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Archive for St. Patrick’s Day

ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Chocolate Peanut Butter Irish Soda Bread

We love Irish soda bread, in the traditional recipe with raisins and a savory version made with cheddar cheese (in the same article).

But here’s a version of Irish soda bread that is not tradition in the Emerald Isle. It was created by Christine Fischer of Wry Toast Eats.

Christine uses Chocolate Dreams peanut butter (photo #4) from PB & Co., to create swirls of dark chocolate PB in the bread.

Can’t have/don’t like peanut butter? Add the chocolate chips only, and substitute 1/2 cup of dried cherries, cranberries or raisins for the PB.

RECIPE: CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER IRISH SODA BREAD

Prep time is 30 minutes plus freezing time; cook time is 40-45 minutes.

Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon nonfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour + extra flour for kneading
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoon salted butter, melted
  • Shortening to grease
  • Parchment paper for peanut butter chocolate chunks
  •  
    For Serving

  • Butter (softened)
  • Tea (Irish Breakfast tea can be enjoyed any time of day)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, about 2 minutes. Once melted, add the peanut butter and vegetable oil, stirring until well combined. Pour into parchment-lined baking dish, distributing evenly (photo #1). Transfer to the freezer and chill for at least 1 hour (photo #2).

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 360°F. Amply grease a round 9” baking pan and set aside.

    3. COMBINE the milk and white vinegar in a small bowl, stirring gently. Allow the ingredients to sit for 10 minutes until the milk begins to curdle. Once the milk curdles…

    4. COMBINE the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large mixing bowl, whisking until mixed. Gently stir in the frozen chocolate chunks.

    5. SLOWLY ADD the curdled milk to the flour mixture, stirring until the dough begins to take shape. If needed, add an extra tablespoon or two of milk. Once the dough has formed…

    6. TRANSFER to a floured surface and kneed several times before forming into a ball. While kneading the dough, the peanut butter chunks should begin to melt and spread. It’s a bit messy, but use the extra flour as needed to make forming a ball manageable. When ready…

    7. TRANSFER the dough to the greased baking pan. Cut an “X” into the top of the dough. A cross cut before baking allows the heat to penetrate into the thickest part of the bread. As a bonus in a Catholic country like Ireland, it adds the symbolic note of giving thanks.

     

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    Chocolate Irish Soda Bread Recipe

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    Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter

    [1] Step 1: Melt the chocolate, then [2] freeze it for an hour. [3] Fresh from the oven. [4] Photos courtesy Christine Fischer and PB & Co.

     
    8. USE a pastry brush to coat the entire surface with melted butter. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the center clean and the top is browned and crisp (photo #3).

    9. SLICE and serve immediately, slathering with extra butter as desired; or let it cool as you prefer.
     
    THE HISTORY OF IRISH SODA BREAD

    Baking soda, called bread soda in Ireland, was invented in the early 1800s. In those days most people didn’t have an oven. They cooked in a fireplace over coals or a peat fire (called turf fire in Ireland). They placed the dough in a lidded cast-iron pot which went right on top of the fire.

    In County Donegal and County Leitrim, there was a tradition of adding caraway seeds to bread. Immigrants brought that recipe to the U.S. In America, the recipe evolved to include butter, eggs, raisins and sugar—ingredients which frugal housewives in Ireland wouldn’t have thought to add to the dough.

    Today, the soda bread recipe options include:

  • White soda bread: all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, buttermilk and optional caraway seeds.
  • Brown soda bread, also a traditional recipe that substitutes whole wheat flour for part or all or all of the white flour.
  • Irish soda bread with raisins and caraway, the classic Irish-American version also made with sugar, butter, and eggs.
  • Numerous modern recipes, from healthier variations of whole grains, flax and sunflower seeds to walnut soda bread to oat soda bread with browned butter, rosemary and black pepper…to the recipe above with chocolate peanut butter.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cookies For St. Patrick’s Day

    One friend of ours has a set of shamrock cookie cutters, and makes shamrock shortbread every St. Patrick’s Day. She tops them with green and/or white royal icing, and an assortment of green glitter and sprinkles.

    While we love shortbread, we take the easier way out. Here are two recipes that will make you extremely popular with friends, family and co-workers on St. Patrick’s Day.

    They give a St. Patrick’s Day dress-up to two of America’s favorite cookies. (According to a poll published in Huffington Post, chocolate chip is #1, Oreo is #4 on the Top 10 list.)

