Monday, October 26, 2009

dark chocolate sauce

i meant to include this in the last entry so here it is! this is my favourite chocolate sauce but you can experiment with the strength of chocolate or add flavours. a drop of brandy or liquer works well for a grown up taste or a pinch of chilli or drop of rosewater for a real cocoa bean experience!

175g of dark chocolate broken into small pieces (skelligs dark bar 54% or bitter bar both 71% work well)

115ml water

30g unsalted butter cut into small chunks

6 tablespoons of single cream

3 tablespoons of caster sugar

vanilla seeds from pod or 1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract

in a medium sized pot, heat the water and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved
add the dissolved syrup to the butter and chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot of gently simmering water
keep stirring until they are all melted together

mix in the cream and vanilla

serve while still warm over waffles, icecream, strawberries, banana split, chocolate cake ....

Monday, October 19, 2009

waffles with chocolate sauce

i'm writing this blog on what is now a freezing, grey and drizzly day and can't believe that so recently we were lounging about in sleeveless tops and sunglasses!

we went out for waffles without children which was splendidly indulgent. mary chose vanilla icecream and chocolate sauce and i went for greek yoghurt and strawberries to prove i am capable of choosing something without chocolate, if ony very occasionally!
on saturday, i fancied a try at recreating the waffle experience but don't own a waffle iron so i made drop scones instead. they were very easy to make and though they weren't as crispy as waffles, they did a pretty good job at satisfying the craving!
drop scones or scotch pancakes

125g self raising flour
2 level tbsp sugar
1 egg
150ml milk

i used a heavy frying pan but you can use a solid hot-plate if you are lucky enough to have one. rub the cooking surface with salt to season it. wipe clean and grease the surface lightly.
in a bowl, put the flour and sugar. add an egg and half the milk and beat until smooth. add the rest of the milk and beat the mixture until little bubbles rise up to the surface.
heat the frying pan or hot-plate until the fat is hazing. wipe with kitchen paper and spoon the batter onto the surface. coook on one side.

when bubbles appear on the surace of the scone, turn it over with a palette knife and cook on the other side for 30 seconds to a minute until golden brown.

remove and place on a wire rack. cover with a clean teacloth until the rest are ready or hand straight to eager family and friends but be sure to save some for yourself!
i put all the topping options out on the table so that the girls could have fun experimenting with their own creations: chocolate sauce, icecream, whipped cream, strawberries, hedgerow blackberries, honey and bananas.
the blackberries were a very popular topping with the girls but left them looking like extras from some low budget halloween horror film! esme embraced the role with disturbing enthusiasm...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

how can you resist?

fancy a trip to kerry, the deep blue sea, colm healy proffering the best of our chocoholic offerings? ryanair flies from dublin and stansted to kerry international airport. there are so many fabulous things to do and see near our chocolate factory including a trip to valencia, the lighthouse cafe, a boat trip to the skelligs, dinner at qc's in caherciveen, killarney national park, murphy's icecream or just smelling the turf and salty fresh sea air and then warming up with a pint of guiness or hot port in the moorings at portmagee.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

mastering muffins

sarah is the family expert on muffins, able to whip them up in seconds using anything she has about and they always taste delicious. i, on the otherhand, seem to be able to mess them up even if i'm following a recipe to the letter. i think this is quite an achievement...

i finally managed to produce a batch with the right texture, good distribution of exciting bits and they managed to rise and look good too so i feel i am on the right track towards mastering muffins. the recipe is sort of based on one from the times newspaper but with a few alterations.

blueberry, raspberry and white chocolate muffins.
makes 12

100g raspberries
60g blueberries
40g white chocolate drops
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
125g caster sugar
175ml milk
2 free range eggs
125ml vegetable oil

1. heat the oven to 180c. fill a muffin tin with muffin cases. a bowl sift the flour and baking powder into the sugar. in a jug mix the eggs, milk and oil unil smooth.

3. make a well in the centre of the dry mix and lightly stir in the wet ingredients. don't overmix it, it is meant to remain a bit lumpy. stir through the fruit and chocolate. divide the mixture between the muffin cases.

4. bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden. cool on a wire rack and ideally eat the same day.

you can use fresh or frozen fruit. I was using up leftover frozen bits and pieces from our summer pick your own sessions, as far as i can tell you can sort of make up the 200g of extra ingredients from any combo of other delicious ingredients that you have around or take your fancy.

the other big advantage of muffin mix is that until it is cooked it tastes oily and rank unlike cake mixture. as a pregnant woman with a weakness for cake mix despite the uncooked eggs muffins may well be the way forward.

Monday, October 5, 2009

100g of dark chocolate

we are all aware that dark chocolate has many virtues but even we were surprised to find out that the protein in 100g of dark chocolate (approx 8g) is MORE than in 100g of baked beans (approx 5g).

i'll be the first to admit that the other nutritional aspects don't lean as favourably towards chocolate. saturated fat, for example, not so good. however compared to a cheddar cheese chocolate suddenly doesn't seem so very unholy.

for all the bad press that tinned beans get for their sugar content chocolate beats them hands down. though if you can stomach a jacket potato with 100g of virtually sugar free 99% cocoa solids chocolate next time good on you! i think cheese and beans may stay a more popular topping for now though....