Monday, March 21, 2016

Irish Cream Coffee Cake

By: Amy Weinberg

Morning. It’s morning, everyone! Today is the day! The sun is shining, the tank is clean, and we’re gonna get out of…. 

Finding Nemo, 2003

But really, the sun is finally shining. The grass is as green as my beer so you know what that means….St. Paddy’s Day! (I originally typed this on my phone and St. Paddy’s autocorrected to St. Party’s – fitting.) There are so many different Irish themed flavors that come alive this time of year, most of them in the form of beer. Even if you’re not at all Irish, you’re a little bit Irish on St. Paddy’s Day. On St. Paddy’s Day, your blood runs green with Bailey’s and artificial food coloring.

Whether you’re entertaining guests, or you just need that perfect midnight, not-so-sober snack, I’ve got the recipe for you.

Irish Cream Coffee Cake

What You'll Need:

For Ganache - 
1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur (about half a mini bottle)

For Icing - 
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons Irish Cream (about 1 1/2 mini bottles)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For Hot Fudge - 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coffee
1/2 cup Irish cream (2 mini bottles)

The first thing you’ll have to make is the chocolate ganache. Combine your heavy cream and chocolate chips in a saucepan and heat on medium low until all chips are melted. Start adding in your butter in chunks and stir until everything is combined. Final step? Add the Irish cream. Once everything is combined, you’re going to want to pop this in the fridge to cool while we make the other components.

Next, you’ll want to make your Irish Cream frosting. First, combine your butter and powdered sugar and mix on low, gradually adding in the Irish cream. Add in your vanilla and beat on high until the frosting is light and fluffy. Clear some room in your fridge because you’re gonna pop this in right next to the ganache.

The final component of this dessert is the Irish Cream hot fudge sauce. Combine and whisk together all of the ingredients over medium heat. Let your sauce bubble for 1 minute and then remove from heat. Once the sauce cools a little bit, pour about ¼ cup into each empty Irish cream bottle.

 Now that all of the components are ready, it is time for the best part: ASSEMBLY. I used a Granny Smith Apple Coffee Cake because it is what I had, but I would recommend using a no-nut cake for this dessert. I would also recommend semi-freezing the cake beforehand so that it is easier to cut out the hole in the middle. Next, take out your ganache and start spooning it into the hole. The ganache should still be warm so it should finish defrosting the cake. Next start filling a piping bag with your Irish Cream icing and pipe it onto the cake, finishing with a dusting of cocoa.

The final step is the hot fudge. If you are serving this as a dessert for other people, I would recommend serving the Bailey's bottle on the side, allowing your guest to make their own mess. In one swift move, you'll have to tip over and insert the mini bottle into the top of the cake. If you're successful, the bottle will stay still while the cake explodes with chocolate. 

And just a friendly reminder - although everyone is Irish on St. Paddy's Day, this is not a dessert for children. I even got a little tipsy tasting each component!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Here Comes The Sun - Ready for Spring Ice Pops

By: Amy Weinberg

If you’re like me, March 1st officially means spring to you. It means flowers are starting to bloom, snowstorms are turning into thunderstorms, and ice pops are once again edible. Yes, there is still snow on the ground. Yes, it still gets dark before 6pm. Yes, playoff basketball hasn’t even started yet. I do not care. To me, March = Spring. While I tend to commit to spring a little early, I understand that t-shirts and ice pops in March may not be for everyone. I’m not here to tell you how to spend your March. I am here to get you JACKED UP about spring and all of the fun desserts we will make to celebrate.

I am going to dive head first with this dessert and go straight for the ice pops. And no, I will not be turning our delicious coffee cake into an ice pop. (Although, if I ever figure out how to do that, you guys will be the first to know.) Instead, I’m going to give you an ice pop that will leave you feeling so great, so refreshed, that you'll be ready for that second slice of coffee cake in no time. 

I mean, who doesn’t love popsicles? They’re cool, refreshing, and you can make them out of just about everything. The ice pops I’m going to be making are even healthy.

What You'll Need:
1 cup spinach, packed
1 mango
1 banana
1 cup fruit juice (something lightly colored - I used Dole Mango, Peach, Banana juice) 
A blender

It probably could not be any easier to make these ice pops. Simply take your spinach, banana, mango, and juice and combine them in a blender. 30 seconds in my new NutriBullet and these pops are ready to freeze. 

Pour the combined ingredients in your popsicle molds, secure the tops, and pop them in the freezer for a few hours. 

As I was making these I was thinking to myself, "Why don't I make ice pops more often? They're incredibly easy to make and they taste great." Only when I tried to pop the ice pops out of the molds did I realize why I don't make ice pops more often. With three pop-less sticks sitting on my counter, I had one chance left to get this popsicle out of its mold and in one piece. 

Luckily, I was able to wiggle that last pop out of its mold.

And let me tell you, these popsicles were DELICIOUS. Who would have thought that frozen, blended up spinach would taste great? Certainly not someone whose desserts normally consist of coffee cake. But here I am, frozen spinach in hand, waiting for that grass in front of me to turn the same color green as the ice pop. 

After finishing my ice pop I turned to my mother to see if she could bestow any of her ice pop knowledge upon me. I remember making an ice pop or two when I was a kid so I figured she MUST have some insider tips to get the rest of them out. The one tip she gave me was so simple, yet so perfect - 

"Uhhh... Just dip the mold in warm water for a few seconds."

Of course it worked perfectly. Moral of the story, every now and then you just have to suck it up and ask your mother for help, even if you know that her response will be sarcastic.