Friday, February 28, 2014

Baking Friday - Cookie # 2

St. Patty's Day cookies.  What to do?

Nah, I don't want to do a sugar cookie.

No, that's still essentially another sugar cookie just not cut out.

How about this idea?
Or another version of the same thing?
Nah, too close to the chocolate mint things we did at Christmas, and I'm just not ready for that flavor profile again yet.

So what about something like this?
No, that is simply too cutesie and not my style at all.

What about pistachio's for a touch of green?  I went with that idea for a while and had a pistachio biscotti and one other pistachio cookie picked out, but I wasn't sold on either one.

And then I thought of a man at work who is from England and whose mother is Irish.  This started to get me inspired.

So I asked him for a cookie that he remembered from his childhood.  He smiled and said he would have to think about it.  Before too long I got an email from him with these two cookies:

A Mikado.  Now this isn't the Mikado that is like Poky.  This is the Ireland Mikado - a shortbread cookie with raspberry jam plus 10 marshmallow puffs and coconut on top.  They look like this.
And a Kimberley, which is a mild gingerbread cookie sandwiched around marshmallow.  (Apparently Ireland likes their marshmallows!)  These look like this.  (That is sparkling sugar around the edges!)
Now I was really inspired!  So I went looking for copycat type recipes.

None.  I found none.  I could read people describing these cookies, but I couldn't find any copycats, so I decided to try my hand at replicating based on what I had read.  And while I didn't match either one of them perfectly, I at least made something that folks enjoyed.

Here were my Half-Irish friend's comments:

They look delicious.  Takes me back to my grandma's kitchen!  Many a happy vacation spent in Co. Claire, Ireland.

That was high praise already.  Those came simply from looking at the pictures.  To be reminded of your grandmother's kitchen?  I'd won.  Right then and there, I'd won.  But here is what he said after tasting each of the four options I had.

Deb, they were wonderful.  The level of ginger was spot on, very close to the actual branded ones.  My preference was definitely the ones that had the actual marshmallow versus the marshmallow creme, but I could each of bunch of either!

So I still considered these a win.  And they were gone pretty quickly at work yesterday morning!

Ready for the recipes and pics?  I will start with the Mikado, since I really don't have much of a recipe to share for these.  Also I am fairly certain my version of the Mikado was the least like the original of the two cookies I tried to replicate, but that's ok.  I don't feel badly about that at all.

I used my go to Murbteig shortbread from Helen Fletcher, but any shortbread would do.  I rolled it between two sheets of waxed paper and dropped it into a 10 x 15 jelly roll pan and spread it as evenly in thickness as I could.
Then I scored it and poked holes in it to make cutting it into bars easier later.  Remember what I've said about needing a ruler to cut?  It's obvious that I didn't use a ruler this time.  As PW says, don't be like me...
Then I set it in the freezer while I baked the Kimberley cookies.  Once those were done, I baked this at 325 for about 25 minutes.  It was just barely colored; I didn't want a full golden brown because what I had read talked about a soft shortbread texture rather than on the crispier side.  The Mikado picture looks a bit browner, no doubt, and thicker with a definite texture on the bottom side, but I wasn't sure I could replicate that, so I erred on the side of softer texture.
They cut beautifully on the scored lines after about a 5 - 7 minute cool.  You can see from the above pic that I need to work on my evenly spreading skills since I had quite a bit of variation in thickness.  I am sure you will do better!

That is where I ended on Tuesday night with these.  Before work Thursday morning, I finished these off with the raspberry jam and marshmallow ideas.  First I seeded the raspberry jam.  This isn't hard; it is just a bit time consuming.  I melted the jam and then pushed it through a fine mesh strainer.  I just didn't want the seeds to interfere with the texture.  I read online that the real Mikados use apple jelly with raspberry flavor and coloring, and I understand why.  Apples are less expensive and the seeds are much easier to deal with!  Please note - seeds on the left.  Seedless on the right.

