Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day 2008

As usual, I celebrated St. Patrick's Day by corning many pounds of brisket and inviting as many people as possible over to drink beer and eat. The party was early because March 17th has fallen on a Monday this year, which is a rough day to get all your friends drunk. The past 3 actual St. Patrick days have all fallen happily on party days (Thursday - Saturday) which really facilitated the drinking and corned beef extravaganzas. I do like to celebrate on the correct day. But, alas, leap year and the normal passing of time conspired to make the party on March 15th this year. Whatever, we still ate a lot, got drunk and wore green. As in all past years, Rick made his excellent Irish soda bread and I ended up corning about 12 pounds of brisket in the fridge for a week, then simmering it up with potatoes and cabbage. If you want details on the corning process, they can be found in last year's St. Patrick's Day post. This year I actually made a dessert: Guinness chocolate cupcakes with whiskey cream frosting. I made a double batch for the party and it produced an insane amount of cupcakes, so if you just want the usual 2 muffin tins worth (about 24 cupcakes), make sure you cut all amounts in half. Or you will be swimming in cupcakes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get out two very large bowls, a hand mixer, cooking spray and 4 12-cup muffin tins. If you don't have 4 muffin tins, you can either 1.) borrow from your neighbors, 2.) bake these in 2 batches (that's what I did) or 3.) cut the recipe in half. First the wet ingredients: in one of the big bowls and using your mixer, combine 2 12-ounce bottles of Guinness, 1 cup milk, 1 cup vegetable oil, and 2 tablespoons vanilla. When these are all mixed up together, beat in 6 eggs,one at a time, then mix in 1 1/2 cups sour cream. Now some dry ingredients: in your other big bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, 4 cups sugar, 5 cups flour, and 3 teaspoons baking soda. Make sure you get everything all mixed up well together--don't be lazy. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, using your hand mixer because it is easier than stirring. Get it all mixed up--it will be sort of thick and a delicious dark chocolatey color. But don't eat it yet! Spray your muffin tins really well with the cooking spray. You could also use little cupcake liner but I think they look more elegant as little cakes, so I just got the tins really greasy so that the cupcakes would pop right out after cooling. Try it! After you have prepped your tins, pour the cupcake batter in with a little space to spare right at the top. They won't raise too much. Stick them in the preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, then haul them out and let cool in their tins. Like I said, if you use cooking spray or otherwise grease well, they should pop right out after cooling for about an hour. Here's a delicious frosting to make while your cupcakes are baking/cooling: beat 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese with your mixer until it is smooth and fluffy. Slowly add in 2/3 cup heavy cream until fully incorporated then slowly add 1 one-pound box of confectioner's sugar. Keep beating until it is smooth, then add about 3 tablespoons whiskey, or to taste. You don't want it boozy but you do want a hint of it. When the cupcakes are cool, dollop them with the frosting, like a little hat on top. I also had these super cute little shamrock sprinkles from my last trip to Fante's in Philadelphia, so we put those on top. Ali and Tiffany were instrumental in the cupcake frosting process and Charlie was instrumental in the discovery of splitting open a cupcake and pouring Jameson over the halves before consuming. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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