Sunday, March 18, 2012

Irish Coffee Cake

I love any holiday that encourages drinking good alcohol, especially those that can also be translated into drinking good alcohol while baking with alcohol too. That being said- here’s my second recipe, also based on a cocktail, from yesterday’s St. Patrick’s celebrations, Irish Coffee Cake.
The Irish Coffee cocktail consists of fresh brewed coffee poured over a sugar cube, spiked with a little Irish whiskey, then topped with a little lightly whipped, unsweetened heavy cream. For easy video instructions on the cocktail visit The Chew at ABC.com.
While inspired by the drink, I was a little unsure how to proceed with all the liquid without getting a mushy cake. So I decided on instant coffee first to K.I.S.S., we’ve all heard it: keep it simple stupid. I started with 3 cups of flour, added 2 tsp of baking soda, my salt, threw it in my mixer and then had a panic moment. “Maybe I should have researched this first?” I thought to myself. “Will I be able to dissolve the coffee in the butter (which I had already melted) or do I need to add water first or will that be too much liquid in addition to the milk?”
Pioneer Woman’s blog to the rescue! I typed in the words: coffee flavored cake, and her blog was the first thing to pop up! First world crisis averted. So when you see that our recipes are really similar I just want everyone to know her recipe definitely had a lot influence. I want to give proper credit. I feel like this recipe started as my own, but finished as an adaptation.
Irish Coffee Cupcakes

IRISH COFFEE CAKE:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp Dutch process cocoa powder
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup of milk
3 Tbsp instant coffee
½ cup Irish whiskey
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sugar
3 eggs

1.     Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder together.
2.     Add the sugar to the other dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
3.     Melt the butter in a saucepan on the stove at a medium-low temperature.
4.     In a separate cup dissolve the instant coffee into the cup of milk. Pour contents into the butter.
5.     Add your Whiskey and vanilla to the butter.
6.     Turn your standing mixer on to level 4. Slowly start adding a third of your warm butter liquid. Leave the mixer on. Wait 20 seconds.
7.     Now add an egg, when the mixture is cool enough not to curdle the eggs.
8.     Repeat steps 6-7 two more times.
9.     Preheat oven to 325°.
10. Grease your chosen glassware/ coffee cups generously.
11. Fill glassware 1/3 full with cake batter.
12. Place filled cups on a cookie sheet for easy placement in/removal from the oven.
13. Bake for 25-35 minutes depending on the thickness and material of your glassware. I’d recommend checking for doneness in five-minute intervals the first time around. The cake is done when you can insert a toothpick into the center and the toothpick comes out clean.
14. If you accidentally overfilled your cup with batter and the finished product has overgrown, don’t panic. While the cake is still warm, take a bread knife and slice off the extra muffin top; let the knife rest on the rim of the glass as you cut. As the cake cools it will, retreat slightly back into the cup, leaving just enough room for the whipped Irish Cream topping.

WHIPPED IRISH CREAM:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
¾ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

1.     Pour all your ingredients into one container, and refrigerate until just before serving.
2.     Pour chilled liquid into a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed for two minutes and then high for a few more minutes until your reach a nice fluffy consistency.
3.     Drop two generous dollops a top each coffee cake, spread evenly with the back of a spoon.
4.     Sprinkles are optional, but always awesome.

You can make three 8” cake layers, or roughly 32 traditional cupcakes. Since it’s coffee flavored cake I went with 8, regular 6 oz coffee cups, although traditional Irish Coffee cocktails are served in footed glasses.
The taste came out better than I had anticipated. I fully intend to make this cake more often than just once a year. I hope you enjoyed your holiday and weren’t too hung over this morning!

Irish Car Bombs

            Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day! Sorry today’s two posts are a little behind schedule, but I wanted to take the time to share two recipes I made for the holiday yesterday. This is my idea of an Irish Car Bomb. Based on the cocktail these consist of three parts: a pastry puff made with whiskey, a Bailey’s Irish cream filling, and all coated with a thick layer of Guinness infused dark chocolate ganache. It’s a mouth full to say the least! They are a little labor intensive. All three components can be made a day ahead of time and assembled the following day, which I would highly recommend.
With all the alcohol, sugar, and heavy whipping cream these morsels are on the rich side, and by rich side I mean the super-delicious awesome side! I’ve made these every year for four years now and I swear they get better every time.

