Most of the liquor stores in my area stock a wide variety of mini bottles of various spirits near the registers. I like the mini bottles because they give you a convenient way to taste a liquor without splurging on a whole bottle of it – and they often give you just the right amount to add a splash of flavor to a recipe. This little bottle of Kahlua French Vanilla caught my eye a few weeks back, and it has become a favorite in my pantry ever since.
Kahlua is a rum-based coffee liquor with a strong and sweet coffee flavor to it. A splash can be great in a cocktail, but I frequently use it to amp up the coffee flavor in a tiramisu or in a batch of mocha frosting. The french vanilla version is lightly coffee flavored with a strong vanilla overtone to it. When I first bought it, I wasn’t sure how I was going to use it, but I discovered that the vanilla note is strong enough that this can be used almost like vanilla extract. When added to a batch of frosting or even a simple sugar cookie recipe, it contributed a nice vanilla flavor and just a hint of rum and coffee that made the flavor a whole lot more interesting and was a nice change of pace from regular vanilla.
The mini bottles are convenient to use and I got quite a few uses from each one, adding anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon of liquor to jazz up a recipe that ordinarily called for vanilla extract. It’s not going to replace my regular vanilla extract any time soon, but it is definitely going to be included in more than a few icing recipes now that I’ve discovered that a splash goes particularly well in cream cheese frosting.
When liquours are included in baked goods, the flavor doesn’t always make it through to the finished product. This definitely isn’t the case for these boozy Irish Cream Brownies. There is quite a bit of Irish Cream mixed right into the brownie batter, infusing it with flavor. There is also some in the glaze that finishes these off, adding yet another little kick to these grown up brownies.
The brownies themselves have a nice chocolate flavor to them, as well. They are moist and tender, with a texture that falls somewhere between cakey and chewy on the brownie spectrum. There is only a small amount of leavening in the recipe to keep the brownies on the dense side and make sure that they taste more like brownies than cake (which they definitely do!). This recipe was inspired by one I saw that used some artificial Irish Cream flavoring. The real thing is a much better option, taste-wise. It also made more sense for me to use the real thing because, as much as I like Irish Cream, it is so rich that it takes a very long time to finish off a bottle and so I don’t mind using a very generous portion in baking from time to time.
These brownies keep well when they are stored in an airtight container. The glaze is a little on the softer side, so while it does set up, it may soften when the brownies are stored. Cut these into small pieces and serve them with coffee. Coffee will really enhance both the chocolate and the Irish Cream flavors.
It’s become an unofficial tradition for me to make tiramisu for New Year’s Eve. I’m not sure how it came about, but it’s definitely not a bad thing. Tiramisu has always struck me as a kind of elegant dessert, with its layers of ladyfingers and mascarpone cream. That said, it is also very easy to put together and can be made well in advance – huge plusses for just about every dessert. It also uses a bit of alcohol, which makes it fit in nicely with the usual festivities of a New Year’s Eve gathering (or even just a nice dinner), and a bit of coffee, which might give you an edge in staying up until midnight.
It’s pretty easy to vary the flavors of a tiramisu by using different liquors. Rum and marsala wine are often featured in it. For this version, I used Baileys Irish Cream with coffee to dip the ladyfingers and I infused a vanilla bean into the cream I used to make the mascarpone cream layers. Because it is easier, I included instructions for using both vanilla extract and vanilla-infused cream with this recipe. It is also worth noting the the size of ladyfingers varies by brand, so don’t be concerned if you need more or less than I’ve called for here, as long as your dish is fully covered as you construct the dessert.
The finished dish is delicious. It is ultra creamy and very light. I really liked the hint of Baileys in with the coffee, too. It’s easy to eat a big piece, but since it is rich it is best served in slightly smaller portions.
I probably should have posted this back for St. Patrick’s Day, but I really don’t think that Irish coffee should only be a once-a-year treat. The drink is so tasty that, while it might be best for special occasions, it is certainly worthy of more than just a single holiday.
Irish coffee is the label applied to hot coffee that is enhanced with a shot of Irish whiskey and a bit of sugar to sweeten everything up. Since it usually gets served as an after dinner drink, often in lieu of dessert, lightly sweetened whipped cream is almost always used to finish off the drink’s presentation.
I do my Irish coffee a little bit differently than tradition dictates. I prefer to drink my coffee black, so I don’t particularly care for sugar in my coffee even though I don’t mind a bit of sweetness. So, I use a shot of Baileys Irish Cream to sweeten up the drink, take the edge off both the coffee and the whisky and add another layer of flavor to everything. I use equal parts whisky and Baileys (I have a preference for Baileys with a Hint of Caramel, if you can find it in your area) and alter the amounts to suit (a) the time of day and (b) the size of the glass I’m working with. And I never forget the whipped cream.
When St. Patrick’s Day comes around every year, I usually follow a little tradition that involves making up a batch of soda bread, a dish involving cabbage or corned beef, and maybe drinking a bottle of Guinness, too. Nothing fancy and pretty standard, as far as celebration goes. This year, I didn’t want to get stuck in that rut, but I did want to do a little something to acknowledge the holiday in my own way – with baked goods, of course. A quick look through my cabinets uncovered my bottle of Bailey’s Mint Chocolate Irish Cream and I knew what I wanted do make.
These cupcakes are a riff on mint chocolate chip ice cream, which is typically colored green, with a generous amount of Bailey’s for character. I neglected to add food coloring to my cupcakes, but feel free to do so if you really want them looking green for the holiday; if you want to avoid food coloring, rest assured that the Irish Cream is more than enough “irish” to make these an acceptable St. Patrick’s day dessert.
The cupcakes are a tiny bit more substantial than the ultra-fluffy cupcakes that I usually aim to bake because I needed them to be able to support the weight of the chocolate chips for good distribution. Mini chocolate chips worked out perfectly and were found in every bite of the cake. The flavor of the Bailey’s was relatively subtle, but definitely carried through into the cake. Regular Bailey’s will work fine in this recipe, although the Bailey’s Mint Chocolate Irish Cream I used will work out even better because it adds another layer of chocolate mint to the cupcake.
Aside from the Bailey’s, the cakes themselves don’t have any mint in them. The majority of the mint flavor comes from some sweet and potent frosting that is spread on top of the cakes. I think that the cakes taste best without mint in them and the clarity of the mint flavor really comes through exceptionally well in the frosting. The chocolate drizzle on top ofthe cupcakes is made with unsweetened chocolate. Don’t worry about it being too bitter, though. It balances well with the sweet mint frosting and prevents the whole dessert from being too sweet. And besides, there is only a very small amount on top of each cupcake.
I made both mini cupcakes and regular ones with this recipe. If you bake all minis, you’ll get 48 bite-sized cupcakes. If you bake all full-sized cakes, you’ll get 16. Baking time for the minis is 10-12 minutes. Baking time for regular size is 18-21 minutes. For me, the full sized cakes were gorgeous, but the minis got eaten up much faster. You can’t go wrong with either size.