I put the seedless results in a plastic bag, cut the corner and squeezed it on first and then smoothed it with an offset spatula.
And this is where the marshmallow dilemma came up.  I had two options.  Mini marshmallows lined up in two rows to simulate the original.  Or some of the cream cheese marshmallow filling left from J-man's birthday cake.  Which one?  Which one?

Oh bother.  Why not both?!

I toasted ever so slightly the ones with the mini marshmallows in hopes of softening them up enough so the coconut would adhere, but that didn't so much happen as planned.  The coconut adhered much better to the marshmallow creme mixture, but I should have probably put the coconut through my food processor for a few pulses to get it much smaller, similar to the coconut on the real Mikados.  But live and learn, I suppose.

Would I do these again?  Yes, I would.  They are quite tasty if you are looking for a tea time type cookie.  The tartness of the raspberry is balanced with the sweetness of the marshmallow - either way you do marshmallow.  And the shortbread is a simple but slightly sweet base for the fun going on up top.  And if you're not a coconut fan, please don't let that deter you from trying these.  There is very little coconut (at least on my interpretation) so I heard anti-coconut people saying that they actually liked the complement of the coconut, but it wasn't pronounced.

Which marshmallow option did I prefer?  I liked the marshmallow creme option on these better, but I heard positive comments both ways, so it's pretty much a personal preference.

Now for the Kimberley.  This is actually an original recipe - somewhere between a lightly spiced ginger cookie and a whoopee pie.  I made it up Tuesday night, and these were the first to go!

10 T softened butter
6 T butter flavor shortening
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. allspice
3/4 t. salt
1 egg
2 egg whites
2 T. molasses
2 T. buttermilk powder
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
3 T. cornstarch
3/4 t. baking soda
1/4 c. water
1 t. vanilla

Cream butter, shortening, sugars, baking powder and spices together until
light and fluffy.

Add egg, egg whites and molasses and mix thoroughly.

Combine buttermilk powder, flour, cornstarch and baking soda together. 
Add to creamed mixture along with water and vanilla.  Beat until combined.

Scoop onto parchment lined baking sheets to desired size.  Bake at 350 f
or about 10 to 12 minutes.

And the pics of each stage...

The butter, shortening, sugars, baking powder, spices, salt, egg, egg
whites and molasses all mixed together.

Then add the flour, buttermilk powder, cornstarch and baking soda.

And finally the water and vanilla, mixing until I had a cohesive but loose
cookie dough.

I tried scooping with my smaller cookie scoop, using the full amount,
but that made them just a bit too big for what I had in mind,
so I tried to only fill about 7/8 of the way, something like this...

These spread quite a bit, so I needed to leave a lot of space between
each one.

I packed these away in airtight containers to let them mellow and ripen
from Tuesday evening to Thursday.

Then on Thursday morning, I used both marshmallow options like the
Mikado and then sandwiched the Kimberley wannabees together.

For the record, if you have stale marshmallows around, they work
great for this, because fresh ones roll right off of the cookies, but
the sticky ones stick together and stay where they aughta!

And here they are ready to serve to my coworkers, complete with
an offering of tea. I won't say that this sets a "propa tea", but it
wasn't altogether unattractive either...

Most folks liked the Kimberley cookies better with the straight
marshmallows.  I was trying to give these a bit of height either
way, so I think I used a bit too much of the cream filling.  I think I
would actually prefer these as just a single cookie with a thin
coating of the marshmallow creme.

One friend suggested dipping in chocolate, which is another
real Kimberley option, and with the marshmallows would be
reminiscent of a snobby s'more - the only kind I'm actually interested
in, but that's a story for another day!

Again - not a speck o' green, but can these still count as St. Patrick's
Day cookies?  Please?

Thank you again for stopping by!  Hope you enjoyed learning a wee
bit about some cookies from Ireland.  I encourage you to Google or
Pintrest or Bing or whatever the cool kids do these days to research
Mikado and Kimberley cookies and try to simulate one or both, too!