IRISH CAR BOMBS

WHISKEY PASTRY PUFF: originally adapted from the Joy of Baking puff pastry recipe.
¼ cup water
¾ cup Irish Whiskey
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 egg and a splash of milk, for egg wash


1.     In a medium saucepan bring the water, whiskey, and butter to a gentle boil.
2.     In a bowl combine the flour and salt.
3.     When the liquid reaches the boiling point remove the pan from the heat and add your flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon mix thoroughly until the dough peels away from the edges to form a ball in the center.
4.     Place the dough in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer or standing mixer for a couple minutes to release the steam and help the dough cool enough to add the eggs.
5.     Add eggs one at a time, slightly beaten. Each time you add an egg the dough will separate; when the dough comes back together, add the next egg.
6.     Preheat your oven to 400°.
7.     Using a small ice cream scoop (I used a 2 Tbsp sized) or a simple spoon drop dollops of the sticky dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper 1-2” apart. *Note that dough will double in size once baked. You can get up to 24 standard-sized puffs, or when using the 2 Tbsp sized scoop up to 45 bite-sized puffs.
8.     Brush tops of raw puffs generously with egg wash (1 egg plus a splash of milk beaten).
9.     Bake for 25 minutes.
10.  After 25 minutes turn the oven off and let the puffs hangout inside, with the door closed for another 10-15 minutes.
11. Let the puffs cool to room temperature, uncovered, on the cookie sheets once removed from the oven. You want them to dry out as much as possible. Store in an airtight container if you are not filling them the same day they are made.


BAILEY’S IRISH CREAM FILLING:

1, 5.1oz box of Jello Instant Pudding Mix
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
¼ cup of milk

1.     Follow the directions on the box.
2.     Mix your heavy cream, Irish cream, and milk in a cup.
3.     In a bowl, pour liquid over powdered pudding mix.
4.     Whisk until the lumps disappear.
5.     Refrigerate for at least an hour. It’ll set in 5 minutes, but you want it as thick as possible for piping.

I have a couple of things to say about the filling. The recipe above is by far the easiest route. There are three alternatives if you plan on taking these somewhere in which raw alcohol is inappropriate (i.e. a workplace situation); 90% of the alcohol cooks out of the puffs and ganache leaving only the flavors behind. Notice that in the above recipe there is less than a quarter tsp of Bailey’s per serving in the finished bombs. Your alternate options include: simply substituting the heavy cream and raw Bailey’s with Bailey’s Irish cream flavored coffee creamer: or, you can use a cooked Jello pudding mix using the same ingredients listed above (note that it takes much longer to set): or, if you’re feeling really dedicated you can make custard from scratch, substituting 1/3 of your milk or cream with Bailey’s.

GUINNESS GANACHE:

6 oz dark chocolate (72% or higher)
2 oz milk chocolate
¾ cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup Guinness stout beer

1.     In a saucepan or double boiler heat the heavy cream on medium heat.
2.     Roughly chop the chocolate and add it to the warm cream.  Stir until the chocolate begins to melt.
3.     Add the butter. Stir the mixture constantly.
4.     When the butter has completely melted add the Guinness.
5.     Immediately remove the ganache from the heat. Stir well, then let it cool to room temp.


Last you’ll need to assemble. I used the teeniest round tip I had in my collection of piping tips. Often cream puffs will have a small opening or two created during its rise during the baking process. I recommend piping into these pre-made holes, otherwise if you make a new hole the filling will escape out another side.

1.     Fill the pastry.
2.     Refrigerate the filled puff pastry for 20 minutes.
3.     Reheat ganache for 5-15 seconds. You want the ganache to be the texture of Hershey’s syrup, to drip off a spoon in a streaming waterfall.
4.     Prepare to get your hands dirty. Roll the cooled/filled puff pastries in the ganache until the entire outside is covered in a thick, even layer. If the layer of chocolate is a little transparent, your ganache is too warm.
5.     Place the finished chocolate covered bomb directly onto your serving surface. If you try to transfer the finished product later you could peel the soft ganache off.
6.     Refrigerate your Irish Car Bombs until serving.
7.     Adding shamrock sprinkles is optional, but always awesome.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sum-more Pi

There is no better way to celebrate any holiday, especially the nerdiest of them, than simply with dessert. Today is 3/14, otherwise known as International Pi Day. So in recognition of the notorious math symbol I made a Sum-more Pi. This easy S’more pie consists of a graham cracker crust, chocolate custard filling and of course topped with toasted mini marshmallows. It tastes like a summer campfire. Best part is it takes mere minutes to prepare and cook. You could be eating it in an hour!


GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:
1 ¼ cups crushed honey graham crackers (about a half box, aka one package from the Honey Grahams box)
¼ cup sugar
½ Tbsp cinnamon
½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted melted butter

1.     Mix together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
2.     Mix the sugar/cinnamon with the crushed graham cracker crumbs.
3.     Add the melted butter and mix until everything is damp.
4.     Dump the mixture in a prepared 9” pie pan, using your fingers to evenly coat the bottom and sides. 
5.     Bake at 400° for about 10 minutes, until the crust begins to brown.