    RECIPE #1: MINT GREEN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

    This recipe is from Karen of The Food Charlatan, who says, “It’s like eating Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream in the form of a warm, buttery, gooey cookie.”

    Note that if you don’t like mint, you can make green chocolate chip cookies simply by substituting the peppermint extract for vanilla extract.

    If you’re using another chocolate chip cookie recipe, make sure it is one with white sugar only. The classic Toll House Cookie recipe, for example, uses equal parts white and brown sugar, and brown sugar makes the cookie dough darker.

    We prefer this type of St. Pat’s chocolate chip cookie to another popular recipe, a dark chocolate cookie with green baking chips.

    Although tasty, the baking chips aren’t real chocolate, i.e., they aren’t white chocolate tinted green and flavored with mint.

    Instead of cocoa butter, even the best quality chips (e.g. Guittard) use palm kernel and palm oils instead of the cocoa butter. (Call us super-picky, but that matters to us.)

    Ingredients For About 28 Large Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract (or more to taste)
  • 10 drops of green food coloring (or more for a deeper green)
  • 3-1/4 cups flour, spooned* and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  •    

    Green Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Green Food Color

    [1] America’s favorite cookie, dressed up for St. Patrick’s Day (photo and recipe courtesy The Food Charlatan). [2] Green food coloring can turn food into St.Pat’s fare, from morning yogurt to garnishes like sour cream and whipped cream.

  • 12 ounces dark chocolate chips, 1/3 cup reserved, the remainder divided†
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line one or more baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

    2. BEAT the butter and sugar together in a large bowl or stand mixer. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then beat on medium for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and extra yolk, peppermint extract and food coloring, and blend.

    3. COMBINE the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the wet ingredients and combine until the flour is not quite incorporated.

    4. ADD half of the chocolate chips to the dough.* Chop the other half coarsely, with a knife or in a food processor. Add the chopped chocolate to the dough, and mix until just combined. This creates more of a distribution of chocolate throughout the dough; but you can keep all the chips whole.

    5. COVER the dough and refrigerate for about an hour. Note that chilling is not mandatory, but Karen tried the recipe both ways, and prefers the texture and flavor that chilling creates.

    6. USE a 2-inch cookie scoop to form balls of dough and drop them on the cookie sheet. These are very large cookies, and fit 8 cookies per pan. Alternatively, use a teaspoon or smaller scoop to drop smaller cookies.

    7. BAKE for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies barely start to brown on the edges (you want the cookies to be green, not browned). Let them cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a cooling rack.

    When cool, serve or store in an airtight container.

    NIBBLE TIP: For a yumilicious dessert, prepare the cookie dough in advance and refrigerate. Half an hour before dessert, scoop it onto the cookie sheets and bake. The result: warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies to serve alone or with vanilla or chocolate ice cream.

     

    St. Patricks Day Oreos

    Double Stuf Oreos

    Green Candy Melts

    [3] Green-dipped Oreos from Crafty Morning. [4] Double Stuf Oreos (photo courtesy Nabisco). [5] Green white chocolate, the real deal, from Merckens.

     

    RECIPE #2: GREEN-DIPPED OREOS

    This recipe comes from Michelle of Crafty Morning.

    The original recipe uses Double Stuf Oreos (that’s how they spell it).

    If you want mint flavor, you can use Mint Oreos (with a green center) and/or add peppermint extract to the candy melts (here’s how).

    Michelle’s original recipe uses half green, half white, candy melts, so that half of the cookies are dipped in green and half are dipped in white.

    We went all-green for St. Pat’s.

    As a substitute for the green chocolate melts, you can melt regular white chocolate and tint it green with food coloring.

    Ingredients

  • Double Stuffed Oreos (substitute regular Oreos)
  • Merckens green melting chocolate/candy melts/candy coating‡
  • Green and white sprinkles
  • Wax or parchment paper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the chocolate/melts in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds at a time until it is melted.

    2. DIP each cookie halfway into the chocolate and lay it on a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Shake the sprinkles onto the cookies while the chocolate is still warm. Let them harden for 20 minutes.

    3. REMOVE the cookies from the paper and serve or store.

    ________________

    *Spooned means exactly what is sounds like: You spoon the flour into the measuring cup and then level it off. If you scoop it by dipping a measuring cup into the canister, the pressure compacts more flour into the measuring cup.

    †Karen reserved 1/3 cup of the whole chips and pushed them into the tops of the baked cookies immediately after taking them out of the oven. This creates more “chip appeal” on the surface.

