Alice Cronin of Cutie Pies NYC had a surprise hit on her hands when she baked 20 ‘Irish Car Bomb’ pies, based on the alcoholic drink of the same name, to sell at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg food market on Saturday.
The new flavor outsold her other daily pies, and was gone by 3pm, “which is early for us, because we’re dessert,” she told IrishCentral.com.
The drink named ‘Irish Car Bomb’ has been widely criticised as racist and offensive to victims of violence during the Troubles.
Cronin has Irish roots on both sides of her family, she said, probably from Co Cork.
But neither Cronin nor those purchasers of ‘Irish Car Bomb’ pies seemed seriously offended by its name—at least, not enough to change it or not purchase the baked goods.
Two Irish women who hadn’t heard of the drink version before balked a little at the name, Cronin said. They said it “probably wouldn’t be called that in Ireland,” Cronin told IrishCentral.
But the women bought the pie anyway.
Cronin said she “toyed with” naming the pie something else, but since the pie was based on the ingredients of the drink, she felt that calling it an ‘Irish Car Bomb’ pie would be the simplest way of explaining its flavor and ingredients.
Most of her customers in their 20s and 30s knew immediately what the pie would taste like, based on the name, while her older customers “who maybe don’t go to bars” didn’t know what to make of it.
The pies are based on a chocolate cookie crust, with a Guinness-infused ganache layered atop it. A Baileys-infused pastry cream (think éclair filling) forms the bulk of the pie. Cronin topped the creation with whipped cream and a whiskey-caramel drizzle.
What kind of whiskey? “Jameson,” she said, smiling.
Although she’d intended the ‘Irish Car Bomb’ as a one-off deal, the pie’s unparalleled success prompted Cronin to make more for Sunday’s Brooklyn Flea Market, held on the same Williamsburg grounds as weekly food market Smorgasburg.
IrishCentral.com nabbed the last slice. The bitterness of the Guinness worked especially well in the chocolate ganache, adding real sophistication. The Baileys pastry cream tasted exactly how you would expect: it’s Baileys in a silky, puddingy form. Although the caramel drizzle certainly added something to the pie, I couldn’t taste the Jameson at all, which was disappointing. Perhaps in the next batch it’ll be stronger—Cronin said she’s still perfecting her recipe.
Even at this stage, the pie solves the problem with the original alcoholic drink (besides its racist, offensive name): the drink curdles and can’t be savored slowly, but the creamy pie encourages lingering.
The flavor combination has prompted many to translate the drink into a baked good; the second Google suggestion for ‘irish car bomb’ is ‘Irish car bomb cupcakes,’ followed by ‘Irish car bomb cake.’
Since Cronin bakes some personal-sized pies, she monitors cupcake trends, which is where she got the idea for the ‘Irish Car Bomb’ pie, she said. She debuted it Saturday to coincide with Smorgasburg’s celebration of National Ice Cream day.
Despite the name’s offensiveness to many, the ‘Irish Car Bomb’ remains one of the most popular ‘bomber’ cocktails in the US. It has spawned many variations, including the ‘Belfast Bomber,’ which adds Kahlua to the regular lineup of Guinness-Baileys-Jameson.
Willie Frazer, spokesman for Fair, an IRA victims group, has stated that “It is disgusting that IRA car bombs which killed and maimed so many in Northern Ireland are being trivialized or celebrated in this way,” IrishCentral previously reported.
"I would have expected Americans, of all people, to behave more sensitively and responsibly. How would they like it if we developed the Al-Qaeda car bomb, the Twin Towers cocktail, or the 9/11 ice-cream sundae?"
The bartender who allegedly invented the drink in 1979, Charles Burke Cronin Oat, has apologized for the name he gave his creation, IrishCentral previously reported.
"Of course today I would take that name back. Of course—there's no question about it," Oat said.
When I studied in Dublin, one of my most ill-informed American friends ordered an ‘Irish Car Bomb’ at The Bleeding Horse on Camden St.
“You’ll have to go to Belfast for that!” the bartender snarled.
But regardless of the deserved outcry, most seem to vote with their wallets and palates, perpetuating the name in pursuit of the taste.
Cronin’s pie is an excellent new vehicle for the flavors, allowing the creaminess of the Baileys to come through in a way that neither a cake nor the drink itself allow. The pie was so popular that she said she’ll keep baking it—stop by Smorgasburg or Brooklyn Flea on weekends to try a slice.
Check out our photo gallery on the ‘Irish Car Bomb’ drink and commercial phenomenon here: