These quick minty chocolate shapes mark the first post of our St. Paddy’s-dedicated Green Week. It’s also our first post of spring break so Chai and I are very excited about that, too. My sous and I will be posting green dessert and booze (mostly booze) recipes all week, as well as the results of our Irishy/St. Paddy’sy history research. In this post, we’ve used a round mold to create holiday appropriate shamrock-topped chocolate coins. (Read on for more about those.) And, of course, everything is better when it’s shaped like a dinosaur so we made those, too! We’ll also discuss the history of Saint Patrick himself and how the heck this holiday came to be celebrated worldwide.
Saint Patrick’s Day, also known as Lá Fhéile Pádraig or the Day of the Festival of Patrick, was originally a religious celebration held to honor the death of the foremost patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick is believed to have died on March 17th. This became an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Lutheran churches. The day also commemorates the arrival of Christianity to Ireland, as well as Irish heritage and culture. It is customary to wear green, a color traditionally associated with Ireland and Saint Patrick, on this feast day.
Patrick himself was a 5th century Christian missionary and bishop. He was apparently born in Roman Britain in the 4th century to a wealthy family. Patrick is believed to have detailed his life story in a document called the Declaration. Patrick’s father was a Christian deacon and his grandfather was a priest. At the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders and enslaved. He worked as a shepherd in Ireland for six years until he was told by God to flee to the coast. A ship was waiting there and he was able to make his way home where he became a priest. Patrick later returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. According to legend, he used a three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish. His efforts to convert or drive off the Pagans, mostly the Celts, would be allegorized as Saint Ptrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. He is believed to have died on March 17th and was buried at Downpatrick.
Saint Patrick’s Day first became popular in the US after the first Saint Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York City. In fact, many countries celebrate this traditionally Irish day including Australia, Canada, Singapore and Russia! The manner in which Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Ireland differs greatly from how it is celebrated in the United States. In Ireland, it is treated as a holy day. Banks and offices are closed. People go to mass and spend quiet time with their families. There are some large parades but it does not center so much around drinking.
Stay tuned for the rest of the week when we’ll be exploring traditional Irish cuisine, leprechaun folklore, the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
Green Week Features!
Mint Dark Chocolate Dinosaurs + Shamrock Coins
9.5 oz dark chocolate (I used Dove Promises.)
¼-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, to taste
Distribute M+Ms evenly between silicone mold cups. (To make the shamrock coins, I placed 3 M+Ms in a shamrock shape in the bottom of each of my circular mold cups. If you do not have a silicone mold, make chocolate bark. For the dinosaurs, obviously, I used a dino mold! Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread the melted chocolate over it and sprinkle the M+Ms on top of the melted chocolate.)
Melt chocolate in microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each, until smooth.
Mix in peppermint extract.
Spoon melted chocolate over the M+Ms in the mold. (Be careful not to disturb the shamrock shape.)
Allow to set and pop chocolates out of molds.