Sunday, March 25, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Happy Sunday!   Last Saturday was St. Patrick's Day and I made a delicious Irish-inspired dinner.  My brother and sister came over for dinner and we ate Shepard's Pie, Irish Soda Bread, and St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes while watching sappy Irish movies on the Hallmark Channel!  Good times!

I didn't really follow a recipe for the Shepard's Pie (I know, I know, big surprise right?!  I'm notorious for making up great recipes, but not writing them down, so I can't ever make them again!  I like to think of it like a work of art....there's only on Mona Lisa, right?  Everything else is just a copy.)

ANYWAY, back to Irish cooking...for my Shepard's Pie, I browned about a pound of ground beef, added some diced onion, carrot, and garlic and cooked that for a few minutes until the carrots started to become tender.  Then I added some tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper and cooked that down a little bit more.  I took the mixture off the heat and added some frozen corn and peas.  I poured all of this into my favorite green casserole dish (perfect for the occasion) and spread some mashed potatoes on top.  Since everything was hot, it only took about 25 minutes in the oven and everything was bubbly and smelled delicious!

I really wish I had kept track of how much of everything I added because the filling was really good....savory, but not too salty and a nice balance of meat and veggies.

I also wanted to make a gluten-free Irish Soda Bread recipe, but I couldn't find one anywhere that sounded right to me, so, you guessed it....I made up my own.  BUT, this time, I wrote down what I did in case it turned out and I wanted to make it again.

So here it is:
3 cups almond flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Combine the almond flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Whisk until well combined.  (There are few things worse than biting into a piece of bread or a cookie and getting a lump of baking soda....blah!)

Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth and no streaks of egg remain.  Since almond flour doesn't contain any gluten, you can stir the mixture as much as you want and it will never become tough like traditional biscuits, scones, or muffins made with flour.

I poured all the batter onto a greased cookie sheet and shaped it into a mound.   Bake for about 45 minutes at 350 until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

While the Shepard's Pie and Irish Soda Bread were really tasty, I thought the best part was dessert.  Again, not a surprise though :)

I wanted to make a cupcake version of a popular St Patrick's Day drink using Guinness, Irish Whiskey, and Bailey's Irish Cream.  So, I made a chocolate Guinness cupcake, filled it with Irish Whiskey Ganache, and frosted it with Bailey's buttercream.  The result was superb!  Perfectly balanced between the one component dominated the cupcake.  And bonus, these too were gluten-free!

Guinness Cupcakes
2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup Guinness
1 tsp vanilla

Thoroughly combine almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Add eggs, melted butter, Guinness, and vanilla and whisk until well blended.  Evenly divide between 12 muffins tins with paper liners.  These cupcakes are more delicate, so you definitely want to bake them in cupcake liners instead of just greasing the pan. 

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes are until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  They will still feel soft.

Cool completely!  Then scoop out a little of the center of the cupcake so there's more room for ganache :)  It is very important that the cupcakes are not warm or the ganache will melt.

Whiskey Ganache:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons whiskey

Finely chop the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for about 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth and not lumps of chocolate remain.  Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but not hard.  This took about 20 minutes in the fridge.   Once ganache is firm, use a small spoon or cookie scoop and place about 2 tsp of ganache in the center of each cupcake.

Bailey's Buttercream
1 stick butter, softened
Pinch salt
2 cups powdered sugar
about 2-3 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream

In the bowl of an electric mixture, beat butter and salt until smooth.  Then alternately add powdered sugar and Bailey's.  Once all the sugar is incorporated, increase speed to medium-high and beat for about 45 seconds until light and fluffy.  Frost cupcakes.

The recipe sounds like a lot a work, and it does take some time, but the ganache and buttercream can be prepared while the cupcakes bake and cool.  So it didn't take as long as I though.  And, trust me, the results are worth it! 

As always, post a comment here or email me at with questions, suggestions, or to place an order.  You can follow me on twitter too!  @creativecrumbs or click the "follow me" button on the right.

Happy baking and cooking!

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