St. Paddy’s Pull-Apart Tart

Here’s a fun idea for a St. Patrick’s Day party: a flaky tart with boozy, creamy filling, made to pull apart, piece by luscious piece!

A simple custard is divided and enhanced to create a contrast of flavors in the baked tart. Crème de menthe adds all the green coloring you’ll need, and I added some mini chocolate chips just before filling the tart. The brown custard is a combination of whiskey, Irish Cream, and espresso powder – my nod at Irish coffee.

St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to bring out the booze, right? Um. Yeah, I think I said that at Christmas. And Valentine’s Day. Okay, we’ve established that I love to cook with alcohol. There are just so many fun flavors out there!

Making the pull-apart crust is a little (gulp) time-consuming. You can always just make a regular crust and add the filling, but it’s not nearly as fun. Here’s a mini-tart I tried. It would have looked much nicer if I hadn’t added the chocolate chips to the green custard. And . . . if I hadn’t stuck my thumb right in the middle before I got the photos.

One bonus that came out of this culinary adventure is the crust. I knew that my usual pie crust would be too fragile for a pull-apart, so I added a little butter, sugar, and an egg white. Oh, man – this is a good crust! I may use this exclusively in my pies from now on. Flaky but stable, and easy to work with. You’ll love it!

St. Paddy's Pull-Apart Tart
Print
Author:
Ingredients
  • CRUST:
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold shortening
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg white (saved from the eggs in the filling recipe)
  • FILLING:
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk (extra white is used in crust)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup Crème de menthe
  • 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • ⅛ cup whiskey
  • ⅛ cup Irish Cream
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
Instructions
  1. CRUST: In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt. Blend in shortening and butter using a pastry blender (or two knives). The mixture should be fairly fine - no chunks of butter larger than a pea.
  2. In a small cup, whisk together the milk and egg white. Add to dry mixture and stir just until blended. Divide into two parts.
  3. Working with half of the dough at a time, roll out on generously floured surface, about ⅛-inch thick. It can be a little thicker, but not more than ¼-inch. Cut out as many 2-inch circles as possible and set aside the scraps. (Repeat with remaining dough when needed, saving all scraps to roll together at the end.)
  4. Gently fold one round in half, like a taco. Squeeze together the ends, making a small cup. Press one long side against the side of the tart pan, pressing it firmly, leaving the "cup" open. Repeat with the next round, pressing one side against the pan and one pointy end against the other round, connecting them firmly. Repeat all the way around.
  5. For the next ring of dough cups, place them perpendicular to the existing row, pointy edges placed where the others are joined. Gently press the edges together, easing them together as you go. The goal is not to leave any large gaps.
  6. From this point on, the rings will be pointing toward the center. Add one round to the very middle, to look like the center of a flower.
  7. Place tart pan on baking sheet and put it in the refrigerator while you make (and cool) the filling.
  8. FILLING: In a medium bowl, stir together the softened butter, egg, egg yolk, and cream. Butter will be clumpy - that's okay. Set aside
  9. In a medium pan on medium heat, stir (or whisk) together the sugar, cornstarch, buttermilk, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until it gets steamy and thickens. Remove from heat.
  10. Very slowly pour into the bowl with egg mixture, stirring vigorously. Pour back into the pan and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and it begins to bubble gently. Remove from heat.
  11. Pour half (about 2 cups) of the mixture into the bowl the eggs were in. Add Crème de menthe and stir until combined. To the remaining mixture in the pan, add the whiskey, Irish Cream, and espresso powder. Stir well. Allow both mixtures to cool until lukewarm.
  12. Heat oven to 350 F.
  13. Once cooled, add chocolate chips to the green mixture if desired.
  14. Working with a small spoon (or two pastry bags with the tips cut off) fill the dough cups. Alternate the colors or make your own design! (You will have a little filling left over. If you have leftover dough, make a mini pie OR fold in some whipped cream for a delicious mousse.)
  15. Place the tart pan (on the baking sheet) in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. You will see the filling puff up. When it begins to sink and bubble, take the tart from the oven and place on a cooling rack. It can be served lukewarm or totally cooled. Just remove outer ring and slide the tart off the bottom onto a serving board.
  16. Cover and refrigerate any (hahaha) leftovers.

