When you move to another country I think it’s safe to assume things will be different, and they should be different! A lot of the differences are nice: I can walk to the Irish Sea, the grass in my backyard needs to be mowed, in February, I shop exclusively local on Main Street.
But then there are some differences that make me want to pull my hair out. Now I know these differences are trivial, but they all seemed to cause maximum frustration on our first encounter. The radio. Where is the music? Every radio station talks all the time! A station called The Beat plays about 3 songs an hour. Most pubs don’t serve food. You go to the pub to drink, not eat. But I like snacking on popcorn or nachos with my beer. Not here.
And the difference that has required more patience and relearning: baking. I’m a good baker, or I was. But baking has been hard for me in Ireland. Probably because I’ve been using American recipes with Irish ingredients, not the same! Ingredients like baking soda and all-purpose flour are called bicarbonate of soda and self-raising flour and they are NOT the same, Google even agrees with me. Or maybe I’m struggling because my Celsius oven dial is in 50 degree increments making it hard to set precise temperatures. And the metric system conversions are confusing, damn milliliters and grams. I finally threw in the towel when my staple Christmas cookie, that I’ve made hundreds of times, did not turn out. They tasted delicious but didn’t have their usual beautiful thumbprint appearance. And I knew while rolling them out that they just felt different. You know what I mean? When you make something hundreds of times you know what they should look and feel like before baking.
Don’t worry about me, I’ve found solutions. In the last 6 months, I’ve purchased a lot of music on iTunes, goodbye radio. I bring my own snacks to the pub, win for my wallet and waistline. And since I enjoy baking I have created some foolproof desserts that satisfy my sweet tooth while I explore and master some Irish dessert recipes.
I’ve shared two foolproof dessert recipes below and included videos of me baking. I’m not a videographer – which will be obvious the moment you watch the videos – but I sure had fun channeling my inner cooking show host! I’ve made both recipes in the States so I promise they’re foolproof for the American and Irish baker!
Makes 16-20 Brownies
- 1 box of your favorite brownie mix
- 1 cup of dark chocolate chips
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup raisins – these are controversial, aren’t raisins always? If you love raisins you’ll LOVE this addition, if you don’t, omit this ingredient
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon of pure almond extract – yes, you read that correctly. I LOVE almond, I might even add more
Preheat oven per recommended temperature of boxed brownie mix. Lightly grease a baking pan, I use an 8x8 square pan.
Prepare brownie mix as box directs (egg, oil, and water will likely be required). Once batter is prepared add chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts, raisins, vanilla and almond. Mix until just combine. Pour into prepared pan. Baking 18-23 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan to cool completely. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Note, if you don’t like coconut or almond extract or any of the listed ingredients, eliminate them. You literally could add anything! That’s why these are so good! Other options: butterscotch chips, halved maraschino cherries, chopped hazelnuts, chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups, dried cranberries, almond slices…I could keep going but I think you get the idea.
Cinnamon Roll Pull Aparts
- 1 package of refrigerated cinnamon rolls
- 2 Tablespoons of coconut palm sugar or brown sugar – in the video I share why I use palm sugar over brown sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon of melted butter
Open the package of refrigerated cinnamon rolls and place each roll on to a cutting board. Quarter each roll, so that you have 4 small pieces. Place all the pieces in a plastic bag. Add the remaining ingredients: sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Seal the bag, shake to combine. Place the plastic bag in your refrigerator overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
The next day, preheat oven per recommended temperature of packaged cinnamon rolls. Grease a bundt pan or baking pan – I like to use a bundt pan for beautiful presentation. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pull aparts are a rich golden brown. Let set in the pan for 2 minutes. With a knife loosen the edges. Then turn out on to a serving platter. Serve warm and family style.
This recipe can easily be doubled, and might present better depending on the size of your bundt pan. The bigger the pan the more pull aparts you’ll want to bake. Your pan should be at least half way filled. When doubling simply add 5 minutes to the baking time.