Pints of Guinness Cupcakes

March 17, 2014

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My Goodness – My Guinness! What do we have here? Little Pints of Guinness Cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day! Yup, today is the day! I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to here, but somehow, seventeen Irish-y recipes later, here we are! I’m finishing my countdown today with these delicious little boozy cupcakes. Are you kidding me? Of course they have booze in them! The cake portion of these edible pints are made with a moist and rich blending of chocolate and  Guinness. The “head” of these pints are formed with a smooth delectable and dreamy Baileys buttercream frosting. Yum, oh yum!!!

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Truth be told, I’ve made a version of these Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with a Swiss Vanilla Baileys Buttercream Frosting before and they were a big hit. In their first incarnation, they looked just like regular little cupcakes and were topped with crumbled chocolate covered pretzels.

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This time around, I thought I’d like to have a little fun with the shape and since they were Guinness cupcakes, I thought I’d really try to capture the look of a pint of that wonderful elixir. I am very pleased with the results!

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In order to get that pint glass type shape, I baked these in popover pans, rather than the usual cupcake tins. Then I piped the Baileys buttercream frosting onto the top and smoothed it a bit with a spatula to get the appearance of that creamy Guinness head.

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What fun huh? Now you can drink your pint (pints…) and eat one too! Just perfect for your St. Patrick’s Day festivities. So what are you waiting for? Get on out there and have some fun! Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daiobh! (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)

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Pints Of Guinness Cupcakes

recipe from: Lea and Jay (yours truly :) ) who originally adapted it from The Butch Bakery Cookbook by David Arrick and Allison Eats

Ingredients:

For the Chocolate Stout Cupcakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup (  3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup Guinness, poured and settled before you measure it out
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream

For the Swiss Vanilla Baileys Buttercream Frosting:

  • 5 Large Egg Whites
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups (4 sticks) Butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, cool but not cold
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

Directions:

First, bake your cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two (6 well) popover pans. Take care to really butter them well so that the “little pints” will slide out easily once baked. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt your butter and set aside to cool slightly, then add in the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the stout, then set aside to cool completely for another 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sour cream, then whisk in the cooled chocolate and butter mixture. Whisk in the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt, combining until just moistened. Fill each popover cup with 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of batter. (Each well of my popover pan held 3/4 cup of liquid total, so I was filling them 1/2 full). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cupcakes are set and a toothpick comes out clean (mine took about 24 minutes). Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then carefully remove them from the pan to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Now for the frosting. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar together. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water but do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved and the color is milky white, about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the egg mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium-high speed (start slowly at first) until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with the paddle attachment. Add the cubed butter, few pieces at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. If the buttercream looks like it is breaking, don’t worry, it will eventually come together.

Add the salt and Baileys Irish Cream and beat for 5 seconds to combine.

Place frosting in piping bag and pipe onto cupcakes. Take spatula and smooth frosting until it resembles the head on a pint of Guinness.

Enjoy!


Green Velvet Baileys Cheesecake Cake

March 15, 2014

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What a fun cake for St. Patrick’s Day huh? Green Velvet Baileys Cheesecake Cake! So what you’ve got here is a layer of Baileys Cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of Green Velvet Cake ( you know – like red velvet but green instead) and frosted with a delicious cream cheese & marshmallow frosting. Are you drooling yet?

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I found this fantastic cake over at Recipe Girl. I must admit, Recipe Girl’s Green Velvet Cake is a much more vibrant Kelly Green than mine. Mine seems to be more of a moss-green. Oh well, as everyone knows, there are 40 Shades of Green in Ireland! I can actually attest to the fact that there are many more than that! The color difference between our two cakes is not a mystery to me. You see, Recipe Girl recommends that you use 2 tablespoons of liquid green food coloring (that is an entire 1 ounce bottle). Now I was sure I had food coloring on hand. But lo and behold, when I went to grab it whilst right in the middle of making this cake, there was only a drop or two of that dye to be had from the bottle. I did have some Wilton’s Gel Frosting Tint on hand which I substituted in. So there you have it! If you really want that your cake to have that retina-searing, screaming green hue, use liquid food coloring (and a lot of it). The good news is that the moss-green hue did not affect the flavour of my cake. It is still quite moist and tasty.

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And if those green velvet cake layers weren’t enough for you, there is an entire Baileys Cheesecake nestled neatly into the middle! The Baileys in this cheesecake might have been my addition to the recipe. I couldn’t resist. Almost every single recipe I’ve shared with you recently has a bit of booze in it. I figured why stop now so close to St. Patrick’s Day? You will notice that you assemble the cake with a frozen cheesecake layer. Don’t worry…it defrosts really fast! By the time you get the cake frosted, on the table and ready to go, that cheesecake layer will be entirely thawed, wonderfully creamy and perfectly luscious !

