Irish coffee: Warm welcome in a cup

March 15, 1995|By Margaret M. Johnson | Margaret M. Johnson,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

"Cream -- rich as an Irish brogue. Coffee -- strong as a friendly hand. Sugar -- sweet as the tongue of a rogue. Whiskey -- smooth as the wit of the land."

A bit of Irish eloquence, perhaps, but when chef Joe Sheridan first blended cream, hot coffee and whiskey to warm the cold and weary passengers who arrived from the United States on the Flying Boats at Foynes, County Limerick, he'd struck on a recipe that would forever change the drinking habits of the world.

The year was 1943. The drink, which the chef thought should be both warm and welcoming, was Irish in character yet sophisticated enough to appeal to international travelers.

After many experiments over a number of years, including the addition of sugar, Sheridan finally came up with what would become the quintessential Irish drink, Irish coffee. When Shannon International Airport opened in 1947, it became its official welcoming beverage.

During the last 50 years, especially around St. Patrick's Day, Irish coffee is as anticipated as the day's parade. It was only a matter of time before it became an essential ingredient in some of the season's most creative dessert recipes as well.

A word of caution for any recipe using raw eggs: Because of the possible threat of salmonella, bacteria that cause food poisoning from raw eggs, U.S. government officials recommend that the very young, the elderly, pregnant women and people with serious illnesses or weakened immune systems not eat raw or lightly cooked eggs. Keep this in mind and consume raw or lightly cooked eggs at your own risk.

Irish Coffee

Makes 1 serving

1 jigger Irish whiskey

3 sugar cubes

strong hot coffee

whipped cream

Heat 1 steamed whiskey goblet. Pour in 1 jigger Irish whiskey and add 3 cubes sugar. Fill with hot, strong coffee to within 1 inch of brim. Stir to dissolve sugar. Top off with whipped cream, slightly aerated, so it floats. Do not stir after adding cream, as true flavor is obtained by drinking hot coffee and Irish whiskey through cream.

Irish Coffee Ice Cream

Makes 6 to 8 servings

4 egg whites (see note)

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon Irish Coffee (without whipped cream), room temperature

1 tablespoon Irish cream liqueur

Beat egg whites and sugar until very stiff peaks form.

Whip cream in separate bowl. Add vanilla, Irish coffee and Irish cream liqueur. Gently fold into egg whites. Spoon into individual parfait glasses. Cover and freeze at least 4 hours, or until set.

Irish Coffee Mousse

Makes 10 servings

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup Irish Coffee (recipe above without cream), room temperature

3/4 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar

2 cups whipping cream

2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup chopped almonds

3 egg whites (see note)

1/4 teaspoon salt

champagne wafers, optional

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat Irish Coffee and 3/4 cup sugar in saucepan until mixture simmers and sugar dissolves. Add gelatin to hot mixture and stir until completely dissolved. Cool.

Pour mixture into 2 ice cube trays with cube sections removed (or metal cake tins). Freeze 45 minutes or until mixture becomes solid around edges. Transfer to cold bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.

Beat cream until soft mounds form. Fold cream into Irish Coffee mixture. Stir in nutmeg and almonds. Beat egg whites with salt until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into coffee mixture. Freeze in plastic container until firm, 2 to 3 hours. Spoon into parfait glasses and serve with rolled champagne wafers.

Irish Coffee Cake

Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups self-rising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons Irish Coffee (recipe above without cream), room temperature

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon Irish whiskey

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

fresh strawberries for garnish

Cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each.

Sift together flour and baking powder. Fold into egg mixture. Add 2 tablespoons Irish Coffee and blend well. Pour batter into greased and floured 8-inch round pan. Bake at 350 degrees 30 to 40 minutes. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in pan 5 minutes before turning out onto serving dish with lip.

Meanwhile, make syrup by placing 1 1/2 cups water, remaining 1 tablespoon Irish Coffee and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in pan. Boil until it reaches syrup consistency, about 5 minutes. Stir in whiskey. Spoon warm syrup over warm cake.

Melt chocolate with remaining 1 tablespoon water. Slice cake and serve each piece with a little chocolate sauce on the side. Garnish with fresh strawberries.

Irish Coffee-Walnut Cake

Makes 12 servings

1 (18 1/4 -ounce) package yellow cake mix

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

3 eggs

1 1/3 cups Irish Coffee (recipe above without cream), room temperature

1/3 cup oil

flour for dusting

Irish Coffee Icing

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