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Published March 08, 2013, 11:40 PM

VIDEO: Spirited sweets: St. Patrick’s Day treats get a kick

FARGO - From chocolate stout cupcakes to fruity sorbet topped with sparkling wine, desserts that marry spirits and sugar solve the dilemma of drink or dessert. Kristina Lau and Andrea Chang of Bakeology, known for the cupcakes at Unglued, occasionally bake with booze and shared some tips for cooking with it.

By: Anna G. Larson, INFORUM

FARGO - From chocolate stout cupcakes to fruity sorbet topped with sparkling wine, desserts that marry spirits and sugar solve the dilemma of drink or dessert.

Kristina Lau and Andrea Chang of Bakeology, known for the cupcakes at Unglued, occasionally bake with booze and shared some tips for cooking with it.

They plan to release special St. Patrick’s Day-inspired cupcakes next week.

• Alcohol often dissipates when baked, so in order to get the flavor to come through, you can brush the alcohol/liquor of your choice on top of cakes and cupcakes with a pastry brush.

• Another way to incorporate alcohol into baked goods is to infuse frostings or fillings with a reduction in order to get the flavor without compromising the final product.

To reduce alcohol, boil it in a saucepan or microwave it until you are left with half the amount of liquid you started with.

• A fun way to top off cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day is using edible gold leaf (available on Amazon).

It looks especially wonderful on top of chocolate desserts. Use a small dry paint brush to pick up a piece of gold leaf, and then gently apply it to the frosting or glaze.

David Lieberman’s Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

Note: Stout adds complexity and depth to the chocolate batter, and the alcohol cooks off in the baking process. Different stouts produce different flavors.

Ingredients

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch fine salt

1 12 ounce bottle stout beer

1 stick butter, melted

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

¾ cup sour cream

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature

1 stick of butter, at room temperature

2-4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-3 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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 three-fourths full.

Bake for about 12 minutes and rotate the pans. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until nicely domed and set in the middle. Cool before frosting.

Frosting

In a medium bowl with a mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the butter and mix until it’s a homogenous mixture.

On low speed, slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth. Add more sugar for a thicker, sweeter frosting.

Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Slowly add cream until frosting is at desired consistency.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Icing can be made several hours ahead and kept covered and chilled.

Source: Adapted from the Food Network

Champagne Floats

Note: This dessert is only for adults, but swapping soda water for sparkling wine makes it kid-friendly.

Ingredients

Homemade or store-bought fruit sorbet (Talenti’s Roman Raspberry sorbet works well for this.)

A bottle of sparkling wine or champagne

Julienned basil or mint (optional)

Directions

Chill the serving dishes for at least five minutes.

Scoop the sorbet into the dishes and top with a few splashes of sparkling wine or champagne.

Sprinkle the basil or mint on top. Serve immediately.

Adapted from MarthaStewart.com

Irish Cream Crème Brulee

Makes six individual servings.

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

6 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons Irish cream (such as Bailey’s)

Superfine sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place six ramekins on a towel set in a roasting pan that is at least 3 inches deep.

Stir together cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook until very hot, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Whisk together egg yolks, vanilla and Irish cream until combined. Slowly add one-third of the hot cream, whisking it in 2 tablespoons at a time until incorporated.

Once you have incorporated a third of the cream, you can stir in the remaining hot cream without the mixture curdling.

Pour custard into the ramekins, then fill roasting pan with boiling hot water that comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake in preheated oven until set, 50 to 60 minutes.

Once the custard has set, place ramekins on a wire rack, and allow them to cool to room temperature, about an hour.

Cover and refrigerate the custard until cold, about 4 hours. Custards may remain refrigerated until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, unwrap the custards, and sprinkle about one teaspoon of superfine sugar onto each. Gently shake the custards so the sugar coats the entire top surface, then tip the custards to a 45 degree angle and shake off excess sugar.

Using a chef’s torch (sold at cooking supply stores), melt the sugar by making short passes over top of the custards with the flame not quite touching.

Continue melting the sugar until it turns deep brown. Once the sugar has melted and turned to caramel, the cold custard underneath will harden the sugar into a crispy crust. Serve immediately.

Alternatively, the sugar-dusted custards may be browned underneath the broiler in the oven.

Source: AllRecipes.com

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525.

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