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Oh and let me tell you about the frosting. As with most red velvet cakes, this green velvet cousin has a cream cheese frosting. Always brilliant right? Except get this, this frosting has cream cheese and marshmallow  creme! It is by far the most mouthwateringly scrumptious cream cheese frosting I have ever tasted! Well there you have it! All of the reasons you simply must get busy making this amazing Green Velvet Baileys Cheesecake Cake for St. Patrick’s Day. In two days… three counting today…yup, you’ve plenty of time!

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Green Velvet Baileys Cheesecake Cake

recipe slightly adapted ( I added Baileys – go figure!) from: Recipe Girl 

yield: 12 – 14 servings

Ingredients:

For the Cheesecake:

  • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

For the Green Velvet Cakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons (1-ounce bottle) green food coloring

For the Frosting:

  • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • One 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • a few drops of green food coloring, if desired

Directions:

Prepare the cheesecake layer: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place a large roasting pan on the lower third rack of the oven. Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Wrap a double layer of heavy duty foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan (you want to seal it so the water from the water bath doesn’t seep into the pan).

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in the sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure all is mixed in. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in the sour cream, whipping cream, vanilla and Baileys. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set the pan into the roasting pan in the pre-heated oven. Carefully pour the hot water from your kettle into the roasting pan. Pour enough water so that there is about an inch of water coming up the foil along the sides of the cheesecake pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely (4 to 5 hours or overnight).

Prepare the cake layers: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray two 9-inch round pans with nonstick spray and line each pan with a round of parchment paper (see *Tips). In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. In a large bowl, combine the oil and sugar together and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda and stir to dissolve. Add the vinegar to the bowl, along with the buttermilk and food coloring. Beat on medium-low speed for 1 minute, until blended. Add the dry ingredients and increase speed to medium-high, scraping down the sides of the bowl while mixing, for 2 additional minutes. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edge of the pans, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat until creamy and smooth. Add the marshmallow creme and mix until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar (and food color, if using) and continue to beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until all of the ingredients are mixed in and the frosting is smooth and spreadable.

Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the parchment to remove the cheesecake from the pan. Peel off the parchment. Trim the cheesecake, as needed to match the size of your cake layers (see *Tips). Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the second cake layer on top of the cheesecake.

Frost the cake: Apply a crumb coat layer of frosting to the cake (see *Tips), and refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, or until the frosting is set. Apply the second layer of frosting. Add a large scoop of frosting onto the top of the cake. Use a long, thin spatula or knife to spread the frosting evenly across the top and then spread it down the sides of the cake too. Decorate, as desired.

Tips:

*You can certainly bake this cheesecake in the oven without a water bath, but you run the risk of cracking the top of the cheesecake. The water bath is a safeguard against cracking.
*Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be slightly larger size round than your cake layers, move it to a cutting board and use a knife to gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake.
*How to apply a crumb coat layer of frosting: use a long, thin spatula or knife to cover the cake completely with a thin and even layer of frosting. Wipe off the spatula each time you’re about to dip it back into the bowl to get more frosting (this way you won’t be transferring any green crumbs into the bowl of frosting). Don’t worry at this point about the crumbs being visible in the frosting on the cake. When your cake has a thin layer of frosting all over it, place it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to “set” the frosting. Once the first layer of frosting is set, apply the second layer.
*If you are serving this cake at a party, it’s perfectly okay to leave the cake at room temperature for a couple of hours (the cheesecake thaws very quickly). Otherwise, keep it stored in the refrigerator. It also freezes perfectly. Freeze it as is, then wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer until it is needed. Leftover slices may also be wrapped and frozen.

Enjoy!

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Guinness Pretzel Truffles

March 12, 2014

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Time for more candy in this St. Patrick’s Day countdown I say! And who doesn’t like truffles? Better yet, who doesn’t like boozy truffles?!! These Guinness Pretzel Truffles will knock your socks off!

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You know how some truffles are just so tooth-achingly sweet you can’t manage to take more than one nibble? Not these little devils. You see they have a reduced Guinness syrup added to the chocolate. That Guinness reduction adds an earthy, slightly bitter stout flavour to the chocolate and also serves to temper the sweetness. I’m sure that sounds great to those of you with a bit more subdued sweet tooth. But wait…there’s more. These tasty treats are then rolled in crunchy, salty crushed pretzels.

