Hold the glass: Toast St. Patrick's Day by adding a hint of Baileys to your cookie and cake batter

Pastry chef Meghan McGarry is known for her trademark dessert mixology. These may be her two booziest desserts yet

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published March 16, 2019 5:30PM (EDT)

Shamrock cookies (ButtercreamBlondie.com)
Shamrock cookies (ButtercreamBlondie.com)
If there's one date that's always taken center stage in Meghan McGarry's life, it's March 17.  "It's safe to say that no day was bigger in my house than St. Patrick's Day," the celebrated pastry chef tells Salon.
Meghan was raised near McLean Avenue by a dad who immigrated from County Mayo in Ireland. If you're not already acquainted, that's the main street of Woodlawn, a neighborhood in the Bronx that is predominantly inhabited by Irish-Americans like her mom.
At the bright-eyed age of four years old, Meghan picked up her first pair of jig shoes, and there was no turning back. By the time she was in high school, Meghan had already danced in front of a a sold-out crowd at the annual St. Patrick's show at Radio City Music Hall.
Meghan retired her pair of shoes in college for a Kitchen-Aid mixer in order to master her truest passion: baking. Studying under the master pastry chef Jacques Torres at the Internationally Culinary Center, Meghan applied the same lessons she learned in the dance studio — attention to details, practice and perseverance — to developing her own recipes. "In life, you have to find what you truly love and commit yourself to it fully," Meghan explains.
Now, Meghan owns her own business: Buttercream Blondie. In lieu of step, she marks St. Patrick's Day by developing desserts that pay homage to her Irish heritage and upbringing. The perfect pair of pastries Meghan shares with Salon combines two of her favorite ingredients — Baileys and rainbow sprinkles — and they are as delicious to look at as they are to eat.
She's known for her trademark dessert mixology, but these just might be Meghan's two booziest desserts yet. Whether you're planning a small family gathering or a lively party for all of your neighbors, if you make one of these pastries, you'll be sure to take home the prize this St. Patrick's Day.
Baileys Shamrock Cookies
There's not only Baileys in the filling but also in the cookie dough. Until a few years ago, Meghan dipped her signature shamrock treats in a traditional green and white blend of sprinkles.
Then one day, as she was preparing a batch to mail home to her parents in Woodlawn, Meghan realized she was out of her favorite store-bought blend of St. Patrick's Day sprinkles. A crisis ensued when she couldn't find a replacement stash on a store shelf. "All of the sudden, it occurred on me, 'Why am I depending on someone else?" Meghan recalls. "So I developed my own sprinkle mix instead."
Instead of settling for what was available, Meghan dreamed up colorful shamrock cookies inspired by the pots of gold leprechauns hide at the end of rainbows. "I saw these beautiful colors floating around in my head with accents of gold," McGarry says. "And just like that a custom sprinkle mix was born."
Half of the fun of these cookies is learning how to make your own "shamrock sprinkle mix." But you don't have to hog all of the fun. Consider giving your St. Patrick's guests the option of dipping and icing their cookies to create their own sweet finish.
Baileys Cookies and Cream Cake
Recommended for an intimate family gathering, this stunning layer cake is a real triple threat. There's Baileys in the chocolate cake, in the cookies and cream filling and even in the buttercream. (Yes, you should die the latter green.)
But the secret ingredient is a dash of coffee extract, which adds not only depth but also an excellent flavor contrast to the Baileys. (Think of your favorite way to elevate your morning cup of Joe.)
When it comes to layer cakes, Meghan's No. 1 piece of advice is don't say, "I can't do that." "One of the magical things about working with rainbow sprinkles is that you can use them to cover up any mistakes, so don't be intimidated," Meghan says. "This cake is about making and sharing memories that will last for years to come — not perfection."
Choose your own adventure
This cake will help you own St. Patrick's Day all on its own, but it uses the very same shamrock sprinkle mix as the cookies. In other words, why settle for just one dessert when you can color coordinate?

Whichever dessert journey you decide to take this weekend, Meghan has one pair of advice: "Don't only break out the Baileys only on St. Patrick's Day. Use it to elevate your desserts — or liven up your coffee — all year around."

[Follow Meghan on Instragram for more St. Patrick's Day inspiration.]

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RECIPE: Baileys Shamrock Cookies

Yield: 80 shamrock cookies - 40 sandwich cookies

Baileys Cookie Dough
    • 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temp
    • 1&1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 4 cups AP flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup Baileys
Baileys Irish Cream Filling
    • 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temp
    • 2 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    • 6T. Baileys
    • 2t. Trablit – you can also use instant espresso powder
  • dark chocolate for dipping
  • festive sprinkles for decorating


Baileys Cookies
  1. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  2. Add egg and egg yolk.
  3. Mix in vanilla extract.
  4. Alternate adding in dries with Baileys till combined.

Click here to access the remainder of Meghan McGarry's cookie recipe.

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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All Salon Baileys Desserts Food Ireland Pastries Recipes St. Patrick\'s Day