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9 Irish dessert recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth

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By Emma Grove / January 24, 2020
Irish Dessert Recipes

Sure there’s potatoes, and potatoes, and … potatoes, but there’s a whole lot more to Irish cooking that meets the eye! This includes some scrumptious sweet treats that are bound to keep you cozy and content this frosty winter! Whether you serve them on their own or with a cuppa, these 9 Irish dessert recipes are sure to satisfy that ever-present sweet tooth!

We all know the Irish have traditionally survived, even thrived, on a diet of potatoes, cabbage, and bread, but what happens when the sugar cravings start to kick in? Historically, Ireland has been a poor country, thus the prospects of a sugary after-dinner delight have been slim across the country. That being said, the Irish have a way of figuring out how to bake their cake and eat it too! These delectable Irish desserts are more than proof of the fact! From Irish apple tart, to Baileys cheesecake, these 9 Irish dessert recipes are more than enough to appease your craving for confections!

Carrageen Moss Pudding

Yes, you read that right. There is moss in this pudding, but trust me, this dessert tastes anything but mossy. This creamy custardy Irish dessert recipe makes use of Ireland’s native flora by incorporating Carrageen Moss, a readily available natural source of gelatine in Ireland! carrageen, in Irish ‘moss of the rock’, is a seaweed/moss foraged on the south and west coasts of Ireland. When soaked in water, the thick strands of carrageen secrete a gelatinous substance perfect for a creamy, smooth, and light-as-air pudding! 

Ingredients
  • 8g cleaned, well dried carrageen moss (1 semi-closed fistful)
  • 900ml whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg (preferably free range)
  • 1 tablespoon of caster sugar
Method:
  1. Soak the carrageen in lukewarm water for 10 minutes, then strain
  2. Place drained carrageen into a medium saucepan with milk (and vanilla pod if using), bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer gently for 20 minutes
  3. Separate the egg and place the yolk into a medium-sized mixing bowl
  4. Add sugar (and vanilla extract if using) and whisk till combined
  5. Strain your carrageenan-milk mixture (including the jelly substance released by the carrageen)
  6. Now for the tricky part: pour the strained milk mixture over the egg mixture while whisking vigorously to emulsify (if you want an easier way to do this, place egg mixture into a blender and blend while pouring in strained carrageenan-milk mixture) This is to ensure that the egg yolk doesn’t scramble and it will make a custard-like mixture.
  7. To test the setting of this pudding, place a small amount on a cold saucer and place in the fridge to set. If it doesn’t set, try to extract more of the jelly substance from the carrageen.
  8. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white to stiff peaks and fold it into the rest of your custard.
  9. Pour folded mixture into serving container(s) and let chill for 3-4 hours until set.
  10. Serve with fresh fruit or a fruit compote.
Irish Apple Tart

Nothing as American as apple pie, eh? Guess again! The Irish have had the apple-based dessert game locked down for centuries. This traditional Irish dessert recipe courtesy of our editor’s granny is a simple and sweet Irish Apple Tart that needs no explanation. For an extra bit of Irish pride, serve with Baileys whipped cream!

Ingredients: 
  • For the pastry 
    • 450g plain flour
    • 225g butter (or margarine/cookeen)
    • 2-3 tbsp of water
    • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing the crust
    • 75g sugar (optional, to sprinkle on top)
  • For the filling:
    • 6-8 large cooking apples peeled and sliced
    • 250g castor sugar
    • 3-5 whole cloves
    • 5-6 tbsp of water, just enough to cover the bottom of a pot
Method: 
  • For the pastry:
  1. Grease a pie dish with an additional tsp of butter
  2. Combine the flour and butter (and sugar if using) to a crumbly mixture, then add water and mix with a butter knife until just combined
  3. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes
  4. Once dough has rested, take it out of the fridge, and remove the plastic wrap. Then divided into 6 equal sections.
  5. Roll out each section of dough to roughly ⅓ cm thick.
  6. Placed one rolled out piece of dough into the greased pie plate, keeping the edges overhangingPierce the dough with a fork all over to ensure even cooking
  • For the filling:
  1. Place apples, water, cloves, and sugar into a pot and simmer on high heat for 2 minutes or until apples start to break down
  2. Lower heat and stir continuously until apples have just broken down (be careful not to cook down too much as the liquid released will make the filling too runny) – you’re looking for an applesauce consistency
  3. Allow to cool to room temperature
  4. Preheat oven to 220°C/200°/C fan/gas mark 8
  5. Fill the pie base with the apple filling, then roll out another dough section to roughly ⅓ cm thick
  6. Wet your finger with water and run it along the edge of the bottom crust, then place the second section of rolled out dough on top
  7. Using the prongs of a fork, press the edges of the pie crust top and bottom together to seal, then cut off overhanging dough
  8. Pierce the top of the pie with a fork to allow steam to escape
  9. Brush top crust with beaten egg
  10. Place the pie in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes until crust is golden brown
  11. Sprinkle castor sugar over pie and let cool 20-30minute before serving

Soda Bread Pudding

Soda Bread Pudding

Irish soda bread is a fan-favourite of carb-lovers across the globe. While this quick bread doesn’t originate in Ireland, soda bread has become associated with the Emerald Isle over the past few centuries. It’s made with bicarbonate of soda rather than yeast to allow for a quick oven rise, hence the term ‘quick bread’. The dense, grainy goodness of this scrumptious Irish bread make it the perfect feature in an Irish pudding. Don’t believe me? Try out the recipe below!