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So there you have it – malty Guinness, rich dark chocolate and salty pretzels combined to make an irresistible St. Patrick’s Day confection. You can have a batch done in no time flat. So what are you waiting for?! You’ll absolutely drive folks wild with these!

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Guinness Pretzel Truffles

recipe from: SprinkleBakes

yield: 18 – 21 truffles

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. bottle Guinness Extra Stout (divided)
  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup finely pulverized pretzel rods (you want these really pulverized – best to use a food processor)
  • 3/4 cup crushed pretzels for rolling truffles
Directions:
Place 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. Guinness Stout in a 2 cup saucepan.  Set aside.
Pour the remaining Guinness Stout in a separate small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cook until reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 15- 20 minutes.  Be sure to keep an eye on this because it can be tricky. You’ll notice it will foam up quite a bit at first. Don’t let it boil over as it will be quite the sticky mess to clean up! (Not that I have first hand knowledge of that or anything. :) Also, once reduced considerably, the syrup can burn easily. So – don’t get distracted!
Chop the chocolate into pieces and place in the saucepan with the Guinness Stout. Place the saucepan over medium- low heat and let stand until the chocolate starts to melt.  Stir with a wire whisk to blend together the chocolate pieces, but don’t whisk vigorously – we’re not trying to incorporate air.
When the chocolate is melted and smooth, begin to add butter 1 tbsp.  at a time. Whisk gently until butter is melted, and then add the 1 tbsp. Guinness Stout reduction.  Stir in the pulverized pretzels.
Pour the chocolate mixture into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator until firm (or overnight).
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Scoop the Guinness ganache out by the heaping tablespoon and quickly roll between your palms.
Once all the chocolate is used up, chill the truffles in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to roll in crushed pretzels. These chocolates will keep for 7 days when stored properly in the refrigerator.  Roll truffles in crushed pretzels just before serving (so they’ll be crunchy!). If crushed pretzels resist sticking to the chilled truffles, roll the truffles between your palms to warm them up, and then roll in the pretzels. The pieces should stick.
Enjoy!
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Baileys Irish Potato Candy

March 10, 2014

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Only seven more days to go until St. Patrick’s Day! Phew….I can’t believe I’ve made it this far with the daily blogs. Hope folks have been enjoying it. I’ve got a fun, sort of silly recipe for you today. Baileys Irish Potato Candy! Truth be told, no potatoes are actually involved in making these delicious little devils, but they’ve got the look of tiny spuds down huh? What they actually are is a candy made of confectioners sugar, butter, pecans and cream cheese. They get their color from a dusting of cinnamon and cocoa powder and their eyes from slivered almonds.

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Irish Potato Candy originated in Philadelphia and has been a tradition there for over 100 years. The version you will find there in the “City of Brotherly Love” includes coconut flakes and forgoes the cocoa powder coating, using only cinnamon. I couldn’t resist throwing a bit of chocolate into the mix and while I was at it, I decided a bit of Baileys would go a long way here as well. This sweet and creamy candy is very easy to make, no baking involved, just a bit of chill time. I don’t know about you, but believe me, a bit of chill time sounds great right about now! Adorable, tasty spuds… who could ask for more? Whip up a sack of these potatoes for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations today.

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Baileys Irish Potato Candy

recipe slightly adapted from: Bake at 350

yield:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pecans (or you could substitute in your favourite nut)
  • 4 Tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 teaspoons Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 lb. powdered (confectioners) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sweetened cocoa
  • slivered almonds

Directions:

Heat oven to 350° F.  Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 4-6 minutes, until fragrant and toasted.  Remove from the baking sheet and let cool.  Once cool, finely chop

Beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, Baileys and salt until light and fluffy.

Mix in the sugar and pecans until combined and a dough forms.

Place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

Place the cinnamon and cocoa in a shallow bowl.  Use a 2 tablespoon scoop, and form the dough into small potato shapes.  Roll in the cinnamon/cocoa mixture, using a pastry brush to brush off the excess.

Break the slivered almonds into small pieces, and press into the cookies to make the eyes.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!


Caramel Apple & Irish Whiskey Clafoutis

March 8, 2014

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Have mercy! Is it the weekend yet? I’ve got just the perfect weekend lazing around and drinking early brunch dish for you. A Caramel Apple & Irish Whiskey Clafoutis! Wowzers right?!! A clafoutis is a french dessert that consists of baked fruit (usually cherries) in a flan like batter. I found this wonderful whiskey splashed Irish twist on that classic French dish over at Edible Ireland  (love that site! – great recipes, beautiful photography – what more could you want)and just couldn’t wait to make it. (as if the weekend could mosey on up any slower…)

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Now I know of few of you folks out there are probably smirking and thinking “Yeah, so much for her lazy weekend if she was making some sort of French thing, which you just know has to be time-consuming, complicated and annoying!” Oh I am so happy to say that you would be wrong. This dish, impressive – yet rustic – as it looks was quite easy to make and delicious to boot!

