I mean, really — aren’t all dinner parties “parties with benefits” in the end? You get to eat the great food AND keep the leftovers. Which is particularly nice when the leftovers include a bottle of Bailey’s. But let’s start at the beginning…
I invited my sister and her husband over for dinner last night, and presented them with the following menu options to pick from:
Can you tell I had asparagus that needed to get used up?
And the winner…
Except…oh, except…that french bread recipe did NOT work out at all. Two attempts and 12 CUPS of wasted flour later, I moved on to Plan B, which was orecchiette pasta with some homemade pesto I put in the freezer at the end of the summer. Save! I’m afraid the asparagus appetizer got eaten up before I thought to bring out my camera, which is probably the finest testimony to the success of that recipe you can get. So let’s just look at those gorgeous scallops again instead.
The salsa was great, the scallops good, and the pasta heavenly, especially in the middle of this dreary winter. I still need to refine my scallop searing technique (I found a great tutorial here that I need to reread before my next attempt). I couldn’t find satsuma oranges, so I substituted tangerines for the juice and zest, and used blood oranges for the whole segments, because, well, they’re just so gosh darn pretty to look at, don’t you think?
As for the cupcakes….they were AMAZING. And I clearly need to take a cake decorating class. Let’s recap: The recipe starts by melting two sticks of butter in Guinness. I pretty much don’t see how anything that starts like that can end badly. This eventually turns into Guinness Stout Cupcakes, which I made extra chocolatey by using an extra-dark cocoa powder. Next, you scoop out the centers (technically you should use a 1″ cookie cutter or an apple corer, but not owning either, I made do with a small melon baller). After (ahem) “disposing” of the centers, you fill it with a chocolate whiskey ganache, made with Jameson’s of course. Next up? Yup. Top it off with Bailey’s frosting. My only edit to the recipe is that it calls for 3-4 cups of confectioner’s sugar for the frosting, and I probably only got through 2 cups before the frosting hit its saturation point.
My sister thought the stout/yeasty beer flavor in the cupcakes was strong; the rest of us wanted it even stronger. The ganache filling was TO. DIE. FOR. I may or may not have eaten it by the spoonful while in the process of filling the cupcakes. The frosting was definitely on the sweet side (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”), and the Bailey’s flavor was perfect. In making these, I, of course, always went with the higher suggested amount of booze whenever it gave you an option in the recipe. And drank the leftover stout. And ate the leftover chocolate. And disposed of the cupcake centers in my stomach. And licked lots of wooden spoons and spatulas and paddles and fingers and… I’m going to change the name of my blog to “The Hygienic Chef.”
So, which menu would you pick if you were coming over to dinner? I’m pretty much dying to try them all, myself…