Ah, I love St. Patrick’s Day. I love the parade, I love Bailey’s, I love Guinness, & I even like a little Jameson in my coffee. I’m aware that’s not the meaning of the holiday, but come on. Lighten up. St. Patrick would’ve loved to down some Jameson or green beer while chasin’ those pesky snakes out of Eire.
Saint Patrick’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is a religious holiday on the 17th of March. It is named after Saint Patrick (circa AD 387–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland. It began as a purely Catholic holiday and became an official feast day in the early 17th century. It has gradually become more of a secular celebration of Ireland’s culture.
Little is known of Patrick’s early life, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the 4th century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father and grandfather were deacons in the Church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave. It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. According to his Confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied to be a priest.
In 432, he again said that he was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to Christianize the Irish from their native polytheism. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on 17 March 461, and according to tradition, was buried at Downpatrick. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish Church.
Originally, the colour associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick’s day grew. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick’s Day as early as the 17th century. He is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day. In the 1798 rebellion, in hopes of making a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on 17 March in hopes of catching public attention. The phrase “the wearing of the green”, meaning to wear a shamrock on one’s clothing, derives from a song of the same name.
Well now that I’ve given you all a little history lesson, let me just say this is a great holiday to cook & bake for. While I do not like the “traditional” corned beef & cabbage, I love beer, Irish cream, Irish cheddar, and potatoes. And since I did one of these little compilation thingies for Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas & Valentine’s Day, I’d be remiss if I overlooked this holiday. So, friends, céad míle fáilte to my post of favorite St. Patty’s Day confections & treats!
One of the most popular cupcakes I’ve posted, and one of my favorites! A delicious way to enjoy Bailey’s without drinking it. Find the recipe here: Luck o’ the Irish: Bailey’s Irish cream cupcakes.
Another alcohol-enriched cupcake, this time made with Guinness stout. Even if you’re not a fan of stouts, you’ll LOVE this. It tastes like a deeper, more intense chocolate. I actually used plain vanilla buttercream, but the recipe includes a whipped cream cheese frosting. Get the recipes here: Guinness stout cupcakes with whipped cream cheese frosting.
These are some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. Ina Garten is nuts. The amount of butter & eggs in it are also nuts, but it’s worth it. It’s even worth it to halve the recipe, which is what I usually do. Amazing really. Get the details: Coconut cupcakes, a la Ina Garten.
These cupcakes… these cupcakes I had some issues with. It’s from the book 500 Cupcakes by Fergal Connolly. I found them to be a bit dry, more muffin-y. However the frosting redeemed them. It tasted like melted mint chocolate chip ice cream. I think it’s still a great recipe, it just needs a little tweaking. Are you the one to finally tweak it perfectly? Find out: Happy March Mint Chocolate Chip cupcakes.
So there you have it. Four awesome cupcake recipes/ideas for St. Patrick’s Day. And if you’re not into cupcakes, or don’t like things that are too sweet, I have one more recommendation for you: Irish soda cake.
This Irish soda cake recipe was given to my mother by a friend of hers, Alice, many years ago. Alice came from Ireland & brought this recipe with her when she came to the United States. It’s not like traditional Irish soda bread; it’s slightly sweeter, with a sugary top. It’s dense, more like a bread than a cake, but it’s definitely sweeter. No raisins, no caraway seeds. Just plain ol’ fashioned goodness. Get the recipe here: Irish Soda Cake.
Another cute idea would be to make shortbread cookies (or sugar cookies) in the shape of shamrocks. Use green colored royal icing or Candy Melts to decorate them. Yes, shortbread is Scottish, not Irish, but it’s fucking delicious. As far as savory items go, a good Shepherd’s pie, with Guinness or without, is a great idea. I hope these suggestions help you in your quest to find the perfect St. Patrick’s Day treat. I plan on adding more this year in the coming weeks. Now you can go help yourself to some Irish coffee. Go ahead, you’ve earned it.
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