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But if you’re still being a doubter, perhaps you would perk up a bit knowing that you can make the apple caramel mixture up the night before. That way when the weekend arrives, you won’t have to spend one more extra precious moment than necessary “slaving away” in the kitchen. You just heat the apples up, mix up the batter, add the apples in and pop it into the oven . Easy peasy. Then you can just sit around sipping your mimosa (or Buck’s Fizz). Before you know it that decadent brunch treat will be ready and your weekend will be off to a fantastic whiskey-caramel-apple-y start!

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Caramel Apple & Irish Whiskey Clafoutis

recipe from: Edible Ireland

Ingredients:

for the batter:

  • 80 g (2/3 cup) flour
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder (optional – but it will keep the clafoutis from sinking as quickly when removed from the oven)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100 g (6 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

for the apples:

  • 30 g (2 tablespoons) butter
  • 4 crisp eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 60 g (1/3 cup) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons Irish whiskey*

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Butter a 25 cm (10 inch) pie plate or cast iron skillet or large individual ramekins.

To make the caramel apples, melt a knob of butter in a large pan over a medium-high heat. When it’s sizzling, reduce the heat to medium and tip in the apples, sugar and cinnamon, stirring to coat the apples in the butter and sugar. Cook the apples for about 5 minutes, until they have softened and the sugar has turned syrupy. Keep warm.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, melted butter, milk and vanilla. Pour half of the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, whisking until it looks like a paste, then add in the rest of the liquid, whisking until the batter is smooth and well blended. (Alternatively, you could just place all the batter ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth.)

Place the pie plate or skillet on a baking sheet to catch any drips when the clafoutis is cooking in the oven. Pour in the batter, then using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to the plate or skillet, leaving as much of the caramel sauce in the pan as you can and making sure the apples are evenly distributed. Bake the clafoutis in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the clafoutis is puffed up and golden brown and the centre is set.

About 5 minutes before the clafoutis is done, reheat the caramel in the pan to loosen it again, then stir in the whiskey and allow to cook for 1 or 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Serve the clafoutis warm with the caramel whiskey sauce drizzled over.

*If you’ve had a “whiskey incident” and know you couldn’t smell, much less taste whiskey first thing in the morning, switch it out for some brandy or calvados.

** This is also a great dessert recipe. Just imagine serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with that caramel whiskey sauce. Yum!

Enjoy!

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Epic Chocolate, Porter & Potato Cake

March 7, 2014

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Anyone have any leftover mashed potatoes? It is rare that we have them leftover, usually gobbling them all up without a second thought. Yet it does occasionally happen. Truth be told I have started making ridiculous amounts of mashed potatoes when I actually do make them, for a couple of reasons. First of all, we have bee known to eat a whole bunch of mashed potatoes in one sitting. Second reason, I am always hoping there will be leftovers so that I can make them into potato farls the next day. And now I have another reason to scheme for leftovers. Believe it or not, I used leftover mashed potatoes in this Epic Chocolate, Porter & Potato Cake. Epic is the perfect word to sum up how I feel about this cake. Rich, chocolatey, moist and delicious! And with spuds and porter as featured ingredients, what cake could better boast of its Irish origins.

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I found this recipe at Bibliocook, the blog of award-winning Irish food writer and broadcaster, Caroline Hennessey. If you haven’t stopped by this great blog, you really must go take a peek. Caroline’s husband is one of the owners and brewers at Eight Degrees Brewing.  I first tasted one of their beers a couple of years ago at the Dingle Food Festival . My friend Theresa, being a fan of that craft brew, had brought along several of their beers for my husband and I to sample and we were instantly hooked. We are eagerly awaiting Eight Degrees arrival in the States. Make sure you keep it in mind if you are planning a trip over to Ireland. Indeed Caroline recommends that their Knockmealdown Porter, be the porter used in this Epic cake. And believe you me, I really wish I could have gotten ahold of a bottle, but alas, none was to be found in Virginia. So I decided to go with a locally brewed porter, looked to Baltimore Maryland (only about 1 hr or so away) and settled on DuClaw Brewing Company’s Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, a decision which I am not second guessing after tasting this amazing cake. All of the malty, chocolate, espresso and peanut butter notes of that porter really shine through in every decadent forkful.

