Itsy-Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes

November 1, 2017

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So what in the world?!! I’m posting again so soon! Usually months go by between my posts. It must be some sort of Halloween miracle! It is just that I couldn’t wait to share these adorable Itsy-Bitsy Tipsy Spider cupcakes with you. I made them for our Halloween festivities last night, but then ran out of time to actually post the blog about them. So even though Halloween is over, I’m sharing this recipe anyway. You’ll be all set for next year.

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These cupcakes not only look fantastic, if I must say so myself, but they also taste amazing. The cake portion is a moist Guinness chocolatey, coffee cake. And then it is frosted with a smooth and velvety Baileys Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Oh be still my heart…I am in Cupcake Heaven! No wait….I mean to say the torturous depths of Hell (it is Halloween right?).

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Halloween is 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! Halloween actually has Irish origins. 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. I’ve posted some great Halloween recipes in past years ranging from the historically based traditional recipes such as:

Soul Cakes (Traditional Halloween/ Samhain)

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Yeasted Irish Barmbrack Bread (traditional Halloween/Samhain)

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

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To the more whimsical offerings such as:

White Chocolate Mummy Pretzels

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Halloween Cookies & Cream Owl Cupcakes

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Mini Mummy Brownie Bite Cupcakes

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

Fireball Cider Cocktail

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Roasty Toasty Cocktail

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This year’s Itsy Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes combine the whimsical and boozy together in one perfect Halloween treat! The little spider darlings (I mean horrible, terrible scary spiders) are fairly easy to make. I used two malted milk balls for the body and head (turns out Maltesers -the body- are slightly larger than Whoppers – the head), but you could also use a malted milk ball and a chocolate covered peanut. You get the idea. The legs are made with black candy melts. I piped them out onto parchment paper, let them harden and then attached them to the body with more candy melt. Then I used Wilton mini Candy eyes for their googly eyes. You could also probably use mini M&M’s here. And There you have it…. Itsy Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes!

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Truth be told I am terrified of spiders, so it is a bit weird that I decided to make these cupcakes. And  I’m not one of those girly girls that is scared of all bugs and mice and snakes. Nope, I pretty much like most bugs – mosquitos excepted – but it’s more hate where they are involved rather than fear. Snakes are pretty cool and I love mice. But spiders….no way!  I keep trying to make a treaty with them in which I will leave them alone as long as they are outside, but they are not allowed to come into my house. Rather than squish spiders that do venture inside despite the treaty, I show them mercy by capturing them and escorting them outside- all the while telling them that they must spread the word of our treaty to their friends. Those jerks agree at the time (spiders are full of deceit..), however once they get outside unscathed, I think they tell their little spider friends that I’m a softie and they shouldn’t worry about going into my house. Sigh….spiders are the worst! I’m just saying!

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Itsy-Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes

  • Servings: 20 - 24 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Cake portion of the recipe from: Wife in Progress

Frosting recipe from: Handle the Heat

Ingredients:

For the Cakes:

  • 3/4 cups Guinness
  • 1/4 cup strong black coffee (or King Arthur Espresso Powder works well here)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

For the Frosting:

  • 5 large (150 grams) egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream (or you could substitute Kahlua or your favorite)
  • green gel food coloring

For the Spiders: 

  • 24 Maltesers or Whoppers (Malted Milk Balls)
  • 24 chocolate covered peanuts or raisins (or just use another malted milk ball as I did)
  • 6 ounces Black or Dark Cocoa Candy Melts, melted
  • 48 (or more if you prefer – spiders sometimes have lots of eyes!) Candy eyes (small size)

Directions:

For the Cakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)

Line 2 cupcake tins with liners.

In a large saucepan heat Guinness, coffee and butter together until it comes to a gentle simmer.

Add cocoa powder while whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Mix until smooth. Place in refrigerator to cool.

Place flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in bowl. Set aside

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs vanilla and sour cream.

Once the Guinness/cocoa mixture has cooled, add it to the egg/sour cream mixture. Mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, mixing on low speed until just combined.

Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup scoop, fill the lined cupcake tins.

Bake for 25 minutes

Cool completely on wire rack.

For the Frosting:

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Make a double boiler by placing the mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If the buttercream curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth. If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes before continuing mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add the vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

Add Baileys slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and mix until well combined.

