Irish soda bread muffins — and a link-up for St. Patrick’s Day

Irish soda bread muffins 1


With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon (today!), I craved something with an Irish flair — but have been trying really hard not to derail my progress with desserts. I was warned that losing the weight could actually be easier than maintaining that weight loss, and I’m feeling the pinch.

But these? Totally a guilt-free, delicious afternoon — or breakfast — treat. Using whole wheat flour as well as honey and raisins as natural sweeteners, they’re a savory and satisfying muffin that totally worked for me. Spencer liked them, too, though with a caveat: “As long as you’re not expecting something sweet, they’re great.”

Best served with tea or coffee, plus a huge pat of butter!


Whole Wheat
Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Recipe from Skinny Taste

Ingredients:
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp chilled butter
1 cup 1% buttermilk
3 tbsp honey or agave
1 large egg, beaten
2/3 cup raisins (or more, as desired)


Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, stir together buttermilk, honey (or agave) and egg until blended. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in raisins. Batter will be sticky and thick.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean.

Remove tin and cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before removing muffins from tin; finish cooling on rack. Serve warm or cool completely and store muffins in an airtight container or Ziplock bags at room temperature.


Soda bread muffins 2

Soda bread muffins 3

Soda bread muffins 4

Soda bread muffins 4

Soda bread muffins 5

Soda bread muffins 6


Lucky Link-up copy


Now it’s your turn!

Share links to your favorite Irish-themed blog posts! Whether you’ve made a fantastic Irish recipe, reviewed a favorite Irish author, traveled to Ireland and want to share photos . . . now’s your moment. Links can be new or old; it’s fun to revisit past posts. Add your link by clicking the button below, and check out great content here and at She Is Moments!




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Guinness cupcakes revisited — or, enjoying a rich and boozy cupcake

Guinness cupcakes


Remember these?

I sure do.

Boozy desserts are all the rage these days, and these may go down in history as one of my most popular baked goods ever. I actually couldn’t believe I first made these in 2012. It really feels like yesterday.

Though I’m really more of a Smithwick’s drinker than a Guinness girl, you can’t visit Dublin without trying the iconic beverage. My dad was the sturdy one in our group, ordering his drink on our first night there in 2011. I remember less of the drink and more of the meal, which was hearty and delicious and filling.


Guinness

Irish flags

Irish food


Burger and fries — Irish style. What I wouldn’t give to jump into that frame . . .

Ahem. Anyway. Though I do partake in the occasional beverage, I have to confess to enjoying booze more in desserts than glasses. If you like the rich taste of chocolate and the bold, unmistakable tang of Guinness, this is certainly a treat for you.

Just have some milk handy . . .

Or maybe an extra Guinness. Totally your call.


Cupcake trio


Dark Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes
with Bailey’s buttercream

Recipe adapted from Global Table Adventure

Ingredients:
1 1/2 sticks butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup Guinness Extra Stout
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs

For the Bailey’s buttercream:
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-4 tbsp Bailey’s, as needed


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saucepan, melt butter and whisk together with Guinness, vanilla extract and cocoa. Remove from heat.

While Guinness mixture is cooling, add cupcake liners to pan. Whisk together dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking soda). Pour Guinness mixture onto the dry ingredients, then whisk in the 2 eggs. When the batter is shiny and smooth, pour evenly into cupcake liners.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

As cupcakes cool, make the buttercream by whipping together the softened butter and sugar, then adding in just enough Bailey’s to get it loose and fluffy. (About 3 tablespoons.)

When cupcakes are done, cool completely. Frost as desired. Yields approximately 18 cupcakes.


Lucky Link-up copy

Come back Monday to share your favorite Irish-themed posts in the Lucky link-up I’ll be hosting with the lovely Maureen of She Is Moments! Whether new or old, share posts that could highlight favorite Irish books or authors; recipes for favorite Irish dishes; travel posts from past Irish adventures . . . or something entirely new. The link-up will go live in the wee hours of St. Patrick’s Day here and at SIM. We hope you’ll join us!



The obvious Americans — and happy St. Patrick’s Day!


It’s been almost a year since I was in Ireland, drinking my fill of Guinness (or Smithwick’s — I’m not serious enough for straight Guinness, despite my cupcakes) and thinking I blended amongst the locals eating out in Dublin. Though I was, of course, an American tourist, I wasn’t prancing around with a neon pink fanny pack and white tennis shoes, barking at people to serve me “A-mer-i-can food, dammit!” and generally setting international relations back a few centuries.