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I love that this cake is really no fuss/no-nonsense. It comes together quickly and easily. And since Caroline had mentioned that its taste improves a bit with age, I made it the day before I was planning to serve it and then just frosted it before folks arrived. And even though I frosted the entire cake, it really isn’t necessary. I think simply spreading a thick pillowy cloud of that cocoa dusted cream cheese filling would be sheer perfection. So why did I frost the entire cake? Well, it looks like it is time for a true confessions moment. The original recipe called for a 23cm round cake tin. Of course here in the States, we never really got into that metric system thing and still do everything in inches. I quickly figured out that 23 cm is a 9″ pan. However, I grabbed a cake pan that was only 1 1/2″ tall. It really needed to be at least 2″, so there was a bit of batter overflow happening when I baked it. No big deal as I had the cake tin sitting on a baking sheet, which caught the spillage. However, the edge of my cake ended up looking a bit raggedy. So I made the executive decision of covering my mistake with that scrumptious frosting and no one would be the wiser. Which they weren’t…until I spilled the beans here. Oh well, live and learn and always use taller cake tins when possible!

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I served this substantial cake up at one of my husband’s band rehearsals and it easily fed a flock of hungry musicians, some of whom had seconds, raving about it all the while. I guess I do have even more of a reason to make extra mashed potatoes now. I’m going to have to arrange to have 20 lb. sacks delivered to my home soon if I’m not careful. The 5 lb. ones just won’t do anymore!

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Epic Chocolate, Porter & Potato Cake

recipe slightly adapted from: Bibliocook

Ingredients:

  • 75 grams dark chocolate – it’s worth using 70% here
  • 225 grams butter, at room temperature
  • 200 grams caster sugar (caster sugar is the same as superfine sugar)
  • 220 grams light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 75 grams mashed potato (either cook some potatoes and mash them or used leftover mashed potatoes)
  • 250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 25 grams unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 150mls porter – I wish I could have used Eight Degrees Brewing Company’s Knockmealdown Porter, but I used Duclaw Brewing Company’s Sweet Baby Jesus! Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter

For the Cream cheese icing:

  • 200 grams cream cheese
  • 50 grams butter
  • 50 grams confectioners sugar, sifted

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 ° F and line the base of a 9 X 2″ round baking tin.

Melt the chocolate and allow to cool.

Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Mix in the melted chocolate and mashed potato.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda together. Gently mix into the cake batter in three additions, alternating with the porter.

Spoon into the prepared tin, leveling the surface with the back of the spoon, and bake for 1 hour – 1 hour, 10 minutes or until the cake feels springy and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove to a cooling rack.

To make the icing, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth, then mix in the confectioners sugar. Spread over the cold cake, dusting with a little sweetened cocoa.

Enjoy!


Arán Spíosraí with Irish Whiskey Glaze

March 5, 2014

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Alright! Here we go on day five of my annual St. Patrick’s Day blog-a-polooza with a recipe for Arán Spíosraí with an Irish Whiskey Glaze. Arán Spíosraí simply means Spice Bread and I think we all know what Irish Whiskey Glaze means. Isn’t that the look that your eyes take on after tasting a bit too much of your frosting recipe as you prepare it?  (Good old Jameson!) Well, in my defense, I had to make sure the recipe was good before I published it right? What kind of a cook would serve something up without tasting it? And some things require a bit more tasting than others…

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Anyhooo….This lovely quick bread can probably be thought of as more cake-like than bread-like. Quite sweet, it is chock full of chopped citron and raisins along with a veritable riot of spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice ginger – hence the name. Very versatile, this bread is great for breakfast slathered in butter, equally welcome along with your afternoon tea or can be a simple yet tasty dessert topped with a bit of fresh whipped cream. And leftovers are not a problem. It holds up well in the pantry and I think the taste even improves a bit with age. Perfect to have a loaf on standby for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

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Arán Spíosraí with Irish Whisky Glaze

recipe from: Bob Vivant

Ingredients:

For the Bread:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup candied citron, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 6 oz. Lyles Golden Syrup ( can substitute 1/3 cup honey and 1/3 cup molasses or 2/3 cup light corn syrup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk

For the Irish Whiskey Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 Tablespoons Irish Whiskey
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line a 9×5″ loaf pan with parchment paper or grease it with butter.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Stir in the raisins and candied citron. Make a well in the center.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Remove it from the heat and stir in the brown sugar and Lyle’s Golden syrup. Beat in the egg and milk until combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. Place batter in prepared pan.

