In case the name Kerry Patrick didn’t give it away, I’m a little bit Irish. Or at least that’s what I’m told. And though I’ve had my fair share of foggy-sighted nights where I’ve nearly forgotten my name (or where I tried luring and petting possums, mistaking them for cats with stinkfaces – a story for another time and place), I go against the Irish stereotype of being a boozehound. However, anyone who visits my kitchen might suspect the opposite to be true as I regularly keep an impressive array of wine and liquors handy should I find them to be appropriate dinner companions, which is often. For instance, when I want to splash a little bit of red on a few beef cuts before braising the life out of them, or when I need to get my good friends, the Chicken Breasts, completely obliterated with a few liberal dunks of vodka (which happens more often than you would think because as you could only imagine, being a couple of chicken breasts is living a pretty sordid life).
Anyway, it came to my attention that I had never had Irish cream before. And I’m not talking about the cheap syrup your local hipster-friendly coffee house uses, because that stuff – in my truly well-regarded opinion – is terrible. How a liquor of any kind has gotten past me without so much a taste is a mystery. I don’t enjoy being out of any loop, much less a loop that contains an ingredient both Irish and flavorful, so last weekend I ran down to my nearest liquor store to pick up a bottle. You know, for the sake of an experiment. Let’s just say it’s a lucky thing I have no interest in drinking myself into oblivion on a regular basis, because it became apparent that my nearest liquor store is nearer than my nearest grocery store. This would make for a very tempting misuse of my grocery funds, I’m sure.
Back to the point, of course I found Irish cream to be delicious. What reason would I not? The only negative with Irish cream is that you can seldom use it in savory dishes, if at all, given its sweet, candy-like zing. Desserts, however…endless possibilities!
My good friend Sarah was in town last week from Missouri, which accounts for the last 11 days of no posting (hey, I was on vacation, and I’m allowed to take a break!) and I took this opportunity to put her hands to good use and punch out a few dozen cupcakes. Not just any cupcakes, mind you, but Irish cream white cupcakes with an Irish cream buttercream frosting and an Irish cream chocolate truffle on top. If that description doesn’t make you tingle downstairs, you should probably check your pulse immediately.
Cupcakes. Who came up with the idea to make cakes individual-sized, I ask you? I want to meet this guy and personally shake his hand. I also want to ask him a few questions, because I always have the damnedest time making sure my cupcakes come out and stay moist. This is even when using an oil-based recipe and loading it up with sour cream. The moistest cupcakes in the world were these incredible chocolate cupcakes made with a cup of scorching hot coffee that I put into the mixture before baking. Truly these were the kinds of moist and delicious sweet cuppin’ cakes that they could earn you titles such as “God of things pastry and chocolate” and other ear-pleasing monikers.
Anyway, that doesn’t matter because the cupcakes I was making were supposed to be white cupcakes and adding even the slightest bit of Columbian roast will ruin everything. Everything, I tell you!
After a rigorous cupcake making session, Sarah and I decided it best to put our cooking gloves away and grab something quick and easy. I took her to Evos, which is an organic and healthy (or healthier, I should say) fast food chain that currently has only a select few locations in the United States, which is really unfortunate because they are truly fantastic.
We strolled in about a quarter to closing time and went to the counter to order our air baked fries and organic burgers when the googly-eyed cashier (whom gave me a semi-weird feeling from the get-go) shifted his gaze toward Sarah’s lower mid-range and asked, “is that a cupcake?”
In my tired state I initially, if just for a split second, thought this guy was proving to us the creepiness I’d been sensing all along and was referring to her lady parts while using the wrong pastry-related euphemism. I understand that this isn’t the most rational or even likely conclusion to jump to, but one cannot control where his mind wanders off to when left unguarded, regardless of how much of a stretch it may be. I quickly gave a deeply arched eyebrow for his surprising, but admirable, suspected inappropriateness.
Becoming immediately self-conscious Sarah looked down and started brushing off her pant leg that I then noticed was covered in cocoa and flour, “Oh, uh, yeah. We were baking cupcakes…”
He smiled, “no, on your BELT.”
