Sunday, March 17, 2013

Top O' The Mornin'! - Irish Car Bomb Mini-Cupcakes

Pop quiz: Put the following three things together, and what do you get?

If your answer was "An Irish Car Bomb!" you are partially correct.

Another acceptable response would be cupcakes. Cuz, you know, pretty much anything is good in cupcake form. Anything edible anyway. You know what I meant.

One of my friends threw a St. Patrick's Day party this weekend (yay!), and she said we could bring treats (yay again!). The party was great. She made people wear green or they couldn't come in (I think we might be kindred spirits). I love themed parties, and I really love themed treats. So I made some. Themed treats, that is.
These ones:

I'd like to claim that I'm growing up, but I do still occasionally enjoy an Irish Car Bomb from time to time, so I made these cupcakes as a tribute to the drink that most people drink once a year to celebrate our dear friend St. Patrick.

They start with a wee Guinness chocolate cupcake, topped with Irish whiskey ganache and Bailey's buttercream. And for flair, even wee-er green shamrocks with glitter. Because why not? Glitter's super festive.

These were easy, but time consuming to make, but you could easily cut down on the time by not doing the shamrocks or not making 80 of them.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!

( I apologize in advance if I offend anyone who actually speaks Gaelic, since I am not entirely sure that actually says Happy St. Patricks' Day)


Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes 

(Makes about 80...ish mini cupcakes)



2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup Guinness 
1/2 cup buttermilk (you can make your own with a little milk and lemon juice)
2 whole beaten eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (to taste)


2 sticks (1 cup) butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3-4 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream


green candy melts
white candy melts (optional)
green disco dust


For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven t350°. Line mini muffin tin with cupcake liners. I used gold foil ones like these, cuz, you know, pot o' gold and all that. It was adorable.

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. 

Melt butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan. When melted, add cocoa powder (make them really heaping, because it's chocolate, and chocolate is so good. Whisk together the butter and cocoa powder until smooth. 
Add Guinness. Let this heat through. It'll get pretty bubbly, but does not need to come to a rolling boil.
Take chocolate/butter/beer mixture off the heat and pour it into the flour/sugar mixture in the mixing bowl. Briefly mix gently to let the mixture cool.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the buttermilk, beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla.
Add this to the chocolate mixture and combine. Don't overmix. And don't add it when the chocolate is still hot, or you risk making chocolate scrambled eggs.

Spoon mixture into mini-cupcake liners and bake for 12 minutes (or until tops spring back when touched, cake tester comes out clean, etc. etc.).

For the ganache:

Chop chocolate into small pieces and put in a medium bowl.

Heat cream gently in a double boiler (you don't need an actual double boiler. A metal bowl over simmering water does the exact same thing). 

Pour cream over chocolate and mix until smooth. Add butter. Mix until smooth again. 

Add whiskey. I recommend if you're not a huge whiskey drinker that you add it little by little until you like the taste.

Dip the little cupcakes in the ganache and then let it set. It will set up nicely without putting them in the fridge, but you do need to let them set before you frost them so the frosting doesn't just slide off the top.

(I dipped these instead of filling them because they're so teeny. If you made regular sized cupcakes, you could easily inject this ganache into the cakes, and that would be delish as well.)

For the frosting:

In a mixer, beat the butter until smooth and fluffy. Add the confectioner's sugar in 1/2 or 1 cup portions, beating well in between (this makes it nice and fluffy and keeps it from being grainy or gritty).
Add vanilla and Bailey's and beat until smooth and creamy.

Frost in your preferred manner. I used a Wilton #21 tip and swirled it on. 

For the toppers:

Melt green candy melts in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. I added a few white ones to lighten the green up just a titch. 
To melt, microwave the melts 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until smooth. The reason you're melting them in short bursts is so that they don't get overheated. You really only need them to be just melted. They will look solid until you stir them.
Anyhow, once they are melted, pour them into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton #1 tip.
Pipe out the shamrocks. They are just four little teardrop shapes that touch in the middle, and then a stem on the bottom.

Add a sprinkle (my preference is a generous sprinkle, because...glitter) of disco dust while they are still wet. 

Allow to dry, and then add to the top of each cupcake. Just nestle 'em right in there.

And there you have it. Eat, drink, and be Irish!

Look at that. Look at that chocolate, shiny, shiny ganache, and creamy Bailey's goodness. And the glitter. Ach! 'Tis delicious they look, to be sure.

Éirinn go Brách! Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Easy Beef Stew

This post has been waiting in the wings half-finished Along with a few other things that I am very excited to share here. I would like to say that I have good reasons (or even a single good reason) that my last post went live in December. Before Christmas. And now it's March. Mid-March. But I don't. And that's the way it goes, I guess.

Anyway, it's cold today in The Springs. Like, really cold. I already said it was mid-March, right? And this morning I felt like my toes were going to get frostbite on recess duty (they didn't, so you don't have to worry). I spent the aforementioned recess duty fantasizing about warm blankets, crackling fires, sunny beaches, wool socks, cream cheese frosting (that's not embarrassing or even uncommon for me), and hearty beef stew (which is not a weird thing to fantasize about. Own it.). The stew that I have been making lately is sooooo good. And sooooo easy. So I'm gonna make it again this week, and maybe you should too (although Colorado will turn it around, I'm sure - allegedly it'll be in the 70s by Friday).

This recipe was adapted from one by Paula Deen, that wonderful woman, Queen of Butter, master and commander of delicious southern cooking. I changed it up to suit our family's tastes, and we love it. It's one of those simple, one-pot meals that makes your house smell like heaven (if heaven were to smell like a slow-cooked stew, which I think it might, at least in part), is a cinch to throw together, and then you can sit back and forget about it until dinner time. Try it. Love it. The leftovers are great too.
Stew, by nature, is of course a comfort food, but don't limit it to winter. It would be great any time.

Old Fashioned Beef Stew


1 1/2 - 2 lbs stew beef (you could probably use any cut of beef, but the stew beef is great - it gets nice and tender after cooking long and slow)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled (this totally depends on how much you love garlic)
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Dash of ground cloves (or ground allspice)
3 large carrots, sliced
3 ribs of celery, chopped
2 medium or 3-4 small parsnips, sliced
2 tablespoons cornstarch


Brown the beef pieces in oil.

Add beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and cloves. It oughta look something like this:

Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove bay leaves and garlic clove, and add carrots, parsnips, and celery.

Cover and continue to simmer for another 30-40 minutes.
Make a slurry with cornstarch and about 1/4 cup water. Add to the stew and stir. Stir and cook until thickened, smooth, and bubbly.