The Love of the Irish

A story St. Patrick's Day romance, chocolate and booze


My husband and I not only met on St. Patrick’s Day but also married on that day nine years later. We met at an Orphaned Kittens’ Peace Summit (We met at a bar, okay? But this sounds much less sleazy, so I’m going with it. Hi Mom!), and on that fateful night, I was wearing a leprechaun’s hat that I had stolen off a drunken leprechaun at the Orphaned Kittens’ Peace Summit the year before. Despite my pilfered chapeau, and my future husband’s shyness, he walked me to my car that first night and even laid a kiss on me. A kiss that almost made me wreck my car as I was busy trying to put my socks back on.
On our first date, which was the following Thursday, we went back to the Orphaned Kittens’ Peace Summit to watch UNC play Texas Tech in the Sweet Sixteen, as the NCAA tournament was going on at the time. When we walked into the Summit, the first person we saw was my worst nightmare. MY BROTHER. My loud, boisterous, love-you-to-death-but-you’ve-been-too-long-at-the-Peace-Summit BROTHER. Now, my future husband had attended the Texas Tech game the weekend before, and saw one of their players shatter the backboard with incredible intensity. Even though UNC was a #1 seeded team, he felt strongly that they would be knocked off that night, which would be a HUGE upset. With conviction on his side and kittens in his heart, he bet my brother $20 that Texas Tech would win that night, and guess what…it happened. My future husband won the bet. And 17 years later, my brother STILL hasn’t paid up, the chump.

Nine years later, we stole away and married at the courthouse in Manhattan on St Patrick’s Day. After our ceremony (which was literally 45 seconds long…ah, romance), we attended the big parade in the city and then ate a fancy steak dinner. Six months later, back home in Baltimore, we had a huge party with all our friends and family, great food, a blues band, and an open bar. On that day, as my chump-ass brother kept his wallet closed while giving a toast that made me cry louder than a bag of kittens on the side of the road, I thanked my lucky leprechaun for bringing me such an incredible man with whom to spend my life. And those kittens. I thanked the orphaned kittens, too.

Chocolate Stout Cake with Dark Chocolate Irish Cream Ganache

(Recipe via The Smitten Kitchen)

For our anniversary, I love to make this cake as an ode to our official day of kitten love. The Guinness cuts the sweetness, giving this cake a depth of flavor that is just incredible. The Irish cream dark chocolate ganache? Well, that is my gift of Irish love to you. And I’m not even Irish.

Chocolate Stout Cake:

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or spray a bundt pan very thoroughly.

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.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture 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 pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; cool completely in the pan. Carefully run a butter knife between the cake and the pan to loosen the cake from the sides, and then turn cake out onto a rack for drizzling ganache. (Tip: I put paper towels under the rack to catch the dripping ganache for easier clean up. No, I won’t judge you for licking a paper towel. Go right ahead.)

Dark Chocolate Ganache with Irish Cream:

6 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips)
3 Tbsp heavy cream
3 Tbsp Irish cream such as Bailey’s
3/4 tsp instant coffee granules

Melt the chocolate, heavy cream, Irish cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of cooled cake, allowing it to cascade down all sides.

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