Ingredients:
  • 12 cups of Irish soda bread cut into 2cm cubes
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 500ml single cream
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp salt
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/ gas mark 6
  2. Grease a baking dish and place bread cubes in an even layer
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt
  4. Pour cream mixture over bread cubes and press into the bread using the back of a spoon
  5. Place in the oven and back until bread pudding is set and the top is golden brown
  6. Let cool for 30-40 minutes and serve

Porter Cake

Ingredients:
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½  tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛  tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 227g butter
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 200g + 2tbsp of granulated sugar
  • 355ml porter ale or stout
  • Zest of one orange
  • 150g sultanas
  • 150g raisins
Method:
  1. Melt butter with sugar in a small saucepan, then add the porter. Stir until sugar is dissolved
  2. Add sultanas, raisins, and orange zest
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then leave to cool
  4. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4
  5. Sift flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and spices into a large bowl
  6. Add the porter mixture to bowl with flour and fold until combined
  7. Slowly add in beaten eggs
  8. Line and grease a springform pan and fill with batter
  9. Place into the oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
  10. Let cool completely and release from pan, then serve
Barmbrack

Another quick bread on the list, Barmbrack is a lovely sweet bread to accompany your afternoon tea. Usually baked in flattened rounds, this sweet and fruity Irish dessert recipe is often the centre of Irish Halloween customs. The Halloween Barmbrack traditionally contains hidden charms that lead to certain outcomes. Basically, it’s a bread-based fortune-telling practice. With spices, dried fruits, and zesty citrus, Barmbrack makes an excellent addition to any brunch, lunch, or dinner party!

Ingredients:
  • 250g raisins
  • 250g sultanas
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • Zest of 1 large orange
  • 227g dark brown sugar
  • 500ml black breakfast tea, hot and strong
  • 426g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • A ‘charm’:
    • A dried pea [whoever receives this will not marry]
    • A piece of cloth [whoever receives this will have bad luck or be poor]
    • A coin [whoever receives this will have good fortune}
    • A ring [whoever receives this will be married within the year]
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 165°C/155°C fan/gas mark 3
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine raisins, sultanas, zests, and sugar
  3. Pour hot tea over raisin mixture and stir to combine. Cover with clingfilm and allow to stand overnight at room temperature
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and spices
  5. Alternate stirring in fruit mixture and beaten eggs and mix until well combined
  6. Wrap your charm in baking parchment and add it to the batter, then pour into a greased and baking parchment-lined cake pan
  7. Bake for 80-90 minutes or until cake is golden brown and springs back when pressed
  8. Let cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then release from the pan and let cool completely
  9. Slice and serve with butter
Yellowman (Irish Honeycomb)

Originating in Northern Ireland, Yellowman honeycomb is a world-renowned Irish treat. It’s chewy, toffee-like texture makes for the perfect accompaniment to a mid-morning cup of coffee, or maybe even a cheeky Irish coffee! This delightful Irish dessert recipe is associated with the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim where it is sold in both blocks and chips. Want to try this sumptuous sweet? Try out the recipe below!

Ingredients:
  • 450g golden syrup
  • 400g light brown sugar
  • 20g butter
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 heaping Tbsp bicarbonate of soda
Method:
  1. Line a cake pan with greased parchment paper
  2. In a medium saucepan melt butter on medium heat
  3. Stir brown sugar and golden syrup into butter, then bring to a gentle boil and stir till sugar is dissolved
  4. Turn up the heat to medium-high and boil, stirring occasionally until you reach 150°C on a candy thermometer – keep an eye on the pan so your mixture doesn’t burn
  5. Remove from heat and cool for a couple minutes
  6. Stir in vinegar, then vigorously stir in soda
  7. Pour into the greased pan and allow to set
  8. Break up into pieces and serve
Gur cake

Photo: Rwxrwxrwx

Gur Cake

Is it a pie? Is it a cake? Who cares! This divine dessert doesn’t need a category to get the job done. Traditionally associated with Dublin, gur cake is thought to be a nick-name for ‘gurrier’ cake. Gurriers were children who skipped school, the act of which became known as being ‘on the gur’. Traditionally, gur cake was one of the cheaper items carried in Irish bakeries, composed of leftover bread and dried fruits. Nowadays you can find this sweet treat in Dublin bakeries, some of which call it a ‘fruit slice.’ But why not give making it a go? Check out the recipe below!

