Happy Early St. Patty’s Day!!!

March 13th, 2008

I keep starting to write this post but I can’t seem to figure out what to say…Should I relate my comical trek to the liquor store during my lunch hour? Complain that these are the most expensive cupcakes I’ve ever made? Admit, albeit embarrassingly, that I have fallen for the cupcake trend? Tell some of my St. Patrick’s Day stories, much to my parents’ displeasure? Or maybe I should let the cupcakes speak for themselves…

When I saw Charcuterista‘s post on Guinness Cakelettes, I thought that they would be perfect to turn into car bomb cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day. For a Car Bomb, you layer a shot with Irish Cream and Irish Whiskey, drop it into a pint of Guinness and chug it. You have to do it quickly or the cream will curdle. Along with green beer, Car Bombs are a common drink in many bars across the US on St. Patty’s Day. Often it is turned into a contest, as everyone competes to be the first one to finish chugging. Although it sounds very intense (and a bit stupid), the three flavors mix very well together (not that I’ve ever tried it or anything). So, I made these cupcakes, as a fun take on this American St. Patty’s Day tradition. I would take the cupcakes over the drink any day. They were delicious! My roommates liked my creations so much that I think they may have forgiven me for getting chocolate everywhere!

I am entering these into Emiline’s St. Paddy’s Day Pub Crawl Event in which your dish must use booze in some way. I also wanted to dedicate these in honor of my friend, Ridgie, who would love them.

St. Patty’s Day Car Bomb Cupcakes

Guinness Cupcakes
(adapted from Dave Lieberman’s recipe)

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch fine salt
1 bottle Guinness (minus a few sips!)
1 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In another medium mixing bowl, combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time.
4. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.
5. Lightly grease 24 muffin tins (or 12 muffin tins and one 8 inch cake pan). Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender (the cake took about 35 minutes). Cool before turning out.

Irish Cream Whipped Cream
(adapted from Joy of Cooking)

1 cup whip cream
4 tablespoon confectioner sugar
2 tablespoon Irish Cream Liquor

1. Put bowl and beaters in the freezer for about an hour before making the whip cream.
2. Pour all the ingredients into a bowl and on low speed, mix the ingredients together.
3. Once the confectioner sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to high until the cream becomes whipped into soft peaks.

Chocolate Whiskey Glaze
(adapted from Joy of Cooking)

1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup milk
6 tablespoon butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoon Irish Whiskey
1/2 cup confectioner sugar

1. On low in a saucepan, melt the chocolate and milk together.
2. Remove from heat, stir in butter.
3. Stir in Irish Whiskey.
4. Whisk in confectioner sugar (add more if you need to thicken the glaze a little bit more).

To put together the cupcakes:

1. Using a knife, cut out a small bit of cupcake out of the center.
2. Fill the hole with a little bit of whipped cream.
3. Cover with the chocolate glaze.
4. Sprinkle with green crystals or decorate as you wish! Enjoy!

P.S. What did I do with that cake? I made a small shamrock! I dyed the leftover Irish Cream Whipped Cream with green food coloring and using a heart cookie cutter made the leaves. I also made a third “dish” with the rest of the leftover pieces of cake, whipped cream and glaze. I layered them in a glass dish to make a tortish kind of thing. Does not look pretty, hence no pictures, but tastes really good! Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!

I Figgin’ Love Chocolate

February 18th, 2008

You may have noticed, I LOVE CHOCOLATE. It is a small addiction and a very necessary part of my life. I used to give up chocolate for Lent every year. Although I would drop about five pounds, a small cloud would appear over my normal sunny demeanor, as I missed the taste and smell of chocolate. I just need a little bit everyday to satisfy my craving. Although sometimes, I stumble across a dessert that must be taken away from me before I eat it all, like these brownies.

This month, Foodie Pam sponsored Leftover Tuesdays #12: the Sweetheart Challenge. The theme of this challenge was to make a creation with the leftover chocolate that you have in your pantry from previous recipes. In my house, we have a ton of leftover chocolate. From both leftovers and the fact that my roommates and I often forget to check what we have before buying more. You know how it is…you are at the store, have a specific recipe in mind and are almost positive you have this one ingredient. So you hover over the ingredient, debating on whether to buy it because you don’t want to run back to the store once you get home. Maybe you call home to see if anyone is around but alas no one is there. So you buy it and come home to find out that you now have…two containers of cocoa.

This happens fairly often in my house, so when I looked at our chocolate selection I found out that we have a ton of chocolate…semi-sweet baking chocolate, milk chocolate chips, the cocoa, white chocolate chips, bars of milk chocolate…I could go on. I also have a bunch of dried figs that I have been trying to use with something. Then I remember this recipe, I saw on Pittsburg Needs Eated. for a Double Chocolate Fig Brownie. I changed it around a little bit to incorporate what I had on hand. The result was a delicious, scrumptious, rich, fudgey, and gooey brownie. It is best enjoyed with a huge glass of milk. The pictures are not my best because I was too impatient to let them cool before I took the photos and woofed them down.

