St. Patrick’s Day has always been a fun holiday for my family. Being half Irish, we fully embrace the fun and frolicking traditions, especially St. Patrick’s Day. If I wasn’t wearing green when I got up, my brothers would pinch me, so I was careful to choose a nightgown with some green on it. If you got pinched but were wearing green (often hidden in a waistband or some other non-obvious spot), you got to pinch the other person back twice – there was a lot of good-natured pinching going on in our family! My mother always wore green eye shadow to ward off the pinches, LOL.
There was the annual parade in San Francisco to attend and watch all the proud Irish American’s and other revelers celebrating. When I got older and was working in San Francisco’s Financial District, an entire block was shut down around Harrington’s bar and we filled the street, drinking and partying until the wee hours of the morning. The following day at work was often a painful one
It is somehow appropriate that The Artist and I met on St. Patrick’s Day – yes, in a bar of course. I had planned on meeting some neighbors who never showed up, but I ran into a crowd of my co-workers and was enjoying celebrating with them. Two friends who happened to also be mutual friends of mine had dragged him out for the evening and it was total coincidence that they walked into the same bar. Fate intervened, we were introduced, and the rest is history.
The Artist and I always celebrate the anniversary of our meeting on St. Patrick’s Day, adding even more to the festivities. The luck of the Irish was shinning on us that night 19 years ago and we toast our good luck at finding each other!
Today’s dessert is easy to make and can be made into either a layer cake or cupcakes. I thought the cupcakes would be fun because you can alternate the colors of frosting. I only made green and white, but you could be even more adventuresome and add orange to represent all the colors in the Irish flag.
If you like a lot of frosting, double the ingredients and then you will have plenty to be generous with decorating the cupcakes. You can either spread the frosting on or use a piping bag and round or star tip to decorate each one.
I love vanilla paste – it has the little specks of vanilla seeds in it and makes everything taste better. The only trouble is that it can turn white foods a little tan. If that is an issue for you, you can buy clear vanilla. Yep, they make it just so we can keep certain things like frostings pearly white. I don’t have an issue with the color of regular vanilla, but if you do, there’s an answer for you! Just note that it is imitation vanilla flavor, not pure vanilla extract.
Just to prove that even the most seasoned cooks and bakers also have issues with recipes, especially baking … Some of my cupcakes got too dark on the bottom and that is why I am recommending baking them on baking sheets to add a layer of insulation from the heat of the oven. I think I am going to trim off the bottom of those, tear the tops into pieces and use them in a trifle. There is always some way to repurpose our “oops” in the kitchen!
Have a wonderful celebration tonight. Raise a glass to the Irish traditions – I am declaring all of you honorary Leprechauns for the holiday!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Using sour cream in the frosting may seem counterintuitive but it helps cut the sweetness and makes the frosting more adult-friendly. Children will take all the sugar you can give them, but as we get older, we prefer less sweet desserts.
Using the gluten-free all-purpose flour blend makes these cupcakes safe for Celiacs to eat. Make sure you use the same GF flour blend when dusting the cake pan! I’ve never run across powdered sugar with any gluten ingredients in it, but it is always a good idea to check the label.
White Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
Cake recipe adapted from The Southern Junior League Cookbook
Yield: 24 cupcakes plus a small 6 or 8-inch cake
2-1/2 cups cake* flour or gluten-free flour blend (see directions below to convert flour to cake flour)
1 tsp baking powder (Gluten-Free if needed)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
8 oz white chocolate, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups chips)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste
2 to 3 tbsp sour cream
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Food coloring, preferably gels, optional
Preheat the oven to 350°F with rack in the center and upper third of the oven. Set up two 12-cup muffin tins and fill with cupcake liners. Butter and flour (use GF flour if needed) a 6 or 8-inch cake pan for the excess batter.
Make the Cake: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until thoroughly blended (this takes the place of sifting). Set aside.
Pour buttermilk into a measuring cup with a spout and stir in the vanilla extract or paste. Stir to combine. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan bring 2 inches of water to a simmer over medium heat. Place a heatproof bowl over the saucepan and add the white chocolate. Melt the chocolate, stirring often until completely melted. Turn off the heat and keep the chocolate warm while you make the cake batter.
In the bowl of your standing mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium until creamy and lightened in color, about 1 to 2 minutes (this is called creaming). Beat in the egg yolks until completely incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom. With the mixer running, pour in the melted white chocolate, beating on low speed until completely smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the batter, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Start and end with the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold 1/3 of the beaten whites into the cake batter. This lightens it making it easier to fold in the remaining whites without deflating them. Add the rest of the beaten egg whites and fold in until no white streaks remain.
Fill the lined cups about 2/3 full and pour remainder of batter into the prepared cake pan. Use a medium spring-loaded ice cream scoop to portion the batter into the muffin tins – it is fast, easy, and clean. Place the muffin tins on baking sheets to insulate the bottoms. Place in the hot oven along with the cake pan.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake may take a little longer than the cupcakes. When done, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Leave cupcakes in the pan about 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack until completely cool. Leave the cake in the pan until completely cool and then turn out.
Make the Frosting: In the bowl of your standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop the motor, scrape the sides and bottom of bowl and add the vanilla and 2 tbsp of the sour cream; beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar. Gently beat until smooth. If you want a thinner consistency add another tbsp of sour cream.
Transfer half the frosting into a small bowl. Set it aside. Add food coloring to the frosting left in the mixing bowl, adding as much as you like for either a pastel green or a bright Kelley green. To get the Kelley green, you will need to add yellow coloring. Beat until the color is evenly distributed.
Frost half of the cupcakes with the white frosting and half with the green frosting. Frost the mini cake with either or a swirl of both colors. Sprinkle coconut over the cake if you like it. Enjoy!
* To Make Cake Flour: Measure out 2-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and place in a bowl. Remove 5 tbsp (2 tbsp per cup of flour) and replace it with 5 tbsp of cornstarch. Place a wire sieve over a bowl and pour the dry ingredients through the sifter. Whisk thoroughly until completely blended and incorporated.
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