St. Patrick's Day on Sunday is not just a national holiday in Ireland, but an international day for the wearing of the green. Emerald green shamrocks, leprechauns and dining on special Irish dishes are all symbols honoring Ireland's patron saint.
There's a great deal of myth and legend surrounding the occasion, but many Irish and Irish-Americans consider the day to be very special. Parades, dinners, parties and the "wearing of the green" for good luck are a few traditions that symbolize this special Irish holiday.
Whether or not one is Irish, St. Patrick's Day is a fine time for a celebration. Along with a menu of corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and other customary foods, include a specialty of chocolate and mint green dessert to top off the occasion.
A Three-Layer Treat
Chocomint Ladyfinger Dessert begins our suggestions. This three-layer treat features a creamy mint green center complemented by two luscious semisweet chocolate layers. Ladyfingers keep the dessert light, add eye appeal and contribute the perfect contrast.
Or, serve Filled Chocolate Shamrock Cookies. The cut-outs are easily made from a chocolate cookie rolled dough. Unsweetened cocoa powder contributes the real chocolaty flavor enhanced with a creamy mint green filling. Serve as a nice touch to accompany a cup of Irish coffee or surprise youngsters by tucking extra cookies into lunch boxes to share with school friends.
1 cup semisweet miniature chocolate pieces
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon creme de menthe or 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
12 to 14 ladyfingers, split
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 or 4 drops green food color
Slivered almonds or chopped nuts
Place chocolate pieces in medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Combine gelatin and 1/4 cup sugar in saucepan. Beat egg yolks lightly and add with milk to saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes to soften gelatin.
Place over medium heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin dissolves and mixture thickens slightly. Do not boil. Remove from heat, add vanilla and pour 1 cup mixture over chocolate pieces. Stir or whisk until melted. Add creme de menthe to remaining mixture in saucepan. Chill both mixtures, stirring occasionally, until each mounds slightly when dropped from spoon.
Meanwhile, line 9x5-inch loaf pan with foil, allowing ends to extend over edge. Place split ladyfingers around sides and bottoms, cutting as needed to fit tightly. Beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/2 of cream into chocolate mixture. Beat egg whites with remaining 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold 2/3 into chocolate mixture. Pour 1/2 chocolate into prepared pan and chill 5 minutes.
Fold remaining 1/2 of whipped cream and stiffly beaten egg whites into creme de menthe mixture. Add food color. Spoon onto chocolate layer. Chill 5 minutes. Carefully spoon remaining chocolate mixture over cream de menthe layer and chill completely. Before serving, garnish with slivered almonds or chopped nuts. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
FILLED CHOCOLATE SHAMROCK COOKIES
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Cream butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla and beat well. Combine flour, cocoa and salt. Blend into creamed mixture.
Divide dough in half. Flatten each part into round about 1/2-inch thick. Wrap tightly and chill until firm, several hours or overnight. Roll each half on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into shamrock shapes and place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees 8 minutes or until set. Cool slightly before removing. Cool completely on wire rack, then spread Creamy Filling on one cookie, top with second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen filled cookies.
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons milk
3 to 4 drops green food color
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract, optional
Combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla in small bowl until smooth. Add powdered sugar, alternately with milk, until mixture reaches spreading consistency. Blend in food color and peppermint extract.