiskey in the sauce.

irish car bomb cupcakes

March 13, 2011

A sweet treat pairs nicely with a mixed drink, which is why I enjoy baking with alcohol (there’s also a “one for the recipe and one for me” drinking/cooking game which is quite fun to play).  The amount of alcohol used is negligible and most of it gets baked out, but it lends itself for this perfect seasonal after hours delight.

This week is St. Patrick’s Day.  As my days of drinking an entire bottle of Bailey’s for the holiday are long gone and my desire to Crock-Pot a batch of corned beef and cabbage is nill, I’ve landed upon this fantastic cupcake recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  Wonderfully, now you can align the flavors of an Irish Car Bomb with a delicate chocolate cupcake – minus the chugging, and subsequent bodily rejection of a pint of stout with dropshots of whiskey and Irish Cream.

Let’s get started!

This recipe yields 18-24 cupcakes (depending on how you fill the cups).  Preheat the oven to 350.  Line your muffin tin.  Gather your soldiers.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all purpose powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.

Add Guinness and bring to a simmer.

Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth.  Lower heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Whisk until they’re all good friends.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sour cream.

With an electric mixer, beat together until smooth.

Add the Guinness mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine.

Add flour mixture and beat briefly until just combined.  Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.

Divide the batter into cups, about 2/3 to 3/4 full.  Bake for about 17 minutes in a 35o degree oven, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, rotating once front to back if your oven cooks unevenly.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.  (Which is a great time to get started on the next step!)

Whiskey Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons whiskey (optional)

Break up the chocolate into a heatproof bowl.

Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate.

Let it sit for a minute so it can steam up your lens.

Stir until smooth.  Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined smoothly.

Using an apple corer, remove the centers of the cooled cupcakes.  You don’t want to pop through the bottom, so aim for coring about 2/3 of the way.

Fill the cupcakes.  You could get this goop all up in a piping bag and be fancy about it, but I find two teaspoons are much easier to work with.  (Plus you don’t have that awkward licking-out-the-bag to deal with when you’re cleaning up.)

Look at you, cupcake!

Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3-4 tablespoons Bailey’s (or milk or heavy cream, if opting for a non-alcoholic version)

Place butter in a medium bowl.

With an electric mixer, whip the butter for several minutes until it is very light and fluffy.

Add the powdered sugar in very small amounts.  (I like to shake it into the bowl in tablespoon amounts.)  The longer you draw out the sugar/mixer process, the lighter and fluffier your frosting will be.  When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, add the Bailey’s (or milk) and whip it in until combined.  If the frosting looks too thin, just add powdered sugar.

Frost the cupcakes to your liking and enjoy until the last bite!