Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bailey's Irish Tower

May your cake rise up to meet you...

Castle in Ireland?  Nah.  My stone patio.

Well, I made it. I met my personal deadline to put out a St. Patrick's Day-worthy dessert today.  I'm not calling it perfect, but I'm liking a LOT of things about it.  I pulled out some old (easy) favorites and combined them with some new and experimental features.

Everyone is doing shamrocks.  I just can't do it, guys.  I wanted my dessert to reflect what I think of as Ireland.  A little stout.  A little rustic.  Simple, rich, and a touch of mystic.  Sometimes NOT for children.  And so, you have:

The Bailey's Irish Tower

Bailey's Irish Cream Cake + Spring Strawberry Filling + Irish Buttercream +
Gilded Chocolate Coin

I've been making the cake now for at least 5 years that I can remember, probably longer.  I love the recipe for this type of application because it's really simple, it uses a lot of shortcuts, and you can use it straight (say, a bundt cake dusted with powdered sugar) or in something a wee bit dandy, don't ya know.  For the purists, I apologize.  This cake starts with a box.  I make the rules here, so box is ok this time.  I could have covered this cake in ganache before stacking it, but that's not the Ireland I was going for today.  I wanted the craggy exposed cake edges - the cliff of my tower, if you will.

The strawberry filling is your basic alchemy of pulling out last spring's frozen berries from the freezer, thawing them, pureeing and boiling with a bit of sugar and cornstarch.  That's it.  Seriously.  But I must tell you, berries and Bailey's are an unbeatable combination.  The simple filling plays a huge role here, folks.

The buttercream.  Well, it's not buttercream, but it's better.  I looked to one of Ina Garten's awesome recipes for Mocha Icebox Cake and changed things up to my specifications.  I really didn't want to add coffee to this, although I think you could.  I'd rather be drinking it along side what I've done here.  And I shall.

The gilded coin?  This has been in my head since I started planning this post.  Thanks to a lovely lady in Quebec named Lili, I was able to obtain the darling "Celtic knot" mold and brainstorm how to use it.  She's been so helpful to me that I'd like to give her a mention here.  If you are interested in her molds and how to use them, drop by and see what she's got!  I'll give you a quick peek here, too.

It starts here:  use your favorite brand, but I cannot deny Bailey's Irish Cream.

The countryside in Ireland?  Nah.  My backyard.
The cake.  I've had this recipe so long, forgive me if I cannot remember where it came from.  Likely the internet, early 2000's.

18 1/4 oz pkg yellow cake mix
4 oz instant chocolate pudding
3/4 c oil
1/8 c water
1/4 c vodka
3/8 c Bailey's Irish Cream
4 eggs.

Throw it all together in your mixer and beat till smooth.  Today I poured it into a greased & floured jellyroll pan and baked it at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  You could do cupcakes, a bundt, the possibilities are endless.  Let it cool.  Wanna build a tower?  Cut out into circles (or shamrocks if you're obvious.)

The Strawberry Filling Simple.  Don't use nasty frozen berries.  It matters.

10 oz frozen strawberries, thawed
1/4 c sugar
1 T cornstarch

Puree the berries and heat them in a small saucepan with sugar and cornstarch until just boiling, stirring constantly.  This mixture should thicken quickly. Let it cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

Irish Whipped Cream  My husband tasted this and was speechless.  If you know him, you understand the importance of that statement.

2 c cold heavy cream
12 oz Italian Mascarpone cheese (OK, OK the Irish don't make anything close, sorry)
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c Bailey's Irish Cream
2 T unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, combine all of the above on low speed, then slowly raise the speed until it forms stiff peaks.  Then stand back and be a goddess.

Gilded Chocolate Coins  I love this little mold from Lili.  I really do.
Mine is yellow.  So many possibilities!
 I was going to temper some chocolate and make coins that way, but with one little mold at a time?  Nah.  I chatted with Lili and she agreed modelling chocolate would not only work, but work well.  Thanks, Lili!

8 oz dark chocolate
3 1/2 oz corn syrup
cocoa powder for dusting/anti-sticking

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or double boiler as usual.  Cool till it's feels cool but it's still fluid.  Heat the corn syrup JUST until it starts to boil. Add the heated corn syrup to the melted chocolate and mix with a rubber spatula until it forms a smooth paste.  It comes together, really it does!  Like a sticky dough.  Wrap in  plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour until it's firm.

It will feel like a ROCK but when you are ready to model, just snap off little pieces and knead a bit with hands and fingers.  I rolled mine into balls and used a bit of cocoa powder to keep them stiff enough to release from the mold.  * I dusted the details of my mold with edible gold pearl dust using a little brush.  Then I pressed my little rolled ball into the mold and carefully released it.  The gold relief was just enough sparkle.  You could go completely crazy with this stuff.  And I will, because I have a nice big block stored in my fridge that will keep for 8 months now.  I let my coins air-dry and they stay pretty stiff but not hard or snappy at all.  I love that little bite of chocolate picking up the other cocoa notes in this tower cake.

I was all out of four-leaf clovers so I garnished with mint.

The cake as shown is one disk of cake covered in the strawberry filling, letting some ooze out over the sides.  I piped some of the cream atop to give a platform to stack the second cake disk and just piped my swirls atop and along the base.  This would NOT be the same without that lucky bit o'gold on top.

I wish you could taste this, you guys.  "What butter and whiskey won't cure, there is no cure for."

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


  1. Oh wow. I... I... there are no words! And I haven't even tasted it... YET! Looks FAB-U-LOUS!

  2. This is ridiculously gorgeous! Your every description and its perfect execution has made me fall in love! Great pictures, too!

    That KNOT - get outta town. Utterly gorgeous and sparkling. I can't wait to browse Lili's other molds.


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