Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Patty's Day!

I am sure that it has become common knowledge that in my home, a holiday is synonomous with food. To be honest, everything and everyday means food here, but when there's a holiday, I tend to get a little bit extreme. And even though we have no Irish in the family (as far as we know, except I wouldn't be surprised if there was), St. Patrick's Day was a good excuse to whip some things that I've never made before. Actually, make that a lot of things that I've never made before. For dinner, we had the ever so traditional corned beef and cabbage. . . except it's not very traditional because I've never had it before! Technically, what I made was New England Boiled Dinner because I added potatoes and carrots to the corned beef and cabbage. I took the easy way out and made it all in my slow cooker. But I was really surprised with how good it turned out. I didn't expect it to be so tender and tasty. I could definately eat corned beef again, even when it's not St. Patrick's Day. The girls didn't really seem to care for it at all. They are not real meat and potato eaters. On the other hand, they REALLY like bread. And lucky for them, I made a loaf of Irish Soda Bread to go with dinner. Once again, I've never had Soda Bread before, but based on the descriptions that I read, I am pretty sure I made it right. It was actually really easy, the easiest bread I've ever made -- considering there are only 4 ingredients involved. I almost forgot that I was going to make it, and didn't remember until an hour before dinner. Yet, I managed to mix it and bake it just in time for dinner! I was really surprised by the taste and consistency because I didn't think something so simple would be very tasty.

And of course, since I am the crazy cupcake lady, I HAD to whip up some cupcakes. I was actually torn in what kind to make because one friend told me that I should make mint cupcakes, and another really wanted me to make Green Tea cupcakes. I had originally decided on the green tea cupcakes because I had read about how green tea powder naturally makes food green (big surprise there). So even though green tea isn't very Irish, at least the cupcakes would've been green, which is in the spirit, right? Well, in the end, I couldn't make a decision, which could only mean one thing -- a whole lot of cupcakes! Because I thought mint cupcakes were just too plain and easy, I had to take it up a notch. I almost immediately thought chocolate mint, but since the last few batches of cupcakes I've made have been chocolate, I really wanted something lighter. The result -- Bailey's Mint Chocolate Irish Cream Cupcakes with chocolate chips and a Mint Cream Cheese Frosting. Say that three times fast! It ended up being a real flavor explosion. The only thing was that I had to make the batter a little denser than normal because I wanted the chocolate chips to float in it. So not my typical light, fluffy airy cupcakes. . . instead it was more like a pound cake and rather filling. But with the mint frosting, I think they made a really good combination. I am not usually a fan of chocolate chips in things, but I think these worked really well.

As for the green tea cupcakes. Well, there were definately some issues there. For starters, the recipe called for matcha powder, which is basically the green tea powder. The problem with that is that the local health food stores carries it for $42.50 per ounce! Yes that's right! And since the recipe required about an ounce, they would've been the most expensive cupcakes I've ever made and eaten in my life! And what if I ruined them, then that would be $50 down the drain. Well, either way, I wasn't going to be $43 worth of green tea, that's probably more expensive than coke (not that I would know of course). So I decided on a considerably cheaper substitute - sensha powder, which is another type of green tea, except it's sold at the commissary for 2.95 a box and is marketed as Iced Green Tea powder. I think taste wise, it was a worthy substitute. Unfortunately, the batter didn't take on the hue of green that I would've gotten with the matcha powder, which is much darker. It was barely discernable as being green. But that was nothing compared with the fact that I forgot an EXTREMELY important ingredient. In the past, I have told friends on more than one occasion that you cannot bake without baking powder or baking soda. I wish I had told myself that before I put my green tea cupcakes in the oven. It wasn't until I was cleaning up that I realized that I'd forgotten a key ingredient, and that's why my cupcakes looked exactly the same as they did when I put them in the oven. Good thing I didn't spend $43 on that matcha powder. . . I really would've been crying then! Luckily, the batter was enough to make two batches, so I was able to fix the rest of the batter and the second batch of cupcakes turned out perfectly risen. I topped them off with whipped cream, and they reminded me of mini green tea lattes! And I could almost say that because they're green tea, they're good for you!


Barista said...

I love your blog, and LOVE your cupcakes! I'm a cupcake fanatic myself, but mine don't come out nearly as pretty as I must ask - what do you use to decorate them? I bought a Wilton cake decorating kit, but the tips just weren't good enough.

crystalcav said...

Barista - Thanks for the praises. Oddly enough, I use the Wilton cake decorating kit as well. I usually use the 21 star tip to make the pretty frosting. Good luck with your cupcake adventures!

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