Not that I recall, anyway. (So much Smithwick’s.)

(Okay, not really — I’m not a drinker — but everyone is a drinker in Ireland. Even my mother, plied repeatedly with Irish coffee.)

I’ll just come out and admit it: I can be a bit smug when I travel. I try to never be “the ugly American,” offering courteous smiles to everyone I meet and never stiffing the locals on tips. On our trip to Italy years back, our tour director said something that has stayed with me: “We are all international ambassadors.” Meaning, you have an unpleasant interaction with an American. You think they’re rude. Though it’s not necessarily fair, our minds may make a leap: this American woman was rude. Americans can be rude. All Americans are rude. And so on.

I try never to be rude. To blend, if you will, and this doesn’t just apply to international travel. When asked by a clerk if I was “from Texas?” while shopping in Los Angeles years ago, I just cocked an eyebrow and laughed. If she thinks my Southern accent is strong and Texas-like, she’s obviously never met a real Texan. (Or a real Southerner, ’cause my twang ain’t go nothing on the accents of my North Carolina relatives. I’m sort of jealous, really; I’ve just got the Eastern Seaboard thing goin’ on. Though I do use “y’all” with reckless abandon.)

So anyway. In Dublin. I’m trying to blend and not be rude and be a courteous American when I walk into a pub with my family. I’m trying to not scream “TOURIST! TOURIST OVER HERE!” and just enjoy a casual evening in Ireland. Before we’d uttered a word — before we’d even greeted a soul in the place — a cute young waiter approached, passing out menus. “Evenin’,” he said with a smile. “Americans, eh?”

HOW DID HE KNOW?

I was flabbergasted. I didn’t think I had a “tell.” Is it my purple jacket? My jaunty swagger? The way I “style” (term used loosely) my hair? My liberal eye contact?

Grabbing hold of our good ol’ American enthusiasm, my family and I exchanged questioning looks while I laughed, “Yes — what gave it away?”

The server’s crooked smile would have made Edward Cullen jealous. With a gentle but aggravating shrug, he replied, “I just know.”

“But how do you know?” I pressed, suddenly desperate to see what set us apart. “The way we walked in the pub?”

We hadn’t known where to sit, of course. Not locals.

“I just know,” he repeated, and then I dropped the matter. Mostly because I was starving and we were soon going to be served this:


(And yes, we ordered burgers and fries in Ireland. How cliche.
But I tried haggis in Scotland, so sue me.)


Then I forgot about cultural identities and international relations and politeness and fanny packs (or lack thereof).

Om nom nom nom.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Dark Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes: get ‘drunk’ on delicious dessert


Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day (or a little early, but hey — I’m proactive), I present to you the most praised cupcakes I’ve ever made. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I can promise these are winners — and I’m feeling quite smug after getting endless compliments on these babies at work this week.

They’re Dark Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with a Bailey’s buttercream frosting, friends, and they’re just as rich, decadent and lush as you would imagine. Fascinated by Ireland since our visit there last spring, my interest was piqued when I first caught a glimpse of this recipe — though I’m really more of a Smithwick’s girl. Regardless, these treats are outstanding — and yes, you can taste both the Guinness and Bailey’s . . . but you won’t get sloppy afterward. At least, no one in the office did.

This recipe originally came from Sasha, the culinary mastermind over at Global Table Adventure. Her recipe is for one awesome cake, but I’m a cupcake fiend. So I present to you this rendition in all its stouty glory. Don’t skimp on the icing, either; it’ll have you licking the bowl.


Dark Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes
with a Bailey’s buttercream

Ingredients:
1 1/2 sticks butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup Guinness Extra Stout
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs

For the Bailey’s buttercream:
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-4 tbsp Bailey’s, as needed


Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saucepan, melt butter and whisk together with Guinness, vanilla extract and cocoa. Remove from heat.

While Guinness mixture is cooling, add cupcake liners to pan. Whisk together dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking soda). Pour Guinness mixture onto the dry ingredients, then whisk in the 2 eggs. When the batter is shiny and smooth, pour evenly into cupcake liners.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

As cupcakes cool, make the buttercream by whipping together the softened butter and sugar, then adding in just enough Bailey’s to get it loose and fluffy. (About 3 tablespoons.)

When cupcakes are done, cool completely. Frost as desired. Yields approximately 18 cupcakes.

New: printable recipe is here!