Fudgy Nutella Brownies

February 5, 2023

Fudgy Nutella Brownies! I mean what more do I have to say? What ya got here is a rich, delightfully chewy chocolate brownie made even more decadent by the addition of smooth, creamy Nutella, not only to the batter but also generously drizzled in luscious swirls over the top! And then, just a sprinkle of flaky sea salt over the top puts you in a state of salty sweet bliss!!!

So I gotta ask….are there any Nutella fans out there? Cause let me tell you I love me some Nutella! I actually didn’t even know it existed until I was living in Ireland and my friend Theresa had a jar. I watched with amazement as she spread it over her toast. I was like “What! You can eat chocolate on toast!” I had no idea it was a thing. Yup, love at first bite.

It is not by chance that I’m blogging a recipe which features Nutella today. 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.

A couple of years ago, the founders have transferred Nutella Day to Ferrero the company who owns that most beloved spread. Take a peek at their Facebook page and see how folks are celebrating the day! I love Nutella so I usually try to participate with a Nutella laden recipe every year. One of my favorite Nutella creations was this Nutella, Double Chocolate & Banana Tart which was quite stunning if I do say so myself.

just looks at these delicious Homemade Banana Toaster Tarts drizzled with Nutella

And how do you like this big ole Malted Nutella & Biscoff Brownie Torte 

Then there was this gorgeous Nutella Star Bread:

And some amazing Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka:

And I don’t want to forget these irresistible Salted Peanut Butter & Nutella Sandwich Cookies – sweet salty bliss I tell you!

But let me get back to today’s amazing Nutella laden treat that delivers quite a chewy chocolate punch – these fantastic Fudgy Nutella Brownies.

I gotta tell ya’ll these are really easy to make, with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. They come together quickly, so you can whip them up in a flash to your friends and family’s amazement! Are you looking for a snack to bring to that Super Bowl party? Look no further. This is it! But you don’t need a planned event to bake up a batch, just delight in this little indulgence all by yourself. I won’t tell anyone….

Fudgy Nutella Brownies

  • Servings: 8x8 inch pan - 9 to 12 brownies, depending how you slice 'em
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
  • Print

recipe from: Yossy Arefi via New York Times Cooking

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup/113 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), plus more for greasing the baking dish
  • 4 ounces/113 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup/296 grams chocolate-hazelnut spread, like Nutella
  • ⅔ cup/134 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • ¾ cup/96 grams all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • flaky sea salt for sprinkling over top (optional)

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.

Combine the chopped chocolate and butter in a heat-safe bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir the mixture occasionally until melted. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine ¾ cup/222 grams chocolate-hazelnut spread, sugar and eggs. Mix on medium-high for 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl a couple of times. Add espresso powder and vanilla and mix briefly to combine.

Turn the mixer to low and stream in the chocolate-butter mixture. Mix until well combined, then fold in the flour and salt.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spread evenly with a knife or offset spatula and spoon several dollops of the remaining ¼ cup/74 grams chocolate-hazelnut spread evenly over the top. Use a toothpick or skewer to swirl the spread and brownie batter a few times, leaving big streaks of the spread on the surface. Sprinkle flaky sea salt over the top if you are using.

Bake the brownies for 25 to 30 minutes, or until just set in the middle. A toothpick inserted into the center should pull out some moist crumbs.

Enjoy!

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Fudgy Nutella Brownies:

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

King Arthur Flour Espresso Powder


Orange Cranberry Filled Wool Roll Bread

February 1, 2023

Oh my goodness! Just look at this gorgeous Orange Cranberry Filled Wool Roll Bread! You’ve likely seen a loaf of this impressive bread before. It took the internet by storm earlier this year and folks were instagramming it not stop. I gotta tell you, there is a good reason for its popularity among bakers. Not only does this bread look amazing, like a wool roll in fact, but it also delivers on taste. Beneath the crispy light crust, your teeth are going to sink into the most pillowy soft, cloud like bread you have ever had the pleasure of tasting. And is completely customizable. I made this one with a delicate swirl of cream cheese and left over Boozy Orange Cranberry Sauce.

But this bread works fantastically with any filling you can dream up, whether sweet or savory. Yup…you could do chocolate, Nutella, cinnamon and sugar or any flavor of jam. You might want try mozzarella and basil pesto, maybe some gruyere and herbs. Seriously – you can’t go wrong!

Today is February 1st. This particular day lies half way between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It is St. Brigid’s Day. Brigid is one of Ireland’s three patron saints along with St. Colmcille and St. Patrick. Starting this year, Ireland will be marking her Feast Day with a new permanent Bank Holiday on the first Monday in February, which is February 6th this year. Hooray! Who doesn’t like more holidays?!! According to Irish hagiography, Brigid was an early Christian nun & abbess who preformed many miracles. She also shares the name with an important Celtic goddess who is associated with the festival of Imbolc which was celebrated at this time as well, which suggests that the early church might have adopted the legends of the goddess and transformed them into the Christian persona. Interesting huh? I don’t know how many of you folks out there remembered to put a scarf out last night. You see on St. Brigid’s Eve you should always place a scarf or other piece of fabric outside.

When Brigid passes over the land that night she will bless it. You then can fetch it back inside the next day and thanks to Brigid, it has the power to protect and heal headaches, sore throats and fevers throughout the coming year! What with all the Covid still lurking around, I wasn’t going to take any chances. My little scarf was frozen solid this morning, but is happily thawing away now, freshly imbued with healing powers. As I mentioned, today marks the festival of Imbolc as well as Candlemas, both of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. And speaking of weather divination, tomorrow my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if instead Spring is on the way.

One extraordinary rodent!

I don’t know if good ole Phil will see his shadow tomorrow or not. I must admit, I’m kind of hoping he predicts more winter. We haven’t really seen a winter at all this year. We had a few days of really cold weather, but only a few. And barely a flurry at all. Certainly no snow accumulation. I love winter, so I am feeling a bit cheated. But no worries, I might have some plans to head out to a really cold destination in the future, so even if Spring is on its way here, I’ll get my snow fix regardless! So this is quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking another event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 11th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Eleven years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

I’ve managed to do an anniversary post nearly every year since. Pretty impressive considering how slack I can be! Last year I shared another Cranberry focused dish – this exquisite Cranberry Chiffon Pie!

And a couple of years ago I was all about this rich & creamy Ground Beef Chili with Chocolate & Peanut Butter. Get. out!

And the year before, I posted about these scrumptious Morning Buns!