Add green food coloring gel to frosting until it reaches desired hue.

If you would like to make this frosting ahead of time, keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature and rewhip in the mixer with the paddle attachment before using.

When you are ready to frost the cupcakes, place frosting in pastry bag fitted with whatever tip you desire and pipe frosting onto cupcakes.

Melt 6 ounces of Candy Melts in the microwave. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pipe “L” shapes onto the parchment to form spider’s legs. Let harden.

Place a Malteser “spider body” on the center of the frosting. Place the chocolate peanut “head” in front of it. Pipe dots of melted chocolate on the side of the spider’s body to hold the legs in place. Gently place 3 – 4 legs on each side of the spider. Use a dot of the melted chocolate to stick the eyes onto the head.

Enjoy!

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Itsy Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes:
Maltesers
Wilton Mini Candy Eyes
Merkens Dark Cocoa Confectionary Melts
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Fireball Cider Cocktail

October 31, 2016

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Happy Halloween ya’ll! I’m sitting here with cocktail in hand and candy at the ready! I thought you might also like to enjoy a lovely cocktail that is just bursting with Fall/Halloween flavors – The Fireball Cider Cocktail.

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It is made with Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and hard apple cider with a few slices of apples thrown in cuz you want to make sure you’re eating healthy and all… It is delicious and packs quite a punch! You can serve it over ice or if it is going to be a really chilly Halloween where you are, this cocktail also tastes great when served warm. You know…think mulled wine…’cept better, with a fiery cinnamon punch to delight the taste buds. Have one or two (or so…) of these tipples to keep you warm on your wanders. Happy Hauntings!

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Fireball Cider Cocktail

  • Servings: one cocktail
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: What’s Cooking America

Ingredients:

  • Ice Cubes (approximately 4 or 5 ice cubes)
  • 2 ounces Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
  • 3 ounces hard apple cider
  • Apple slices

Directions:

Fill a glass (highball glass or white wine glass) 1/4 full with ice cubes.  You want to chill the drink and not water it down.  Pour in the Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and then top with the apple cider. (If you chose to enjoy this drink warm, heat the cider and just before you are ready to serve, stir in the Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. If you heat the whiskey too long you risk evaporating all of that lovely alcohol…)

Gently stir until mixed.  Garnish with apple slices.

Enjoy & Happy Halloween!

Fireball Cider Cocktails brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


White Chocolate Mummy Pretzels

October 27, 2016

 

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Oh ho ho! It’s getting close to my favorite holiday! No not Thanksgiving – not that I’m not thankful or anything…I am. But….I’m talking about Halloween! Whats not to like? You get to dress weird, drink booze and eat candy for dinner. In fact all of that fun stuff is encouraged. That is my kind of holiday! These White Chocolate Mummy Pretzels will be a welcome addition to all of your Halloween festivities. Quite tasty and maybe a bit more on the cute than scary side of things, they will prove to be very popular with all of the ghosts and ghouls your encounter on All Hallow’s Eve.

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Dogs can have white chocolate right?

Halloween actually has Celtic origins. 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. Oh and I shouldn’t forget mummies. Yup they’ll be about too.

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These treats are very easy to make. Just melt your chocolate in a double boiler. Use a spoon to pour chocolate over 3/4 of the pretzel rod. Tap the rod lightly against the side of the bowl to shake off any excess chocolate and then just add the eyes and bandages. I actually made it a bit harder on myself because I was convinced that I didn’t want to eat those candy eyeballs which come oh so conveniently in a pack from the store. No, I decided it would be a good idea to use and upside down white chocolate chip for the white of the mummy’s eyes and then add a mini M&M for the iris bit. Well, that required me to whittle the pointy bit off of 40 chocolate chips so that they would sit flat on the mummy’s face, then stick the M&M to the chip with a bit more melted chocolate and finally to draw the pupils onto the M&M with an edible marker. Yeah….store bought candy eyeballs would have probably worked just fine! Oh well, live and learn. And you can benefit with the knowledge of my travails. Though the M&M eyes are pretty cute, you gotta admit…

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White Chocolate Mummy Pretzels

  • Servings: 18 - 20 Mummy Pretzels
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Lets Dish Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 18-20 pretzel rods
  • 12 ounces white melting chocolate (such as Ghirardelli)
  • 40 white chocolate chips*
  • 40 mini M&Ms*

Directions:

Melt chocolate according to package directions. Dip pretzel rods into white chocolate, or use a spoon to coat, covering about 2/3 of the pretzel. Gently tap pretzel rod on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate.

