On Saturday night my friends shall be dining in with me before we head out together. I sent the invites  yesterday and today is menu planning. I have been putting a lot of thought into my St. Patrick's Day  dinner party menu and I've decided to start with corned beef and swiss appetizers  followed by a smoked salmon salad, cottage pie, and Irish soda bread . Since Friday is my half birthday I am going to take advantage of the date and go all out by making a decadent dessert. To see my recipe for a layer cake with a definitive Irish twist - a Bailey's pudding filling -
Party's Half Birthday Chocolate Irish Layer Cake
Modified from Epicurious  and Martha Stewart 
1 1/4 cups chilled whipping cream
12 tablespoons Baileys Original Irish Cream
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
6 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 Cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
3/4 Cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for pans
1/2 Cup boiling water
2 1/4 Cups sugar
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Cups sifted cake flour, (not self-rising)
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Cup milk
For the syrup
2/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons Irish whiskey
For the frosting
3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons kirsch (clear cherry brandy)
- Make pudding: combine 3/4 cup cream, 6 tablespoons Baileys liqueur, sugar, yolks and nutmeg in large metal bowl. Place over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water).
- Using electric mixer, beat until custard thickens and thermometer registers 160°F, about 8 minutes.
- Remove from over water and beat until cool, about 8 minutes.
- Mix in remaining 6 tablespoons liqueur.
- Beat remaining 1/2 cup cream in medium bowl to medium peaks. Fold into custard.
- Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Make cake: heat oven to 350 degrees; arrange two racks in center of oven. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment. Dust bottoms and sides of pans with cocoa powder; tap out any excess.
- Sift cocoa into a medium bowl, and whisk in 1/2 cup boiling water. Set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on low speed until light and fluffy.
- Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides twice.
- Beat in vanilla.
- Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating between each addition until the batter is no longer slick, scraping down the sides twice.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Whisk milk into reserved cocoa mixture.
- With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour and cocoa mixtures to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with flour mixture.
- Divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans.
- Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of each layer comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans for even baking.
- Transfer layers to wire racks; let cool, 15 minutes.
- Turn out cakes, and return to racks, tops up, until completely cool.
- Make syrup: Combine sugar and water in small saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to boil. Remove from heat. Mix in whiskey. Cool. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
- Make frosting: bring first 3 ingredients to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Mix in kirsch. Remove from heat. Let stand until spreadable, whisking occasionally, about 1 hour.
- To assemble the cake: remove parchment from bottoms of cakes. Reserve the prettiest layer for the top. Place one cake layer on a serving platter; drizzle with syrup, and spread 1 1/2 cups Bailey's pudding over the top. Add the second cake layer, and drizzle with syrup spread with another 1 1/2 cups frosting. Top with third cake layer. Drizzle with remaining syrup.
- Cover outside of cake with the frosting. Serve.
Makes 1 eight-inch-round layer cake.