Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Irish Coffee -- the cocktail in cupcake form

Irish Coffee is a warm cocktail comprised of hot coffee, Irish whiskey and sugar and topped with thick or whipped cream.
   And it’s also a cupcake from the pages of Martha Stewart Living magazine.
   “In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve reimagined the traditional drink as a cupcake for grown-ups,” the introduction for Irish Coffee Cupcakes (click for the recipe) says on the Martha Stewart website.
   It’s a wonderful reimagining, with the light brown coffee-flavored cupcakes topped with generous pillows of whiskey-spiked whipped cream. There is only one tablespoon of whiskey in the topping, so there is no overwhelming taste, just a slight hint of caramel.
  I have to admit I didn’t use Irish whiskey in the whipped cream topping – I reached for Crown Royal instead, an iconic Canadian whiskey.
   The recipe refers to the topping as frosting, but I don’t think it qualifies as such. The topping is a lot more liquidy than your average frosting – putting it on the cupcakes is like putting whipped cream on pie.
   Whatever it is called, frosting or topping, be sure to slather a lot on each cupcake. It will moisten the cake below with each and every bite.
   Dust each cupcake with a bit of espresso powder as the recipe says, too. It makes the cupcakes look complete, and ties the tastes of the cake and topping together.
   The instant-espresso powder called for by the recipe is available in many supermarkets, but the only brand I’ve ever seen that has it is Nescafe.
   The recipe says the yield is 15 cupcakes, but I was only able to make 11 comfortably. Because the cupcakes are topped with fresh whipped cream, store them in the fridge.
   The cupcakes are easy to make.
   Boiling water is poured over instant-espresso powder and left to cool, then whole milk is added and the mixture stirred.
   Flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt are whisked together. Butter, sugar, light-brown sugar and eggs are beaten together with an electric mixer, then the flour mixture is added in three additions alternating with the espresso-milk mixture.
   The cupcakes are baked, cooled and turned out from muffin tins.
   For the topping, whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar) are beaten with an electric mixture until medium peaks form, then whiskey is added and the mixture beaten some more until slightly stiff peaks form. (Check by turning off the mixer and pulling out the beaters to see what peaks they make in the cream.)
   The cupcakes are topped with the whipped cream and dusted with espresso powder.

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