Place two candy eyeballs on each pretzel rod (if they slip off, let the chocolate set for about a minute first). Place on waxed paper to set. Repeat with remaining pretzels. Or if you want to spend a bit more time fussing over them, place white chocolate chips upside down on the mummies for the whites of their eyes. You will likely need to whittle the pointy bit off of the top of the chip so that it sits flat.

Carefully spoon remaining chocolate into a pastry bag, zip-top bag or squeeze bottle. If using a bag, snip of a small corner. Drizzle white chocolate over the pretzels to form bandages, being careful not to cover the eyes, to resemble a mummy. If using mini M&M’s for eyes, squeeze one drop of chocolate on each M&M and stick it onto the white chocolate chips you placed earlier. Use an edible marker to add the pupil of each eye in the center of the M&Ms. Let white chocolate set completely before serving.

Enjoy!

*You can just use store bought candy eyeballs if you prefer.

White Chocolate Mummy Pretzels brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for White Chocolate Mummy Pretzels:

Wilton Candy Eyeballs

Ghirardelli White Chocolate Melting Wafers

Still looking for additional spooky Halloween treats for your festivities? Take a look at some of my past Halloween offerings.

Yeasted Irish Barmbrack Bread (traditional Halloween/Samhain)

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

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Soul Cakes (Traditional Halloween/ Samhain)

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Halloween Cookies & Cream Owl Cupcakes

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Mini Mummy Brownie Bite Cupcakes

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Colcannon (Cál Ceannann)

March 12, 2016

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Ahhhh….Colcannon! Irish Comfort food at its finest! I can’t believe in all my years of St. Patrick’s Day blogging I haven’t shared this recipe. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with this dish, it is buttery mashed potatoes whipped up with cabbage, leeks and bacon. OMG right?!!! With that list of outstanding ingredients, you just know it is going to be to die for.

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Colcannon or Cál Ceannann in Irish simply means white-headed cabbage. There are many regional variations on this dish, sometimes ham is used rather than bacon, sometimes you’ll find spring onions included rather than leeks. Indeed, I was rather horrified to discover that some peculiar folks will use kale rather than cabbage. This is disturbing to me for a couple of reasons. First off, the dish’s actual name is the word for cabbage, so….

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And then of course, I hate kale. Yup…hate it. I know it is good for me. However, I find it bitter and evil. In fact the mere thought of kale inspires this same look I have when I find caraway seeds in my soda bread.

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I’m flexible on swapping around some of the other ingredients in my Colcannon, though I do believe that leeks, cabbage and bacon are supreme. But, please… don’t get that nasty old kale anywhere near my Colcannon! Anyhoo…In Ireland, Colcannon is traditionally served on Halloween. It is a bit like Barmbrack that I just recently told you about, in that it was used in Halloween divination rituals. Several charms or trinkets, such as a ring, thimble or coins would be stirred into the Colcannon before it was served. The item you ended up with on your plate would tell your fortune. (i.e.. if you got a ring, you would be married before the year was through.) In the 1800’s, Irish immigrants brought this recipe with them to the United States and Colcannon came to be associated more with St. Patrick’s Day, rather than Halloween. I can definitely say, for me, Colcannon is great any time of the year. Sheer Comfort Food perfection!

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Colcannon (Cál Ceannann)

  • Servings: 6 -8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Williams Sonoma

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lb. potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup milk (or cream if you are feeling particularly decadent)
  • 4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 large leeks, white and light green portions,
    halved lengthwise, rinsed well and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small head cabbage, about 1 lb., cored
    and coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:

Put the potatoes in a large pot, add water to cover the potatoes by 2 inches and generously salt the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Drain well in a colander.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and milk and heat until the butter melts and the mixture is hot, 8 to 10 minutes.

Set a potato ricer over the bowl of a stand mixer and press the potatoes through in batches. Mix in the milk mixture in two additions. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and set over a large saucepan of barely simmering water to keep warm.

Heat a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.

Pour off all but 3 Tablespoons of the fat from the pot. Return the pot to medium heat, add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and toss until tender-crisp, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly ground nutmeg and the bacon, and season with salt and pepper. Stir the potatoes into the cabbage mixture and serve warm.

