Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

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It’s been many moons since I’ve had an Irish car bomb, but whenever St. Patrick’s Day rolls around I find myself thinking about that delicious, milkshake-like drink. To honor the patron saint of beer I whipped up some cupcakes that incorporate all the boozy components of the quintessential St. Paddy’s drink…without the hangover. You don’t have to slam these like the drink, but I won’t judge you if you do. They’re that good.

The traditional car bomb uses Guiness, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Jameson. Around here, we tend to buck tradition and wanted to use ingredients that were local. I used Loowit War Tortoise Barrel Aged Stout (brewed in Vancouver, WA) baked into the cupcakes, Woodinville Bourbon Whiskey (distilled in Woodinville, WA) swirled in the ganache, and Five Farms Irish Cream (not local – Cork, Ireland) whipped in the icing.

The following measurements will yield 12 cupcakes.

Chocolate Cake

My go-to chocolate cake recipe is none other than Hershey’s that I’ve adapted slightly over the years. It yields an insanely moist and flavorful cake that has yet to fail me. For this version, I swapped beer for the coffee.

  • 1.5 oz dark chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup stout of your choosing
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk – I use 1/2 C milk with a tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder – can use regular cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare muffin tin.

Place chocolate chips and beer in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals until chocolate is melted. Whisk together until smooth.

In a medium bowl or measuring cup, mix together buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, gradually pour in the milk mixture and mix until combined (~30 seconds). Slowly add the chocolate and beer mixture until combined.

Divide mixture evenly in the muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Ganache

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) dark chocolate chips – or your favorite kind of chocolate
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons whiskey – can add more or less depending on your desired booziness

Heat heavy whipping cream in microwave-safe dish until hot but not boiling (~45 seconds – 1 minute). Add chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes. Gently stir the mixture until smooth. Add whiskey and mix to combine. Allow ganache to cool; it will thicken as it cools and you may want to put it in the fridge or freezer to speed up the process.

Irish Cream Frosting

  • 1 cup of butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup Irish cream

In large bowl or stand mixer, cream butter on high until light and fluffy (~5 minutes). Slowly add powdered sugar in 1/4 cup increments allowing mixture to combine before adding more (this helps decrease the graininess you sometimes get with American buttercreams). Once all the sugar has been added, pour in the Irish cream and continue whipping until light and fluffy (~3-4 minutes).

Assembly

Once cupcakes are cooled, use a knife to cut a small hole in the top of each cupcake. Spoon a generous amount of ganache into the hole. Frost the cupcakes using your favorite method (I used a Wilton 1M tip).

 

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

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Around mid-February, when it feels like the winter will never end, I get a craving for all things fresh, bright, and summery. Enter the lemon poppy seed pound cake. This bread is moist and bursting with lemon flavor. The poppy seeds add a fun texture and the glaze adds an extra punch of lemon. It’s perfect for breakfast, a mid-morning snack, or any time you’re craving a sweet treat. As always, we love ours paired with a good cup of coffee.

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Lemon poppy seed pound cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 1/2 large lemons (~2 tablespoons)
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (~1/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk – we typically use 1/4 milk and add white vinegar until it equals 1/c cup (~1 tablespoon) as a substitute

Preheat oven to 325 F and grease and flour an 8″x4″ bread pan.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine softened butter and sugar and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy (~3-4 minutes).

Mix in eggs one at a time until just combined. Then mix in vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Alternate adding in half the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk, scraping down the sides of the bowl before adding in the remaining. Do not over-mix.

Pour batter in prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

Lemon Glaze

  • Juice of 1/2 large lemon (~2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Add additional juice or sugar as needed to achieve the desired consistency. I also added some lemon zest, because you can’t have too much lemon flavor.

Once cake is cooled, drizzle glaze over the top.

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Portland Urban Hikes

Whenever we don’t feel like packing up the car and driving to the mountains, we explore neighborhoods around town and call it urban hiking.

Mt. Tabor

Mt. Tabor is a park on a dormant volcano located in Southeast Portland. We venture over here every once in a while to walk around the trails and let the dog run around. There are about 5 miles of trails throughout the park and plenty of green space. Cars are only allowed in the lower area of the park and aren’t allowed at all on Wednesdays, so it’s the perfect place to go for a relaxing walk. On a clear day, you get a beautiful view of Mt. Hood from the top of the park.

North Portland

We initially planned to walk across the St. John’s Bridge and hike some of the northern trails in Forest Park. We made it about halfway across the bridge before deciding that we’d actually rather walk around the neighborhood since it’s a place we’ve never been before. The bridge itself is a gorgeous piece of architecture, and the area around it was surprisingly lively. We were right near Cathedral Park, which is nestled in an old industrial area of the city right on the Willamette River. The park got its name from the Gothic arches supporting the bridge. We walked along the beach and Snickers had a blast running in the sand and wading in the water. We ended up walking around abandoned warehouses and an eco-industrial space called Green Anchors.

Washington Park

Washington Park is another large green space in Northwest Portland. We walk here often from our apartment and wander through the neighborhoods on our way to and from. There are amazing houses in the Goose Hollow neighborhood, and you can’t beat an ice cream cone from Salt and Straw in the Alphabet District. Washington Park is also home to the arboretum, the Oregon Zoo, and the International Rose Test Garden to name a few attractions. We haven’t explored the whole park, but we like walking along the trails and through the gardens.

