Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Flannery O’ Connor: just a few of those with Irish roots who helped shape and define the South. If we based Irish influence in America solely on popular culture such as film, we would limit it to Irish Catholics living in large northern cities like Boston, New York, or Philadelphia. However, the names above, along with countless Irish and Scots-Irish settlers and inhabitants, are a testimony to the vast Irish influence in the South.
In Irish in the South, 1815-1877 by David T. Gleeson and The Other Irish: the Scots-Irish Rascals Who Made America by Karen F. McCarthy, the authors provide evidence of the deep influence of Irish-Americans on Southern culture. We don’t typically associate the Irish with the South, but Irish-Americans helped define southern culture. The first wave of Irish immigration came in the eighteenth century when predominately Protestant Scots-Irish came to the English colonies. Eventually, Scots-Irish descendants would settle Appalachia and the southeastern states, leaving their mark on everything from music to literature, liquor—of the legal and less-than-legal varieties—and stock car racing.
A relatively smaller group of Irish Catholics formed concentrated communities in large northern cities, but also settled in southern cities like Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans. Irish-American culture still holds a place in the modern South. For example, Irish-Americans in Savannah and New Orleans still hold huge St. Patrick’s Day parades as a celebration of their Irish roots.
So, this St. Patrick’s Day, grab a volume of Faulkner or O’Connor and raise a glass of fine Irish whiskey, beer or stout as a toast to all that is Irish and southern. As a part of your celebration, try my Irish Coffee Cupcakes. When one of my friends first tasted them, she just bowed her head, held up her hand, and said, “I’m having a moment with these.”
It’s a moist, homemade buttermilk chocolate cake recipe topped with a rich mocha ganache. Then, a butter icing spiked with Irish whiskey makes for a perfect Irish cream finish. Have your own moment with these decadent, tipsy cupcakes that will be the perfect finish to your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
The Pie Belle’s Irish Coffee Cupcakes
Makes approximately 26 cupcakes
Chocolate Cake Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup freshly brewed coffee
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Irish whiskey (for sprinkling over baked cupcakes)
Mocha Ganache Ingredients:
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips or pieces
1/3 cup whipping cream (Look for it in a carton in the dairy section)
1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals
¼ cup butter, softened
Irish Cream Frosting Ingredients:
2 1/8 cups powdered sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup shortening
5 to 6 tablespoons Irish whiskey (depending on your preference for tipsy-ness)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add coffee, buttermilk, butter and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined. Beat on high speed (mid-high on a stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat 2 minutes more.
3. Fill cupcake liners with batter (half full).
4. Tap the pans gently on the counter several times to remove air bubbles in the batter.
5. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
6. Using a table knife, lift cupcakes out of pans and place on cooling racks. Sprinkle cupcakes lightly with Irish whiskey. Cool the cakes completely on baking racks before icing them.
1. Dissolve instant coffee in whipping cream. Let stand for 2 minutes.
2. Combine chocolate chips and coffee-whipping cream in a microwave-safe bowl.
3. Microwave on medium power 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, or until chips are melted.
4. Add butter and whisk until smooth.
5. Cool, about 5 minutes before placing in refrigerator to cool about 20 minute so it reaches a nice spreading consistency. Whisk ganache occasionally and again before spreading it upon cupcakes.
1. Dissolve instant coffee in whipping cream. Let stand 2 minutes.
2. Combine chocolate chips and coffee-whipping cream in a small heavy saucepan.
3. Heat on low temperature, stirring occasionally, until chips are melted.
4. Add butter and whisk until smooth.
5. Cool as directed in microwave instructions above.
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter and shortening.
2. Begin beating ingredients (with wire whisk attachment on stand mixer), gradually adding Irish whiskey, 1 tablespoon at a time.
3. Beat frosting until light and fluffy.
To Assemble Cupcakes:
1. Spread tops of cupcakes with a generous, smooth layer of ganache.
2. Place prepared frosting in a pastry bag, fitted with decorating tip (recommended: 1M closed star tip). To make your own bag, snip the corner of a zippered food storage bag.
3. Pipe frosting in a swirl on top of ganache. Sprinkle with decorating sugars, if desired.
Layer Cake Alternative:
This recipe can be used to make an Irish Coffee Layer Cake, also. Instead of muffin tins, grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Pour the batter evenly into both pans. Tap pans gently on counter to remove any air bubbles in the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cakes, in pans, on baking racks for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes onto the racks and cool completely.
Ice the tops and sides of both layers with mocha ganache. Then, spread or pipe the Irish cream icing on the top of the cake.