CHOCOLATE FILLING:
1 cup (half pint) of heavy whipping cream
¼ cup flour
3 egg yolks
3 Tbsp Dutch process cocoa powder
1, .55 oz chocolate bar of your choice (I use half a milk chocolate bar, and half of an extra dark bar)
½ cup sugar
1 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

1.     In a double boiler add your heavy cream and chocolate bar. Stir until chocolate melts.
2.     Next add the flour and cocoa powder and combine until the lumps disappear
3.     In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks. Add to the boiler along with the sugar.
4.     Stirring constantly, cook the mixture for about 10 minutes until it is the consistency you want. The custard does not firm up much in the fridge and you will not be baking the pie once it is filled.
5.     When the custard appears finished add the butter and the vanilla. Remove the bowl from the heat, give it one last good stir and pour the filling into the graham cracker crust.
6.     Place the pie in the fridge.
7.     Once the pie is cool enough not to melt the marshmallows, place the mini marshmallows all over the top, as many or as few as you like, in any design you desire.
8.     Use a culinary torch to gently toast the marshmallows.

And just like that you have yourself a little taste of summer in the early spring. You can serve this immediately, at room temp, or chilled. I personally like it immediately, when it’s not so hot to have melted the marshmallows, but still gooey warm in the middle.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

I made this cake for my friend Anie’s birthday last week. It’s a lemon poppy seed cake, with blueberry compote filling and a simple vanilla buttercream frosting. What I like about this one is that it didn’t come out overly sweet. By using compote instead of jam the added sugar goes way down. You can taste the fresh fruit, and a gentle tartness from the lemon.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1¼ cup milk
2 sticks of unsalted, softened butter
3 eggs
2 lemons
3 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cup sugar

1.     Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
2.     Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer.
3.     To the butter/sugar add vanilla. Then add the eggs one at a time.
4.     Grate the zest of both lemons and add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
5.     Juice both lemons. You should end up with about 1/3-1/2 cup of juice. Add the lemon juice to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
6.     Next toss in the poppy seeds.  Make sure all the wet ingredients are incorporated thoroughly.
7.     Alternate adding the milk and the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Always start additions with dry ingredients and end with dry ingredients.
8.     Preheat the oven to 350.
9.     Prepare 3, 8” round cake pans. Fill each pan exactly half full.
10. Bake for about 22-25 minutes until the center of the cake springs back when poked with your finger, or when you insert a toothpick and the toothpick comes out clean.

Blueberry Compote:

16 oz of either frozen or fresh blueberries
1 lemon
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp cornstarch

1.     Place the blueberries, sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan.
2.     Grate the lemon and add the zest to the pan.
3.     Juice the lemon and add that to the pan (roughly ¼ cup)
4.     Heat the mixture on medium high heat, stirring gently until the fruit starts to break down and begins to boil.
5.     Lower the heat to a simmer. Let the compote cook for 10 minutes.
6.     If the mixture is super runny after 10 minutes, stir in the cornstarch a little at time. Make sure to really mix that in! You don’t want to eat starchy lumps later! Continue to cook 5- 10 more minutes.
7.     Remove the compote from the heat. Be sure to let the compote completely cool in the refrigerator before you use this on a cake or it’ll melt the frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream:

2 sticks unsalted, softened butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp blueberry juice from the cooled compote*
1 tsp vanilla

* For traditional white frosting just use 2 Tbsp more milk instead of the compote juice. Also if you plan on piping this frosting beware to carefully strain the blueberry juice because any leftover teeny-tiny blueberry seed can clog up “star” piping tips! I learned that lesson the hard way! I used the juice in this recipe simply for the purple color, an alternative to adding artificial food coloring.

Assembly:

1.     First place a small dollop of frosting in the center of the cake plate, then, place your first layer of cooled cake on top of that.
2.     On top of the first layer of cake pipe a small ring of frosting around the outer edge of the cake; this creates a dam so the compote won’t escape.
3.     Next generously cover the top of the cake with compote within the boundaries of the frosting dam. Place you next layer of cake on top of that.
4.     Repeat steps 2-3.
5.     With the top layer now on top of the cake frost the entire thing with a crumb layer of frosting. A crumb layer is super thin; it’s just enough to make sure the cake isn’t exposed. Don’t worry about making it pretty yet.
6.     Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes.
7.     Now make the cake pretty with a second layer of frosting. Use everything you have left and smooth it on starting with the top and working your way down. By doing the crumb layer first it’s much easier to make a smooth cover and you’ll never find any escapee crumbs caught in the beautiful frosting.
8.     Lastly add the remainder of the compote to the top of the cake. You can put as much or as little as you like. You can also center the compote on top or push it out to the edges and let it run down the sides.