Enjoy!

Colcannon brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Colcannon:

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

Potato Ricer

 


Two loaves of Barmbrack (Báirín Breac) Bread – A Yeasted Barmbrack & A Tea Loaf with Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze

March 9, 2016

 

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Here we are, March 9th and I’ve already shared 4 Irish-y recipes here in this lead up to St. Patrick’s Day. Today I’ve got a twofer for you. I’m actually going to remind you of two recipes I posted back in October for Barmbrack. Barmbrack is a traditional Halloween treat in Ireland, so I told you all about it back then. But it would certainly be very welcome on any St. Patrick’s Day table as well. Not to mention, I needed a bit of a breather before my blog-a-thon starts to pick up speed. Yup….starting tomorrow I am going to share one new recipe a day all the way to March 17th! A veritable blitz of dishes I tell you. But for now, back to that Barmbrack I just mentioned.

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Barmbrack is also known as Báirín Breac in Irish. Breac means “speckled” which this bread definitely is, being shot through with a variety of fruit. Báirín can either be the word for “loaf” which would make sense since that would make its name be “speckled loaf” in English. However, I’ve also come across the theory that Barm is derived from the word “beorma”, which refers to a fermented liquor which would have been used back in the day to rise the cake. Barmbrack loaves were traditionally baked up on Halloween as part of an ancient fortune-telling ritual. Yup. Several different trinkets or charms (perhaps the origin of that “lucky charm” bit…) were wrapped in parchment paper and baked  into the bread. When the bread was sliced and handed out, your future was foretold by whatever bit you found in your portion. A wedding ring meant you’d be married within the year, a pea meant that you would not, a coin signified wealth, whereas a piece of rag meant a lean year, a thimble predicted a spinster and button meant bachelorhood was in your future. Back in October, when I first set out to make Barmbrack, I quickly discovered that there were two different types of the bread to be found, a yeasted version and a non-yeasted version which was more like a tea bread. I couldn’t decide which one to make, so I did a loaf of each. I found the yeasted version to be light, airy, slightly sweet and spicy (in a nutmeg/cinnamon/clove kind of way – not my usual set your tongue alight kind of way.) It was chock full of whiskey & tea soaked raisins, sultanas and cranberries. Lovely still warm from the oven, it was even better I think when toasted and slathered in butter!

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The second Brack I made was a Tea Barmbrack, which is a rich, dense loaf similar to a fruitcake. But not one of those yucky things some great Aunt sends you at Christmas. No sir-ee, this crave worthy loaf will completely erase all of your pre-conceived fruitcake notions with just one delectable bite. This Tea Barmbrack is full of boozy soaked raisins, sultanas, currants and dates. And it has that Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze. Pure ambrosia I tell you! One taste and you will be hooked!

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So which one should you choose? That’s a hard one. I thought they both were pretty scrumptious. The yeasted one takes a little longer to make when you factor in all of the rise times, but if you love yeast bread, that might be your winner. The Tea Barmbrack is a one bowl wonder and doesn’t require any rise times. Hmmm…decisions, decisions. Rest assured there is no wrong choice. They are both winners and will be a great complement to your St. Patrick’s Day table.

Get the Recipe for Barmbrack Bread (Yeasted Version)

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Get the Recipe for Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze

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Enjoy!

Stay tuned tomorrow for a brand spanking new recipe for Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting. Bet that’s got you drooling!


Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze (Non yeasted version) Battle of the Bracks -Part 2

October 28, 2015

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Here we go! Day two of the Battle of the Bracks. Today we are considering Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze. (Yup…I said “Whiskey Honey Butter”….don’t know about you, but that alone sounds like the stuff of dreams!) As I mentioned yesterday in my post about Irish Barmbrack Bread, Barmbrack is a tradition Halloween Treat in Ireland. And it is rather appropriate that we look to Ireland for Halloween goodies, since Halloween actually has Celtic origins. 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. Roaming spirits aside, Halloween was also a time for divination and that is where Barmbrack came in. This bread was actually used in an ancient fortune telling ritual. When a loaf of this bread was baked, several different trinkets or charms which had been wrapped in parchment paper were added into the bread. When the bread was sliced and handed out, your future was foretold by whatever bit you found in your portion. A wedding ring meant you’d be married within the year, a pea meant that you would not, a coin signified wealth, whereas a piece of rag meant a lean year, a thimble predicted a spinster and button meant bachelorhood was in your future. Feel free to add whatever trinkets you prefer to your bread. Most commercial loaves baked today only contain one ring.

