Food & Drink

Stir Crazy: Make the best chocolate-chip loaf — ever

I admit to not being a big fan of St. Patrick’s Day, despite my heritage. I come from a family where, while the Irish half was Catholic, the Swedes who made up the other half were Lutheran and won out when it came to any shenanigans on March 17.

It’s left me feeling ho-hum when it comes to writing about Irish food, too. For those who do like to celebrate, I think it has more to do with downing some green beer with a crowd rather than making corned beef and cabbage at home.

So, I came across two recipes, one that made me think of Irish soda bread, and the other a treat from with mint and green food coloring. The kids will love it.

Though this tea bread is an irresistible recipe, you should wait for it to cool before slicing. Also, it can be made a day in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The recipe comes from Lisa Yockelson, author of “Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011).

Rustic Chocolate-Chip Tea Bread

3 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt

1/3 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling

10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into teaspoon-size chunks

1 large egg

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed*

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large (13-by-18 inch) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and 1/3 cup of the sugar in a large mixing bowl.

Drop in the chunks of butter; use a pastry blender or two round-edged table knives to cut the fat into pea-size bits. Use your fingertips to randomly reduce the pea-size bits to smaller flakes; this should take about 1 minute.

Whisk together the egg, the 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a small mixing bowl. Pour that mixture over the flour mixture, sprinkle with the chocolate chips and use a wooden spoon or paddle to stir, forming a rough, cohesive, slightly sticky dough. If the dough seems a little dry, drizzle it with an extra tablespoon or two of buttermilk.

Gather the dough into a rough mass with your hands, then knead lightly until it comes together completely, using firm strokes to gather it all cohesively. Form the dough into a 5 1/2- to 6-inch ball.

Place the ball of dough at the center of baking sheet. Use a sharp paring knife to score an 1/8-inch-deep cross in the top of the dough, then sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until the loaf is set, golden on top and baked through. It should sound hollow when you lightly tap the top or bottom with a wooden spoon.

Cool (on the baking sheet) on a wire cooling rack 10 minutes. Slip a metal spatula under the loaf and transfer it to a separate rack to cool completely. The bread may be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

Use a serrated knife to cut slices or wedges.

Makes one 8-inch round loaf with 12 slices, each with 390 calories, 5 grams protein, 51 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 25 grams sugar.

Shamrock Shakes

2 cups vanilla ice cream

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon mint extract, or more to taste

9 drops green food coloring

2 tablespoons chocolate syrup, or to taste (optional)

2 tablespoons whipped cream, or to taste (optional)

1/2 teaspoon green decorator sugar, or to taste (optional)

1. Blend ice cream, milk, mint extract and food coloring together in a blender until smooth.

2. Drizzle chocolate syrup around inside walls of 2 tall glasses; pour shake into glass. Top with whipped cream and green decorator sugar. Makes 2 shakes.