St. Patrick's Day is one of the peculiar holidays celebrated in America that gives us all, regardless of our descent, permission to pretend that we are part of a culture that we otherwise would have little to do with.
Reveling in the pomp and circumstance of others' traditions is far from uncommon in this melting pot. We are decidedly indiscriminate about our will to enjoy a good time.
St. Patrick's Day, however, seems to steal the pot of gold in this category.
Wear green or get pinched. Nosh on corned beef and cabbage, and wash it down with a green beer. No wonder the Irish holiday has been claimed by the masses -- it's fun!
For those of you who are legitimately Irish, thank you for sharing with the rest of us.
Your history is rich, interesting and indicative of your determination and spirit.
You've given us good reason to celebrate, and, obviously, every pub and bar in America is taking full advantage of that.
In this character, I made some delicious Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's cream cheese icing.
Guinness is a delicious Irish stout beer with a roasted, malted barley flavor, which really brings out the intensity of the chocolate in these cupcakes.
Bailey's Irish Cream makes a delicious addition to cream cheese frosting, but it does have a bit of a kick, so if you don't want the alcohol taste, substitute heavy cream.
Amanda De Jager Friedman owns the Piano Caffe in Merced.
RECIPE: Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Cream frosting
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch fine salt
1 bottle Guinness stout beer
1 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3/4 to 1 cup Bailey's Irish cream or heavy cream
1 16-oz. box confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.
In another medium mixing bowl, combine the stout, melted butter and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at time. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.
Lightly grease 24 muffin tins. Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, slowly mix the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar. With mixer running on low, drizzle 3/4 cup Bailey's or heavy cream into the bowl until the frosting comes together. Add remaining 1/4 cup if needed.
Frost cupcakes generously. Garnish with cocoa powder, chocolate covered sunflower seeds or any of the widely available, ridiculously cheesy St. Patrick's Day sprinkles found in your local supermarkets.