I had fun and learned some things!  Always a good thing!

Deb Disclaimer - one thing I also learned that has nothing to do with cooking
and everything to do with Excel and formatting a blog - I can't paste from
Excel into this here blog format.  That is why the last half of this post looks
so odd.  I pasted the recipe from Excel into the blog and then everything
went haywire!  Please of these days I will figure this blog thing out!

See ya next week for Cake # 3!  And I have plans for green to show up then!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Happy! Happy! Birthday to J-man!

Happy!  Happy!  Birthday to J-man!

J-man is now a full 1 year old!  He has gone from this…
..and this... this...
...and this.

Could the first year go by any faster?  Not possible.

And so today it is his turn for the Top 5 Things We Love About J-man…

# 5 – His cheesy smiles.  We also love his not so cheesy smiles.
# 4 - His kisses.
# 3 – His use of tools.  Gotta get the remote someway.
# 2 – What he does for his Aunt B – how much she has grown since he came into our world.  I knew she would love him.  I just never anticipated how much.
And the # 1 Thing We Love About J-man…

# 1 – His conversation.  J-man is quite the little social guy, so when he talks to you, his tone is very conversational and he has every assumption that you have understood everything he has just said.  Which, because I’m Mimi, I do, of course.

And now for the Top 5 Things We Would Give J-man For His Birthday if Time, Money and Resources were no object…

# 5 – All the gingerbread men he could ever want!  Little ones his size, of course.

# 4 – Upside down time with Daddy.
# 3 – Refried beans.  This boy loves refried beans.  I don’t have a pic of him covered in refried beans, but if I did, you’d get an idea how much.

# 2 – More upside down time with Daddy and Aunt A and Uncle S. 

And the #1 Thing We Would Give J-Man For His Birthday if Time, Money and Resources were no object…

# 1 – Lots and lots and lots of play dates with Mimi and Grandpa G!  (Of course that is more of a gift for us than him, but that’s ok, right?)
Happy!  Happy! Birthday to J-man!  I'm glad you are getting to share cupcakes with your friends today.  You have the best lady other than Mommy to watch over you during the day in Miss L.  She is such an answer to prayer for us.  Have a wonderful day!

Mimi and G.G.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Happy! Happy! Birthday to L!

It’s L’s birthday today!  L is G’s sister.  While she may technically be G’s older sister, her heart is young and childlike, so she is perpetually playful and full of youth!
Time and circumstances are such that we haven’t gotten to spend a great deal of time together, so while I can easily come up with the Top 5 Things I Love About L Given the Short Time I have Known Her (meaning that the more time I spend with her this list could easily change) I don’t feel like I know her well enough to come up with the Top 5 Things I Would Give L if Time, Money and Resources Were No Object.  I will post 3 Things I would give her with the hope that the next time I post in honor of L, I will know that much more about her to hit some of her favorite things. 

So that is one Deb Disclaimer about this post, and here is the other.  Time and circumstances being what they are, I won’t be able to post this same sort of message to G’s other siblings, because I have spent even less time with each of them.  Sigh, alas, ‘tis true, so I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I’m trying to do this for “immediate” family members whenever I can – I just can’t always do so due to limited time getting to know each one as individuals.  But someday I hope I know each of them better!

Alright, enough with the Deb Disclaimers.  L, here are the Top 5 Things I Love About You Given the Short Time I Have Known You:

# 5 – You drive the same car as me!  I know that sounds silly, but when I saw your car for the first time (before we had actually met) and realized that our cars could have consecutive VIN numbers (if that even happens), it sorta gave me a hopeful feeling that you and I shared some of the same values and worldview.  This probably doesn’t make any sense from simply looking at someone’s car, but it’s honestly what ran through my mind. 

