Saturday, March 16, 2013

Irish Triple-Threat Cupcakes

Guinness, Jameson and Bailey’s Irish Cream – definitely a triple threat….often known as an Irish Car Bomb.  I decided to re-title this recipe though as the blog I pulled it from ended up with hundreds of comments about how offensive the name was as well as the history of car bombs in Ireland and the IRA….let’s avoid all that, alright people??  This is a cupcake recipe, and a damn good one, even if you don’t like some of those ingredients on their own.  Trust me.

If you’re wary of making these because of the alcohol, at the very least, use the chocolate cake recipe.  The Guinness provides a great depth of flavor and an extra moistness to the cake.  I’ll definitely be adding this to my basic chocolate cake recipe collection.  Here’s how you do this, with tutorial…

Ingredients (makes 24)

1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups AP flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
2 eggs
⅔ cup sour cream

Whiskey Ganache Filling:
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
⅔ cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
2 tsp Irish whiskey

Bailey’s Frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
6 Tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 tsp vanilla extract (my addition to cut the Bailey’s a little)


Preheat oven to 350º.  Line cupcake pans with 24 liners.  Bring Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.  Turn off heat and let cool slightly.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl to combine.  Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed in a large bowl until combined.  Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture (slowly to temper the eggs if chocolate is still warm).  On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat briefly, then use a rubber scraper and fold the batter until totally combined.  Divide among cupcake liners and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 17 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Whiskey Ganache Filling:
Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heat-proof bowl.  Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate.  Let it sit for a minute, then using a rubber scraper, slowly stir until smooth.  Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.  Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.

Bailey’s Frosting:
Using the whisk attachment of a mixer, whip the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Reduce speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated.  Add the Bailey’s and vanilla (if using) and increase the speed to medium-high, whipping for another 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.

And the How To….

Step 1:  Cut a hole in a box.  HA – kidding!  But really, using a 1 inch cookie cutter (or paring knife if my case) cut out the center of the cupcake, going about two-thirds down into it.

Step 2:  Fill a piping bag with the ganache and using a regular round tip, pipe the ganache into the cupcakes, filling just to the top.

Step 3:  Using a piping bag with a decorating tip or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes with the Bailey’s mixture and decorate, if desired.

Then dive in and enjoy!  This was my first experience with filled cupcakes and it was super easy.  It may be my new thing…

Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review: Daikaya - Chinatown/Penn Quarter DC

Awesome metal facade.
Aaaannnd shocking, another ramen shop has opened in DC, and lucky me, this time it’s in my neighborhood.  In fact, I look out my apartment window at their rooftop, and that’s dangerous because this place is good.

The décor is kind of nondescript.  There isn’t much on the walls, as you can see from the picture.  The lights are bright – they are basically just bulbs hanging from red string. Funky, for sure, but I tend to like a little ambient lighting…a dimmer switch might be nice.  As for the seating – there are two regular sized booths and two large communal tables.  The bar (ramen bar, not alcohol bar) seated 11 people the night I was there.  Japanese ramen places are typically quite small from what I’ve read, so this is technically on the large side.

View from the ramen bar.
The service was great. We were told there was a 30-45 minute wait so they took our phone number.  We went next door to Graffiato for a drink and sure enough, we had barely finished one drink when we got our call.  We were seated up at the bar, which was actually great for me.  It allowed me to watch the cooking process and ask questions of both our waiter and the chef, who was standing watch over the kitchen. 

But on to the food.  We started with dumplings for an appetizer.  They only have one option – pork – which is fine for me, but it does alienate lots of people.  At any rate, they were pretty tasty and had a great texture.  Chewy and a little crunchy on the bottom, with well seasoned filling.

Daikaya offers 4 types of ramen – Shio (basic chintan style stock), Shoyu (soy), Mugi-Miso (barley miso) and Vegetarian.  I had the Shio which is the lightest of the meat-based soups.  The broth was clear and flavorful.  It had both ground pork and a slice of very tender roasted pork.  I added an egg, which was cooked perfectly with the yolk still just slightly soft.  The noodles were excellent – perfectly al dente, plentiful and very tasty.  Apparently they are shipped from Japan after being aged there for about a week.  They are frozen when shipped, but then aged for about another week once they arrive.  The recipe is one that Chef Katsuya Fukushima developed with the noodle-maker specifically for Daikaya, and that has paid off, they’re truly delicious.  My only gripe is that I could have used a little heat.  They have chili oil available and I used some of that, but it didn’t seem to do too much – maybe I just didn’t use enough.  That’s obviously a minor gripe though, and simply due to my personal preference.  Other than that, it’s damn good.