All of us looked down to realize Sarah had been wearing her cutesy, colorful belt that indeed had a dozen or so multicolored cartoon cupcakes on it. Sarah and I sighed with relief, though I suspect for different reasons.
When we got back to my apartment we dug into the cupcakes we had left out to set, and while they were not quite as moist as my awe-inspiring chocolate coffee cupcakes, they still had the right amount of fluff and moistness to satisfy and — dare I even say it? – even cuter than the cutesy cupcakes on Sarah’s belt.
The only slight disappointment was that the actual cake part of the cupcake did not taste as much like Irish cream as I’d hoped, in spite of the amount put in. Don’t get me wrong, these cupcakes were championship belt deserving successes, but when the alcohol cooked off what was left was a light, golden, sweet cupcake that tasted mostly like a deep vanilla. The additional layers, the rich frosting and soft, decadent, cocoa-powdered truffle, had the perfect amount of Irish cream mixed it to remind you that you were still eating an adult dessert.
It’s been days since we made our batches of cupcakes, and Sarah since returned back to her home in Missouri. A few surviving cupcakes have made it this long, and I’m finding it more and more difficult to eat them though they’re still just as inviting as their first appearance. Knowing they won’t last much longer before they harden and are subsequently and inevitably used as deadly projectiles, I grabbed one (okay, since we’re being honest here, I grabbed TWO) and shoved them down my gullet.
Now, I’d always been in shape and thin, but upon finishing that second cupcake I sat down heavily on the couch and felt an unfamiliar flub ripple go through the once taught, now softened section of my lower back, and I sighed.
It may be a while before I make cupcakes again.
Irish Cream Cupcakes with Irish Buttercream Frosting, Topped with Irish Cream Truffles (UPDATED RECIPE)
Time: 45 minutes total
For the cupcakes
- 1 cup natural sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- Pinch of salt
- 3 eggs, separated and at room temperature
- 3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup milk, room temperature
- 1/2 cup Irish cream, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the buttercream frosting:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
- 6 tbsp Irish cream
For the truffles:
- 12 oz bittersweet chocolate (no more than 55% cacao, unless you prefer a more bitter flavor)
- 1/4 heavy cream
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 Irish cream
- 1 tbsp of butter
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and salt and set aside.
- Using a hand or standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high and continue mixing for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy and set aside.
- Making sure you use a separate clean, dry bowl and clean beaters, mix the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form and set aside.
- In ANOTHER bowl (we are at 4 bowls right now, which may seem like overkill, but these will be worth it) whisk together the milk, Irish cream and vanilla and (as you may have guessed) set aside.
- With your mixer on low speed, first add 1/3 the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Then add 1/2 the milk/Irish cream mixture and mix until just combined. Continue this process until both the flour and milk mixture are fully incorporated into the butter/sugar mixture, making sure not to overbeat — to simplify, you will add the flour to the butter/sugar mixture in 3 parts and the milk in 2 parts, starting and finishing with the flour mixture.
- Fold whipped egg whites into the batter.
- Ladle batter into cupcake cups and bake for 10 minutes or until you can prick the cupcake with a toothpick and it comes out fairly clean. Don’t be afraid if it is slightly wet as the cupcakes will continue to bake a bit when removed from the oven.
- Brush the top of the cupcakes with Irish cream to keep them moist while they cool.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, you can start the truffles.
- In a double boiler, melt the chocolate until liquid and add the heavy cream and Irish cream until warm and well incorporated, making sure not to overheat.
- Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool slightly before whisking in egg yolks one at a time.
- Finally add the tablespoon of butter and transfer mixture to a freezer-safe bowl and freeze until set — it will not harden.
- Using a melon baller (or good eyeballing!), roll the truffles into small balls and then roll into cocoa until well-coated and place back into the freezer while making your buttercream frosting.
- Mix together butter and sifted confectioners sugar until just incorporated and immediately add the Irish cream and mix for 15 to 30 seconds, making sure to just allow the ingredients to coalesce, not whip.
- Using a pastry bag, decorate the cupcakes however you like and place truffle on top. Serve with milk, because you’ll need it.
Remember, only serve these to adults. Not because serving alcohol-based foods to kids is illegal, but because adults are the only ones who deserve it!