# 4 – Your kids.  You have raised fine, adult children, and they are delightful to spend time with and/or stay in touch with on FB.  The pride and love that I see in your eyes for your grown children and for their children is both heartwarming and genuine.  And the love and honor they return to you is equally genuine and good to behold.
# 3 – You are G’s sister. Therefore you know where all of the skeletons are buried and can tease him in ways only sisters and girl cousins get to do!  G knows this, and can’t really stop it, and as his wife, I get to just smile and enjoy the fun, good-natured squirming that ensues! 

# 2 – You remind me of my sister, J.  You both laugh and smile easily.  You are both full of love for other people.  And you are both sensitive to others’ needs.  One of these days I hope we work out a time and place where you can both get to know each other!

And the # 1 Thing I Love About You Given the Short Time I have Known You…

# 1 – You call me sister.  It honestly startled me the first time you called me that.  I had to stop a moment and think, “Oh.  Wow.  We are, aren’t we?  That is so cool!”  And then I realized how much it made me feel loved and accepted and welcomed into G’s family.  Into your family.

And now for the Top 3 Things I Would Give You if Time, Money and Resources Were No Object Given the Short Time I Have Known You:

#3 – A Shakespeare Festival with your brother!  We didn’t make that happen last year, but hopefully we can  make it happen this year.  We can pack a gourmet picnic dinner, sit under the stars at Forest Park, enjoy a classic Shakespeare play and feel “cultured.”  This year it looks like you would have to come for two nights, because the website indicates they are doing Henry IV and Henry V on alternating nights.  How crazy would that be?!

# 2 – A big party with all of the family, a bunch of your friends, a big cake and some of G’s homemade ice cream!  But I need to know what your favorite flavors are first!!

And the # 1 Thing I Would Give You if Time, Money and Resources Were No Object Given the Short Time I Have Known You is:

# 1 – A day of pampering all for you.  Your care giving radar is always “ON” to see about any needs close by that you can meet.  And if that individual is a child, you give an extra dose of care and laughter and smiles.  Even if you’ve had a day of pampering recently, your days of caring and giving for others far outnumber your days of being pampered, so another one could never be too many!

Happy!  Happy!  I hope your birthday is wonderful, Sister.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

J-man's 1st Birthday Party

J-man turns 1 on Tuesday, so his Mommy & Daddy had his birthday party today!  It was a great party full of cuteness and fun!

Here was our theme:
Yep, Dr. Seuss!  Mommy and Daddy asked everyone to write notes to Mr. J-man in the book for him to read as he grows.  Such a treasure and memory from today!

Our menu was inspired by the famous Dr., too, with such items as:
...served in a "fishbowl."

I got the privilege of making his cake.  We had a lot of fun planning this and then putting it together.  I searched online for various ideas, and I got inspired by this banner.
I also wanted to incorporate Dr. Seuss's Birthday Bird along with the cake the Birthday Bird flies in that is covered in over sized candles.  But what to make the over sized candles from?  I wanted to use an edible medium (although not required, of course) that could be mold able and not take a ton of time to put together or work with.  That essentially took out fondant.  While fondant is edible, it takes quite a bit of time and effort to put together and work.  And then I remembered something I'd heard about but never used.

Candy clay.  You can find out about it online at a number of sites, including Wilton.  It really is very simple to put together and feels very much like play dough PLUS it tastes better than fondant!  I would encourage you to give it a try sometime!  I really enjoyed playing with this, and hope to use it more and more in the future.

I put the clay together on Thursday evening, and started playing with it Friday night.  Forming the candle was pretty straight forward, but I had another character in mind that I wanted to form, too.  I had this character's body and legs and arms, but I could not get his head.  So I handed it to G and asked him to see what he could do.  Two minutes (or less?) later he hands a perfectly shaped head back to me.  I asked him to show me where the eyes and nose were, and I could totally see this guy taking shape!  Isn't it wonderful how everyone has different talents?  I could have spent many long frustrating minutes (hours?) trying to form his face, but G can quite easily convert 2 dimensions into 3 dimensions, so in very short order, he gave us our character's head!  Sweet!
Mounted on a long lollipop stick, ready to paint and stick into the cake!  I was getting so excited about the cake at this point!  Once I saw that we were this close to Dr. Seuss's most famous character, I had a very good feeling about finishing up the rest!

