3.17.2009

St. Patrick's Day Disaster


I love holidays. I think I mentioned that before. I love that there's a holiday just about every month. After Valentine's Day, I was already thinking about what I wanted to make for St. Patrick's Day. I knew I had to make sugar cookies. That was a given. And I knew I wanted to make them in the shape of Shamrocks. Okay, great. But I've already done Sugar cookies. I needed something else that I hadn't done yet to put up here, cause really--who wants to read a blog about making sugar cookies every other post. As much as I like sugar cookies, not even I would. I debated and thought and debated some more, and still couldn't think of anything that sounded even remotely St. Patrick's day-like. I was stuck. It took a random comment after a trip to Target to spark my imagination. I have no idea how it came up, but as we were walking out of Target my boyfriend said he wanted some drunken cupcakes. *Lightbulb moment* Drunken cupcakes.. the Irish like to drink.. What kind of Irish drunken cupcakes could I make? How about Irish Cream Cupcakes! That would be perfect! I had my idea, and now it was time to run with it!

The only problem was... I don't drink. Ever. Like never in my life. So I had absolutely no idea what Irish Cream even tasted like.. My boyfriend tried to explain it to me, but I just wasn't getting it. And I have an adamant no-drinking policy for myself, so I couldn't actually try it. So I tried the only alternative I could think of. Irish Cream flavored coffee creamer. Oh man! If the real thing tastes even remotely close, it's a good thing I don't drink! I'd be in big drunken trouble! It is SO good! I started drinking it in glasses of milk ALL the time. So if that's what my cupcakes tasted like, this was going to be the best recipe EVER! Now to actually find a recipe. My boyfriend suggested I pair the Irish Cream with a chocolate cupcake. However, I couldn't really find a chocolate Irish Cream recipe. I could find Chocolate Stout cupcakes with Irish Cream frosting, but no chocolate Irish Cream. I did find one recipe for a yellow cake Irish Cream, so I put it on my list of cupcakes to test, along with modifying a white cake recipe and a chocolate recipe.

I tried the white first. I quartered the recipe so I would only have 6 cupcakes instead of the full 2 dozen. They came out alright, but not fantastic. You couldn't really taste the Irish Cream. Onto the yellow cake. This one was better, but it took about a day for the cupcakes to really have the Irish Cream flavor. And even then, it tasted not quite right. Onto the chocolate. This was my least favorite of the three. As a chocolate cupcake, it was great. But if you didn't know you were supposed to be eating an Irish Cream cupcake, you'd never know. There was no Irish Cream flavor at all. Maybe that's why there are no Chocolate Irish Cream recipes. Okay. Yellow cake recipe it is. Now the great debate came--do I continue to use the coffee creamer even though it wasn't the greatest in the cupcakes, or do I spring for the real thing and hope that makes all the difference? After pricing the bottles of Irish Cream at several grocery stores, I decided $21 for a bottle of something I'd use a cup of and never touch again wasn't exactly worth it. Even the mini bottles, about 2 cups worth, were $10.. I'm broke. $10 for a batch of cupcakes...Hmm.. I dunno. I think I'll stick with the $2 bottle of coffee creamer I can drink the rest of. Maybe that was the beginning of my demise.

I was off work yesterday, so it was baking day. I started with the cookies because they needed time to cool before completely before the icing ordeal began. I halved the recipe like I usually do. I got the butter and the sugar creamed, and started to sift together my dry ingredients. I've got the recipe mostly memorized, but not completely yet. So I had to take a quick peek to see how much salt goes into it. This is when it all went horribly wrong. Glancing at the recipe, I put in the teaspoon and a half of the salt it said. I sifted it all together and mixed it all in my mixer. I tasted a little bit of it before I flattened it out into disks to refrigerate. It tasted kinda funny. A bit salty. I realized that while I had halved everything else, I put the full amount of salt in without thinking.
Part of me said, "Throw it out and start over. This is never going to work. You messed up, so get rid of it and make it right." The part that won out was the little devil on my other shoulder that said, "You already used up 2 sticks of expensive butter. You can't throw it out now. Throw a little extra sugar in there to cut the salt. It'll be fine." Well I should have listened to the angel side.. it didn't turn out completely fine. Some of the cookies came out alright. Others spread way too much and looked more like a blob than a shamrock. And even more came out completely brown and crispy. And more than just a handful broke in half. Needless to say, I was discouraged. Sugar cookies are my pride and joy. And now they came out looking terrible. Well there was still my cupcakes to make.

Mixing went fine with the cupcakes. After my cookie mistake, I read all my ingredients and instructions carefully. The batter tasted fine after it was mixed. More than fine actually. It was damn tasty. Into the oven they go; 20 minutes on the timer. When I opened the oven I could tell they weren't done. 2 more minutes. Still not done. Ok 2 more minutes. Finally I had to pull them out cause the tops were browning quite a bit, but the toothpicks I was sticking in were still coming out kind of sticky. After I let the cupcakes sit for a little bit so I could pull them out to let them cool, I noticed that they were kind of sinking. Great. The rest of the batches had the same baking time problem as the first batch. They all seemed squishy and some were sinking, and they all looked rather disgusting.
They were cracked at the top on some of them. The last batch I pulled out, I had a WTF moment when one of them was actually bubbling what looked almost like foam out of the top of one of the cracks. It looked like my cupcake had rabies. By this time I was horribly discouraged. Nothing was going into work with me to share because it all looked like crap. I'm sure my coworkers would eat it all anyway, but I'm a perfectionist. I don't do blobby rock cookies and rabies crater cakes. I basically gave up at that point, and didn't even bother icing anything. Oh well. Hopefully my next holiday baking excursion won't go quite so bad. There's a food holiday coming up towards the end of the month that I'm really looking forward to, so *fingers crossed* hopefully I don't screw this one up!

On a much better note, I seem to have a little bit of luck from the Irish today. I actually got a picture of my Peanut Butter Cup-Cakes published on both TasteSpotting and FoodGawker! Yay! And it's a beautiful day outside--63 degrees and sunny! So I'm sitting out here writing my blog and getting ready to kick back and read a book until it's time to get ready to go to work. Yay for almost spring! I can't WAIT!! I am SO done with winter!!

Now if I could just get this monster to keep his mouth shut, we'd be in heaven. But likely, I'll have no such luck on this front. He's a really mouthy kid.






There's no Irish Cream Cupcake recipe since it came out horribly, but if you'd like to try your hand at the sugar cookies check out my Conversation Heart Sugar Cookies from Valentine's Day for the recipe.

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