Every year when I was a child, my Mom would throw a great St. Patrick’s Day dinner for our extended family. We had the works…corned beef with cabbage, carrots and potatoes for dinner and Irish Coffees, these amazing chocolate-cream cheese cupcakes (recipe to follow) and, it being the late 70s-early 80s, Creme de Menthe parfaits for dessert. Parfaits really need to start making more of a comeback. As Eddie Murphy’s “Donkey” in Shrek says “Parfaits? Everybody loves parfaits!”. The Parfaits need to contact the Macarons and get their publicity people on the case. But we are getting off the track a bit. Yes, St. Patrick’s Day. Our family celebrated it heartily and loved each Celtic minute of it…AND, we weren’t (and still aren’t) a single DNA’s bit of Irish. Nope, not a drop. Maybe somewhere, along some uncharted route of the family tree we are, though, because we seem to enjoy this holiday an awful lot and we aren’t even big drinkers per se. Go figure. Or Erin Go Figure.
Being a follower of traditions and a seemingly misplaced Irishwoman, I now celebrate this holiday with my own family. We have the big dinner, the Irish coffees (even in our special handmade Irish pottery mugs that we schlepped all the way from the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland when we visited there on our honeymoon. Yes,…the Dingle Peninsula. Gorgeous, heavenly place. What a name.) and listen to Riverdancy music. God bless Irish coffee, that’s all I can say. That is truly the world’s best drink. Hot coffee, cold whipped cream, the shot of whiskey (Jameson’s, of course) and a tad of sugar to round it off. I remember when we arrived in Ireland for our honeymoon, it was very early because we had an overnight flight. Surprise, surprise, though, as they had a welcome reception for our plane. Because two of it’s cutest passengers just got hitched? Uh, no. Believe it or not, we were on the last flight ever for that plane. Yes, that plane was retiring. There’s a weird announcement from the Captain. Here we were just starting our marriage and that plane’s flying days were coming to an end…and for the entire flight across the big ol’ blue, we were hoping that it was not because of old-age issues. So…we touch down, after having made it safely to Ireland (phew) and they hand us Irish coffees as we are walking off the plane. At 7am. Talk about starting a trip off on the right note and showing some total kick-butt hospitality. Go Ireland!
So, now for these cupcakes. There really isn’t anything particularly Irish about them except for the fact that you color the cream cheese mixture green for the holiday AND it’s part of my traditional Irish meal when I was growing up. I suppose it fits, though, we weren’t really Irish and these cupcakes aren’t either. But strangely enough, it all works. This recipe is my Mom’s, that I think she got out of the Hartford Courant sometime back in the 70s. They have stood the test of time AND you can color the cream cheese any color you want to suit any holiday AND they freeze super well. That’s a good recipe. Now go crank up the Riverdance and start baking.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips
food coloring, if using (I use a few drops of green for St. Pat’s, red for Valentine’s etc)
Combine cheese, egg, sugar and salt. Beat well and then stir in the chocolate chips.
1.5 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil (canola, grapeseed, some kind of neutral tasting oil)
1 Tb. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Stir in water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Beat well. Fill cupcake tins (with cupcake liners) 1/3 full each with chocolate batter. Top each with big Tb. of cream cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.
You’re going to love these! Enjoy!
“A cabin with plenty of food is better than a hungry castle.”-Irish proverb