One of my favorite recipes that I shared with you on an anniversary was: Model Bakery’s English Muffins:

Then there were those decadent  Banana Rum Muffins:

That jaw-dropping, over the top Crack Pie:

And who can forget that magical “caviar of the South” – Pasture’s Pimento Cheese. Keep this one in mind for the Super Bowl!

But let me get back to today’s recipe – That magnificent Orange Cranberry Filled Wool Roll Bread.

This bread is made with a tangzhong, which you can actually prepare up to five days ahead of time. Tangzhong is an Asian yeast bread technique in which you cook a small percentage of liquid and flour. Think of it kind of like a roux. Once this mixture has cooled down, you add it to the rest of the ingredients. What will this technique do for your recipe? Well, it pre-gelatinizes the starches in the flour, meaning they can absorb more water. In fact, the flour will absorb twice as much hot water or milk as it would with the cool/lukewarm water or milk that you’d usually use in yeast dough. And the starch is able to hold onto this extra liquid all through the kneading, baking and cooling process. This not only makes the dough less sticky and easier to work with than usual yeast doughs, but the bread will also rise higher since that retained liquid is turned to internal steam during baking. Furthermore your bread will be softer as well as have a longer shelf life. I can definitely vouch that this dough is easy to work with. In order to get that roll of wool appearance you have to divide the risen dough into 4 pieces, roll them out and then cut the bottom half of each piece into little strips or fringe. I was thinking “Good Lord. This is going to be one of those fiddly endeavors that I hate.” But nope! Super easy. Wow, right?!!! But don’t take my word for it (actually you kind of should…) give this recipe a whirl!

Orange Cranberry Filled Wool Roll Bread

  • Servings: one 9 inch round loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: customized from King Arthur Baking

Ingredients:

For the Tangzhong (starter)

  • 3 tablespoons (43 grams) water
  • 3 tablespoons (43 grams) milk, whole preferred
  • 2 tablespoons (14 grams) bread flour

For the Dough

  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) milk, whole preferred
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) salt
  • 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) bread flour

For the Filling

  • half an 8-ounce package (113 grams) cream cheese, softened*
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • zest (grated rind) of 2 medium lemons
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons (4 grams) freeze-dried raspberries, lightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons (15 grams) bread flour

*The cream cheese should be at warm room temperature, at least 68°F.

*For the bread pictured above I simply mixed 113 grams of softened cream cheese with a pinch of salt and 3 Tablespoons of Boozy Orange Cranberry sauce and 2 tablespoons of bread flour.

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) milk, whole preferred

Instructions:

To make the tangzhong: Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook the mixture, stirring regularly, until thickened, paste-like, and the spoon or spatula leaves lines on the bottom of the pan. This should take 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the strength of your burner.

Remove the tangzhong from the heat and transfer it to a large mixing bowl, the bowl of a stand mixer, or the bucket of a bread machine (whatever you plan to knead the dough in).

To make the dough: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Place the flour into the bowl with the tangzhong and add the remaining dough ingredients. Mix to combine, then knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 8 to 10 minutes on medium-low speed of a mixer. (The dough may be tacky and stick to the sides of the bowl slightly; that’s OK.)

Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest in a lightly greased bowl or dough rising bucket, covered, for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.

To make the filling: Combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, and salt, mixing until smooth.

Add the freeze-dried raspberries and flour, mixing until the berries are completely crushed and evenly distributed.

To assemble: On a lightly floured surface, gently deflate the dough, divide it into four pieces (about 170 grams each), and shape each piece into a ball.

Cover the dough and let rest for 10 minutes.

Line a 9″ springform or a 9” round cake pan (at least 2” deep) with parchment and lightly grease the parchment.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it into a 6” x 12” rectangle. If the dough begins to snap back during rolling, set it aside and begin rolling out the second piece. Return to the first piece to continue rolling it to the full size after a couple of minutes, giving the gluten a chance to relax.

Portion 2 heaping tablespoons of filling (about 50grams) onto the top half of the rectangle. A tablespoon cookie dough scoop works well here; use two rounded scoops per piece of dough.

Position the rectangle so its 12” sides are vertical. Starting at the top, spread the filling across the entire width of the rectangle (leaving about 1/4” bare on each side) and down about 6” or 7”, leaving the bottom 5” to 6” bare. If the filling is difficult to spread, warm it in the microwave for 15 seconds and stir; check the consistency. Repeat, if necessary, until it’s an easily spreadable consistency.

Using a bench or chef’s knife or a pastry wheel, cut the uncovered dough at the bottom into very thin strips (anywhere from 1/8” to 1/4″ wide).

Fold the long edges of the rectangle in to prevent any filling from seeping out.

Starting from the filling-covered top and rolling toward the uncovered strips, roll the dough into a log about 6” long.

Lightly press the strips into the rolled log to secure. Place the log, seam-side down, into the bottom of the pan so it’s snuggled up against the pan’s outside edge.

Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, placing them into the pan to form a complete circle around the pan’s outside edge.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cover the wool roll and let it rise for 60 to 75 minutes, until puffy.

To finish and bake the roll: Brush the roll with milk, being careful not to deflate the delicate dough.

Bake it for 28 to 32 minutes, until it’s golden brown on top; a digital thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf should read at least 190°F.

Remove the roll from the oven and cool it in the pan until you can transfer it safely to a rack to cool completely.

Storage information: Store leftover wool roll bread, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days.

Enjoy!

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Orange Cranberry Filled Wool Roll Bread:

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Lavatools Javelin Pro Instant Read Thermometer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop

Norpro Ravioli/Pastry Wheel


Balmoral Chicken & Creamy Whisky Gravy with Clapshot (Tatties & Neeps)

January 23, 2023

Here we are in January already! The end of January actually. Seems all I’m thinking about is “I better start on a diet, as well as those taxes?” Sheesh! That’s no fun at all. But there is something that cheers me up every year without fault. At this time of year my thoughts always turn to Scotland. That’s right- January 25th, which is coming soon, is the birthday of Robert Burns. Robert Burns was born in 1759 and is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. On January 25th folks throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, will be remembering him with a Burns Night Supper. And ya’ll. This year I pulled the trigger. Seriously. I did it. I ordered a Haggis!!! What is a Burns Night Supper without a wee Haggis? So this year I am thrilled to share this recipe for Balmoral Chicken! What you’ve got here is a moist tender chicken breast wrapped up in salty country bacon and stuffed with haggis. This succulent dish is served with a lovely Cream Whisky Gravy and a side of Clapshot. (An Orkney spin on Mashed Tatties and Neeps.)

