Paradox, or Irish Whiskey-Seed Cakes and Pfaffenhütchen

In what can only be described as an exercise in self-immolation, once done with the month- and head-long flurry of preparation for and launch of the tutoring year last week and despite my recent shingles diagnosis, I have been unable to make myself stop and rest. Witness to that is the recent bout of Sharon Tyler Herbst (The Joy of Cookies) cookie baking. One batch (Irish Whiskey-Seed Cakes) completed Sunday night, the other (Pfaffenhütchen, or Parson’s Hats) Monday. In my defense, both require fresh orange zest, and the oranges were getting old. Also, I like to think of the Pfaffenhütchen as the antidote to too many Irish whiskey-seed cakes.

If that’s not funny enough, here’s an aside: Pfaffenhütchen apparently is two words put together in that inimitable Germanic manner which literally translate to parsons (the pfaffen bit) and cone or extinguisher (the hütchen part), but also together translate to Euonymus, a plant which most folks in these (English-speaking, albeit American-English) parts know as a burning bush. I don’t know why that amuses me but it does. Ok, that’s enough about that.

Irish Whiskey-Seed Cakes are like little loaves of Irish soda bread crossed with biscuits or scones. Flavored with orange zest and whiskey, currants and caraway seeds, iced with a powdered sugar, milk and whiskey glaze, and baked in a mini-muffin tin, these are easy to make. The one bump in the road? I have never in my life bought whiskey before, and so I had to ask at the liquor store: 1st, where the Irish whiskey was kept; 2nd, which of the two brands they carried was better; and 3rd, whether they sold it in smaller bottles. As to the second query, the proprietor replied, one is made by Catholics and the other by Protestants. Something (no doubt a deeply ingrained cultural bias) told me the Catholics were more likely to know what they were doing and I went with the Jameson. Crossed myself first, though.

Which brings me to the Parson’s hats or Pfaffenhütchen. These are of German origin, and are shaped like Hamentaschen but filled with ground hazelnuts, orange zest and juice, and sugar instead of poppy-seed filling. There are also finely ground hazelnuts mixed into the cookie dough. They are delicious. Especially dipped in whiskey. Kidding!


About pattiblaine

Raised under the name of Snyder in the upstate NY town of Vestal, I've worked as a typesetter, a fast food salad bar tender, an art reviewer, a waitress, a part-time nanny, and a very-bad-with-phones temp. Once upon a time I was all-but-thesis toward a Masters in Art History. Now I'm just a mom with a lot of fiber squirreled away throughout the house. We call it insulation. In 2013 I completed a life-long learning program at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and am a postulant toward the diaconate in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY. In addition to coordinating volunteers for the soup kitchen, I volunteer as a tutor at a deeply impoverished city elementary school, and am a docent at the Memorial Art Gallery.
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