I love holidays, big and small. Some come with a great deal of obligation, like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and I jump on the bandwagon and celebrate accordingly, making Christmas cookies or candies and something chocolatey for Valentine’s Day (a chocolate soufflé with raspberry sauce this year).
I adore Thanksgiving and start planning my menu weeks in advance. As a kid I got uncharacteristically competitive with the chocolate Easter egg hunt, and as an adult I just couldn’t quite let it go… so now my better half and I devise a chocolate egg hunt for each other each year.
But there’s something to be said for the holidays that are just silly and fun, and don’t require a whole lot of commitment. On Cinco De Mayo you best believe you’ll find me salting my margarita rim. Halloween is my all-time favorite, and I could wax poetic for pages about caramel apples and pumpkin flavored everything.
So of course I love St. Patrick’s Day too, the one bright spot during March — that fickle month that toys with my emotions. One day it’s sunny and you only need a light jacket; you might even spy some tender green stems poking out of the earth. The next you’re pulling out your wool coat and boots again, after you were sure they were banished to the back of the closet til next year, as snowflakes swirl around you. You’re such a tease, March.
I like parades, wearing green eyeshadow, and beer; I enjoy making the traditional soda bread and corned beef with cabbage and potatoes that morphs into corned beef hash for breakfast the next day, but I love these Guinness chocolate cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream icing.
Guinness Chocolate Cake
*Adapted from Epicurious
Preheat the oven to 365.
Send your better half to the store if he drank the Guinness earmarked for cake. You know who you are.
Melt two sticks of butter with 1 1/3 cups of Guinness in a pot; when the butter is melted, whisk in 1 ½ cups sifted cocoa powder. Stir in 2 tsp. vanilla extract. Let cool slightly.
Sift together 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 ½ tsp. baking soda.
In a large bowl, whisk together two eggs and whisk in 1 ½ cups of sour cream. Whisk the beer/chocolate mixture into the sour cream mixture quickly, in a steady stream. Fold in the dry ingredients, then fill a paper-lined cupcake tin almost to the brim with batter. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Bailey’s Irish Cream Icing
Soften 8 ounces of cream cheese and 4 tablespoons of butter. Cream them together and sift in 2 to 2 ½ cups icing sugar. Cream together, then stir in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and about 4 tablespoons of Bailey’s. Resist the temptation to start digging in with a spoon.
When the cupcakes are cool fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip (or a large Ziploc freezer bag with one of the corners snipped) with the icing. (If the icing is too soft, you may want to stick it in the fridge while the cupcakes finish cooling.) Start at the outside edge and pipe with even pressure, swirling toward the center.
Dust with green sugar or edible glitter.