So would you like to see?  Here are the cakes in process...

I also wanted to try and give a sense of motion - of the bird flying the cake in like the cover of the Happy Birthday to You book.  I have seen cakes that were constructed on a tilt, but I've never attempted to replicate that.

Until now.  There are two primary methods of creating a stacked tilt - one that cuts off a portion of the upper tier at a slat plus a pocket in the lower cake for the upper cake to sit level in, so that it has the appearance of being tilted; and one that uses wedges under the upper tier to support on an angle.  The first method wouldn't apply for what I had in mind, but the second method did, so that is what I chose.  It didn't come out 100% perfect, but I was still very pleased with the overall result.  What do you think?
Here are a couple of other close ups...

And we can't forget about little J-man's smash cake!

As for flavors, the smash and sheet cakes were chocolate, and the round cake was strawberry and all shared the same cream cheese marshmallow filling, embellished with just the slightest hint of citrus from 3 drops of orange oil.  Pretty tasty!

I wouldn't be Mimi if I didn't share at least one smash cake pic!  J-man was a bit tentative about digging in - licking icing, but not doing so much with the cake itself.  That is until Mommy handed him a spoon - and then he was all over it!

And just for the record - our Cat in the Hat was quite smart.  After cutting into the cake, we found him turned around a bit..."reading" the sign and thinking about just who this Jackson may be...

I took bunches more pictures, but I want to include two others, and then I will close out this post.

First - this one of J-man, playing with his Nana...

...and second, this one of J-man playing with two friends, all enjoying one of his new toys.
Too sweet for words, right?

Good party!  Happy birthday party, J-man!!  Mimi loves you!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Baking Friday - Bread # 2

Luck o' the Irish to you!

Yep, we have St. Patty's Day in mind now.  For a couple of good friends of mine, St. Patrick's Day is THE Holiest Day of the Year.  Period.  Bar none.

So while March 17th may not hold the high regard for me that it does for my friends, I feel a need to do this holiday justice to honor their freindship if nothing else.  And we start this one off with bread.

Bread.  For St. Patrick's Day.  Isn't the answer obvious?
Guinness Gingerbread.  Right?  That's what you had in mind, right?

Oh mean you thought of Irish Soda Bread?  Hmmm...I can't imagine...

Just kidding!  Of course I thought of Irish Soda Bread, but I'm sorry.  I have tried Irish Soda Bread a few times in my life, and my experience has always been that it's dry and rather bland.  Dipped in a nice hearty Guinness beef stew, and we start talking some good eats, but by itself?  On a regular old Thursday morning?  I couldn't see it. I could envision this lonely, sad loaf of soda bread sitting in the Thursday Baking cube at work all day, drying out and looking forlorn, because only a few people had stopped by to cut a meager slice out of pity for Deb.

Are you sad yet?  Of course you are.  That was a sad word picture.  But other than bringing in a pot of beef stew with the soda bread, I couldn't figure Irish Soda Bread out.  At least not yet.  Stay tuned on that idea...

So I turned to Guinness.  Not literally.  While I enjoy tasting it, I'm not a Guinness drinker.  But I AM a Guinness baker!  I've baked lots of things with Guinness!  Like Guinness Chocolate Cake.  And another Guinness Chocolate Cake.  Oh, and don't forget Guinness Chocolate Cake.

Ok, so maybe I haven't baked that many different things with Guinness, but after this series of St. Pat's Day baking Fridays, my repertoire of Guinness baking will have at least tripled!