Ingredients:
  • For the pastry:
    • 250g plain flour
    • 125g cold unsalted butter cut into 1cm cubes
    • Pinch of salt
    • 3-4 tbsp cold water
    • 3 tbsp whole milk [to brush the pastry
  • For the filling:
    • 300g stale bread (approx. 8 slices of store bought loaf)
    • 350ml fresh, strongly brewed breakfast tea
    • 75g raisins
    • 75g sultanas
    • 2 Tbsp treacle
    • 2 Tbsp golden syrup
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • ¼ tsp cinnamon
    • ¼ tsp ground cloves
    • Pinch of salt
Method:
  • For the pastry:
    1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour and salt together
    2. With your fingers, pinch cold butter cubes into flour until it resembles a course meal with pea-sized butter lumps
    3. Sprinkle over 1 tbsp of cold water and toss together until the dough holds together when squeezed. If it doesn’t, add 1 more Tbsp water and continue until dough holds
    4. Wrap in clingfilm and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes
    5. Cut the pastry in half and roll out one half until it is large enough to line a 27cm x 18cm by 4cm baking pan, then roll the second portion of dough out to the same thickness
    6. Place pastry into the fridge until ready to use
  • For the filling:
    1. Remove any hard crusts from the bread slices and place in a large bowl
    2. Pour the tea bit by bit over the bread slices and allow it to soak in, then mash well with a fork, the mixture should be stiff and not overly liquid
    3. Stir in raisins, sultanas, treacle, golden syrup, spices, and salt and mix well, then let rest for 1-2 hours
    4. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 4
    5. Line 27cm x 18cm by 4cm baking pan with one half of the pastry, then prick with a fork
    6. Pour in filling and smooth over the base, then layer the top with the second portion of pastry, and seal the edges with the prongs of a fork
    7. Pierce the top of the cake/pie with a fork and brush with milk, then bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown
    8. Allow to cool for 1 hour, then slice and serve with a nice cuppa!

Photo: Tina Guina

Baileys Cheesecake

Two words: Alcoholic, Cheesecake. To quote Nicole Byer, “What a treat!” If you didn’t know already, Baileys is an Irish cream liqueur loved by alcohol enthusiasts across the globe. Baileys ice-cream, Baileys coffee, Baileys and milk on a hot summer’s day – there’s not much that isn’t improved by the addition of Baileys! Favoured with cream cocoa and – you guessed it – whiskey, this luscious libation makes for the perfect flavouring in one of the most perfect Irish dessert recipes: Baileys cheesecake. Try out the recipe below and hear your taste buds sing!

Ingredients:
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 250g plain digestives, crushed
  • 450g soft cheese
  • 75ml Baileys Irish Cream
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 200ml double cream
  • Dark chocolate and/or fresh fruit  [to serve]
Method:
  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, then add crushed biscuits and stir until butter has been absorbed
  2. Remove from heat and press into the bottom of a greased and baking parchment-lined springform pan using the back of a spoon, then leave to set in the fridge
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whip double cream until soft peaks form
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until soft, then beat in the icing sugar and Baileys until smooth
  5. Take your cheesecake base out of the fridge and pour in filling, smoothing it evenly over the biscuit base
  6. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight until set
  7. To serve, release from the tin, garnish with fruit if you like, and finish by grating some dark chocolate over top
Irish dessert recipes, Irish coffee

Photo: Marler

Irish coffee

You knew this one was coming guys. Irish coffee is one of the most famous of the Irish treats. While it’s not a dessert per-sey, this sweetened, caffeinated bevy is often served in place of dessert as it certainly is sweet enough! With simple ingredients and a quick prep time, this boozy Irish dessert recipe is the perfect nightcap on a cold winter’s night. Note: This recipe only yields one serving so bear that in mind while preparing. Treat yourself; make it a double!

Ingredients:
  • 200ml freshly brewed coffee
  • 50ml Irish whiskey
  • 1-2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 50ml cold double cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to garnish
  • 2 Tbsp hot water
Method:
  1. Fill a mug with boiling water and leave to stand
  2. Whip cream until it starts to thicken and ribbons start to form underneath the whisk – just under soft peaks. Place into the fridge until ready to use
  3. In a small saucepan, dissolve sugar in hot water and bring to a boil until it turns into a runny syrup
  4. Remove sugar from heat and stir in the whiskey
  5. Pour the water out from the mug
  6. Pour in the sweetened whiskey, then the fresh coffee on top
  7. Remove cream from fridge, whisk once, then pour over the coffee mixture
  8. Grate nutmeg on top and serve

These Irish dessert recipes make for the most incredible after-dinner indulgence! Go ahead! Try one out and let us know how it goes in the box below! Do you have a favourite Irish dessert? Mention it in the comments!

About the author

Emma Grove

Emma is a Californian-native, a food lover, and a Journalist for Babylon Radio. With a MA(Hons) from the University of Glasgow, Emma is interested in everything musical and cultural going on in Ireland!


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