Hoyt Arboretum and Pittock Mansion

At the northwest end of Washington Park lies the Hoyt Arboretum – 190 acres of trees and gardens with 12 miles of trails winding throughout. Portland got a dusting of snow in early February, and we headed here on a Sunday morning while there was still snow on the ground. There are plenty of well-marked trails throughout the park, and we did the 1-hour loop (didn’t actually take us 1 hour; it was about 1 mile long) followed by a 1.5 mile hike on the Wildwood Trail up to the Pittock Mansion. The arboretum and trails were not too difficult and are a great way to get into nature without traveling outside of the city. The Pittock Mansion is a gorgeous structure that sits atop a hill with a magnificent view of downtown Portland and the mountains. It was built in 1909 and purchased by the city of Portland in the 1960s as a historic site.

January 2019 Hikes

We have not done a lot of hiking lately. Between travel and minor surgery (for the dog, she’s fine) we just haven’t gotten out of the city much. We’ve still spent a good amount of time on the trails, but they’ve been ones we’ve done many times before – a perk of living in a city surrounded by great trails. Hopefully we can get back in the swing of things in February.

Oregon Coast to Neahkahnie Mountain

In mid-January we ventured out to the coast to do a long hike. The weather ended up being perfect – it was sunny and so warm we had to keep shedding layers. The trail is a 7 mile, moderately trafficked out-and-back with an elevation gain of 2,200 ft. It is accessible from both a north and south trailhead; we started on the south side which has the steeper climb. The trail climbed 1.5 miles to the peak where we were treated to sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean before winding down to to an overlook. Even with the elevation, the trail is moderate and the view at the top makes the burning legs worth it.

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2018 Year In Review

Mostly for posterity, because thinking back I couldn’t for the life of me remember what we did January-March. We had a great year and are excited to see what 2019 has in store.

January

We don’t have many photos from early in the year. We spent the first few months in Louisville, and January was marked with some snowy walks and finishing up the garage (I think we finished the siding at this point and were able to park inside!).

February

Matt ran the electric to the garage and learned a new skill in the process. We went on a trip to Hawaii, and even though it was rainy we did some amazing hikes, ate way too much poke, and tried stand up paddleboard yoga for the first time!

March

In March we: had a fire, it snowed a bit, we crashed a wedding, and drove across the country (again)!

April

We spent April in Phoenix and enjoyed the warm weather. We visited Petrified Forest National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Sedona. Ralph and Jan came to visit. We did some desert hikes and spent some time hanging out with friends.

May

We moved to Utah, I got a new job, we spent a lot of time at the pool, and we did a lot of mountain hikes. Looking back at these pictures I forgot how green Utah was in the spring; by the time we left in September it was completely brown.

June

We spent more time at the pool and exploring Salt Lake City. We hit up some new breweries. Matt turned 33! We hiked some more. Beth and Casey came to visit and we went to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. And we went to a professional rugby match.

July

I started training for a 50K. Ralph and Jan came to visit and we took a trip to Moab to see Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. We did lots of hiking including our first sunset hike on Antelope Island. Matt went to Vegas for the first time and I went to Boston. I turned 32.

August

More hiking and running in August. Matt went to Canada. The weather got really hot. We spent more time at the pool. I ran my first marathon distance in Park City and saw some moose on the trail.

September

We did more running and hiking and tried to keep cool (the Utah summer was HOT). We went to Wyoming to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We went to the Utah State Fair. I started another new job. We moved to Boise for a few weeks.

October

We moved to Portland. I ran the Elk-Kings 50K. We did some hikes and watched the leaves turn. We went to a Timbers game.

November

We slowed down a little this month. Fewer hikes and fewer runs. We settled into our apartment. Beth and Casey came to visit and we drove down to San Francisco to visit Heidi and Brian. We had some good coffee and payed virtual reality games. We stopped at Crater Lake National Park, but it was closed due to snow. We went to a holiday beer festival in downtown Portland.

December

Heidi came to visit/dog sit and we tried some delicious food and drinks. We hiked a little, it rained a lot. And we celebrated the holidays in a very low-key way with just the three of us.

Recent Bakes

Just a couple of photos of some things I whipped up recently.

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Christmas cookies. I love making sugar cookies – the decorating is actually really cathartic to me – and I like to change it up and do some new designs every year. Matt requested the jumping reindeer this year, and they were my favorite!

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Vegan meringues. This was on a bit of whim, but I roasted some chickpeas and wanted to see what I could make from the leftover brine. It whipped up with a bit of sugar into a fluffy, marshmallowy meringue that baked into a delightfully crunchy, chewy cookie. I slightly overbaked them, but we had them as part of a pavlova (not vegan) with whipped cream, cranberry curd, and berries and it wasn’t noticeable.

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Girl Scout Cookie samoa cake. Matt requested a cake, and when I came across this recipe I knew it was a winner. I used my classic chocolate cake recipe and layered it with: dark chocolate ganache, shortbread cookie crumbs, shortbread cookie buttercream, and toasted coconut caramel. It was decadent!