Popular for decades as an after-dinner drink, Irish coffee is a mix of strong, hot coffee, Irish whiskey and sugar, topped with a layer of thick cream and best served in a glass mug.
But we've found a few cooks who have taken the appealing flavors of Irish coffee to new places. They've used the cocktail's ingredients to produce very grown-up baked goods for St. Patrick's Day.
Janine MacLachlan of the Rustic Kitchen cooking school in Fennville, Mich., whipped up a tasty shortbread recipe. "I've deconstructed the classic Irish coffee by using ground coffee or espresso and Irish whiskey in a shortbread cookie, which goes great with a cup of ... you get the idea."
Because shortbread tends to be rich and buttery, MacLachlan recommends showcasing an Irish butter, available in many supermarkets. "The shortbread is great alone, but the whiskey glaze makes it special."
Dede Wilson, author of "A Baker's Field Guide to Cupcakes: Deliciously Decorated Crowd Pleasers for Parties and Holidays" (Harvard Common Press, 164 pages, $18.95), created a cupcake worthy of the adult palate.
"When it comes to St. Patrick's Day and baking, I often think of Bailey's Irish Cream, a whiskey-and-cream-based liqueur," Wilson said.
"To get this cupcake boozy enough, I decided to place it in a mug, so that it could echo an Irish coffee and also be moistened enough while not falling apart."
These are definitely not desserts you'd bring for the school bake sale. As the Irish say, slainte!
Espresso shortbread cookies with Irish whiskey glaze
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Makes: 16 cookies
Adapted from a recipe by cooking teacher Janine MacLachlan.
2 sticks unsalted Irish butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground espresso or coffee
1/4 cup each: sugar, Irish whiskey
2 tablespoons butter
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Stir together butter, sugar and salt in a bowl. Mix in about half the flour; stir in the ground coffee. Stir in remaining flour; combine thoroughly. Using damp fingers, press into two buttered 8-inch round cake pans.
2. Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven; immediately cut each pan into 8 wedges but leave in the pan. Cool completely.
3. For glaze, pour sugar and 2 tablespoons of the whiskey into a small saucepan. Heat to a boil over high heat; boil rapidly, 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in butter. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons of the whiskey. Let set to thicken slightly, 1 minute. Spoon over shortbread, using the back of the spoon to cover evenly. When glaze is set, remove cookies from pan.
Per serving: 217 calories, 53% of calories from fat, 13 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 34 mg cholesterol, 24 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 62 mg sodium, 0 g fiber
Irish coffee cupcakes in a cup
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Makes: 12 cupcakes
Dede Wilson, author of "A Baker's Field Guide to Cupcakes," created this cake in a cup.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
Assembly and topping:
1/3 cup Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
12 chocolate-covered espresso beans, optional
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Beat butter in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high, until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in the flour mixture in 4 additions alternating with the milk and ending with the flour mixture, until smooth.
2. Divide batter evenly in a cupcake pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs, about 18 minutes. Cool pan on rack 5 minutes; remove cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.
3. Press each cupcake into the bottom of a glass mug. Pierce each cupcake several times with a bamboo skewer or toothpick. Whisk together liqueur and espresso powder until the espresso dissolves (heating on low heat if necessary to dissolve the coffee). Brush liqueur over each cake.
4. For topping, beat cream in a large, chilled bowl with a mixer on medium-high, until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until soft peaks form. Pipe a large swirl of whipped cream on top of each cupcake using a pastry bag, or spoon it on. Top with a chocolate-covered espresso bean, if desired. Serve with a spoon.
Per cupcake: 301 calories, 59% of calories from fat, 20 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 98 mg cholesterol, 27 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 123 mg sodium, 0 g fiberCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun