Tuesday, July 29, 2008

chocolate melting pot

just want to say a big thank you to everyone we met at the temple bar chocolate festival on sunday. wouldn't you know that the day they held the chocolate market would be the hottest day of the summer so far! but despite a few melty chocolates the weather certainly lent to the carnival atmosphere of the occasion. it was great to see so many people out enjoying the sunshine and the different offerings from all the irish chocolate makers.we were suprised by how many people turned up and so apologies for our initial fluster and disorganisation but hopefully we got that under control and anyone who wanted a taste of the chocolates got one. the cocoa bean bars went down a storm, my recommendation for enjoying the lime and black pepper with a glass of chilled chardonnay obviously appealed to a lot of parched chocoholics as it was our best seller.there were some great suggestions too for the invent a flavour competition, we are currently shortisting our 5 favourite to put to the test in the kitchen before choosing our winner, keep an eye out here for the results of our experiments, thank you to everybody who entered!

i know the temple bar cultural trust has already got plans underway for a bigger and better chocolate event next autumn, all i can say is that if it is even a patch on this year's festival it is well worth turning out for.

Monday, July 28, 2008

farmers market favourites

cardamom, orange & ginger biscuit

this is a first in the series of cocoa bean recipes for fresh truffles and our own version of fudge. i will include all the favourites from our market days and the long lost experiments....

i made this on saturday morning and popped it in a kilner jar in the fridge. in the winter it will keep perfectly in a sealed jar on the kichen counter though it may disappear more quickly! if you have chilled it and want to appreciate the full flavour, allow to warm up a bit before eating. an alternative is to freeze it and eat like sophisticated cubes of icecream ( thanks for this suggestion has to go to theresa, the jam and chutney woman at limerick market.)

having fresh chocolates to eat over the weekend makes you very popular with family and friends and it's so easy!


275g dark chocolate

100ml single cream or soya cream

orange zest

orange juice or oil of orange

6 cardamoms

5 ginger biscuits (homemade if you are brilliant but shop bought will do fine!)


line a small loaf tin with clingfilm

lightly toast the cardamom seeds over a low heat and then crush using mortar and pestle

melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan/pot of warm water

gently warm the cream and stir into the melted chocolate

add the cardamom, orange zest and a few drops of juice or oil

add the roughly broken ginger biscuits and mix well

pour into the loaf tin

allow to cool and then cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours

remove, cut into generous chunks and eat!

Once the basics are mastered, feel free to play around with quantities to make a softer or firmer chocolate, depending on the season and your tastes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A weekend of chocolate delights

get to dublin! get there quick! the temple bar chocolate festival kicks off today and it is set to be a very, very exciting affair. check out their website for details of all the events. http://www.templebar.ie/.

and don't forget to come and visit me, guillemette and colm at the market on sunday. we'll be there from 12-4 in meeting house square will all the skelligs and cocoa bean goodies, plenty of tasters and recipe ideas!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

fire and ice

well my plans for making my white chocolate panna cotta were seriously foiled at the weekend by the fact that my ramekins have disappeared in to thin air, so that one is on the back burner til they turn up.

i've been making the chilli and pink peppercorn bar all week and i obviously hadn't quite got it off my mind during the weekend as i couldn't shake the idea of combining it with the fabulous murphy's vanilla icecream when we were up in killarney on sunday.

murphy's icecream is made in county kerry, just accross the water in dingle. they say on a clear day you can see dingle peninsula from the iveragh peninsula; considering the thick fog that refuses to shift this summer i can't quite remember. what i can remember though is that the flavour of murphy's icecream is unsurpassed mainly due to the murphy brothers untiring quest for the finest ingredients and artisan techniques.

my idea was to combine their vanilla icecream with our chilli and pink peppercorn bar. my idea was that you would get the cold sensation of the icecream in combination with the heat from the chocolate.

now i know that the heat from the chilli isn't really released until you get the chocolate melting so my idea was to grate the chocolate over the icecream (yes, i really had been deliberating this long enough to remember to take my nutmeg grater shopping with me...)therefore making the pieces of chocolate small enough to melt almost instantaneously.

the result.... not so good! the amount of chocolate you got in each spoonful was not enough to provide enough heat to counteract the numb coldness from the icecream, but when i added more the icy particles of chocolate just create a vaguely unpleasant grittiness, a real shame to spoil the smooth and creamy texture of the icecream.


