Yukon Fries

OK, so making fries doesn’t require anything approaching a recipe but this is a handy how-to, the result of several Internet People’s recommendations and a good amount of guesswork.

6 Yukon Gold taters, very well scrubbed
2 inches of oil (I used an 80/20 combo of safflower oil and EVOO)
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh ground dried chipotle chile, to taste

Preheat the oil to 350. Slice the potatoes into uniform 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide pieces–I tried for matchsticks but that didn’t work out super well since the potatoes I used were small and kind of lumpy. But whatev, they tasted great! Carefully lower potatoes into the oil (you may need to do 2 batches so there’s enough room in the pot for the potatoes to “stretch out”) and fry for 5-8 minutes. Take out a fry at the 5 min mark to check softness. You want it cooked through but don’t worry if its limp and sad looking. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Crank up the heat until oil reaches 375 degrees then return soft fries to the pot and fry at the higher heat until golden brown and crispy (about 3 minutes). Remove and drain again, patting a little with paper towels. While still hot but cooled enough you won’t burn yourself, transfer to a large mixing bowl and season with salt and ground chile. Toss to coat evenly and serve ASAP.

I don’t know why restaurants don’t use Yukons for their fries ’cause dude! These were the yummiest fries EVER!

Stout Chocolate Cupcakes

We hosted a beer-themed potluck for St. Patrick’s Day this year and naturally I got a hankering for the delicious combo of stout and chocolate. Cake seemed like a natural choice, but as a notoriously hopeless baker, and my Baker Novice sister in the thrall of finals week, I was a bit leery.  After finding a yummy and easy-looking recipe at Smitten Kitchen I thought I’d give it a go anyways.

I started working on these at about midnight after a long week and evening. I was too tired to make my usual mistake of messing around with the recipe too much and they turned out AMAZING.

This confirms Ian’s theory that if I use the actual listed ingredients, properly measure them, and pay attention/respect to the timer, I can bake as well as anybody else–a theory I’ve never been able to test before due to perhaps too much pluckiness. So thank you sleepiness and resulting subdued creativity!

(makes about 2 dozen cupcakes)

1 cup Irish Death stout beer
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup “lite” sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ganache frosting/glaze
Theo’s sipping chocolate
Heavy cream
Powdered sugar, to taste
3/4 teaspoon Irish breakfast tea

Preheat oven to 350°F and put baking cups into cupcake pan. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt to blend. Using a stand-up mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream.  Add stout-cocoa mixture and vanilla to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Pour batter into prepared cupcake pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack. Let pan cool to room temp before popping the second batch into the oven. Cool cupcakes completely before applying ganache.

Using a food processor or Magic Bullet, pulse the Irish breakfast tea to get a coarse powder, set aside. Melt the chocolate and heavy cream in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally. Add enough powdered sugar that the mixture reads to you as “definitely sweet”  and the Irish tea  powder and mix well. Let cool a little bit before dipping the tops of each cupcake into the ganache. Place back on cooling rack to let chocolate set up.

And VOILA! Super moist and chocolatey cupcakes, not too sweet, but sweet enough to make a gal swoon away to chocolate town. A happy place indeed!

Substitutions: Irish Breakfast tea instead of instant coffee grounds. Added vanilla (can you believe there was none!?). Irish Death rather than Guinness. Cupcakes rather than bundt cake (I don’t have a bundt pan). Added powdered sugar to ganache because Theo’s sipping chocolate is very bittersweet and the unfrosted cake I sampled wasn’t very sweet at all.