Cooked to order noodles.

Here’s the final breakdown:
  • The service was great, but I didn’t love the ambience.  I didn’t see the upstairs though, which was not yet open but will serve drinks and izakaya snacks.
  • No bar, at least as of now.  Beer and cold sake are the only alcohol options.  One of my dining companions was very excited about the soda in a can, however...
  • The seating consists of stools, both at the bar and the tables (though I can’t remember if the two smaller tables are legit booths with benches or also have stools).  The bar seats did offer ample hooks under the bar so coats and purses were out of the way – bonus points!  No idea if hooks exist at the communal tables.
  • They offer a totally vegan broth based option! And there is no shellfish in the restaurant – more bonus points for those allergy ridden folks like myself.
  • The ramen prices are in line with the competitors – Toki is $11-$12 while Sakuramen is $11-$15.  Taan’s range from $12-$15.  Daikaya sits at $11.50-$12.75.  They have several extras to add, from noodles, to nori, to egg.  Prices for extras range from $0.50-$2.50.
Would I go back?  Definitely.  The ramen was great, and I want to try the izakaya offerings upstairs when that is available.  Final judgment:  I’d say Toki #1, Daikaya #2, Sakuramen #3 and Taan #4.  Toki remains at #1 only because I have a slight preference for the richer broth, but they are completely different styles so both are most certainly worth trying – again and again and again.  Go!

And check out this great article about the chef:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies - Baking GALS Round 18

Just when I was starting to think I could no longer be WOWed by a cookie (other than all those crazy novelty cookies with Oreos/Snickers/etc. hidden inside), I discovered this recipe.  I’ve eaten white chocolate macadamia cookies before, but believe it or not, I don’t think I’ve ever even had a macadamia nut in my own kitchen – ever.  I needed a new cookie to send to the guys this month and since this one is new to me, it was getting its turn. 

I allllmost made this recipe as is – just one minor tweak.  I’m still not sold on coconut so I omitted the coconut extract and subbed in more vanilla.  Do what you like though.  I’ll tell ya, I could have stood there with a spoon and eaten this dough straight out of the bowl, and that’s not usually my M.O.  I can take a bite or two of chocolate chip cookie dough, but then it gets to be too much.  I had to get these baked ASAP (not to mention take a guilt trip down to the gym for a 45 minute run while the dough was chilling) in order to avert diet disaster.  Why do these ingredients work so well together?  I guess it’s the creaminess of both, if a nut can be creamy (no comments please), not to mention the couple sticks of butter in the dough.  Whatever it is, it makes these freakin’ awesome.  Definitely give them a try, and good luck actually getting them into the oven – though I promise, they have two sweet spots: 1) dough form, and 2) approximately 6-7 minutes post oven-removal, trust me.

Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats (


3 cups AP Flour
1 tsp coarse salt
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp coconut extract (optional)

12 oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ½ cups macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped


Whisk together the first four ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. 

Combine the butter and sugars and beat in stand mixer or by hand until smooth and just combined - couple minutes (I have a hand mixer and I found that mixing these with a pastry blender first, then beating, helped tremendously).  Beat in the eggs one at a time just until incorporated.  Blend in the vanilla and coconut, if using.

With mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients slowly, just until combined.  Fold in the white chocolate and macadamia nuts with a spatula.  This dough is chock full of chocolate and nuts, I promise, it’s not too much!

Cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350º.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll a scant ½ cup of dough into a ball.  Holding dough in fingertips of both hands, pull apart and rotate 90 degrees then place jagged side up on the baking sheet.  **This is supposed to improve the appearance of the cookies when baked, but I just used my large cookie scoop and scooped dough directly onto the sheets – as you can see in the picture, they turned out fine.**

Bake the cookies, rotating halfway through, until golden and just set – about 14-16 minutes.  Let cool on the cookie sheets for about 2-3 minutes then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.