my second option, far simpler, far more effective and you can even leave your kitchen utensils at home!
I used a strip of the chocolate like a spoon. each time i scooped the icecream i bit a bit of the bar! the cold and the heat don't come quite simultaneously but there is an incredibly intriguing shift from cold to hot as you eat your mouthful. the cooling effect of the icecream gradually gives way, as you chew through the chocolate, to the subtley increasing heat of the spices.

last year i was doing some experiments with chocolate shaped spoons, the difficulty in packaging their delicate shapes put me off for a while but this has reinspired me to go back to the drawing board.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

on the radio...

listen out for me on dublin's q102 tomorrow night at about 6.45 when i will be talking about chocolate and the temple bar chocolate festival

Thursday, July 17, 2008

raising the bar

the new packaging for our bars, launched last autumn, is being really very well received so we decided it was time to introduce a couple more flavours to the family.

we have relaunched our chilli and pink peppercorn (previously known as 'fire'). this is a deliciously dark 70% cocoa bar laced through with finely ground chilli flakes and pieces of fragrantly hot pink peppercorns. both lend a different type of heat to the chocolate giving it depth and character and a real kick. i have some great recipes for using this bar so look out for them in the coming weeks! they are about to be launched on the website this week and are already in a few 'ahead of the game' shops.

summer is truly in the air with our white chocolate and raspberry bar. i am not usually a great fan of white chocolate but the way the little pieces of raspberry add a little tart zing through the sweet, creaminess of the white chocolate really brings it to life.

look out for them both in the next few weeks....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

lime and black pepper tart

last night, our friends mary and eliot came round for dinner and aidan cooked a great indian meal with homemade paneer, lots of bhajis, samosas and freshly made naan bread.

inspired by the lime and black pepper bar, i decided to try a variation on my favourite recipe for lemon tart.

i had a distaster with the first pastry case when i turned it upside down to empty the beans after blind baking it. much to elsie and esme's delight, it broke into a lovely pile of crumbly, buttery biscuits! after a moment of stress and panic, i followed their lead, had a biscuit and a coffee and started again. the end result was superbly zesty with a twist of heat.

lime and black pepper tart

sweet shortcrust pastry

250g plain flour
3 tablespoons caster sugar
155g chopped butter
iced water

zap the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until it forms fine crumbs. slowly addd iced water to form a soft dough. knead lightly and refrigerate in clingfilm for half an hour.

lime filling

220g caster sugar
4 eggs
250ml cream
250ml lime juice and zest
lime and black pepper chocolate bar

preheat the oven to 180 C. roll out the pastry to fit a 25cm tart tin with a removable base. prick holes in the base and line with greaseproof paper. fill with dried beans and bake blind for 10 minutes. remove the beans (do not turn upside down!) and bake for a further 10 minutes and then take it out the oven. turn the oven temperature down to 160 C.

while the oven cools, melt most of a large lime and black pepper bar over water at a low heat. reserve a square for flaking over the finished tart. drizzle the melted chocolate over the bottom of the tart case and pop in the fridge while you make the filling.

for the lime filling, mix the eggs, sugar, cream and lime juice with zest until combined. skim any bubbles or foam off the top and pour into the tart case. bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until just set and then pop it in the fridge until the tart is firm.

serve it cut into wedges with clotted cream, lime slices and a twist of black pepper. top with shavings of chocolate.

variations to try: lemon with fresh mint or orange with cardamon

Saturday, July 12, 2008

kind words indeed....

we have had some glowing reviews of late from the brilliantly informative chocablog.

after one of the reviewers, simon, had visited the factory and shared the enjoyment of the products on the blog, i sent him a few more samples for him to cast his well travelled chocolate loving taste buds over. what i love about the blog is the honesty with which the reviews are written. these are people who appreciate chocolate and seek it out far and wide, if they like something they let you know about it, and if they don't they are not shy about saying so! it means that the opinion they are giving is an honest one....

check out the reviews of the cocoa bean bars and the summer collection of discs. and it is worth a glance at the reviews of the skellig chocolate award winning baby fig and rum and brandy plums. i think it is fair to say the chocolates i sent are going down fairly well so far! i can't actually remember what else i sent but i am completely addicted to the blog anyway now whether or not it features our chocolates!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

temple bar chocolate festival

we are very excited about the up and coming chocolate festival in dublin's temple bar. billed as 'a celebration of tasting, making and discovering chocolate!' who can fail to get excited. if you are around dublin between the 25th and 27th of july be sure to pop down to the temple bar area for get a taste of all things chocolate. there will be varied programme of events including films, talks and tastings, check out http://www.templebar.ie/ for more information.

the chocolate fair on the sunday afternoon (12pm-4pm, meeting house square)is bound to be the highlight though because cocoa bean chocolate co and skelligs chocolate co will be there with a whole lot of tasters and products to get your hands on!

we will also be running a competition at the festival to come up with a fabulous new flavour for the cocoa bean bar range. the winning flavour will be produced in a limited edition range for sale on the cocoa bean/ skelligs website with all profits going to the winner's chosen charity. so get your thinking caps on and my taste buds tingling.....

do come down to temple bar if you get a chance; it will be a chocoholics dream.

Monday, July 7, 2008

in search of hot chocolate gossip

i've spent today getting together a list of shop owners and managers that i miss. it's quite long! when i used to have more time, after esme started school and while i was still pregnant with elsie, i loved ringing around our shops to chat to customers of cocoa bean who had become more like friends over the years.

since having elsie, i often only find time to email in the evening which is useful but functional: i send price lists, statements, forward food or chocolate news and press releases but i'm missing the real hot chocolate gossip!

today i discovered that helen falvey, a veteran cocoa bean chocolatier, is working in sheridans cheesemongers in galway. hooray! i think this will be a brilliant place to start on my mission to reconnect with the food obsessives of ireland. then i'd love a proper chat with grainne in chocolat, ennis and anne in butterslip, kilkenny.

so, here's to elsie settling for her lunchtime sleep, to a tall mug of chilli chocolate (alright, so it's not only for breakfast) and some good old fashioned gossip...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

pregnant cravings

i'm delighted to let all pregnant chocolate lovers know that chilli hot chocolate for breakfast is my most recent craving and i seem to be thriving on it. i sometimes eat fruit too...

milk chocolate chip shortbread with orange zest and cardamom

the rain was so incessent this morning that i decided that instead of bemoaning the wintery weather in the middle of july i would embrace it and spend the day in the kitchen cooking warming, hearty fayre.

it was in the middle of preparing a lamb curry that a watery sun came out, but by that point the fragrance of the cardamoms had already seduced me and i had my heart set experimenting with a milk chocolate chip shortbread with cardamom and orange zest.

shortbread was the obvious choice, as this recipe contains 8oz of butter and i am attempting to lose a bit of weight (you will probably notice over the following posts, as i record the food i love to cook and eat, how regular and always half hearted these attempts are; it really takes only the slightest craving or excuse to throw me off course).

this recipe, as i suspected it would be, was perfect for this afternoon's baking fest. it filled the entire house with a lovely smell of spice and orange, maybe not the types of smell you'd hope to find tempting in the middle of summer but truly comforting for this type of day. and it is certainly one i will file away for christmas time too.


8oz butter
4oz sugar + a bit extra for sprinkling
1oz cornflour
11oz plain flour
zest of one orange
1/2tsp crushed cardamom seeds
2-3 drops of vanilla extract
3 1/2oz milk chocolate drops
(feel free to substitute for dark chocolate)

  1. preheat the oven to gas mark 3, 160C or 140C with a fan.
  2. gently melt the butter either in a microwave or in a pan.
  3. add the orange zest, vanilla extract and the crushed cardamom into the melted butter;stir to make sure they are well mixed.
  4. add the cornflour, sugar and flour and mix well until they are all combined.
  5. mix in the chocolate drops and make sure they are evenly distributed through the mix otherwise it is just unfair.

  6. spread the mixture evenly into a swiss roll tin and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  7. bake for 40-45 minutes and check the shortbread is cooked, it should be firm and going golden at the edges.
  8. cut, and then leave to cool. when cool turn out.

the results

these are a lovely, crumbly shortbread with a lovely sweetness from the chocolate and the orange and a delicious, subtle spicy undertone.

we enjoyed ours with a hot chocolate (made with cocoa bean's milk hot chocolate mix, of course!). i am taking them into work tomorrow to share round, so as not to eat them all myself; here's to actually hoping it is not a balmy summer's day....

the lamb curry, in case you were wondering, was mildly disappointing.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


welcome to our new blog!

we are me (emily) and sarah (my sister). we have decided we need somewhere to share all the experiences we encounter both in terms of running our chocolate company (www.cocoabeanchocolates.com) and all the other chocolatey off shoots of our lives!

so this blog is to be a record of our chocoholic frolics, our recipes, our musings, our mess ups, our triumphs and our chocolatey adventures.