St. Patrick’s Day evokes images of shamrocks, leprechauns and four-leaf clovers. It’s also a chance to get your green on and drain the local bar of its Irish libations, including that March 17 staple, Baileys Irish Cream.
A traditional Irish dinner might feature a menu of corned beef and cabbage, soda bread and some form of that Celtic staple, the potato. To finish off the holiday meal, think beyond Shamrock Shake and bake a Baileys-enhanced treat to accompany your Irish coffee and Blarney-filled tales.
In addition to its inebriatory qualities, Baileys Irish Cream, an Irish-whiskey-and-cream-based liqueur produced by Gibley’s of Ireland, offers a tasty zip to homemade desserts. It’s a delicious flavoring for an after-dinner coffee, and it blends well in Bundt cake, chocolate-chip cookies and pecan muffins. Adding a half-cup of Baileys straight from the bottle infuses whatever you’re making with a rich, milky, earthy-sweet nuance when you savor the first bite.
If you’re on a diet, turn back now – a lot of sugar goes into the following recipes for these little joy nuggets. The patron saint of Ireland would have it no other way.
• Bundt cake is an easy and irresistible bake. With an airy yet moist texture, the distinct Baileys’ bouquet offers a finishing touch. The recipe calls for pecans, which offer an interesting complement of texture and crunch within the pillowy bed of Bundt.
The optional glaze included in the recipe plasters a sugar-happy coating atop your sugar-happy mountain. When the glaze hardens, it serves as a hard shell for the puffy cake inside, retaining its melty flavor.
Be careful, though. Ejecting a rippling Bundt cake from its pan requires patience, which isn’t something you’ll have loads of after preparing this confection. Wait approximately 45 minutes for the cake to cool before taking it out, otherwise it won’t retain its hallmark shape. And you won’t retain your hallmark sanity.
• There’s nothing wrong with the traditional chocolate-chip cookie. But how about adding a little St. Patrick’s Day panache?
Go light on the chocolate chips to curb the cocoa and instead add chopped pecans and coconut flakes to the mix to intensify the overall texture and flavor. Adding a splash of Baileys gives the cookies a doughy, squishy feel and highlights their creamy-earthy taste.
Round cookies are boring. Grab clumps of cookie dough and plop them on the cookie sheet void of definable structure. The haphazard shapes are the sign of a creative baker, right?
Taking the first bite – which for me is akin to running through a foggy meadow of fresh-cut grass on an early spring morning – is best about 30 minutes after they cool and the ingredients have settled.
• Fluffy muffins laced with Baileys are a morning delight, an ideal midafternoon snack or a sweet nightcap to an evening meal. I like making these morsels smaller than the average muffin so that I can knock back a dozen or so in one sitting without flinching. That, to me, is worth more than a pot o’ gold.