When I was prowling around the internet looking for this years Burns Night offering, I came across many dishes featuring haggis. I was under the false impression that I would not be able to source a haggis here in Virginia. For those of you who might be thinking “What the heck is a haggis”? Well, haggis, the national dish of Scotland, is a savory pudding which contains sheep heart, liver and lungs along with oatmeal, suet and spices. Traditionally it was cooked within a sheep stomach but now artificial casings are often used instead. Authentic Scottish Haggis has been banned from import to the United States since 1971 as the USDA objected to the sheep’s lungs ingredient. This has led to a select group of American firms producing lung free haggis. And what do you know, but one of those firms is located just one state away from me. The Scottish Gourmet USA is located in Greensboro North Carolina. They import everything from Scotland from shortbread to smoked salmon to sweet heather honey ANNND…since they can’t legally import haggis, they taught a French sausage maker to make a crumbly delicious haggis from American lamb, onions, Scottish oats and a special blend of spices. Woohoo! I ordered it online and they shipped it right out to me. I can not tell you how priceless the look was on the Husbands face was when he saw the box and asked “Scottish Gourmet?” and I simply replied “My haggis has arrived!”

Now for those of you feeling a bit queasy, all I can say is “Man up!” Don’t knock it til you try it! Have you ever eaten a hot dog? Bet some of those ingredients can be a bit suspect. How about scrapple, hmmm? For many, haggis is an integral part of a Burns Night Supper. According to custom, the haggis should be placed upon a silver platter and paraded into the room with a bagpiper before Robert Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis is recited and the dish is theatrically cut with a ceremonial knife and served as the main course. Yes, Robert Burns will be forever linked with the haggis which he refers to as “the great chieftain of the pudding-race”. Clearly he was quite fond of it. I’ve actually eaten haggis in Scotland, well I had a Haggis Hot Dog once as well as some haggis on a pizza and definitely enjoyed it. And this Balmoral Chicken, wrapped in bacon and stuffed with haggis is very tasty if I do say so myself!

But if you are terminally squeamish and just can’t stand the though of it, I do have some alternatives you might want to try. I’ve actually posted quite a few tasty Burns Night dishes in the past. Last year I told you about this amazing Ecclefechan Butter Tart. This rich, scrumptious delight is chock full of nuts and warm cinnamon spiced fruit all wrapped up in a buttery whisky caramel.

The year before, there was this gorgeous Cock-a-leekie Pie:

And remember my  Steak Auld Reekie served over Crispy Tatties & Neeps:

Or how about these Scottish Pies with Mushy Peas? This post is really fun because it is one of my travel postings telling you all about a fun trip that we took to Glasgow a few years ago.

And if you are intrigued by Scottish travel – just take a look at these Scottish Oat Cakes which are featured in my post about our journey to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands for their annual Up Helly Aa celebration, which is a Viking Fire Festival. How exciting it that?!! 

But back to more Burns Night recipes, how about some infamous Scotch Eggs:

Perhaps you would like your Scotch eggs deviled?

Or maybe nestled within a meat pie?

If pie is not your thing (and I have no idea what you’re like if it isn’t…), how about this Cock-a-leekie Soup:

which I served with delicious, crusty Struan. Struan, also known as Celtic Harvest Bread, is thought to have taken its name from a town in Western Scotland called Struanmoor, on the Isle of Skye. It was originally enjoyed once a year as a harvest bread, using whatever grains were available from the previous day’s harvest. This is my absolute favourite bread, so it is almost always available in my house. It toasts up particularly brilliantly.

And for dessert maybe you’d enjoy this Dundee Cake with Hot Whiskey Marmalade

I think you get the picture. My blog is chock full of inspirational tasty Scottish dishes! A Burns Night cornucopia if you will. And let me add another delicious tidbit to the list with today’s offering: Balmoral Chicken. This relatively modern Scottish dish takes its name from Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, a vacation home for British royalty since 1852. Though truth be told, I couldn’t find any direct connection between the recipe and the estate.

I’ve also seen this dish referred to as Highland Chicken. What ever you want to call it, this winner entree consists of a tender juicy chicken breast stuffed with haggis and wrapped in smoky salty bacon, served with lashings of creamy whisky gravy. As well as with a hearty helping of Clapshot on the side.

“Oh no…” I can hear you saying. First “haggis” now “Clapshot”. Clapshot is just Tatties & Neeps with some onions thrown in. Yeah, I can just imagine your eyes narrowing in frustration – “Tatties & Neeps?” you might query. Yup, that’s Potatoes and Turnips. Except…what the Scots are referring to when they say Neeps or turnips are not the white turnips we might think of here in the States. They mean Swedish Turnip, which is also called Swede, which we call a Rutabaga. So Clapshot, which hails from Orkney, is a marvelously delicious creamy dish of buttery mashed potatoes and rutabagas shot through and topped with fried onions and chives. This is the perfect side for this Balmoral Chicken but would also be stunning with any Burns Night main dish you choose to serve.

So on January 25th I hope you will make some of these fine Scottish dishes that I shared with you today and join me in raising a wee dram and toast to Robert Burns, Scotlands favorite son.

Balmoral Chicken with Creamy Whisky Gravy & Clapshot

recipe from: Balmoral Chicken from Scottish Gourmet, Creamy Whisky Gravy slightly adapted from Delicious Magazine and Clapshot from The Scotsman

Ingredients:

For the Balmoral Chicken:

  • 2 large Chicken Breasts, pounded flat
  • 1 lb. Haggis, thawed and divided in 1/2
  • 10 Bacon Strips, uncooked

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place a 2 sheets of cling film or saran wrap on your work surface. Lay 5 pieces of the uncooked bacon side by side, just barely overlapping on the plastic wrap. Cover the bacon strips with the chicken breast which has been pounded flat. Transfer half of the haggis down the center of the chicken.

Roll one end of the bacon and chicken over the haggis and continue to roll it as tightly as you can. Place the roll in the center of the plastic film and wrap it up tightly. Twist the ends of the wrap and place the roll seam side down in the refrigerator. Repeat with the second bacon chicken roll.

Let the rolls chill in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes to maintain the shape.

When you are ready to bake, remove the plastic wrapping and place both rolls seam side down in a baking dish.

Bake for 1 hour. Let cool for a few minutes and then slice and serve.

For the Whisky Cream Gravy:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 150 ml chicken stock, warmed
  • 200 ml heavy cream
  • handful of thyme leaves
  • 50 ml Scottish Whisky

Directions:

Melt two tablespoon butter in a sauce pan. Scatter the flour over the melted butter and whisk to combine. Slowly add the warmed chicken stock, whisking the entire time. Add the heavy cream and thyme leaves. Cook until the gravy thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and then add 50 ml (or more if the spirit takes you) good quality whisky.

