Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I awoke with joy this bright and crisp winter morning as I realized St. Patrick's Day was upon us.  I use any excuse I can to play my U2 albums with the volume turned up to 11.  Bono belted out "Sunday Bloody Sunday,"  and I danced around the kitchen like a Leprechaun.  What a great start to the day...but it could only get better.  On a holiday like this, I feel the need to take a detour from my diet and indulge.  I decided to make a couple of things that would be the perfect start and finish to a fantastic St. Patrick's Day.  No luck of the Irish necessary, these recipes are pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Breakfast:  Guinness Waffles (printable recipe)
After making these waffles, I don't know if I will ever make another recipe again.  They were perfectly crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with just a little bit of chew.  I hate when waffles fall apart the second the syrup hits them, and these held up beautifully.  The flavor was out of this world.  Like a lot of recipes that use Guinness, or any similar style beer for that matter, you don't end up with a waffle that tastes like beer.  Sorry if that disappoints you.  Instead, you get a final product that just seems more rich and sumptuous than the version without it.  Topped with some butter and pure maple syrup, with a side of poached eggs and a pint of Guinness, you're on your way to the best St. Patrick's Day ever.  Guinness. It's what's for breakfast.

3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. sugar
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. Guinness Draught
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 t. vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Add wet mixture to dry mixture and whisk until smooth.  Follow your waffle iron's instructions for cooking.  You don't need to spray the iron with non-stick cooking spray, because the oil in the recipe will allow them to release easily.  Keep them warm in a low oven while you cook up the rest (250 degrees works for me).  Enjoy!

Dessert:  Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Minty Ganache Filling (printable recipe)

We had a perfect start to St. Patrick's Day and is there a better way to end it than to indulge in some minty chocolaty goodness (and maybe another pint of Guinness)?  That is where these cupcakes come in.  When America's Test Kitchen posted their recipe for Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling as an idea for Valentine's Day dessert, I could only hold out for so long.  I know, you're completely shocked that I trusted America's Test Kitchen once again, since I only reference them in pretty much every blog post I write.  You might be thinking "if you've seen one chocolate cupcake, you've seen them all."  Umm, no.  All chocolate cupcakes are not created equal. 

There were a few tricks up the sleeves of the folks at America's Test Kitchen. Fresh brewed coffee bittersweet chocolate and dutch-processed cocoa give these cupcakes a rich chocolate flavor, and the use of bread flour instead of cake or all-purpose flour gives them a heartier dense crumb that makes them feel even more decadent when you sink your teeth in.   Add that to the fact that they are filled with chocolate ganache that leaves the center just slightly gooey, and you truly have the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake.

I modified the original recipe a bit, because I think it is a St. Patrick's Day law that you have to make something green or mint flavored.  I added Creme de Menthe to the ganache filling and a little green food coloring and mint extract to my basic buttercream.  That still didn't seem themed enough, so I decided to attempt the marble trick to make clover shaped cupcakes.  I was a little worried I was going to end up with a total cupcake fail, but maybe I did have a little luck of the Irish on my side, because they turned out just fine.  I didn't have marbles, so I used pie weights instead.  I think marbles would have worked better to get a bigger indent to separate the leaves, but these will do.  If you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, take a peak here, and you'll quickly be "in the know":

Ganache Filling
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3 T. heavy cream
1 T. creme de menthe
1 T. powdered sugar

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 c. Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 c. hot coffee
3/4 c. bread flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
6 t. vegetable oil
2 lg. eggs
2 t. white vinegar
1 t. vanilla extract

1 c. butter (2 sticks)
4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. peppermint extract
1-2 T. heavy cream or milk
Green food coloring

Ganache Filling
Place chocolate, cream, and powdered sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Heat on high power in microwave until the mixture is warm to the touch, 20 to 30 seconds.  Whisk until smooth and stir in creme de menthe.  Transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line standard-size muffin pan with paper baking cups.  If you're doing the clover shaped version, this is when you put your marbles in place.
Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl.  Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes.  Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl and set aside.  Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, then drop one slightly rounded teaspoon of ganache filling on top of each cupcake.  It will sort of sink in.  Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.
Place butter in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until fluffy.  Add peppermint extract and 1 T. cream or milk.  Add powdered sugar, mixing on low speed until fully incorporated, then kick it up to high and whip it.  Whip it good - until light and fluffy.  You can add a little more cream/milk or peppermint extract to suit your tastes and the consistency you're looking for.  Put frosting in piping bag and pipe on cupcakes, or just drop a few tablespoons on the cupcake and spread it around - whatever suits your fancy.
Mmmmm...the perfect end to the perfect St. Patrick's Day.