Bake for 60-70 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool loaf on a rack for 20 minutes and then remove from the pan. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and whiskey. Allow the glaze to cool for 15 minutes. Spoon the glaze into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe glaze in pattern of your choice across top of bread.

Enjoy!


Butterscotch Banana Tarte Tatin for my Valentine

February 14, 2014

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So here it is, Valentine’s Day yet again. And this one had quite an exciting meteorological lead up to it around here. Folks have been pretty much hysterical all week over the HUGE snow storm that was slated to commence clobbering us on Wednesday evening. Didn’t I say Winter wasn’t done with us yet…dang that old Punxsutawney varmint! (Just kidding…Sorry Phil, I won’t shoot the messenger!) Usually when there is that much hype about a storm here, nothing actually happens. But this time we did end up with about 10 inches in the wee hours of Thursday and sleety rain/snow throughout the entire day. Luckily I was prepared to make a gorgeous treat for my Valentine and had all of my ingredients ready right here in my cozy warm home and did not need to go out to brave the grocery stores, which if they were even open, I’m sure were in a quite a state to say the least! This year I will be sticking to my usual template when making Valentine’s Day Treats for my sweetie. I think the first one I ever blogged about was Lemon Curd Bread Pudding with a Blackberry Glaze,

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the next year I was on to Luscious Lemon Squares,

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then I whipped up a Poached Pear Tart with Lemony Cream.

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Anyone spot a pattern here? I just noticed that they all had lemon in them, but that isn’t really what is key here. Give up? They are all fruit desserts. No rich, decadent, indulgent, oh so common on Valentine’s Day chocolate in sight! Now I’ve told you that I think the husband’s preference for fruit desserts over chocolate ones is a bit inconceivable for me, though I must say, I don’t necessarily want chocolate…You guys know me by now right? What do I want? CUPCAKES! (just thought I’d make that word really stand out in case my sweetie just happens to be reading this post…hint, hint!) But since I’m such a lovely and thoughtful wife, I did not make my Valentine cupcakes. I made him this fantastic Butterscotch Banana Tarte Tatin!

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I was lucky enough to receive Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas and immediately knew this Tarte Tatin would be the Valentine’s Day dish this year. If you have not got a copy of the book, what in the world are you waiting for?!! It is chock full of delicious recipes, similar to the ones found on her blog, as well as her stunning photos. And let me tell you, this Butterscotch Banana Tarte Tatin did not disappoint. It was very quick and easy to make. You really only dirty one pan, the cast iron skillet that you cook it in. You start by cooking the bananas in a boozy butterscotch sauce on the stove top.

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This is where you will lose any element of surprize because the tantalizing aroma of the bubbling banana medley will bring every single person who is in the house into the kitchen to investigate. Next step is to add the buttery puff pastry topper and then pop the whole thing into the oven for about 25 minutes until it is bubbly and golden.

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Are you drooling yet?

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Next you carefully flip it over onto a plate and get ready for folks to swoon!

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I think it looked truly impressive. Not to mention how scrumptious it tasted…and I am not even that big of a fruity dessert fan.

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I did indeed choose wisely for my Valentine. He was over the moon! Hope everyone has a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Butterscotch Banana Tarte Tatin

Recipe from: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook  by Deb Perelman or you can see recipe online at EatDrink.CA

yield: 6 – 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour, for work surface
  • 1 sheet frozen puff-pastry dough, thawed in the refrigerator for 1 day
  • 3 Tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (95 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes, such as Maldon
  • 5 Large ripe bananas peeled, halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon bourbon or Scotch (optional – are you kidding me?! I chose Knob Creek Bourbon)
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:

For this recipe, you’ll need a 9″ skillet heavy enough so you fear dropping it on your toes. Preheat your oven to 400° F. Roll out your puff pastry on a floured surface to a 9″ circle, and trim if necessary. Transfer the pastry to the fridge until needed.

Melt the butter in the 9″ skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the sugar and salt. Cook, swirling the skillet occasionally, until the mixture turns medium amber, about 3 minutes.

Arrange the bananas in the skillet, overlapping them slightly. Cook, without stirring, for 3 minutes. Drizzle the vanilla and the alcohol of you choice over the bananas and cook them until most of the liquor has evaporated and liquid has thickened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the bananas from heat.

Place the pastry round on top of the bananas and transfer it to the oven. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes. Remove the tarte from the oven, and carefully invert the tarte onto a serving plate. Don’t even think about serving this without vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!


Salted and Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

February 5, 2014

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Salted and Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies. I really don’t know if I need to elaborate on this one… I mean, I don’t know about you, but they had me at Salted & Malted. Nothing more need be said. But then those delicious pair of words are followed by Nutella. And it doesn’t stop there. Oh no. It goes on to read Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie! Have Mercy!