For the Clapshot (Tatties & Neeps):

  • 1 small swede (rutabaga), roughly 500 grams
  • 3 medium potatoes, roughly 500 grams
  • 1 medium onion
  • small bunch of chives
  • butter (2 -4 tablespoons)
  • creams or milk
  • salt and pepper
  • nutmeg

Directions:

Peel the swede and the potatoes. Cut them into even sized cubes. Place both vegetables in salted water in separate pans. Boil them until they are fork tender. Drain the water and let them sit for 5 minutes or so to cool.

While the vegetable are cooking, peel the onion and slice it as thinly as you can. Fry the onion in a couple tablespoons of butter until it is golden brown. Set aside.

Rice the swede and potato pieces into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. You can just place the whole pieces in the bowl of a stand mixer, but I always use a ricer as I like the creamy consistency it provides. Add a knob of butter as well as a bit of milk or cream. Mix on medium for one minute. Add more butter and/or cream until you reach the desired consistency. Add a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

Mix 2/3 of the fried onions in to the potato/swede.

Place in serving bowl, top with chives and the remaining fried onion.

Enjoy!

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Balmoral Chicken, Creamy Whisky Gravy & Clapshot:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Potato Ricer

Scottish Gourmet USA – your one stop shop for all things Scottish! They ship! If you hurry you might even be able to get that Haggis expressed shipped by Wednesday. Or be way ahead of the game for next year. Their haggis freezes quite well!


Chocolate Black Cat Macarons

October 31, 2022

So here it is Halloween! I can hardly believe. Once again, I’ve taken a break from blogging since Easter. Last year I did have a good excuse – major home renovation. This year? I got nothing. I won’t even try. But perhaps you will forgive me when you take a peek at these divine, spooky sweet Chocolate Black Cat Macarons I’ve whipped up for Halloween 2022! These sinful little delights boast a crisp outer shell surrounding a lusciously chewy center filled with a silky, dark as your soul, decadent chocolate ganache.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I mean, think about it…You get to dress weird, drink booze and eat candy for dinner. In fact, all of that fun stuff is encouraged. How could you go wrong on such a day! Our modern holiday of Halloween, actually has Irish origins. Today’s 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. I’ve posted some great Halloween recipes in past years ranging from the historically based traditional recipes such as:

Soul Cakes (Traditional Halloween/ Samhain)

Yeasted Irish Barmbrack Bread (traditional Halloween/Samhain)

Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Glaze (traditional Halloween/Samhain)

To the more whimsical offerings such as:

White Chocolate Mummy Pretzels

Halloween Cookies & Cream Owl Cupcakes

Mini Mummy Brownie Bite Cupcakes

As well as some wonderful boozy libations to kick your celebrations into high gear:

Fireball Cider Cocktail

Or this Roasty Toasty Cocktail

A few year’s ago I managed to combined whimsical and boozy altogether in my Halloween treats with these adorable – I mean terribly frightening Itsy-Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes.

or how about these Black Velvet Frankenstein Cupcakes

A couple of years ago, I had a howling good time making these little rascals:

Reese Cup Werewolf Cupcakes

I loved making these boo-tiful Spooky Ghost Cupcakes!

And last year’s offering was these diabolically delicious <a href="http://<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iLOaolI8Fgc&quot; title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>Malted Chocolate Devil Cupcakes!

So yeah, I’m breaking out of the cupcake mold this year by going with these Black Cat Macarons!

Macarons can be notoriously finicky to make. I was definitely worried that the trick might be on me when I set out to make these, but I had taken efforts to get everything right. My egg whites were aged overnight, my bowls were wiped squeaky clean and I had sifted, pulsed in a food processor and sifted again. I had thoroughly read the recipe several times over. I found watching this video from Sugar Geek Show was also very helpful as far as my batter folding technique.

Truth be told, I didn’t get these to come out perfect the first time. My shells were cracked. Could’ve been I didn’t let them age enough to form the proper skin. Could’ve been I over mixed. Not sure. Yet, I persisted and Voila! So don’t despair ya’ll. Macarons are difficult, but not impossible! I think they are without a doubt worth the effort. And the good news is that even the ones that don’t look purty, still taste delicious!

All right, now that you’ve done all your prep work, get ready to make some amazing bakery quality level Chocolate Macarons! Now I realize I didn’t give you much time to get these done for Halloween – seeings how today is actually Halloween and this recipe calls for aged egg whites. But think of it this way, you will be more than ready to make these spooky macarons next year, or you could just leave the ears and kitty faces off and still be able to enjoy these fabulous treats. The choice is yours. I suppose if you are a real rule breaker you could just make these without aging the egg whites – but you didn’t hear that from me! I did make these Baileys & Coffee Macarons once and did not use aged egg whites. They came out just fine but from what I hear, aged egg whites are the preferred ingredient. But what the heck- Halloween is the perfect time for being naughty! Bake up a batch of these tricksy spooky darkly delicious Black Cat Macarons before the sun sets today! Happy Halloween ya’ll!

Chocolate Black Cat Macarons

  • Servings: 18
  • Difficulty: moderate - attention to detail required!
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Sugar Geek Show – design inspired by Posh Little Designs

Ingredients:

For the Shells:

  • 50 grams almond flour
  • 114 grams powdered sugar
  • 7 grams cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 57 grams egg whites aged overnight in the fridge and brought to room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 28 grams granulated baker’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the ganache filling:

  • 2 ounces heavy cream
  • 2.5 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Royal Frosting:

  • 1 Tablespoon meringue powder
  • 2 Tablespoons warm water
  • 120 grams powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • green and black gel or powdered food coloring

Directions:

Preheat oven to 320ºF and line a 1/2 baking sheet with parchment paper and a macaron template or a macaron silicone baking mat as I did.

Sift together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and almond flour, twice if not blended.

Pulse the mixture in a food processor 8-10 times to make the almond flour mixture even finer and texture and to blend the ingredients together. 

Whip the egg whites on low to frothy consistency and slowly add the sugar in thirds.

Once the egg whites turn white and you can see some lines forming in the surface from the whisk, add cream of tartar, whipping on medium until soft glossy peaks form.

Add the vanilla to the meringue during the soft peak stage. Then continue whipping on medium-high until you get stiff peaks that start gathering and bunching on the inside of the whisk.

Add 1/3 of your almond mixture to the meringue. Fold your spatula under the batter and around the edges and then cut through the center until almond flour is mixed in. Continue with the rest of the almond flour and folding until homogenous. (see video)

Gently press the spatula on top of the batter while you turn the bowl to take out some fo the air from the meringue. Continue folding around the outside edge until the batter forms a ribbon and moves like lava. 