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Now that the history lesson has ended, it must be time for the Brack review. I found this Irish Tea Barmbrack to be quite a charmer! (har har). It will definitely make you change your mind about fruit cakes without a doubt. It is really dense, boozy and bursting with fruit. And that Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze? Pure ambrosia I tell you! One taste and you will be hooked! And if all that wasn’t good enough, this bread is a one bowl wonder. You do have to remember to start the fruit soaking in the tea/whiskey bath the night before, but after that you just add all the ingredients to the soaking bowl, mix ’em up and pour them in the baking tin. Super easy!!! Which is just what I need right now because my house is still somewhere midst deconstruction/construction. Kind of has that perfect urban decay/ Halloween vibe come to think of it. Bottom line – the husband and I really like both Bracks and were it not for that Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze the yeasted version would have won easily. But well that amazing glaze is there for consideration. This has led us straight down the road to indecision! Not that I’m complaining at all since I now have two tasty loaves of bread that I can just keep sampling under the guise of trying to decide between them. So I’ll leave the judging up to you. If you have an opinion – yeasted vs. non – I’d love to hear from you in the Battle of the Bracks!

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Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze

  • Servings: 1 5x9 Loaf of Bread
  • Difficulty: Very Easy!
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Edible Ireland 

You can use whatever fruit you would like in this bread, ie. all raisins, or substitute in some mixed candied peel, cranberries or glacé cherries if you prefer. Also if you would rather not use any whiskey in your bread (glad you can’t see the look of horror on my face right now…) you can soak the fruit in 1 1/4 cup tea and just leave it out of the glaze.

Ingredients:

For the bread:

  • 100 g (3/4 cup) raisins
  • 100 g (3/4 cup) sultanas
  • 100 g (3/4 cup) currants
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) chopped dates
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 250 ml (1 cup) hot, strong black tea
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) Irish Whiskey
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 225 g (1 3/4 cups) self-raising flour
  • 200 g (1 1/4 cup) light brown sugar
  • 1 level teaspoon mixed spice

For the Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Irish Whiskey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Put the raisins, sultanas, currants, dates in a large bowl, one that’s big enough to accommodate all the ingredients later on. Pour over the tea and whiskey and allow the fruit to soak for at least 30 minutes or even overnight. (overnight is better!)

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 1 lb (5″x 9″) loaf tin with parchment paper or spray with non-stick baking spray.

Add in the lemon zest, beaten egg, flour, sugar and mixed spice to the fruit and tea mixture. Stir well until everything is just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for about 1- 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Place tin on wire rack to cool while you prepare glaze.

Place all glaze ingredients in sauce pan and heat over low heat. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for several minutes until it reduces slightly. Set aside to cool until warm.

Remove the warm bread from the baking tin and place on parchment paper. Once glaze has cooled to warm, paint bread all over with glaze in several passes, allowing time for it to be absorbed before adding the next wash.

Enjoy!

Irish Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 


Irish Barmbrack Bread (Yeasted version) – Part I of the Battle of the Bracks!

October 27, 2015

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I can’t believe it! Halloween is nearly upon us!!! Now don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween and am happy to see it here. It is pretty much my favourite holiday. I mean what’s there not to like…dressing up in funny clothes, partaking in a few tricks and treats, eating tons of candy and washing it down with even more booze. Woohoo! Bring me more holidays like that! It just kind of crept up on me….which is exactly what you’d expect from Halloween I guess. Today I thought I’d share a recipe for a Halloween treat that is traditionally eaten in Ireland – Barmbrack or as it is also known Báirín Breac. Breac means “speckled” which this bread definitely is, being shot through with whiskey and tea soaked raisins, sultanas and cranberries. Báirín can either be the word for “loaf” which would make sense since that would make its name be “speckled loaf” in English. However, I’ve also come across the theory that Barm is derived from the word “beorma”, which refers to a fermented liquor which would have been used back in the day to rise the cake.