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I was instantly confident that this would be the recipe that I would make for World Nutella Day. That’s right, today February 5th is World Nutella Day. This celebration of all things Nutella was started in 2007 by Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle at Bleeding Espresso as a day to celebrate, get creative with and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.

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I love Nutella. Although I missed adding a submission to Nutella Day last year. (Total brain freeze…I have no excuse) I have contributed a couple of truly tasty Nutella laden recipes in years past. There was my exquisite Nutella, Double Chocolate & Banana Tart

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and my delightful Nutella & Banana filled Peanut Butter Ebelskivers.

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I think these Salted & Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies are a great way to jump back into the game.

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Morgan over at Host the Toast came up with these gems back in December. What a masterpiece! They literally have it all, silky, decadent Nutella, creamy caramel, nostalgic malted goodness and rich chocolate chips all rolled up in a crunchy chewy salted cookie. (Yup…its got the salty/sweet thing covered as well!) They are an absolute breeze to make and as I’m sure you can imagine, are certainly quite easy to eat. (Ahem…probably a bit too easy judging from the fit of my britches…) I can’t get enough of these little devils! Get yourself addicted today!

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Salted and Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

recipe from Host the Toast

yield: 27 Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 and ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup malted milk powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup Nutella
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ⅔ cup caramel bits (or baking caramels cut into tiny pieces)
  • Flaky Sea salt, for topping

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, malted milk powder, baking soda, and salt until well blended.

Cream together the butter and both sugars in a separate bowl until completely smooth.

Add the Nutella to the butter mixture and mix until fully combined. Add in the egg and vanilla and continue to mix. Then, slowly add in the flour mixture. Mix until it all is just incorporated, but don’t over-mix.

Stir in the chocolate chips and caramel bits until evenly distributed. I like to refrigerate cookie dough for an hour or so before baking. It helps to keep it from spreading too quickly in the oven resulting in a very thin cookie. However, this step is optional. Using a medium-sized cookie scoop ( holds about 2 tablespoons) scoop dough and drop onto the parchment paper-covered baking sheets, spacing them out about 2½ inches apart and away from the sides of the sheet. You may have to do multiple batches– don’t try to squeeze them all in.

Sprinkle dough with flaky sea salt.

Bake 10-13 minutes. Remove from the oven. They will still be very, very soft. Leave them on the cookie sheet on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, or until they are solid enough to eat.

Enjoy!


Cookies & Cream Salted Caramel Popcorn Bars

October 31, 2013

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Happy Halloween! I LOVE Halloween. Our neighborhood, which is near “Sleepy Hollow” (I kid you not!) is all decked out in all of its spooky finery

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I’ve noticed quite a few new residents

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who seem to be getting up to all sorts of mischief

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and well some of them are just downright creepy!

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I am so sad to say that the husband and I have not attended a proper Halloween costume party since 2010! I am simply appalled!! Unfortunately that trend is continuing this year as we have no big plans at all. As I mentioned in my last blog, things around here are craaaaZy (that’s right…with a capital Z) right now. I had all sorts of plans for the Halloween goodies I was going to conjure up for you. I’ve made some really fun treats in the past. I think my all time favourite Halloween creation is the Soul Cake.

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It might just be the historian in me that makes me love it so much, because truth be told, unlike most sugar laden, tooth-achingly sweet candies found in abundance on Halloween, these little cake like cookies are only mildly sweet. There is not a speck of chocolate to be found in them, only a few currants top the cakes arranged in a cross pattern. What can I say, sometimes less is more. Here is a little bit from my Soul Cake blog post which talks about the origins of Halloween and the Soul Cake connection.

Our modern Halloween celebrations are derived from the Celtic holiday of Samhain. Samhain was Celtic New Year. It was a harvest festival which marked the dying of the sun-god and a turning to the colder, dormant half of the year. On this night, the Celts believed the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its lowest point. The dead could more easily travel back over to our side, and if we weren’t careful, we could accidentally wander over in to their world and be trapped-a good reason to stay close to home and bonfires, no doubt! This belief likely gave rise to our Halloween legends of ghosts, ghouls and witches wandering about on this night in particular. As Christian beliefs took hold, Samhain celebrations became re-branded as All Soul’s Eve. By the eighth century beggars, rather than the spirits from the other world, would travel door to door on this night. In exchange for their prayers for the family’s departed, they were given a small cake, known as a Soul Cake.

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I also was quite fond of these Halloween Popcorn Balls I made back in 2011.