Your meringue is ready when it forms a ribbon off the spatula and the batter that settles almost dissolves all the way back into the rest of the batter but still leave a bit of a line. 

Place the majority of the batter in a piping bag fitted with a 1/4 inch piping tip – like a Wilton #12 or Ateco #802. Place a tiny bit of the batter in a separate piping bag fitted with a small round tip. This will be to add the ears to your macarons.

Pipe small rounds about 1″ in diameter on the macaron template.

Go back and using the second piping bag fitted with the small tip add the triangle ears to the top edge of every other macaron round, being sure that the ears level with the height of the round batter.

Drop the pan onto the table 5-6 times from about 5″ above the table to release bubbles. Use a toothpick to remove big pockets of air trapped under the surface. Use a very small amount of water on your fingertip to smooth any rough spots. 

Allow to dry, uncovered until a crust forms on the surface. About 30 minutes – 2 hours or until a dry film develops over the surface of the cookie. For humid areas put a space heater nearby to help dry the cookies faster. 

Bake at 320ºF for about 14-15 minutes or until lightly browned. If not quite brown baked, bake for an additional 1 minute. Cooled cookies should pull away from the parchment paper without sticking. If they do stick, they were not baked enough.

For the Ganache:

Place all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl and microwave for one minute. Let sit for 5 minutes then whisk until smooth. Heat for another 15 seconds if not fully melted. Place into the fridge for 20 minutes then whisk until smooth. It should be the texture of peanut butter.

For the Royal Frosting:

Combine water and meringue powder in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add extract and whisk on medium high for about 2-3 minutes.

Mix in powdered sugar until combined.

The icing will be very thick. Add warm water a few drops at a time until the icing is the consistency of toothpaste. 

Divide the thick toothpaste like icing into 2 bowls

Add black food coloring to bowl 1 until desired colors are achieved.

Mix well. 

Transfer finished black icing to a piping bag and seal closed.

Add green food coloring to bowl 2 until desired color is achieved. 

Mix well.

Transfer finished green icing to piping bag and seal closed.

For Assembly:

Once shells have cooled, evenly pipe rounds of ganache into the center of the bottom of each macaron shell. Top with “earred” shells to create a sandwich.

Decorate top “earred” shell with royal frosting to make cat’s eyes and whiskers. Or use mini M&M’s for the eyes as I did. You can draw the pupil on with food safe markers and stick the eye to the macaron by adding a small dot of royal frosting on the back.

Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Black Cat Macarons:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Cuisinart Food Processor

Simple Baker Silicone Baking Mat for Macarons

Oxo 3-in-1 Egg Separator

King Arthur Flour Almond Flour

Ateco disposable piping bags

King Arthur Baking Company Black Cocoa– This is how I got the deep dark color of the macaron shells without using food color

Vanilla Bean Paste

Wilton Icing Colors – Gel will not thin icing


Hornazo de Salamanca

April 16, 2022

Woah! Here it is nearly Easter already! Yesterday was Good Friday to be specific. So anyone who knows me, knows that yesterday I was busy baking my Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns.

They are so tasty and if you bake them on Good Friday, they actually have some magical properties. With the past few years we’ve had, I need all the magic I can get! For my featured Easter delicacy this year I am sharing a recipe from Spain. Hornazo de Salamanca is a yeast bread which has been stuffed with spicy chorizo, hard boiled eggs and serrano ham.

Yummy right?! Think of it as a large empanada or a Spanish meat pie.

And this bread is not only delicious, it has a fascinating, rather bawdy story to tell as well. Bawdy and Easter? Yup. But before I get into all the salacious details, let me give you a roundup of all the Easter Breads from years past. You see, I have been on a roll (ha ha – you’ll get it with the next few words) making Easter Breads (get it? roll…bread…) from around the world. I was tempted to stray from my Easter Bread path last year by this stunning Malted Chocolate Easter Cake.

But a couple years ago I gave you Polish Babka.

And the year before that was Cozonac – Romanian Easter Bread.

Don’t forget my  Italian Easter Bread:

Or that amazing Tsoureki from Greece:

There was the Slovak Paska:

And then quite a few years ago, I tried my hand at this impressive Russian Kulich:

But let me get back to that Hornazo de Salamanca. This bread is pretty easy to make. I have included a link at the bottom of the recipe for a handy video that shows you how it is done. The video is in Spanish, but you’ll definitely benefit rom seeing all of the steps. And for me, the video was essential for figuring out how to do the top lattice decoration.

The filling used in the video is slightly different than what I used in that I did hard boiled eggs rather than marinated pork loin fillets. But as is usually the case with traditional recipes, each and every household likely has its own version, which is great. You can customize it to your particular taste. Don’t like spicy chorizo? Use a milder sausage. Do be aware, this bread does need to rest for a few hours before serving, so it would actually be best if you bake it the day before you want to serve it.

Truth be told this bread is not actually eaten on Easter, but rather it is enjoyed on the Monday after Easter in the provinces of Salamanca and Ávila. Folks there take a loaf or two of freshly baked hornazo and maybe a bottle or two of good wine out to the countryside where it is enjoyed with family and friends. The reason why they do this on the Monday after Easter is where that bawdiness I mentioned previously comes in.

Alrighty, so here we go. Apparently was back in the mid 16th century, Salamanca was a university town and had quite the flourishing red light district. When King Felipe II visited, he became concerned that all of this illicit activity this would distract the men of the town away from their religious observations during the Lent season. So, he decreed that the Padre Putas (father of whores), a cleric who had been appointed to look after the welfare of the working girls (I swear, I am not joshing you at all! This was an actual coveted appointment back in the day.), would accompany these ladies across the Tormes River outside of town, where they would remain until Easter was over. On the Monday after Easter, the students of the town, who had no doubt been very lonely this whole time, decorated boats which the Padre Putas and his lovely charges would board for their welcomed journey back across the river to the town. Many folks would be waiting on the river bank for their return and made a bit of a picnic out of it bringing this Hornazo with them to share. This festival is called Lunes de Aguas (Monday of the Waters), but it actually a bit of a play on the word aqua. Enagua in the word for petticoat. So really it was a celebration of Monday of the Petticoats!

So there you have it! A risqué Easter story and a delicious bread filled with eggs and sausages. Seems about right huh? I hope you were as amused with this bit of history as I was and that you will bake up some tasty Hornazo de Salamanca for Lunes de Aguas. Happy Easter ya’ll!

