Thursday, March 14, 2013

Leprechaun Treats!

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day….A day filled with people wearing green, leprechauns, and people trying to force you to eat corned beef and cabbage.  Now I actually enjoy corned beef and cabbage…..but I think that the majority of people out there don’t.  If they did, wouldn’t they eat it more than once a year?  Wouldn’t it be a staple of our American diet?  You can’t find it in most restaurants, and it is nearly impossible to find a corned beef at a grocery store if it isn’t March.  All signs point to it not being very popular.  Yet every March 17th, people all over America throw a corned beef in their slow cooker and serve it to their family.  The funniest part about all of this?  The Irish don’t even really think of corned beef as a typical “Irish” food.  They usually just serve it to tourists.

My family claims to not like corned beef and cabbage.  Since, like I said above, I enjoy it….I have been searching for ways to serve it to my family in a way they would enjoy.  Well folks, I hit the nail on the head with this recipe.  I created a “Luck ‘o The Irish” Mac and Cheese that has corned beef, cabbage, Irish cheddar and a few other star ingredients.  It is a hit with my family…and yes, they actually ask for it all year long.

We all know what corned beef is, right?  We don’t need a history lesson?  Well for those that maybe live under a rock, corned beef is a salt cured beef.  It is a brisket, so it has to be cooked low and slow.  I have a fabulous recipe for corned beef that I will give you at the end of this….but the easiest way to get corned beef for my mac and cheese?  Go to your deli and ask for some, and have the deli person slice it thick, like ½ an inch thick.  They will do that for you.  Throw them a little wink if necessary.

I also use plain green cabbage in this recipe, about ½ a head.  Just plain green cabbage, which is one of the cheapest things in your grocery store.

So that takes care of the corned beef and cabbage part of this recipe….let me walk you through how I make it.

Let’s start with the sauce.  I start by making a roux out of butter and flour.  Then, I whisk in some milk.  Once the sauce is thickened, I stir in a good strong Irish cheddar cheese.  Your grocery store should have a few choices, it is pretty main stream.  I also whisk in some spicy brown mustard.  This sauce can sit on the back of your stove over low heat while you prepare the rest of the mac and cheese.

I boil about a pound of macaroni noodles for this recipe.  You can use whatever cut of noodle you want….I am a rationalist.  Once the macaroni is cooked and drained….toss it in a big bowl and let it wait for the remaining ingredients.

Ok, so we have sauce and noodles…we still need cabbage!  I shred my ½ a head of cabbage and then sauté it quickly in butter, salt and pepper.  Then, I add that to the macaroni.

Finally, I dice up my corned beef, about three cups worth.  I add this to the macaroni and cabbage.  Then, I pour the sauce over the macaroni and mix.  This whole mixture gets poured into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  But it isn’t done yet!  I top the whole thing with rye bread crumbs.  Rye goes well with corned beef, right?  At least on a Rueben sandwich it does.  You won’t find rye bread crumbs at your grocery store.  The easiest way to make some is to toast a few slices of rye bread, and then throw them in your food processor.  These crumbs give the mac and cheese a wonderfully crunchy top.

Ok, so this whole thing bakes for about thirty minutes.  The mac and cheese will meld together and get all gooey and delicious.  It is like a work of art.


Did I mention this is a fabulous way to use up St. Patrick’s Day leftovers?  Well, it is.

After a yummy dinner like that, you still need dessert!  Now this dessert recipe won’t appeal to the kiddos…go buy them a Shamrock Shake.  But, if you are cooking for adults, I have got the recipe for you.  I am going to show you how to make a flourless chocolate cake topped with an Irish Cream sauce.  It is amazing.  So amazing that I dream about it sometimes.

A flourless chocolate cake means just that.  This baby doesn’t have any flour in it.  This means that it comes out like a giant gooey brownie.  It is soft and almost seems not quite done in the center, but that is just how I like it……gooey chocolate goodness.