Beginning with today's feature - Guinness Gingerbread.  I found this recipe here - on Smitten Kitchen  and she calls it the Gramercy Tavern's Gingerbread by chef Claudia Fleming.  I served it with a simple dusting of powdered sugar and some Cinnamon Maple Butter.
Kinda pretty, no? I love this bundt pan.  The simplest of pound cakes come out special looking simply by virtue of the shape.  And let me tell you.  Tasty.  Sweet.  Moist.  Too often gingerbread can be on the dry side.  Not this one.

But wait.  There is something else in that picture.  On the right side.  What is that?

That, my dear friends, is a bit of whiskey sauce.  Not officially Irish whiskey sauce, mind you, since I have no Jameson on hand, but a bit of whisky sauce yummy goodness nonetheless.

For the gingerbread?  Nope, not exactly.  That bit of delight was for this homey dish of bread pudding, served warm from the oven.
This was from my favorite flour website, modeled after their Creamy Maple Bread Pudding with a few changes and then served with Pioneer Woman's Whiskey Sauce.  I didn't make it with bread.  I'd tried a muffin recipe (not King Arthur, so I should have known better!) but they were only mediocre.  So I cubed them up with some leftover Amaretto pound cake that had been in the freezer to soak in the egg custard overnight Wednesday night.  Then since I had two bananas that were about 1.75 days beyond their 15 minute window of eat-ability, I sliced those up in the pudding right before baking Thursday morning.

Now keep in mind that I am not a bread pudding fan.  I usually find it either too dry or too soggy or too tasteless - just plain bland.  I honestly haven't tasted it much less made it in years. But I am also quite frugal, and since I had this bread Friday coming up, rather than tossing these mediocre muffins I thought, why not?

Since I used muffins and cake, does it still count as bread?

Yes, I think so, too.  Thank you.

And I actually liked this bread pudding.  It had the right texture balance of bread to custard, plus it had flavor.  It was sweet.  And the whiskey sauce laced a very nice extra boost of fun in each spoonful.

When I sent the email to folks at work to let them know what Thursday's bread was, I described them like this:

Nothing fancy today – comfort food that might make you feel like you’ve stopped off at an old country pub on the coast of Ireland where the proprietor’s mother bakes up old recipes handed down from her mother and grandmother, laced with treats from her son’s stash.

And the most lyrical literary description of both of our St. Patrick's Day breads came from a temporary worker whose last day with our company is next Friday.  I simply have to copy and paste her taste tester's response since she wrote it so well.  Think I'm gonna miss this lady's feedback?  You betcha!

           Is it the Guinness that makes this cake so moist? I have to admit I thought you would be able to taste more of the stout beer than gingerbread flavor.  It was very delicious and the Cinnamon Maple Butter made it perfect.
The Bread pudding is to die for.  Love the whole combination of the warm bread, bananas and nuts, the whiskey sauce brings it all together.  I just wanted  a nice spoonful of your bread pudding, and a good cup of coffee and enjoy the sunrise in the crisp morning in the ocean spray.  No wonder the Irish say “ Top of the morning to ya”

Simply beautifully put, right?  

Here are a few other conversations we heard Thursday morning...

The bread pudding is amazing!

All I heard around me was "Ooo!" and "Ahh!" so I had to come get some!

Guinness makes a very nice balance with the ginger so the ginger isn't in your face.

Too much banana for me.

I LOVE the banana!

The red enamel dish you baked the bread pudding in really made it pop. It looked better in the pic that in real life.

I actually like the bread pudding better without the sauce.

The bread pudding is good, but the sauce makes it amazing.

Your jacket looks nice.

What did you use in your bread pudding?  Did you use bread?  Me: No, I used muffins and some pound cake.  Them:  Ah, yea, that makes sense.  That's why I like it.  I don't like bread pudding, but this is sweet so I like it.

Gosh darned delicious!  Do you ever pre-bake your bananas?  Me:  What?  I've never heard of that.  Them:  Yes, leave them in their peel, and bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 10 - 15 minutes.  It brightens the flavor of the banana to then use in banana pudding or banana bread or whatever.  Me:  Interesting!  I will have to try that sometime!  Mind if I share this in the blog?  Them:  Feel free!    