Hornazo de Salamanca

recipe slightly adapted from: Cocinando a mi manera

Ingredients:

For the bread:

  • 750 grams of all purpose flour
  • 150 ml of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup +1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 125 ml white wine, room temperature
  • 125 ml warm water (around 95°F)
  • 8.25 grams instant yeast
  • 10 grams salt
  • generous pinch of sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature and beaten

For the filling:

  • 300 grams serrano ham
  • 300 grams chorizo
  • 6 hard boiled eggs, sliced or chopped as you prefer

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Place warm water, olive oil, butter and white wine in a bowl and stir together. Then add the sugar, salt and 2/3rds of the beaten eggs. Mix well.

In another large bowl, place flour and yeast. Stir to combine. Make a depression in the middle of the flour mixture. Pour the liquids into the well and start to mix, incorporating flour from the sides until a dough begins to form. Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop and continue kneading until a soft pliable ball forms.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a cloth. Let rise until doubled in size, roughly 1 hour.

Turn the risen dough out onto a floured surface and pat into an approximate 12″ circle. Cut a bit of the dough off and set aside to use for the top decoration. Divide the remaining dough in half.

Roll one of the dough halves into a roughly 15×13″ rectangle. Transfer the rolled dough to the prepared baking sheet. Trim any excess dough from the edges so that it fits on the tray.

Arrange the ham, chorizo and hard boiled eggs over the dough, leaving a 1″ border.

Roll the other bit of dough out to a slightly smaller rectangle to fit on top. Place it over top of the filling and then press the edges to seal completely, either folding or crimping with a fork.

Roll out the dough you have reserved for decorating the top of the Hornazo. Cut little slashes in rows, offsetting one row slightly from the row above it to form a lattice pattern. Take a look at the video link at the bottom of the recipe to see how this is done. Or you can simply criss cross strips of dough or come up with another decoration that you prefer.

Paint the top of the Hornazo with the reserved egg wash. Prick the dough evenly with a fork to allow steam to escape.

Place the Hornazo in the preheated oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until it is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool. It is best to let it rest for a couple of hours before serving.

Enjoy!

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Hornazo de Salamanca:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Dough Scraper


Baileys Tres Leches Cupcakes

March 17, 2022

Woo-hoo! Today is St. Patrick’s Day!!! And as per usual, the last post of my St. Patrick’s Day recipe run features a cupcake. And oh what a cupcake it is! Are ya’ll ready for this? Baileys Tres Leches Cupcakes!!! Get out, right?! So, instead of making the traditional Tres Leches cake, I made a version of it in portable cupcake form and my innovation did not stop there. Oh no. I replaced one of the Leches with Baileys Irish Cream. The result is an incredibly decadent Baileys drenched dream, just perfect for your St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

As I mentioned, I have always ended my St. Patrick’s Day run of recipes with a cupcake offering. Last year it was these zingy Irish Whiskey Ginger and Lime Cupcakes

The year before Baileys made an appearance in these Butterfly Cakes (aka Fairy Cakes) filled with Strawberry Jam & Topped with Baileys Whipped Cream

and who can forget my Irish Coffee Cupcakes

Guinness takes the stage here with these Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

One year I even turned Scáiltín, which is an old fashioned Irish milk punch into a cupcake with these Malted Scáiltín Cupcakes

And I was able to squeeze Guinness, Jamesons and Baileys into these boozy Chocolate Whiskey Dipped Irish Cupcakes

Phew! That is a lot of cupcakes! But let me get back to our featured treat today: Baileys Tres Leches Cupcakes. Tres Leches literally means 3 milks. A Tres Leches cake is an ultralight sponge cake, similar to an Angel Food Cake, soaked overnight in a mixture of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and cream and then topped with a whipped cream frosting. It is popular in Mexico and Latin America as well as here in the States. For St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be fun to replace the regular heavy cream in the leches mix with Baileys and I was not disappointed. These moist Baileys bombs are to die for!

These cupcakes are easy to make, but you’ve got to have a bit of patience to get all of that Baileys milk mixture to soak in. After poking holes in the cupcakes with a fork, I put the Baileys soak in a decorating squeeze bottle and slowly drizzled it over the tops of the cupcakes allowing it to soak in as I went. I must admit, when I saw the volume of the Baileys soak (I used all but about 3/4 – 1 cup of the liquid. The leftover is awesome in your morning coffee!), I thought there was absolutely no way that the cupcakes could hold it all. I thought when I undid the cupcake wrapper there would be an absolute flood of liquid. But nope, after an overnight rest in the fridge, it was all impossibly absorbed and the cupcakes magically transformed!

So there you have it. These Baileys Tres Leches Cupcakes will definitely steal the show at any St. Patrick’s Day celebration. So what are you waiting for? Get baking! I wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy holiday! Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daiobh (Happy St. Patrick’s Day)!

Baileys Tres Leches Cupcakes

  • Servings: 24 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy - but time needed for the Baileys/milks mixture to soak in to cakes
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Perfect Tres Leches Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 5 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/3 cup whole milk

For the Baileys Soak:

  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream

For the Frosting:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Baileys
  • 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • cocoa powder to dust over top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two 12-count muffin tins with foil cupcake liners. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Separate egg yolks and whites into separate bowls.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of the sugar on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy and light in color. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until incorporated.

Add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. The batter will be thick.

Transfer the batter to a large bowl and set aside. Wash the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the egg whites to the clean bowl and beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter so as not to deflate the egg whites. Use an 1/4 cup scoop to evenly divide the batter between the cupcake liners.

Bake for 15-16 minutes until golden brown on top and the cupcakes bounce back to the touch or a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely.

Pierce the tops of each cupcake several times with the tines of a fork to create holes down into the cupcakes. Whisk the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and Baileys together, then transfer to a squeeze bottle. 

Soak each cupcake with the milk mixture, a little at a time, until most of the Baileys mixture has been soaked up. (You might end up with about 3/4 cup liquid left over). It may seem like too much liquid at first, but if you do a little on each cupcake, then let it soak in while you move on to the others, you can return to the first ones and repeat the process a couple of times until most of the milk mixture has been soaked up. Refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

Beat the heavy cream, Baileys, powdered sugar, and vanilla bean paste in a bowl of a stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Pipe or spoon onto the tops of the soaked cupcakes. Dust with cocoa powder and top with chocolate pearls if desired.

Enjoy!

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Baileys Tres Leches Cupcakes:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips Ice Cream Scoop

Sugar Belle Bottle Coupler Set

Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Valhrona French Chocolate Pearls – This is what I used to decorate the top of the cupcakes. It is a crispy bit of cereal coated in dark chocolate. This link if for a much, much bigger bag than you would need for just this dessert, but I wanted to let you know what I had used.


