Saturday, August 29, 2009

cocoa bean raspberry truffles

as promised in the last blog. . . these are so delicious, very fresh and should be eaten on the day they are made.

they taste even better if the truffle is not too firm though you have to be swift and expert at enrobing to deal with a very soft ganache.


1 packet of rapberries (fresh or frozen if not in season)
250g dark chocolate about 50 - 60% cocoa solids
3 fl oz single cream or soya cream
1 spoon corn syrup
2 spoons sugar
1 spoon raspberry liquor
dark chocolate for enrobing (70% cocoa solids)


mulch the raspberries through a plastic seive until you have approx 75g seed free juicy stuff. in a small pan, boil this gently along with the sugar for about 5 minutes and reduced by about half the volume.

break the chocolate into small pieces and melt slowly in a bowl over a gently simmering pot of water.

when the chocolate has almost melted, add the liquor, corn syrup and cream to the raspberries and heat again until it reaches a gentle boil.
mix the hot cream/raspberries into the melted chocolate until thoroughly blended.

transfer to a bowl to cool.

when cold, spoon equal quantities onto a plate of cocoa and shape into balls, using the cocoa to stop them getting too sticky.

coat with two layers of tempered chocolate (see 'temper, temper' november 2008) and top with edible pink sparkly dust or a swirled squiggle of tempered chocolate.

to ensure a crisp temper, you can pop them in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. this is particularly helpful in warm summer kitchens.

enjoy these with a glass of rose or a cup of earl grey tea.

Monday, August 24, 2009

chocolates from new york

aidan has been in new york for a week interviewing experts in prevention of genocide. on his last day, as some much needed light relief, he went in search of exciting chocolates to bring back to me.
the first was a very beautiful, white square box of chocolates by the bald man! max brenner's chocolates remind me of artisan du chocolat - stylishly stark presentation and fresh, real flavours in high quality squares of dark ganache.

aidan hand picked the flavours from a large, square glass counter in the centre of the shop. he says he struggled to fill the box without choosing any pralines (i just can't get excited by them!) the dark chocolate cream with wild flower honey was fragrant and smooth and the dark chocolate with spices was excellent. the raspberry was a bit too sweet for my tastes, not as good as cocoa bean's raspberry truffle (recipe to follow soon)

if you're in new york you'll find max brenner's shop on 92nd street y and 1395 lexington avenue. aidan described a chocoholic heaven of churning vats of hot chocolate and floor to ceiling delights. i can't wait to go there one day...

his other find was a bar of scharffen berger 70% bittersweet dark chocolate made with whole vanilla beans. it was fabulous - exactly my style of chocolate - fruity at first, developing to a lasting strength of cocao character.

even opening the bar was a real pleasure. i was also impressed by the weight of the paper it was wrapped in - a slightly sad obsession with packaging i have.

i shared the bar with aidan under a starry sky accompanied by a rose wine by anthony road wine company, made from grapes grown in the finger lake region. a taste of new york that makes me hungry for more!

Friday, August 21, 2009

stocking up at avoca!

this is a picture of my friend, mary clarke, making sure she gets her supply of cocoa bean. apart from a chocolate obsession, she also is fairly hooked on lunch at avoca and managed to also fit in a visit to avoca, suffolk street - all in one weekend! if you've never been to avoca, it's a fabulous and funky department store with unusual clothes, kitchen accessories, books and food. Try their quiche, fresh salads, cakes and coffee. you may sigh a lot as you go round the shop, wishing you could have everything...

Friday, August 14, 2009

apricot truffles

this is an original cocoa bean recipe that was very popular at summer markets. they make a great dinner party accompaniment to coffee or a lovely august birthday present. they are fresh truffles so they only have about a weeks shelf life. they will last longer in the fridge but fridges can make chocolate damp if not stored properly and you should always allow them to come to room temperature before eating to appreciate the full flavour.

250g dark chocolate (about 50% cocoa solids works well)

6 fl oz single or soya cream

3 spoons apricot mulch (dried apricots soaked in water and then drained and blended smooth)
8 dried apricots, chopped

8 blanched almonds, chopped

1 spoon rum

1 spoon brandy

break the chocolate into small pieces and melt slowly in a bowl over a gently simmering pot of water.

heat the cream with the brandy and rum in a small saucepan until it reaches a gentle boil. keep stirring the cream.

mix the hot cream into the melted chocolate. stir in the apricot mulch, chopped fruit and nuts and stir until thoroughly blended.

set the bowl aside to cool. this now contains the chocolate ganache.

when the ganache is cool, shape into balls using cocoa powder.

temper chocolate using the chunk method that emily describes in blog 'temper, temper' november 2008. i much prefer a really good dark chocolate (at least 70%) for this. coat with two layers of tempered chocolate and while the chocolate coating is still wet, top with a thin strip of dried apricot.

if your kitchen is warm, pop them in the fridge or freezer very briefly ( 2 minutes ), to help the chocolate set quickly.

eat them!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

kinvara (chinn mhara) head of the sea

if you've never been to kinvara in county galway, it is well worth a visit. it's the home of the cuckoo and crinniu festivals, a major gateway to the spectacular burren and home of burrenbeo, an interpretative centre with a fabulous cafe and a shop that sells our chocolate!

for those who don't know the magical burren, it's ireland's flagship heritage landscape: a land of fertile rock with diverse flora and fauna, unique panaramas and a rich and vibrant culture.

tonight was the official launch of the burrenbeo trust's new colour magazine and their monthly walk takes place tomorrow (sunday) at 2pm. just to let you know that everybody is welcome on the walk. look at for more details.