    ‡Merckens, a top-quality supplier to chocolatiers, actually sells real white chocolate tinted green! Candy Melts are made without cocoa butter, substituting vegetable oil. This makes them confectioner’s coating or imitation chocolate, not real chocolate.

    Note that for many years, a product called confectioner’s coating—imitation white chocolate made with vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter—was widely believed to be white chocolate. It is not, and doesn’t taste anywhere as good. White chocolate has cocoa butter, and is defined as white chocolate by the FDA.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pimp Your Cheesecake

    Only ice cream and cake surpass cheesecake on American restaurant menus, says Flavor And The Menu, a magazine and website for restaurant chefs.

    The article points out that plain cheesecake is a blank canvas, waiting for an artistic or flavorful treatment—or both.

    The next time you plan to bake a conventional cheesecake, consider playing around with these options.

    You can combine more than one on/in a single cheesecake. Check out photo #4: rainbow cheesecake with a “still life” top.

    INCLUSIONS

    Treats mixed into the batter can change the character, visual appeal and texture of the cheesecake experience. Examples:

  • Candy: There’s much to choose from: brittle, candy pieces (butterscotch, fudge bits, baking chips [butterscotch, chocolate, cinnamon, mint, etc.]), seasonal items like candy corn or Easter egg malt balls, toffee, a swirl of seasonal fruit purée, sugared nuts, trail mix. Just look around the store for inspiration.
  • Cake and cookie pieces: brownie, cookie dough, doughnuts, pound cake, crushed or mini Oreos, shortbread.
  • Citrus: zest and peel.
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    ENHANCED SAUCES & TOPPINGS

    Forget the gloppy canned cherry or blueberry topping. Use the sauce to spark enhanced flavors.

  • Elevate the conventional: Think salted caramel sauce, Mexican-style chocolate sauce, framboise sauce (raspberry sauce with raspberry liqueur)*.
  • Fruits beyond the can: fruit syrup, coulis, a mosaic of fresh fruits, seasonal fruit purée or a “still life” like photo #4 (fresh berries, meringues, herb sprigs, edible flowers).
  • Ganache or icing, spread or piped (photo #2). Ganache becomes a semi-hard chocolate topping, like chocolate truffles (here’s a recipe).
     
    Consider turning the sauce or piped icing into a decorative design such as loops (photo #2) or zigzags.
     
    OTHER TOPPINGS

  • Smooth: Consider crème fraîche, chocolate ganache, icing or whipped cream, plain or flavored.
  • Scattered: Scattered candies add texture and color, such as like chocolate-mint lentils or coffee/mocha lentils or confetti sprinkles.
  • Sparkling: Add some sparkle with edible glitter.
  • Fruits & Flowers: For the most beautiful top, create a “still life” of fruits, meringues, and sprigs of fresh herbs.
  •  
    THE BOTTOM

  • Crust: Try a brownie or cake crust, or cookies beyond Oreos and grahams.
  • Bottom: Decorate the bottom perimeter with squares of chocolate or other candy.
  • Bottom-plus: The latest rage is rainbow cheesecake (photos #3 and #4).
  •  
    REFORMAT

    How do you want to present the cheesecake?

     

    St. Patrick’s Day Cheesecake

    St. Patrick's Day Cheesecake

    Rainbow Cheesecake

    Rainbow Cheesecake

    [1] St. Patrick’s design from Kraft, using a stencil and glitter, and [2] a ganache top with decorative icing, from Harry & David. [3] Rainbow cheesecake (here’s the recipe from She Bakes). [4] Rainbow cheesecake with a “still life” top (here’s the recipe from Taste | Australia).

     
    Baked in a jar, cake pop, deconstructed, heart shaped, individual mini, layered with cake, mousse, rainbow cheesecake square, trifle.

    So many variations, so much fun ahead!
    ________________

    *You can purchase the sauces and add spices, liquors, etc. to create your flavor.

      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY RECIPE: Ice Cream Cake

    Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake

    Andes Mints

    After Eight Mints

    [1] Devil’s food cake and mint chip ice cream (photo Jennifer Davick | Southern Living). [2] Andes Mints (photo courtesy Sweet Factory). [3] After Eight Mints (photo courtesy After Eight | UK).

     

    We’ve been saving this recipe from Southern Living for our St. Patrick’s Day lead-up, when our recipes wear a tinge o’ the green.

    Made with a Devil’s Food cake mix (or from scratch, if you like), the ice cream doesn’t have to be mint chip. Those who don’t like mint can tint vanilla chip ice cream, or plain vanilla, with green food color.