Fold rounds (like a taco) and then pinch the ends together to form a cup.

Press long side of each dough “cup” against the side of the tart pan. Join the pointy ends and press firmly.

Place next round of dough perpendicular, with the pointy end where two on the outside ring are joined. (Looks like poison ivy! “Leaves of three, let it be . . . “)

Now pinch all the edges together. The goal? No gaps.

I find the easiest way to fill these is by using a pastry bag. (You can also use a small spoon.)

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, may good luck pursue you each morning and night.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Lorinda

Mint Chocolate Chip Pie

If you ask me what my favorite ice cream is, the answer will always be mint chocolate chip. It’s getting harder and harder to find the good stuff though; I’ve turned my nose up at brands with waxy chocolate and too much mint or coloring. It has to be just right!

For a fun twist on my favorite dessert, I created this refreshing Mint Chocolate Chip Pie. It’s soft and fluffy, lightly flavored, and laced with mini chocolate chips. (If you’re a purist you can substitute good quality dark chocolate instead.)

This pie would be wonderful for Christmas – or any time. But since I was making this for St. Patrick’s Day, I melted a few green candy melts, poured the candy into small heart molds, and then connected three of them with a dot of green chocolate and added a stem to create a shamrock. Several of those on top of the pie definitely added an Irish flair!

I’m one of those people who prefer the crust of a pie over the filling. In this case, the filling is delightful . . . but I’m still all about that crust! The thicker the better. This recipe will make two thin crusts, but I like rolling out a crust without worrying about getting the shape perfect, knowing that it will be big enough to cut out a perfect circle. You can make yours thinner if you prefer. Either way, you’ll still have some leftover crust. You could cut out shamrock shapes to decorate your pie, or just bake strips of crust, dusted with cinnamon sugar, for a treat. (C’mon – guilty pleasures are the best!)

Mint Chocolate Chip Pie
Print
Author:
Ingredients
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cold butter
  • ½ cup cold shortening
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (or vinegar)
  • FILLING:
  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream (divided)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • green food color
  • ¾ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered (plus 2 tablespoons) sugar, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon unflavored gelatin (optional, to stabilize the whipping cream)
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. CRUST: In medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut butter into small cubes. Add butter and shortening and use pastry blender or fingers to combine. Mixture should have small lumps of fats visible - no larger than peas.
  2. In a small measuring cup, combine buttermilk and vodka (or vinegar). Add all at once to dry ingredients and toss/stir just until combined.
  3. Place dough on generously floured surface. Sprinkle flour over the top and roll out to a thickness between ⅛-inch and ¼-inch, depending on preference. Place pie pan upside down on dough and cut circle about 1 inch larger all around than the pan.
  4. Slide flat baking sheet or cutting sheet under the dough and flip the pan and dough over. Gently ease the dough into the pan and fold excess over to make the dough come to just above the top edge of the pan. Flute the edge with your fingers. Chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Heat oven to 350 F.
  6. With a fork, poke holes in the sides and bottom of the crust. Carefully line with foil, allowing the foil to cover the top edge of the dough. Fill with pie weights (or beans, rice, or sugar) and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove foil and weights and allow pie to cool completely.
  7. FILLING: in a small saucepan on lowest heat (or in the microwave using 15 second increments) heat ½ cup cream and white chocolate chips until chips are melted.Add a few drops of green food coloring and peppermint extract and stir well. Allow to cool.
  8. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth. Add white chocolate mixture and beat until incorporated. .
  9. In a medium bowl, beat remaining 1½ cups cream until soft peaks form.
  10. In a small cup in the microwave, or a small metal measuring cup or pan on the stove, heat the gelatin and water until gelatin is dissolved (this should happen very quickly...just 5-10 seconds in the microwave) and drizzle over the whipped cream while mixing on high speed. Add 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
  11. Fold approximately ⅔ of the whipped cream into the filling, fold in chocolate chips, and spoon into the cooled crust. Pipe or spread the remaining cream onto the top of the pie. Chill for several hours (or overnight) before serving.

