Wednesday, September 30, 2009

mango and coconut mint truffles

these truffles topped with fresh mint were a great success with coffee at the end of our african inspired dinner party last friday night. although the fuul that aidan cooked was authentic, other dishes were more inspired by flavours rather than from recipes. this is maybe why my coconut jelly served with mango and passionfriut was a complete failure! i haven't used gelatine since school cookery classes and it always led to disaster then. if anyone has any advice, i would be delighted to hear it! i ended up serving it like an ice cold, exotic, sweet soup - with a frogspawn dollop of passionfruit. hmmmm.....

Monday, September 28, 2009

bad girls' breakfast

sunday morning chocolate blowout!
very, very bad but very, very good! wicklow fine food and wildes chocolate do a good irish made chocolate spread or nutella is wonderful if you can't get hold of the others. we used white and dark chocolate chips to contrast with the flavour of the milk chocolate spread and to look pretty too! to make the chocolate pancakes we added cocoa powder to the the flour and then made up the batter as usual.
chocolate pancakes with chocolate spread and double choc chips
makes approx 8 6" pancakes

4 large tbsp plain flour
4 tsp good cocoa powder
1 large free range egg
milk to create correct consistency (similar to pouring cream)

chocolate spread
white chocolate drops
dark chocolate drops

vegetable oil

1. sift together the cocoa and flour
2.add the egg and beat well (preferably with an electric whisk) until a smooth paste is formed
3. add the milk, a little at a time until the right consistency is achieved
4. wipe a non stick frying pan with a little oil on a piece of kitchen paper and heat
5. add enough batter to the hot pan to thinly coat the bottom of the pan
6. when the first side is cooked it should unstick itself when you give the pan and gentle shake
7. flip it!
8. catch it hopefully and cook on the other side for approx 1 minute.
9. place the cooked pancake on a plate and spread with chocolate spread. scatter the choc chips down the centre and fold or roll as you prefer.
10. serve.

it helps to get someone to decorate the pancake while you cook the next. if the chocolate filling is all to much the chocolate pancakes are also delicious with freshly squeezed orange juice and a little sugar.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

hearty autumn stew time - with a chocolatey twist

the cooler weather is the perfect excuse to start cooking up big batches of rich, warming stews and one of our favourites is alistair hendy's hungarian goulash from his indispensible book 'home cook'. the author himself doubts its hungarian authenticity, and i would think a goulash was more soupy than this intense stew, but noone can doubt the delicious comfort of this recipe. an easy and reliable one pot recipe to which i have got into the habit of adding about 25g of intense dark chocolate to at the end of cooking to rev the richness up a notch.
fantastic served with any of the following-
crusty bread and a simply dressed green salad
mashed potato
new potatoes
jacket potato

hungarian goulash (with the cocoa bean style)
serves 6

1 kg stewing steak, cubed
3 tbsp seasoned plain flour
60g lard or 3 tbsp olive oil
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks*
2 onions, finely sliced
2 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 big tbsp paprika
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
a small string tied bunch of fresh bay, thyme and parsley
750ml beef stock
25g dark chocolate*
1 x 250ml pot soured cream
handful of flat leaf parsley

1. toss the meat in the saesoned flour, brown all over in hot fat in a casserole until quite dark then lift out. Cook the meat in batches so as not to sweat the meat. Reserve the remaining flour.
2. next lightly blister the peppers by frying them in the remaining fat, remove and keep to one side. * I roast my peppers in the oven during the casseroles first half of cooking in the oven. I find there is never enough fat left at this stage and the lovely meaty/floury residues begin to catch at the temperature you need to cook the peppers at.
3. add the onion and garlic to the remaining fat in the pan, add a little more fat if required, and gently fry until well softened and touched with brown, then sprinkle over with paprika.
4. add the saved flour to the pan and stir through, cook for a few minutes more, stirring regularly to stop the floured onion catching.
5. add the tomatoes, stir through and bubble up. Add the meat and any collected juices along with the herbs and and enough stock to ensure the meat is completely covered. Bring to a bubble again.
6. put in a 150c oven and gently braise for 2 hours, stirring in the peppers and chocolate half way through the meat's cooking time.
7. serve with a dollop of soured cream and strewn with parsley.

also lovely if cooked the day before and reheated for 45 mins at 180c. garnish with the soured cream and parsley just before serving.

