Nightcap Brownies

Do you ever find yourself up in the middle of the night, tossing all work aside to mix up something delicious in the kitchen in a last-ditch effort to put a nice end to a stress-filled day and (hopefully) get some sleep? …No? Well, it seems to be happening to me more often these days, haha. On one particular night I just couldn’t take it anymore; I abandoned my desk, went down to the kitchen, and began making these brownies. I knew I needed something rich. Something sinfully chocolaty. Something strongly alcoholic.

Unfortunately (at least in times like these) I can’t drink without taking some time off work first. I’m on-call 24/7 and need to be sober enough to drive at any time. That bottle of Irish cream was screaming at me from the top of the fridge, though, so – on a whim – I dumped a generous amount of the liquor in my bowl to mix with the melted butter. I should mention that I’ve only ever baked with liquor once before and so I really have no idea if this was the appropriate time to add it, but who cares? In times like these you need a fix and fast. About 5 minutes later my hands went out of control again and before I knew it…

…yeah, those Ghirardelli jumbo chocolate chunks are not in the source recipe either. I’m pretty sure I dumped in nearly the entire bag, having only used half a cup for a previous recipe. I’m telling you, it was one of those nights…

Nightcap Brownies (adapted from The Wednesday Chef’s “The Best Brownies“)

Ingredients:

1   stick (8 T) unsalted butter

1/3   C   Irish cream liquor

1      C   sugar

¾    C   unsweetened cocoa powder

¼    t   salt

½    t   vanilla extract

2   large eggs, cold

½    C   AP flour

2     C   chocolate chunks or chips

Procedure:

  1. In a double boiler (or heat-proof bowl fitted snugly over a saucepan with about an inch of gently boiling water) melt butter with Irish cream, then add cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Continue melting until mix is smooth and warm enough that you cannot dip your figure in it for longer than a few seconds (yes, I use this as excuse to “test” my batter far more often than is appropriate). The batter will have pulled together and perhaps look a little slimy due to the alcohol, but don’t worry. Set bowl aside to allow the mixture to cool.
  2. Position an oven rack to the bottom third of oven, preheat the oven to 325°F, and line an 8- or 9″-square baking dish with parchment paper. When the batter has cooled to the point where it is warm, but no longer hot, add the vanilla and then eggs – one at a time – stirring vigorously after each. When the batter looks shiny and homogeneous add the flour, stirring only until you cannot see it any longer. At this point, beat as strongly as you can with your wooden spoon or spatula – work out that stress!! – for exactly 40 strokes. Trust me, this is magic; Luisa knows her stuff.
  3. Add chocolate chunks, fold into batter, and spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick test shows only a slight amount of moist batter (not wet) when removed. The source recipe estimates 20-25 minutes. The numerous times I’ve baked the recipe exactly according to instructions it has taken my oven about 30 minutes and with the Nightcap variation it took about 35. These are heavy brownies, baby! Patience.
  4. When brownies have finished, remove from oven and let dish cool on a wire rack. Cut and serve warm (about 15 minutes of cooling) for “lava cake” – like dessert. Cut and serve completely cooled for a thick, fudge-like brownie.

Beezer’s Notes:

These brownies were exactly what I needed that night: ungodly rich, delicious, not-to-sweet, and spiked with lovely – appropriately non-intoxicating – Irish cream. I didn’t anticipate the lava-cake-like consistency of the warm serving, but it was a wonderful surprise. I only wish I had had some vanilla ice cream to go along side. The best thing about this spontaneous midnight kitchen adventure: I was able to go to bed relaxed and sated.

The next morning I cut another brownie for breakfast (pssht, like you’ve never eaten dessert for breakfast…) and got another surprise: the Nightcap variation produced much denser brownie squares that the original recipe. Now, the original recipe is pretty dense (which is why it is my favorite, by the way) so I hadn’t thought a denser brownie was possible, but the cooled Irish cream-infused, chocolate chunk – laden brownies bordered on fudge! Again, no complaints here, and I really enjoy how I have almost two entirely different desserts in a single recipe: serve warm and you have a cake-like brownie filled with melted chocolate, serve cool and you’re biting into a thick fudge-y bar of mixed chocolate – and both with an Irish cream twist! Win, win in my opinion. Let me know what you think!

Overall Enjoyment: ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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Irish Cream Pound Cake

This cake was our second dessert involved in the St. Patty’s Day story on the Mint Chocolate Candy Cookies page. If you didn’t catch it the first time, click the link and you’ll be rewarded with a quick and easy recipe for yummy green cookies! If you just don’t care and are only interested in the Irish Cream Pound Cake (I know, doesn’t it sound amazing?) I won’t leave you hanging…


Irish Cream Pound Cake (from Andrea Meyers)

Ingredients:

For the Cake…

1 ½    C     unsalted butter, softened (3 sticks)

1    8 oz.    package of cream cheese, softened

3       C      sugar

6               large eggs

3      C       unbleached all-purpose flour

½      t       salt

¼     C       Irish cream liqueur or milk*

1 ½    t      vanilla extract

1        C      chopped pistachios (I didn’t use these since members of my family hate nuts, sad but true)

For the Glaze…

1     C     confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1     T     Irish cream liqueur

2 – 3   t   milk

*Note: Andrea suggests using Carolans Irish Cream, which I had never heard of and am now so glad that I have. It is noticeably lighter than the popular Baily’s, but has a nice honey undertone and costs about half as much!

Procedure:

  1. Set oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 325° F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add the sugar a little at a time, mixing on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low just until the yolk is no longer visible. Don’t overmix.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together flour and salt. Add 1/3 of the flour and salt to the butter mixture and mix on low, just until blended.
  5. Add vanilla and ½ of the Irish cream. Mix only until incorporated.
  6. Add 1/3 of the flour and mix until just incorporated.
  7. Add the remaining Irish cream, mix, and finally the rest of the flour. Be gentle. Don’t overmix or the cake will be tough and lose volume. You can also do this part by hand using a spatula if you wish.
  8. Gently fold in the pistachios.
  9. Pour batter into the prepared tube or loaf pan(s) and smooth the top of the batter with a spatula. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes – 1 hour 45 minutes depending on the cake pan. Use a long bamboo skewer or cake pin to test. Skewer should come out dry, but may have a few crumbs clinging.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing from pan entirely and cooling completely on the wire rack.
  11. While the cake is cooling, mix up the glaze: In the small bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar and the Irish cream. Add a little milk at a time, adding just enough to make the glaze easy to pour. Once the cake has cooled, drizzle over the cake and allow it to rest a few minutes before serving.

 

Beezer’s Notes:

There are only three letters needed to sum up this cake: W, O, and W. You will need a little patience when making this recipe, but really no talent at all – it’s just so straightforward. This cake was the hit of the party and since there is a mere tablespoon of (uncooked) alcohol involved, everyone could enjoy it. The Irish cream flavor made the pound cake seem richer and more luxurious than normal, and the icing was the perfect finishing touch. I wish I had mixed up a second batch of icing to have on hand. I know a few folks, myself included, who would have poured extra glaze on if they had had a chance. Heck, I probably would have dunked my cake directly into the liqueur itself if I hadn’t needed to drive later. 😉

Overall Enjoyment: ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

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