I love, love, love St. Patrick’s Day. Partly because at this time of year, I love, love, love being an Irish-American. I also love being a German-American, a Dutch-American, a British-American and even part Native American, but today we’re focusing on the Irish bit.
Most Americans in general, and Irish Americans in particular, know how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Until relatively recently, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a religious feast day marked mainly by attending church, with maybe a small parade or festival thrown in for good measure. But on this side of the pond, it’s a whole other story.
Here in the States, we love to celebrate St Patty’s Day. We start by rummaging through our closets and donning every bit of green clothing we own, no matter the shade. Extra points are given if the item is also covered with shamrocks. Gold Claddagh rings, bracelets and earrings are pulled out from the back of the jewelry box. We attend parades and parties and pub crawls. We drink copious amounts of beer, sometimes green beer but preferably Irish beer, and ideally Black and Tans – Guinness and Harp combined in a pint of brewed perfection. We enjoy “traditional” Irish fare such as corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread and even Irish potatoes (which are not only NOT Irish, they’re not even potatoes….but quite tasty, nonetheless.) Irish coffee, spiked with a little Irish whiskey and topped with clouds of whipped cream is the order of the day, as is its sweeter cousin, Bailey’s Irish coffee. We pull out our U2, Dropkick Murphys and Cranberries CDs and maybe visit iTunes for some classic Dubliners or The Chieftains. (Roger Daltry & The Chieftains doing Behind Blue Eyes is one of my all time favorites.) Our Dads and Grandpas might wipe away a tear or two while listening to a particularly maudlin rendition of Oh Danny Boy. If the luck o’ the Irish is with us, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday or Saturday. If not, a higher than average number of sick days are taken the day after by those stricken with the “Irish Flu”.
And so it goes from year to year and generation to generation, that truly wonderful way we have here in the States of celebrating the customs of our different heritages and the cultures from whence they came while at the same time making them uniquely American.
No surprise then, that to this Irish American girl, the only thing better than a cupcake is a cupcake with a wee bit of the juice added in – like this scrumptious Nutty Irishman. A light, Frangelico-infused chocolate cupcake topped with fluffy Irish Cream buttercream frosting. Sure, Frangelico is an Italian liqueur, but some say the blessed Saint himself was born of Roman citizens, so what a perfect combination to celebrate his feast day. Easy enough to make, it starts with a boxed mix, and even easier to enjoy. Slainte!
1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
3/4 cup Frangelico
1/2 cup water
1/2 vegetable oil
Prepare cupcakes according to the box directions, but substitute some of the water with the Frangelico. Bake as directed for 18-22 minutes. Cool.
IRISH CREAM BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
1 cup butter, room temperature
3 – 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
4 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur
pinch of salt
1/3 cup hazelnuts
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast hazelnuts in shallow baking pan for approximately 10 minutes. Remove to clean kitchen towel, and gently rub hazelnuts together until the skins come off. When cool, coarsely chop and set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar, at low speed until combined. Add Irish Cream and salt and beat at high speed, adding more sugar or Irish Cream as needed, until desired consistency is reached.
Frost as desired and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.