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Barmbrack is a bit sweeter than your average sandwich bread but it is not as rich as a cake. It was traditionally baked up on Halloween as part of an ancient fortune-telling ritual. Yup. Several different trinkets or charms (perhaps the origin of that “lucky charm” bit…) were wrapped in parchment paper and baked  into the bread. When the bread was sliced and handed out, your future was foretold by whatever bit you found in your portion. A wedding ring meant you’d be married within the year, a pea meant that you would not, a coin signified wealth, whereas a piece of rag meant a lean year, a thimble predicted a spinster and button meant bachelorhood was in your future. I chose not to include any trinkets in my bread. I’m a bit wary of any divination. Even a fortune cookie gives me pause. But feel free to partake as you will! Many Bracks sold commercially today still include a ring, though none of the other lucky charms.

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When I set out to make Barmbrack, I quickly discovered that there were two different types of the bread to be found, a yeasted version and a non-yeasted version which was more like a tea bread. I couldn’t decide which one I should do, so I chose to do both and hold a sort of “Battle of the Bracks” to see which one we preferred. Today I’m going to give you the yeasted version and make sure you check back tomorrow, because I’ll be telling you all about the tea bread version. I found the yeasted Barmbrack to be delicious – light, airy, slightly sweet and spicy (in a nutmeg/cinnamon/clove kind of way – not my usual set your tongue alight kind of way.) It was lovely still warm from the oven, but even better I think when toasted and slathered in butter! Now the downside to this bread is that being a yeast bread, there is a bit of a time commitment here. Both Bracks require that the fruit be soaked in a whiskey/tea mixture overnight. But this loaf also requires 2 rising times as well as all of the kneading that is necessary to incorporate the fruit. Now I would say it was totally worth all the effort. But you should keep in mind that pretty much every yeast bread out there makes me swoon and upon the first bite I forget how much work went into making it. And although this bread is usually served as a Halloween treat, I’m sure no one would be sorry to see it turn up on the table any time of the year. And with its Irish pedigree, it might even make a lovely addition to your St. Patrick’s Day table. Make sure you check back in tomorrow to hear all about the challenger in this Battle of the Bracks – Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Butter Honey Glaze!

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Irish Barmbrack Bread

  • Servings: 1 large loaf
  • Difficulty: fairly easy - but keep in mind there is an overnight soak for the fruit as well as two rising times for the dough
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recipe adapted from: Seasons and Suppers

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 2 cups strong brewed black tea
  • 1/4 cup Irish Whiskey
  • 4 1/2 – 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon dry active or instant yeast
  • 6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • milk and Demerara sugar for brushing over the top

Directions:

Brew 2 cups of hot tea and allow to cool to lukewarm. Stir in 1/4 cup Irish Whiskey. Place the fruit in a medium glass bowl and pour tea/whiskey mixture over it. Stir and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Leave to soak on the counter overnight.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine 4 cups of the flour, spices, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. With a pastry cutter or your fingers (or with the paddle attachment on your mixer), work in the butter in to the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. (If you are using dry active yeast, rather than instant yeast, add it to the lukewarm milk – which will be detailed in the following step – and allow it to  proof for 5 minutes before adding it to the dough.)

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat warm the milk to 110° F – 115°F. Beat the egg into the milk and then stir into the dry ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon or switch to the kneading hook on a stand mixer. Knead by hand or with the kneading hook until dough starts to come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl (adding more flour in small increments, as necessary).

Drain the raisins and add to the dough. I know this sounds pretty easy, but this is likely the most difficult bit of this recipe! Don’t lose heart though, all of that fruit will eventually get mixed in. Sprinkling a bit of flour over the well drained fruit does make it a bit easier to incorporate it.  Work the fruit in, adding a bit more flour as necessary, until you have a smooth dough that is not sticky.

Remove dough to a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size.

Grease an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or baking pan and pre-heat oven to 400° F.

Turn risen dough out on to a floured surface. Press lightly to de-gas, then form in to a round by pinching the dough underneath. Place dough round in to prepared pan. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise until puffy, about 30 minutes more.

Brush top of bread with milk or cream and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, then check the bread. If it is nicely browned, cover top loosely with a piece of tinfoil, then continue cooking for an additional 20 minutes or so, or until an internal temperature of about 195°F about 40 – 50 minutes total. Let cool completely before cutting into slices.

Enjoy!

Irish Barmbrack Bread Brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 

 


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