I start by buttering a spring form pan.  Then, I dust the whole thing with cocoa powder.  Flour would turn the cake a weird color.  Oh yea, I also preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

I use a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips for this recipe.  I toss the chips in a large bowl with some butter, salt and espresso powder.  Then, I microwave the whole thing until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Then, I set it aside to cool slightly.

In the meantime, I beat together sugar and eggs with my hand mixer.  You can use a standing mixer too and that will shave some time off of this.  If you are kicking it old school with a hand mixer, be prepared to beat this for about six minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Once the egg mixture is thoroughly beat, fold the chocolate slowly into the eggs.  It will take a minute, but it will blend.  Then, pour the whole thing into your spring form.

This will bake for about an hour.  It won’t look quite set in the middle, but don’t worry, it is done.  This cake needs to cool for about a half hour before you cut it.  Seriously….find something to take your mind off of it because you really do need to wait.

Now for the best part…the glaze!  I pour some good Irish whiskey into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.  This cooks the alcohol off.  Then, I pour in a can of sweetened condensed milk and let that simmer together for a few minutes.  This sauce will be thick, rich and so, so good.  I let it cool to almost room temperature before I pour it over the cake so it doesn’t immediately soak in and disappear.  That’s fine if it does, but I like for the glaze to show a little bit.


This looks crazy good, right?  It is.  It is so rich and chocolaty that just a small piece will do.  Or you might still eat the whole cake.  Tell your family a leprechaun ate it.

Flourless Espresso Chocolate Cake with an Irish Cream Glaze

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 tablespoons (1 & ½ sticks) butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing pan

1 tablespoon espresso powder

¼ teaspoon salt

6 eggs

1 & ½ cups sugar

Cocoa powder for dusting pan

½ cup Irish whiskey

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 x 2 spring form pan with butter. Coat entire pan with cocoa powder.

Place chocolate chips, butter, salt and espresso powder in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 2 minutes in microwave. Stir and then heat in 30 second increments until fully melted. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool a bit.

Crack eggs into large bowl. Add sugar and beat with hand mixer for 6 minutes, until mixture in light and fluffy.

Slowly add chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Fold gently, until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for one hour, or until top is set. The middle will still be gooey.

While cake bakes, bring whiskey to boil in a small pot. Simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in condensed milk and heat through. Remove from heat and let glaze come to room temperature.

Let cake cool for at least 20 minutes before releasing sides of spring form pan. Pour glaze over the top and serve.

Serves 12.


Irish Mac and Cheese

1 box (16 ounce) elbow macaroni, cooked

3 cups corned beef, chopped

½ a medium sized head of green cabbage, shredded

¼ cup butter, plus 3 tablespoons

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

3 cups Irish Cheddar Cheese, grated

Salt and pepper

1 cup rye bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sauté shredded cabbage, in 1 tablespoon of butter, for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Melt ¼ cup butter in sauce pot, over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour. Whisk until a smooth paste is formed. Continue cooking, over medium heat, for one minute. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Cook over medium heat until sauce comes to a boil. Simmer for one minute, or until thickened. Stir in cheese and mustard. Cook, over low heat, until cheese is melted. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Mix together, in a large bowl, cooked macaroni, cooked cabbage, corned beef and sauce. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 casserole. Top with bread crumbs. Dot remaining butter over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until browned on top

Serves 8-10

Best Ever Corned Beef


One store bought corned beef with spice packet, about 3 to 4 pounds


3 cups baby carrots


1 large yellow onion, chopped


1 jar Gourmet Rooster Carolina Style BBQ Sauce


2 cups apple juice


½ cup brown sugar


Place carrots and chopped onion into slow cooker. Set beef on top of vegetables. Sprinkle over spice packet.


In a bowl, stir together BBQ sauce, apple juice and brown sugar. Pour over beef.


Cook in slow cooker for 8 hours on low.


Let meat rest before slicing. Pour cooking liquid over meat.



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