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The husband is a big fan of popcorn. He would be quite happy to eat it every day. And I think his love of popcorn has rubbed off on our pup. He actually recognizes that word now and can make it into our kitchen from anywhere in the house in less than 10 seconds when he hears the telltale rattle of the popcorn kernels hitting the metal pan.

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Alas, all I could manage to get done this year was this batch of Cookies & Cream Salted Caramel Popcorn Bars. Yup, there sure is popcorn in this treat. I figured if I could only get one of my intended treats done, I would pick one that I knew would make the husband very happy. And turns out this one was a real winner!

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Believe me, if you find yourself a little short on time today and haven’t managed to conjure up any fabulous holiday treats, this might be the recipe for you. But let me tell you about these little devils. The bottom layer is a cookie dough crust. I used chocolate chips and those Halloween white chocolate Candy Corn M&M’s that can be found this time of year. I am so thankful that they are only found around this time of year, because those things are similar to the Cadbury Mini Eggs for me…pure crack! I could literally eat them until I popped….or more likely until the top button popped off my britches! So as happy as I am to see them arrive in stores, I am somewhat relieved when they disappear again. But back to the recipe, if you aren’t as fond as I am of the Candy Corn M&M’s (I can’t imagine!) you can throw in a cup of whatever candy you like and customize it to fit your taste. The original recipe I had for these uses Reese’s peanut butter cups, which I think would be delicious as well. I am a big fan of the Reese Cup, but I was really trying to Halloween things up around here so the candy corn colours of the M&M’s won out. On top of that great cookie base you will find a thin cream layer, similar to what you find sandwiched in the middle of a Oreo cookie. The top layer consists of gooey salted caramel coated popcorn, which has been drizzled with chocolate and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. Good grief! They are amazing! I think I chose well.

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Although there are several steps involved in making these bars, they are all pretty quick and easy. Make sure you allow for cooling time for the bottom cookie layer as well as at least 1 hour or so for the bars to set before cutting them. If you want to make them look even more “Halloween-y” you could sprinkle some candy corn over the caramel popcorn layer or even some Candy Corn M&M’s that you have left over from the cookie base. I’m sure you know by now that I did not have any “left over” M&M’s by the time I was adding the salted caramel popcorn layer. Nope I promptly inhaled the rest of the bag shortly after it was opened. I had to keep my strength up in the kitchen, I had no choice. But you might be able to exercise some self-control and set a few aside. Although I really wish the husband and I were getting all dressed up tonight and heading out to a fancy party to celebrate Halloween, I guess there is always next year. I definitely feel somewhat less deprived finding myself in possession of these sinfully delicious, salty sweet bars. Or maybe it is them who have possessed me……Mwa-hah-hah! Happy Halloween!

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Cookies & Cream Salted Caramel Popcorn Bars

recipe slightly adapted from: Half Baked Harvest

yield: 18 -20 bars depending on how you slice them

Ingredients:

For the Cookie Layer

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Halloween Candy Corn M&M’s (or your favourite)

For the Cream Layer

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Salted Caramel Popcorn

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar + 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • flaked sea salt
  • 5 cups popped popcorn
  • melted chocolate for drizzling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9×13″ baking tin or line in with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl until creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in the flour mixture and the 2 teaspoons water. Fold in the chocolate chips and M&M’s (or candy of your choice.)

Spread the dough into the prepared pan. Bake 18 – 25 minutes, until just set in the center. Allow to cool completely before adding the cream layer. You can pop the pan into the freezer or fridge to accelerate the cooling process if you are pressed for time.

Once the cookie layer is cool, make the cream layer. In a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar slowly. I usually do 1 heaping Tablespoon at a time. It will be less gritty if you add the sugar slowly. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until smooth. Spread the cream over the cookie layer.

Now for the caramel popcorn. Combine the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once it begins to boil watch closely and whisk until the mixture starts to smell like caramel. This will take about 5-6 minutes. Add the butter cubes and slowly pour in the cream, whisking constantly. Continue to heat over medium-high until the mixture has thickened, about 5 -10 minutes more. rEmove from the heat and stir in the butterscotch chips, vanilla and a good pinch of salt. Stir until smooth. Place the popcorn in a large bowl and pour the caramel over it. Toss well and then spread the popcorn over the cream layer. Melt 1/4 cup chocolate chips and drizzle over the top. Sprinkle with a good amount of flaked sea salt. If you would like to add some additional candy decoration such as candy corn or the elusive “left-over” Candy Corn M&Ms, do so now. Let sit at least 1 hour before cutting. You can place them in the ridge to help them set faster. Cut into bars.

Enjoy!


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