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Today is Saint Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick, patron saint and national apostle of Ireland, is credited for bringing christianity to Ireland. The intended meaning of celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day is for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. Here in Montreal, Saint Patrick’s Day is about celebrating Irish Culture and everything Irish: anything green, shamrocks, luck and, most importantly, beer! Today, everyone’s Irish! And why not? If there’s a party waiting to happen, you can be sure that Montrealer’s will be there. Hanging out on the streets of downtown Montreal, watching a parade go by, surrounded by thousands of party people, drinking beer, getting a little tipsy (or a lot tipsy!) and enjoying the show of happy drunks all around. This is what Saint Patrick’s Day means in Montreal. Hey, we’ve got to pay tribute to our fellow, beer-drinking Irish friends!

How I pay  tribute on this Irish day of festivities is by cooking or baking with beer. Irish beer! I’ve made Guinness Cake many times before, a recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s book Feast. It truly is a delicious cake. Magnificently black and damp, similar in texture to a fudge kind-of cake. You don’t really taste the stout, although there is a little tang to it. The sugar, and there is quite a bit of it, balances out the bitterness of the stout. The cream cheese frosting is meant to resemble the pale head that sits on top of the stout when poured into a glass. We had friends over when I made this last year and I gave the kiddies a small slice of the cake, not sure if they would like it. Before the adults were able to sit down and plunge into our own pieces of cake, all 4 kiddies came running into the kitchen, imploring us to give them more! I also baked one for my girlfriend’s husband, whose surprise birthday party happened to be on Saint Patrick’s Day last year. The cake was for 40 guests and I wanted to add something impressive on the cake. A can of Guinness beer using almond paste. Not bad, no?

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This past Friday, I was asked to bake some cupcakes for an occasion and I thought I’d bake some Guinness cupcakes using the same cake recipe. Although the texture of the crumb was completely different, resembling that of a regular cake, it was still yummy. It remained moist, but it didn’t have that dark, damp look and feel to it. Delicious nonetheless. The kiddies just loved them! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Chocolate Guinness Cake

250 ml of Guinness beer

250 g of unsalted butter

75 g of cocoa

400 g of caster sugar

150 ml of sour cream

2 eggs

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

275 g of flour

2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F/180 C. If baking a cake, butter and line the bottom of a 23 cm springform pan. If baking cupcakes, line 2 12-muffin tin with paper cases.

Pour the Guinness into a wide saucepan, add the butter and heat over medium-low heat until melted. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar. In a small bowl, beat the sour cream until smooth. This can all be done by hand. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the beer mixture and whisk in the baking soda. Pour into your cake or muffin tin. If making a cake, bake for 45 minutes to an hour and let cool completely in the pan as it is a very damp cake. For cupcakes, bake for 18 minutes and let cool.

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Icing

300 g of Philadelphia cream cheese

150 g of icing sugar

125 ml of 35% whipping cream

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Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth. Add the icing sugar and beat well. Pour in the cream and beat until you get a spreadable consistency. Spread over cake or cupcakes.

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