    The topping is chocolate ganache, chocolate mints and whipped cream. We skipped the chocolate ganache, not wanting to gild the lily (it also saves time and money), and used Chocolate Reddi-Wip to anchor the mints around the rim of the cake (it’s easier to slice than cutting through the pile in the picture).

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE MINT ICE CREAM CAKE

    Make the whole cake ahead and freeze until ready to serve.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, freezer time is 10 to 12 hours.

    Ingredients For 10 to 12 Servings

  • Devil’s food cake mix (plus the other ingredients required—egg, oil, etc.)
  • 1/2 gallon mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened
  • 10 chocolate wafers (e.g. Nabisco Famous), coarsely crushed
  • Chocolate ganache
  • Garnish: Thin chocolate mints (After Eight or Andes)
  • Garnish: Reddi-Wip or other whipped cream
  • Equipment: parchment paper, springform pan
  •  
    For The Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 cup whipping cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 11 ounces bittersweet chocolate pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter (ideally use a low-moisture brand (European style) with a higher fat content)
  • Optional: 3 tablespoons liqueur of your choice (for this recipe, mint or chocolate liqueur)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper. Prepare the cake batter and spoon it into the pans.

    2. BAKE for 12 to 14 minutes or until a wood toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans to wire racks, peel off the parchment paper, and cool completely, about 1 hour.

     
    3. PLACE one cake layer in a 9-inch springform pan. Top with one-third of ice cream (about 2-1/3 cups); sprinkle with half the crushed wafers. Repeat with the second layer. Top with the remaining cake layer and ice cream. Freeze 8 to 12 hours.

    4. MAKE the ganache. In a small saucepan, scald the cream. In a small bowl, carefully pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces. Stir in the butter. Stir in the liqueur. Store in the fridge, sealed in a plastic container, until ready to use.

    5. REMOVE the cake from the springform pan, and place it on a plate or a cake stand. Spread the top with the ganache. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired before bringing to the table.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Corned Beef Hash Patties With Eggs

    Our mom loved corned beef and cabbage, and made it year-round in addition to St. Patrick’s Day.

    There were corned beef sandwiches for lunch the next day, and corned beef hash for Saturday breakfasts (Sunday was always bagels and lox).

    But our younger brother, a fussy eater, refused to try it, claiming it looked like dog food.

    If only Mom had thought to turn the hash into patties, like the folks at Idaho Potatoes; or to shape it in a food ring mold, like they do at Murray’s Cheese Bar.

    The recipe for the patties follows. If you want to make the hash in a ring, here’s a recipe; you can follow the Eggs Benedict preparation or just make the hash.

     
    RECIPE: CORNED BEEF HASH PATTIES WITH EGGS

    Instead of cubed potatoes and corned beef, the potatoes are riced, and the corned beef cubes embedded within. The result: smooth patties. Edward, this recipe is dedicated to you.

    Ingredients For 8 Patties

  • 2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups leftover corned beef, cubed
  • 2 scallions, chopped green and white parts (substitute onion)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1½ teaspoons black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Option: 1 tablespoon of minced fresh parsley leaves
  •  
    Plus

  • Eggs any style
  •  

    Corned Beef Hash Patties

    Elegant Corned Beef Hash

    [1] A new way to serve corned beef hash: in neat patties (photo and recipe courtesy Idaho Potatoes). [2] Classic corned beef hash shaped in a ring and topped with a poached egg, at Murray’s Cheese Bar.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 200°F. Place the potatoes in a large pot, add 2 tablespoons of salt, fill with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender about 20 minutes. Drain well and place the potatoes back into the pot to cool for 10 minutes.

    2. USE a potato ricer or grater to rice the potatoes into a large bowl (you should have about 4 cups of riced potatoes). Add the cubed corned beef, chopped scallions, milk, egg and optional parsley to the potatoes, and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

    3. HEAT a cast iron skillet skillet over medium heat with about ¼ cup of vegetable oil, and form ½ cup of potato mix into a round patty. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side or until it’s a nice medium gold color on each side. Make sure you place no more than 3-4 potato patties at a time in the frying pan.

    4. TRANSFER the cookie patties to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain any excess oil. Season with more salt as desired (or allow for salt and pepper seasoning at the table).

    5. KEEP the cooked patties warm in the oven as you cook the eggs. Serve the patties hot as soon as the eggs are ready.

      

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