When she calls you "the devil woman", Deb, she really means that you're an angel in disguise.

Delicious… both were absolutely phenomenal! And I was so excited to find that when I came back to my desk after the production meeting to enjoy these desserts, that the bread pudding was still warm! J

Yum yum!

You know; I was never a big fan of bread pudding, but after so many years of rejecting it; yours was pretty darn good.  My mom would have given me heck, if she’d  heard me make that statement.---

I liked the bread pudding.  The Guinness Gingerbread was not only an extremely eye-appealing presentation, but wow, it was most delicious.  The flavors were all there, but none overwhelming the other.  And the moisture level was spot-on.  You hit it out of the park with this one.

And with someone who was out of the office, we had this email exchange...

From: S
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:43 AM
To: M; A
Cc: Debbie
Subject: RE: St. Patty's Day Breads

M, your scoop and slice taste great!  Thanks for letting me eat them.

From: M
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:45 AM
To: S; A
Cc: Debbie
Subject: RE: St. Patty's Day Breads

Seeing as my boss, my leader, my mentor S couldn’t find it in his heart to save some, would it be possible to save me a little so I can try it tomorrow?

Thank you,


From: S
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:51 AM
To: M; A
Cc: Debbie
Subject: RE: St. Patty's Day Breads

Seeing that this event has caused you trauma, I see no other solution than to provide you with recourse.  To amend the harm I have caused, I alerted HR that you will mandatorily be working from home every Thursday.
Thank you,


From: M
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:56 AM
To: S; A
Cc: Debbie
Subject: RE: St. Patty's Day Breads

Sounds good. I will come to the office to enjoy Deb’s baking then head back home.  

Pretty fun, huh?  

Would you like to see the pics of putting the Guinness Gingerbread together?  

I began with brushing the pan generously with butter..
...very generously.  And then sprinkled with flour.
And yes, I made a mess with the flour.  I can't seem to dust with flour without making a mess.  And just to be on the safe side because the recipe says generously, I sprayed with baking spray, too.  

I Hate mean Breads That Stick to the Pan
Now, I turned to the Guinness - 1 cup...and seriously, do you count the foam in the measure?  I did not...I still am not sure the right answer to this question...
And then 1 cup of molasses...(yes, in the same measuring cup as the Guinness...I'm a bad person...)
I combined these in a saucepan...
...and stirred and cooked to a boil.  Stirring and cooking about another minute took away the lighter foam at the top that you see below.  But I forgot to take a pic of that.
When I added the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, the mixture foamed up all over again,but it wasn't the same looking foam.  Kinda fascinating all ye olde kitchen chemistry!
While that cooled to room temperature, I measured the dry ingredients and spices together.  (I did not use the full amount of cloves called for in the recipe, because I'm not that much of a cloves fan.  I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  I don't have any cardamom, and added allspice, because I like it with this spice flavor profile.)
Look at all those gorgeous spices!  I can smell it again just looking at it!

Then I mixed the eggs with the sugars...
...and then the oil and the cooled Guinness and molasses mixture.
Finally I mixed in the spicy flour.
Until smooth but not mixed beyond that.
Definitely bowl licking worthy!  Not like I did any licking, you understand...

Baked at 350 for about 50 minutes, let it cool in the pan about 5, and it didn't stick!  Woo-hoo!!
I actually baked this on Tuesday night, so that it could ripen and mellow for a full day before serving on Thursday, making this a great make ahead option.  The cinnamon maple butter was just that - 1 t. of cinnamon and 2 T. of maple syrup mixed into a stick of butter.  Yum!

And here was the Thursday Baking Cube spread yesterday ready for my taste testers!
Not a spec 'o green, but if we include Guinness and whiskey, doesn't this count as Irish?  I hope so!

Thanks for reading another long, Deb Dissertation post, and we'll see you next week for St. Patrick's Day cookies!