Clinton is a small town in Iowa nestled next to the Mississippi River. My mom grew up there and my childhood is dotted with fond memories of a fourteen-hour drive that ended in time spent with my grandparents, riding bikes by the river, and trips to the Sweetheart Bakery. This bakery was my favorite place to go when I was little and honestly…not much has changed. They make the most amazing black rye bread, frosted cookies, and blarney stones. (And yes, they ship, so those midnight black rye bread cravings? They can be fulfilled.)
My grandmother loved their bear claws and lemon curd filled doughnuts but was especially fond of the blarney stones. Lois, or Omie, as we called her, was an incredibly strong woman. She always matched her red nail polish to her lipstick, was married for over fifty years, and raised four daughters. The two oldest daughters were four and three when my mom and her twin were born. She had four daughters under the age of four and only one bathroom in the house. Don’t tell me my Omie wasn’t an amazing woman.
We lost Omie last year and when her birthday rolled around I decided to do something special for my mom. I looked into having some blarney stones shipped down from Clinton but decided that I could do better than that because there is nothing more wonderful than homemade treats. I’m not sure if there’s a better way to celebrate a life than with food and was confident that these blarney stones would be appreciated. And man, are they good!
4 separated eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 t vanilla
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl (normally I skip this step, but it’s important in this recipe so everything will get mixed in equally with the boiling water in a minute). Beat your egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Set them aside and beat egg yolks until they’re thick and lemon colored. Gradually add sugar, beating continuously. Add dry ingredients alternating with boiling water. Add vanilla and beat well. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake at 350 in a well-greased 8×11.5 pan for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If you want more blarney stones–and they will be thinner!–you can bake this in a 9×13 pan. Just watch how long they’re in the oven.)
Now you have a few options. You can let them cool in the pan and frost just the top if you’re taking them to a party and don’t want to deal with individual blarnies. Or, if you’re like me and want to recreate the real deal as closely as possible, go ahead and flip the cake out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely. Then use a sharp bread knife and cut them into two-inch squares.
1 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
crushed salted peanuts
maraschino cherries, for garnish
While they’re cooling go ahead and make your frosting. Cream the butter, add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until completely smooth. Spread each blarney stone with a generous amount of frosting and roll all sides with the crushed peanuts. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Congratulations, you’ve made a bit of my childhood. Isn’t it sweet?