16 March 2010

St Paddy's Countdown: Day 2- The Irish Car Bomb Situation

Day Two! That means... Tomorrow is St. Paddy's! I've been thinking more and more about how to make this year different from past years, and I've come to the conclusion that I need to change up the Baileys+Guinness combination.

Most people have at least heard the term "Irish Car Bomb". This is a drink that's been around since the late 70's and actually evolved from a couple other versions titled "The Grandfather" and "The IRA". All three of these drinks were coined by Charles Burke Cronin Oat, current instructor at Connecticut School of Bartending, and former owner and bartender of Wilson's Saloon. The Grandfather" was originally a 50/50 shot of Bailey's and Kahlua. Apparently Oat thought the shot needed an extra kick, though- so he added some Jameson whiskey to the top of the shot. The reaction of the hard liquor on the creamy liqueur created an immediate foaming and bubbling action to occur, and the resemblance to a bomb caused Oat to remark, "the IRA just showed up!" (bombs being the weapon of choice for the IRA at the time). Hence, the second generation of the drink.

Finally, one fateful St. Patrick's Day in his saloon, Oat had the novel idea of dropping his IRA shot into his half-finished pint of Guinness and with the words, "bombs away!", legend was born. Today, most people have nixed the Kahlua, and thus the modern day Irish Car Bomb consists of 3/4 pint of Guinness, half a shot of Bailey's, and half a shot of Jameson. The Bailey's goes into the shot glass first and the Jameson floats on top (creating the bubbling reminiscent of a bomb). Then, the shot is dropped into 12 oz of Guinness Stout and the whole thing is chugged as quickly as possible before the Bailey's starts to curdle. Classy drinking at its best, eh?

Well, the Irish Car Bomb has become somewhat of a novelty to more than just American drinking enthusiasts on St Paddy's. It's found its way into various recipes that are still clever and fun but won't raise your BAC level. Irish Car Bomb cupcakes have stormed the internet, and are probably the most common adaptation from the drink. The concept is pretty easy- Chocolate beer cupcakes with Irish Cream flavored frosting. They're super yummy and everyone loves them so most people would say "Why fix what's not broken?"... but I'm not satisfied.

Last year I made super intense Bailey's cupcakes. Baileys flavored cake, Bailey's flavored frosting, AND Bailey's custard Filling. They were really good, but after making them and taste testing the batter, frosting, and custard, I couldn't bring myself to eat a finished cupcake- I was Bailey's-ed out for all of St. Paddy's. Everyone else loved them, but this year I decided I wanted to use the classic creamy boozey flavor to compliment something besides more Bailey's. I liked the idea of adding a chocolate+beer aspect, but I didn't want to do the generic Irish Car Bomb cupcake that's already been worn out. So, the brainstorming began.

If you're lucky, in your life you have bought a pint of Haagen Dazs Bailey's flavored ice cream. This stuff is awesome. I decided I wanted this to be my Bailey's component to the dessert I was going to make- now it was just a matter of how to get the chocolate and Guinness in there. My first thought was ice cream sandwiches, made with chocolate beer cookies. There were no recipes online but I was pretty sure I could figure one out by making similar substitutions to a typical chocolate wafer cookie as are made to a regular chocolate cupcake recipe. This might be more difficult than I originally thought, though, because most cookie recipes get all their moisture from eggs and fat, no extra liquid like water or milk (which would be replaced with beer) that is found in cakes. I can probably make it work, but I think it might have to wait til next year when I have more time.

What other baked treat has ice cream? Well, ice cream cake of course! And baked goods are cuter when they're in small single portion sizes, right? Ok, ok, it might seem like I've just gone in a big circle and gone back to cupcakes, but this is not the case. These are individual ice cream cakes with a rich, moist chocolate Guinness cake bottom, Bailey Irish Cream ice cream filling, and a silky chocolate ganache topping that has just a hint of whiskey flavor- an element of the Irish Car Bomb that most of those other cupcake leave out. Ta da! An Irish Car Bomb baked treat that (as far as I know) hasn't been done before. (Oh, by the way, for now I'm copying and pasting the recipes for the ganache and the cake from Smitten Kictchen until I get a chance to take it into my own hands^^)

I'm excited to try these out tomorrow- the idea at least sounds like a good one! Maybe next year I'll figure out those cookies :)

Irish Car Bomb Ice Cream Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
2 pints Bailey's Irish Cream Ice Cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 48 cupcake cups with aluminum or waxed (NOT paper) liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 1/4-1/3 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 5-10 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely. To make them easier to work with, freeze for an hour or so. 20 minutes before assembling, take ice cream out of the freezer to thaw.
Fill each cupcake to just below the top of the cup with ice cream. Put in the freezer while you make and cool the ganache.
Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined. Once the ganache is finished, let it cool completely to room temperature, stirring every once in a while
Take cupcakes out of the freezer and coat each one with a layer of ganache. If you've portioned everything pretty well, the ganache should make a nice pretty smooth layer right across the very top of the cupcake cup. If you like you can sprinkle green sugar crystals on the tops to make the ice cream cupcakes festive, or you can just leave them be :)
These will be so fun to make! Happy holidays :) (What? You can say that for any holiday, right?)

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