Just a few more days until Christmas! I admit I’ll be a little relieved for things to slow down a bit. The holidays are definitely a busy time. I always feel like I need to bake or cook one or two more things, which inevitably means five or six more things. Then my kitchen ends up being more full of tasty treats than anything else. (Is that really a bad thing?) This year I’ve made a point to try some new recipes or update old favorites. Earlier this year in the spring, I received a review copy of Rachel’s Irish Family Food. It’s become a beloved cookbook this year. I haven’t made many Irish recipes before, so it’s been really fun to try new things. On the cover there is a photo of Irish Coffee Cups. I’ve been waiting since the spring to finally make this recipe because I knew it would be perfect for the holidays. As the name implies, these little cakes are flavored like Irish coffee. Coffee extract flavors the buttery, brown sugar batter. The little cakes are gently baked in a water bath – kind of like steamed puddings. After baking, the Irish coffee cups are drizzled with a whiskey caramel sauce and topped with a dollop of whipped cream Read my notes below to see what I thought of the recipe.
Irish Coffee Cups
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Total Time: 2 hour
An easy, delicious Irish dessert with the flavors of coffee and Irish whiskey.
For the cakes:
9 tablespoons (125g) butter, softened
1/2 cup packed (125g) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon coffee extract (essence) (ideally Camp or Irel brand)
1 cup (125g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup (150ml) heavy or whipping (double or regular) cream, softly whipped, to serve
For the sauce
10 tablespoons (125g) superfine (caster) or granulated sugar
6 tablespoons water
2/3 cup (150ml) heavy or whipping (double or regular) cream
4 tablespoons whiskey (preferably Irish)
1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celcius/Gas mark 4), and butter the insides of four small ovenproof teacups or four 2 1/2-inch (6cm) diameter ramekins, if you intend to tip the cakes out of them for serving.
Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or with an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
2. Whisk the eggs with the coffee extract in a small bowl for just a few seconds until mixed, then gradually add to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in gently to combine.
3. Divide the mixture among the teacups or ramekins and place these in a deep-sided ovenproof dish or roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the dish so it comes to halfway up the sides of the cups.
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the center of each cake is springy to the touch.
5. While the cakes are baking, make the sauce. Combine the superfine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar as the mixture heats up. Turn the heat up to high and continue to boil, but without stirring, until the syrup becomes a deep golden caramel color. Cook the sauce just to the point when it starts smoking. (If it's not cooked enough you won't get a strong enough caramel flavor, but if overcooked it will taste slightly bitter.) You may need to swirl the pan, rather than stirring the mixture, toward the end of caramelizing to ensure it cooks evenly.
6. Turn down the heat and immediately stir in the cream and whiskey, taking care as it may bubble and split; then set aside. You may need to whisk it for a few seconds over low heat to help the caramel dissolve into the cream and whiskey.
7. When the cakes are done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Place on saucers or serving plates, or tip them out onto warm plates if you prefer. To serve, pour a tablespoon of the warm whiskey sauce over each, then top that with a spoonful of softly whipped cream.
*I made this gluten-free by substituting all-purpose gluten-free flour for the wheat flour.
*My puddings took about 45 minutes to fully cook. I don't know if this is because I used the GF flour, or because I live at a higher altitude. I recommend checking after 25 minutes, then at 5 minute intervals until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center.
*I couldn't find the recommended coffee extract. I used McCormick brand and it worked great.
*I heated the cream before adding the whiskey to it and then adding to the caramelized sugar. It splattered less and made a smoother sauce.
*To make the whiskey sauce gluten-free, I used Maker's Mark bourbon instead of the Irish whiskey.
*I added 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the cake batter because I used unsalted butter and felt like it needed a little salt.
Rachel's Irish Family Food: 120 Recipes From My Home to Yours, by Rachel Allen, Copyright 2013 Harper Collins.
The Irish coffee cups are absolutely delicious! The flavors compliment each other nicely. We loved it! I served it warm with a drizzle of the sauce and a dollop of cream as the recipe directed. It is a very rich dessert and my husband and I ended up sharing one ramekin between us. Next time I think I would use my smaller ramekins and make them half the size recommended in the recipe. Otherwise, it’s a great recipe to share.
They did end up taking quite a bit longer to cook, which isn’t a negative mark against the recipe, just an observation. That might be because I used gluten-free flour in place of wheat flour.
Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?
Absolutely! All of the recipes I have made from this book have been fabulous. The Irish coffee cups are definitely impressive. I love that such an easy, ordinary-looking dessert can be so incredible.