* cocoa bean twists

Friday, September 18, 2009

lola's 'moth buns'

sorry for the absence of recipes of late. i'm currently 6 months pregnant and as i did when i was pregnant with lola i completely went off chocolate until recently! dreadful state of affairs!
i did attempt a banana and chocolate tart recipe from delicious. food magazine but i think the bananas i used were overripe and although the result looked great (the hazelnut pastry was fab but a faff!)it turned my stomach completely and i'm not sure it was because i was pregnant - no-one else raced to eat it either! I would have been much better off using the bananas to make aine's wonderful banana bread she often treats the factory to at tea break!
anyway yesterday was lola's first day at nursery (effectively a lovely holding pen til she starts school properly in january)and she proudly marched off in her uniform giving me strict instructions to make sprinkly moth buns for her return.

moth buns are what she calls chocolate butterfly . fairly accurate really. so anyway it is the basic cupcake recipe that we have posted previously but with a little message for my super duper growing up girl.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

diary of the chocolate shop - willie's cacao

rose, at the chocolate shop in the english market, reflects on willie and how he's creating a real buzz around great chocolate. . .
we were delighted to add willie's world class cacao to our range of premium bars last spring. willie harcourt-couze's chocolate was made famous through a channel 4 series which followed him as he created delectable chocolate from 'bean to bar'. during the show he converted a group who had, until then eaten only mass market chocolate, to his high cocoa content bars. remarkably we saw the same ting happen at our shop. initially it was only the curiosity factor but then people were truly transformed and began to experiment wih the whole world of real chocolate. what fun for less than a fiver; discovering the subtle single estates to the funky flavours of cocoa bean!
willie's venezualan back and peruvian black 100% cocoa blocks are also a hit with customers, and are marvellous as an ingredient for sweet and savoury dishes alike - his cloud forest cake is easy to make and everyone loves it. it also makes an authentic dark chocolate drink. however, demand is already strong for his rambunctious get up and gocoa which is due out shortly and has been scientifcally proven to accelerate the fat burning process! i have a feeling that will be most popular of all ...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

christmas is coming...

we have already started making and wrapping chocolate for christmas. this will carry on into the last mad weeks of december, reaching a crescendo of frantic festive spirit. emily's baby is due on christmas day which makes the build up even more exciting!

even stranger than wrapping christmas bars in september is thinking about eggs, chicks and bunnies. harvey nichols and avoca's seasonal buyers will be looking for easter ideas long before carol singing begins.

when i'm not at work, i have to remind myself to enjoy the season we're in. it's autumn and the sun has finally come out in the glen! seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness - rosehips nearly ready in the hedgerows and homemade blackberry jam.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

so bring me some figgy pudding . . .

clara and elsie are pictured with the tasting tray. a brown turkey fig grown in clara's garden (slightly soft, slightly rough looking) pitted against a black bursa fig from a leading quality food hall advertised as 'perfectly ripe from the orchard...this is simply one of the best figs we have ever come across. grown in the bursa region in the north of turkey, the black bursa is a plump, black fig bursting with a super sweet jammy texture and delicious rich flavour.'

there was no contest.... the home grown fig was so vastly superior that the supermarket import was left outside to dry slowly in the last of the sun. it's bland flavour reminded me of chewing on a piece of grass. the flowery description above is so perfect for the freshly plucked home grown fig. it was juicy. it made us happy. i'm going to grow figs next year.

look out for a fresh fig chocolate truffle recipe soon. i just have to somehow convince clara and family that my need for the last of their seasons fruit is the greatest!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

burrenbeo walk

the burrenbeo monthly walk is this sunday (6th september). it's suitable for all ages and is led by a local farmer and a burren specialist. this months walk is led by botanist dr. stephen ward with michael keane. see for more information.

call into burrenbeo's lovely cafe and shop in kinvara. you can even get cocoa bean chocolate to restore your energy...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

i love this!

after nearly five years of talking about sourcing a counter display for our cocoa bean bars, i finally have one sat beside me on my desk.

i am so happy with it that i'm jealously guarding it and haven't even eaten one of the rose and pistachio bars yet - i don't want to ruin the beautiful symmetry.

you should start seeing them on the counters of our stockists soon.

also seen in the photo is the view from our factory; the atlantic ocean, the skelligs rocks, sheep and mountains - but just look at those bars - magnificent!