For celebrating St. Patrick's Day, there are plenty of traditional favorites to consider.
You could start with Irish smoked salmon offered with slices of buttered Irish soda bread, and for the entree, follow with a steaming pot of corned beef and cabbage accompanied by boiled potatoes. However, when it comes to dessert, the field is more open. I, for one, love creating new St. Paddy's Day confections such as a brownie fudge pie with Baileys whipped cream.
For the crust, brownie batter flavored with a hint of coffee and vanilla is poured into a pie plate and baked. When it's done, you simply cover your hands with a kitchen towel and gently push the warm baked mixture into the shape of a pie shell. Once cooled, the shell is filled with a celestial combination of whipped cream, mascarpone and Baileys Irish Cream.
Extra rich and indulgent, this special-occasion tart, which can be made a day ahead, yields 8 slices. If you really want to gild the lily (or the shamrock, in this case), you could serve the pie with glasses of Irish coffee on March 17.
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Brownie fudge pie with Baileys whipped cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the pie plate
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour, plus extra for the pie plate
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1/2 cup mascarpone
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Baileys Irish Cream
1 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch pie plate. In a bowl set over but not touching a pot of simmering water, melt 4 tablespoons butter, unsweetened chocolate and instant coffee, stirring constantly, until smooth.
2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat remaining butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Stop mixer to scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula if necessary. Add eggs, one at a time, then beat in chocolate mixture, vanilla, flour and salt.
3. Pour batter into the pie plate and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and, while it's still hot, gently press down against the center of the crust and push out toward the edges to form a pie shell, protecting your fingers with a kitchen towel. Repeat the process several times, always pressing gently, until you have a shell about 1 inch deep. Cool shell completely, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
4. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add mascarpone and whip a few seconds more until mixture starts to thicken. Add Baileys Irish Cream and whip another few seconds to thicken again.
5. Using a rubber spatula, mound the whipped cream into the pie shell, making swirls with the spatula. Sprinkle chopped chocolate over top of pie. Refrigerate pie, tenting top with foil, at least 3 hours or overnight.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 540 calories, 41 grams fat, 39 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 155 milligrams cholesterol, 126 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 67 percent of calories from fat.