Double Chocolate Fig Brownie
(adapted and converted from taste.com)

• 7 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
• 1 stick of butter, cubed
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 eggs, whisked
• 1 cup dried figs, finely chopped
• ½ cup brandy
• 3/4 cup flour
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder

1. Soak the chopped figs in the brandy for 30 minutes until softened.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8’ x 8’ pan.
3. Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan on the stove at medium heat.
4. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.
5. Stir egg and fig into chocolate mixture.
6. Mix in flour and cocoa until well combined.
7. Spread chocolate mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out slightly sticky. Brownies should be set and have a crust, but still be a little soft inside.

P.S. Do you like whip cream?

I actually do not, which is why I did not include it with this recipe but this is a quick and easy topping to accompany the brownies.

Brown sugar cream:
1 1/4 cup whip cream
2 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Important step: Place bowl and beaters into the freezer before making the whip cream. This makes it easier to whip.
2. Beat cream and brown sugar in bowl until thickened. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

I Heart Valentine’s Day

February 12th, 2008

Oh Valentine’s Day! A day of joy, happiness, jealousy, depression, anger and disappointment… There is so much meaning associated with this day… If you are in a relationship, whatever your significant other does somehow represents how he/she feels about you. If you are single, it is the day you want to hide, as your co-worker is sent a dozen beautiful red roses. It is down right silly. A while ago I decided to just embrace Valentine’s Day and enjoy it regardless of my current relationship status! Besides, it is a perfect excuse to indulge in delicious chocolate creations, wear too much pink, decorate everything with hearts and remind your loved ones that you love them. Of course, I am also human and my positive attitude does not always shine though…my co-worker will receive flowers and I’ll feel a pang of jealousy or my boyfriend will buy me only one rose and I’ll begin questioning our relationship…but I am trying and chocolate always helps.

When I saw the event, A HEART FOR YOUR VALENTINE, I could not wait to come up with something. Although in lieu of a sweetheart this year, my roommates happily filled in. I thought of this recipe for a Double-Chocolate Ginger Dessert from La Cucina Italiana, designed specifically for a couple. I had put this on my list of something to make in the future but had never gotten around to it. Chocolate and ginger is one of my favorite combinations so I thought I should give it a try. This recipe defies my mother’s mantra “that if you can read, you can cook.” It is very sparse and assumes you have a certain degree of skill. It also calls for baking in small 3′ by 4′ pans which are very hard to find so I decided to play with the recipe, incorporating hearts and this is what I came up with…

Double-Chocolate Ginger Dessert
(adapted from La Cucina Italiana January-February 2006)

2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup candied ginger, chopped
5 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate, divided into 2 ounces and 3 ounces
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon butter, chopped into pieces
pinch of salt
2 egg whites

1. In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream and candied ginger, set in the fridge for an hour to infuse.
2. Preheat oven to 350º.
3. Melt 2 ounces of the chocolate in a small sauce pan slowly on low heat.
4. Remove from heat and add the butter, stir until melted.
5. Pour the chocolate mixture into a cool bowl and add sugar, flour, and salt.
6. In a separate clean bowl, beat the egg whites at high speed with a mixer until they form stiff peaks.
7. Fold the white eggs into the chocolate mixture.
8. Butter and flour 2 ramekins. Pour the batter into the ramekins.
9. Bake for 30 minutes or when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove and set aside to cool.
10. Place the remaining 3 ounces of chocolate into a large bowl.
11. Heat the cream/ginger mixture over medium-high heat until it just begins to simmer.
12. Remove from heat and strain the chopped ginger out of the cream.
13. Mix the cream into the chocolate, until the chocolate melts.
14. Allow to cool and then using a mixer beat into a mousse (I tried to do this but mine refused to become a mousse so I created more of a chocolate-ginger ganache).
15. Spread the chocolate-ginger mousse/ganache over the cakes in the ramekins (Both of my cakes had fallen in the middle, creating a small pocket for the ganache).

For the chocolate hearts…
1/2 cup white chocolate
1/4 cup milk chocolate

1. Grease the bottom of a pan and the inside of the heart cookie cutters.
2. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave. Heat it for 20 seconds and mix it to help melt it. Continue to heat it for 10 second intervals, stirring in between until it has melted. Be careful not to burn it.
3. Melt the milk chocolate in the same manner.
4. Pour the white chocolate into the pan.
5. Dab the milk chocolate and swirl into the white chocolate with the back of the spoon.
6. Place the heart cookie cutters into the chocolate and put into the fridge to harden.
7. When it is harden, break apart the chocolate and pop out the chocolate hearts.

P.S. Check out the round-up for other yummy heart ideas here.

A heart for your Valentine