Whiskey Butter Tarts

March 16, 2022

Whiskey Butter Tarts! With a name like that how could this dish be anything other than amazing?! Seriously, I love every single word. Whiskey. Butter. Tart. Fantastic! And let me tell you, these little devils live up to their name! You’ve got the buttery shortbread pastry, the gooey caramel like center and the crunchy chewy top along with a zing of Irish Whiskey flavor thrown in for good measure. Are you drooling yet?

I got the recipe for these delectable little darlings from one of my best friends, Theresa Storey, who just happens to also be a best selling, award winning author! A couple of years ago, Theresa published her first cookbook where you can find the recipe for this scrumptious treat along with over 100 other delicious seasonal fruit recipes. It is called Fruit on the Table: Seasonal Recipes from the Green Apron Kitchen.

Theresa runs a business, The Green Apron, which is an artisan preserve company. She grows much of the fruit and vegetables she uses in her preserves at her family’s orchards at Derryclough and in the walled vegetable garden at her parents 18th Century castle, Glenwilliam.

Her award-winning preserves are made in small batches by traditional methods using locally sourced, organic produce where possible and without artificial preservatives, colours or setting agents. The Green Apron has won 15 Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards, 7 International Great Taste awards and is listed not only in McKenna’s Guide, but also in Georgina Campbell’s Guide. The Green Apron is also now offering workshops on sustainable living, preserving and bee keeping.

Theresa’s book, Fruit on the Table is a top 10 best-selling cookbook in Ireland , has won a Gourmond award there and has been selected to compete for an International Gourmond award. In her book, Theresa follows the seasons and tells you how best to keep fruit on your table all year round. It is an absolute treasure trove, filled not only with her family recipes for jams, jellies and chutneys but it also runs the full gambit of meals, including recipes for cocktails, snacks , mains and going all the way through to desserts. And it doesn’t stop with the mouthwateringly delicious recipes, Fruit on the Table also gives you the low down on growing your own fruit, the ins and outs of preserving, tips on foraging as well as drying fruit. I’m proud to be sharing this recipe from her book. I have shared quite a few over the years, but I’m telling you, they’re only the tip of the iceberg. You’ve just gotta get ahold of this essential cookbook. And speaking of those Green Apron recipes that I’ve shared before, let me just remind you of a few. A couple of years ago, I kicked off my St. Patrick’s Day blog-a-thon with her Prize-Winning Scones with Strawberry Jam & Clotted Cream.

I told you about her Batley Cake

which I filled with her deletable boozy Irish Whiskey Marmalade (also used to fill these tarts.

And this year, I’m sharing Butter Tarts. Truth be told, her recipe is for Canadian Butter Tarts. I just made them boozy by throwing in a few glugs of good ole Irish Whiskey! She also bakes her tarts in a traditional bun pan. I’ve shared a link for one below. I wanted a smaller little two bite tart, so I decided to make up a batch in a mini muffin tin and was very pleased with the results.

I’d wager you will be delighted as well. These treats are wonderful with a cup of tea, coffee or maybe a glass of whiskey if you’d prefer. They are amazing hot out of the oven, but a pleasure anytime. The perfect little nibble for your St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Whiskey Butter Tarts

  • Servings: 48 mini muffin sized tarts/
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe very slightly adapted from: Fruit on the Table: Seasonal Recipes from the Green Apron Kitchen by Theresa Storey

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

***The pastry ingredient amounts listed are if you plan to make the tarts in a mini muffin tin as I did. If you are using a proper bun pan or full sized muffin tin, half the pastry ingredient measurements. Keep the filling measurements the same no matter what sized baking tin you choose.

  • 220 grams (8 oz./ 2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 450 grams (1 lb) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold water

For the filling:

  • 3 Tablespoons Irish whiskey
  • 170 grams (6 oz.) raisins
  • 340 grams (12 oz.) light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 30 grams melted butter, slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place raisins in a bowl and pour 3 Tablespoons Irish Whiskey over them. Set aside and allow the raisins to plump up.

Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes, over the flour. Process until it resembles sand. Remove from processor and place in large bowl.

Add the cold water, 1 -2 Tablespoons at a time, mixing after each addition until the pastry holds together. You will likely not need all of the water. Turn the pastry onto a work surface and knead until smooth. Flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8″ thickness. Using a fluted cookie cutter, cut circles slightly larger than the holes of a mini muffin tin. ( I used a 2 1/2″ cutter) Try to cut out all of the pastry circles in one go if you can. The pastry is a bit persnickety when you attempt to re-roll it.

Line the wells of the muffin tin with the pastry circles.

Whisk the sugar, eggs, melted butter, vanilla bean paste, cornstarch and cinnamon together, mixing until smooth. Fold in the whiskey soaked raisins. (Do not drain the whiskey off, add the raisins and whiskey)

Half fill the tart cases with the sugar mixture, taking care to stir frequently as the raisins will settle to the bottom.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the filling is set and pastry golden. Let cool for a few minutes before removing them from the tins onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Do not allow them to cool completely in the muffin tins as they may end up sticking.

Enjoy!

Links for helpful kitchen tools & ingredients for Irish Whiskey Butter Tarts:

Fruit on the Table: Seasonal Recipes from the Green Apron Kitchen

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Nonstick Twelve Hole Shallow Bun Tin


Vegetarian Cottage Pie

March 15, 2022

Now here we go! Comfort food at it’s finest! Today I give you – Vegetarian Cottage Pie! This mouthwatering pie is chock full of a savory mix of Guinness drenched french lentils, leeks, mushrooms, carrots and peas and topped with dreamy creamy crunchy tangy mashed potatoes! I swear you will not miss the meat at all!

You can pretty much find Shepherd’s Pie on most menus of any Irish pub you visit. Technically Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb. If it doesn’t have lamb, such as the lamb shoulder found in Chef Cathal Armstrong’s pie that I shared with you a few years ago:

Or lamb mince, like Chef Gordon Ramsey prefers:

then it is called a Cottage Pie.

Today’s dish gets rid of the meat altogether, instead letting a melange of mushrooms and hearty thyme flavored Le Puy lentils stand in, and might I add, steal the show!

The Mashed Potato topping used here is superb as well, with sour cream and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese providing a delightful tangy umami taste. Those flavor packed potatoes get even more magical when baked as you get a crispy crunch, followed with the creamy interior in every forkful.

