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March 16, 2013

Local chefs serve up Irish food, drink

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, many area residents may ponder ways to bring out the Irish in their weekend. Irish beer and spirits will be at the forefront for many who are celebrating — but not just in glasses. 

Several local restaurants are offering themed menus to mark the occasion, including dishes and desserts made with Irish-themed alcohol. O’Neill’s Shire Pub on Main Street in Delhi has items on its menu that are flavored with Bailey’s Irish Cream or Guinness beer.

“We have a Bailey’s cheesecake that we make here,” said Rachel Bracchy, manager of O’Neill’s Shire Pub. “We make it from scratch — the crust and the cake. There is a trace amount of alcohol in the cheesecake, and the flavor really stands out.”

The sweet spirit is a natural fit, but what about desserts flavored with beer? 

Because of the high malt content in Guinness, the Irish beer it is often used as an addition to sweet foods. Guinness reduces to a caramel state easily. The natural addition of sugar to desserts counters the bitter taste of the beer, which is intensified by cooking it.

At the State University College at Oneonta, the Human Ecology club will offer Guinness brownies for sale as a fundraiser. The club has been selling the brownies for the past two years. This year, members will have a combination of bittersweet, semisweet and white chocolate brownies with Guinness, as well as brownies without Guinness. The brownies are sold as a fundraiser with the proceeds going to various nonprofit organizations.

And that trace amount of alcohol? Adviser Oscar Oberkircher said it’s nothing to worry about — at least with this recipe. 

“We use Guinness Extra Stout beer which is about 5 percent alcohol by volume,” said Oberkircher, who is program director for the college’s food service and restaurant administration major and lecturer in the human ecology department. “The bottle is 12 ounces; so approximately, 0.6 fluid ounces is alcohol. Since about 60 percent of that will cook off, that means about .24 ounces of alcohol will remain in that cooked recipe. The recipe makes two 7-inch pans of brownies, so each pan would have about 0.12 ounces of alcohol in it. Each pan gets divided into about eight pieces — these are rich tasting brownies — which means each piece has about .015 ounces of alcohol in it.

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