Cut circle of dough larger than pie pan. Slide a flat sheet under dough and flip.

Ease dough into pan and flute. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Line crust with foil and fill with weights, beans, rice, or sugar. Bake.

Filling ingredients

Add green chocolate mixture to the cream cheese mixture.

Fold whipped cream into the filling

Fold in the chocolate chips.

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
a full moon on a dark night,
and the road downhill all the way to your door.

Lorinda

Drunken Leprechaun Balls



leprechaun balls vertical with boozeYes, you read that correctly; I’m posting a recipe for Leprechaun Balls. There are so many jokes that will be left unsaid…probably.

These green confections are quite (ahem) firm – a cross between fudge and cookies. To make them you will need to bake a batch of green shortbread cookies, but trust me…the cookie recipe is very easy, and the balls are a slam dunk! What more could you ask for this St. Patrick’s Day?

My shortbread recipe makes a little more than you’ll need, so you should end up with 6-8 extra cookies to munch on. I tried rolling the dough out on a cookie sheet and baking it in one piece, which worked pretty well, but it’s harder to get the center of the dough cooked completely that way. So…I recommend you make cookies, even if they’re just squares of dough. You’ll be crushing most of them, so the shape doesn’t matter.

Drunken Leprechaun Balls
Print
Author:
Green shortbread is baked and crushed, then blended with Irish Cream Liqueur and Whiskey for a tasty adult treat. Makes about 36.
Ingredients
  • SHORTBREAD:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • green food coloring
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk (if needed)
  • BALLS:
  • 3 cups crushed green shortbread (recipe above)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • ¼ cup Baileys (or other Irish Cream Liqueur)
  • 2 tablespoons Jameson (or other whiskey)
  • powdered sugar and green sugar for rolling cookies in
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl (use a stand mixer if possible; this is very stiff dough) beat the butter until soft and creamy.
  3. Add powdered sugar and mix well.
  4. Add egg yolk and enough food coloring to create a deep green color, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl often.
  5. Add dry ingredients. (If using a stand mixer, you may want to switch to your dough hook.) The mixture will be very dry and stiff but should come together into a dough. If it isn't cooperating, add milk a little at a time until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and you can form it into a ball.
  6. Roll dough out to about ¼-inch thick and cut into cookie shapes. (You can also form into small balls and press with a cookie stamp if you prefer. ) Place close together on baking sheets and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes. If you see a tiny bit of brown along the bottom edges, they are done. Don't overbake them, because green cookies turn an unpleasant color if they brown.
  7. Cool cookies on a rack and crush in a bowl until you have 3 cups. Eat the rest!
  8. BALLS:
  9. Combine the crushed cookies, nuts, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl.
  10. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  11. Roll scant tablespoons of dough into balls and roll them in a dish of powdered sugar and colored sugar.
  12. Refrigerate until firm. These can be served chilled, which will give them the texture of fudge, or at room temperature, which will make them a little softer.
  13. I'm sure you know this, but just for the record: DO NOT SERVE TO MINORS.

Combine dry ingredients, then stir in wet ingredients.

Combine dry ingredients, then stir in wet ingredients.

Roll the balls gently in your palms, then dust with sugar.

Roll the balls gently in your palms, then dust with sugar.

leprechaun balls vertical
By all means, improvise. Use walnuts instead of pecans, switch the booze around and use 1/4 cup of whiskey and 2 tablespoons of Irish cream (you may have to add a little more crushed cookie in this case), or roll them in coconut or sprinkles. Pop Rocks? Hmmmm.

Enjoy! And…hello? Keep ’em out of the reach of kiddies, of course.
Lorinda

For each petal on the shamrock this brings a wish your way. Good health, good luck, and happiness for today and every day. (Irish Blessing)