Just so you know, the Husband has proclaimed this his favorite, over all of the Shepherd/cottage pies he has every sampled. High praise ya’ll! You simply must make this for your St. Patrick’s Day party!

Vegetarian Cottage Pie

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Samantha Seneviratne via New York Times Cooking

Ingredients:

For the mash topping:

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 3 large)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup packed grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano is not vegetarian, so if you are strict vegetarian and not just doing a Meatless Monday, make sure you use a vegetarian cheese) or vegetarian Parmesan, divided
  •  Freshly ground black pepper

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup french lentils (you can use other lentils, but I prefer Le Puy, which hold their shape with cooking)
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms, such as button, cremini, and shitaake
  • 1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  •  Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 can of Guinness Beer (14.9 ounces)
  • 1 can of le sueur small peas (8 ounce) drained

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

In a large pot, bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes to boiling water and boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, until fork tender. Drain potatoes well. Using a potato ricer, rice the potatoes into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium low for one minute. In a small saucepan or a microwave oven, heat 6 tablespoons of the butter and milk together until butter melts. Add the hot butter mixture to the potatoes and beat until just combined. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Set aside 1 Tablespoon of the 1/2 cup of Parmigiano, then add the remaining amount to the potatoes. Mix on medium high until creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

Place the lentils, thyme and 2 cups of the broth in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer with 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat and continue to cook the lentils, partly covered, until they are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Transfer the lentils to a bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter in the 10-inch skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until they are deep golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add leeks, carrots and garlic, and continue to cook until tender, another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste and stir, cooking until it is well combined, another 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the mixture, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the can of Guinness, cooked lentils and drained can of peas. Cook until thickened. Remove thyme stems.

Transfer lentil filling to a 2 quart casserole dish or 11″x7″ baking dish. You could use a 13″x9″ dish if you prefer but I prefer to use a smaller pan so the the filling layer is deeper. Dollop the mashed potato topping over the filling and spread into an even layer. Or add the potatoes to a piping bag with a star tip and pipe a fancy design over the top as I did. Sprinkle the 1 Tablespoon of remaining Parmigiano over the top. Place the dish on a parchment paper lined baking tray and transfer to the oven. Bake the pie until the potatoes have begun to brown and the edges are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!


Irish Brown Bread

March 14, 2022

Hearty Irish Brown Bread, slathered with salty butter. YUM! It’s great with both savory or sweet toppings and is a perfect accompaniment to any soup or stew. It has an incredibly satisfying crunch to it when toasted. Delicious! This dense, craggy bread may not be for you if you prefer something akin to Wonder bread, but if you like the whole grain experience, this bread is to die for. And, guess what? It is very easy to make.

Traditionally, brown bread was made with whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. This version is enriched with a bit of sugar and butter as well as some baking powder for a bit of extra lift. I use a special blend of Irish Flour from King Arthur Baking company, rather than just plain whole wheat flour. I also brush the loaf with melted salted butter and sprinkle with just a bit of sea salt before I pop it in to bake. Oh and don’t forget to cut a cross in the top as well. Some folks say this helps the bread cook evenly. I’ve also heard it is done as a blessing to keep the devil away. My favourite reason is that you cut a cross in to allow the fairies to escape!

I have no doubt you will be pleased as punch with this wholesome Irish Brown Bread. And don’t forget to slather on that rich salty Kerry Gold Butter!

Irish Brown Bread

  • Servings: One large 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Baking

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (439 grams) King Arthur Irish-Style Flour
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons (25 grams to 35 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups (340 grams) buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) melted butter plus a bit more for brushing over top
  • flaky sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk and the butter. Stir together until blended — some lumps will remain.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead about 10 times, or until it all holds together.Form the dough into a large ball, flatten slightly and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Cut a deep cross in the top. Brush melted butter over the top of the loaf and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

Bake the bread for approximately 40 minutes, or until it tests done (a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean).

Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Serve with sweet butter and a dollop of marmalade, if desired. Or alongside some Irish Stew or Cottage Pie.

Store, well-wrapped, for a couple of days at room temperature; freeze for longer storage.

Enjoy!


Irish Whiskey Cake

March 13, 2022

Alrighty! Here we are at day 2 of my annual St. Patrick’s Day recipe blog-a-thon. And I’ve got a great recipe to share with you today – Irish Whiskey Cake! This moist and flavorful, boozy spice cake is shot through with pecans and enveloped in a warm buttery whiskey glaze.

All you Irish Whiskey lovers – this one is for you! We’ve got whiskey in the cake and on the cake! Hooray! And this cake is super-dooper easy to make. I almost feel like I’m cheating somehow. But here is the secret – you just go buy a box cake mix and then doctor it up a bit. The results are just wonderful whiskey perfection!

Now the original recipe called for applying the whiskey butter glaze over three days. I have found that you can achieve pretty much the same taste by applying the glaze over three hours instead. You just want all that buttery whiskey goodness to be able to soak into the cake. I think you can do that over a few hours vs. days. I do also poke some holes in the cake to facilitate maximum whiskey absorption.

Did I just say “maximum whiskey absorption”? Yup, sounds about right for St. Patrick’s Day Festivities! This delicious Irish Whiskey Cake will serve a crowd. So there you are, sorted for the St Patrick’s Day potluck!

Irish Whiskey Cake

  • Servings: 16 slices
  • Difficulty: easy - but allow 3 hours for whiskey glaze to soak in
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Taste of Home

Ingredients:

  • 1 package spice cake mix (regular size)
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 3/4 cup Irish whiskey
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1-1/3 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, divided (I used pecans instead)

For the whiskey glaze:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup Irish whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300° F. Grease and flour a 10-in. tube pan or bundt pan.

Place all of the ingredients, with the exception of the nuts in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for2 minutes. Fold in 1 cup the nuts, reserving 1/3 cup for later. If you are using a bundt pan, sprinkle remaining nuts in the bottom of the prepared pan and then add the batter. If you are using a bundt pan, sprinkle the nuts over top of the batter once you have added it to the pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 60-65 minutes. Cool in pan.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Cool 3 minutes.

Take a wooden skewer, toothpick or swizzle stick and poke a scattering of holes in the cake. Pour one-third of glaze over top of cake, allowing some to flow over sides down into the pan. Let stand 1 hour. Remove from pan. Reheat the glaze if you need to and brush another third over the cake. Wait one additional hour and then brush the remaining glaze over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely and then cover.

Enjoy!

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Irish Whiskey Cake:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Duncan Hines Spice Cake Mix – This is for a box of 2, so you’ll be ready to go when everyone requests you make this cake again!


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