Sunday, June 24, 2012

lemon meringue

i am experimenting with a lemon meringue chocolate as a new flavour for a cocoa bean bar. we had a lemon chocolate in the past as part of our classic collection, made initially with just lemon zest and later with the addition of a lemon oil from urru. having tasted meringue in chocolate alchemist's eaton mess, i became inspired. only one batch has so far been combined with chocolate; the rest disapearing into the mouths of my family before i could spirit them away!

the white chocolate experiment was too sickly, even with the tartness from the zest. i still stick to my belief that white chocolate needs spices to counteract the cloying flavour. when combined with our chilli, cardamon and ginger or chococo's cardamon and saffron it gains something verging on sublime. otherwise it still tastes to me like the offerings of the milky bar kid.

this meringue recipe has delivered great results every time - crispy outside, soft inside and i hope to soon be reporting on my results with milk and dark chocolate. the only problem is i have a punnet of fresh strawberries and just seem to have whipped up some double cream. hmmm...


115g caster sugar
115g icing sugar
4 free range egg whites


heat the oven to 100 C
whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks in a metal bowl.
combine the caster sugar a spoonful at a time and whisk for about 5 seconds in between additions until thick and glossy
seive the icing sugar and combine a third at a time
spoon in dollops onto parchment and cook for about 1 1/4 - 1/2 hours
the meringues should sound crisp when tapped

Friday, April 13, 2012

extremely delicious ireland

a second great day at selfridges. 
got the chance to try delicious cheese, butter, fudge, soda bread and catch up with old friends as well as explaining the story beind our chocolate, our methods and our new ideas. apparently the place was full of footballers and film stars but i only had eyes for the food. think i recognised a few famous faces snapping up our bars and truffles!

the award winners went down so well i have had to sos colm for more tasting samples

at least one of these boxes is winging it's way to hong kong as an example of 'the best chocolate ever!'

very strange
hoping to make some hot chocolate to give out next week
i can confirm that the gin and tonic marmalde is nice spread on our gin and tonic bar!

new chocolate baby!

congratulations to all of the family on the arrival of Luke Arthur Sean. he has a fine head of hair...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

easter saturday

i had designed honey bunnies and hot chicks for last easter but they never got made because of the fire. these were supposed to be packaged in the noodle style boxes like the christmas stars, chrsitmas trees and winter spice holly leaves.

yesterday, i found my original bunny moulds and decided to have a go at a hot cross bunny for next year. all was going well with the flavours: cinnamon, mixed spice and a touch of fresh lemon zest in good dark chocolate.

then, by mistake, i added too much honey and they were not happy bunnies!

at this stage, i was determined not to give up so i filled the moulds with the very unworkable chocolate, honey paste and popped a raisin into the back of each shape.

i then tempered milk chocolate, added more lemon zest and sealed the raisins with this chocolate backing. the result was surprisingly pleasing in both texture and taste. elsie, the chocolate connoisseur of the family was happy. they definitely need more work but i have a year until next easter!

getting inspiration from the spring sunshine

getting psyched up for all the chocolate eating tomorrow

crazy swinging

elsie upside down
iris ready to go home to a cosy fire and hot chocolate

Thursday, April 5, 2012

happy easter!

happy easter to everyone from the team at skelligs - a much brighter time for us all than last year when the site was still a sad reminder of our fire. that's all behind us now thanks to the tenacity of colm and the support of everyone at skelligs, our local community and all our colleagues, competitors and customers. the cafe is open, the windows are decorated with bunnies, eggs and bumble bees and the lovely aroma of chocolate will greet you to herald the coming of easter. those of you who are still off chocolate for lent only have a few days to wait....hooray! hope you have stocked up for the feasting on sunday.

i know many people don't like actually associating cute spring lambs with the roast they'll have this sunday. there was no squeamishness from a young lad catherine heard from the window of the chocolate factory yesterday calling out to our mountain lambs, 'mint sauce, mint sauce!' hopefully they took the hint and made themselves scarce...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

delicious ireland

we are thrilled to have been selected to represent ireland's finest artisan producers in selfridges for the delicious ireland festival this month.

if you come to selfridges food hall, you can meet me and othe dedicated artisan producers including bakers, cheese and butter makers, meat curers, salmon and eel smokers and sample all of our delicious offerings!

there will be a cookery demonstrations from ireland's most influential chefs including darina  allen, catherine fulvio and richard corrigan.

opening hours
mon-sat 9:30am-9pm;
sun 11:30am-5:30pm
i will be there on the afternoons of april 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 21st, 26th and 27th.
it would be great to see you there!

beauitifully easy chocolate mousse

this is a great recipe to make with children and perfect for tiny treats at this time of year. my children call them cappuccinos because i serve them in little espresso cups - some coffee nomenclature confusion but the name has stuck! if you want to, call them chocolate espressos or make them in generous mugs and add whipped cream for a more typical cappuccino look. you could even flavour the chocolate with a little espresso powder or a few tablespoons ultra strong filter coffee mixed into the egg yolks. i prefer a grating of nutmeg or sprinkle of cinnamon on the top.

break 60g of dark chocolate into a bowl and melt slowly over simmering water. take off the heat.

separate two eggs. i like doing this just by pouring the yolk from one side of the cracked shell to the other, allowing the egg white to fall into the bowl. i like the risk factor with this method. here is iris showing that even a three year old can manage it. the first attempt is waiting in the fridge ready to make scrambled eggs for breakfast tomorrow!

whisk the egg whites in stiff peaks. this still feels like culinary magic to me - children are amazed to see the change in stage from gloopy egg white to beautiful snowy mountains. whisk in two teaspoons of caster sugar. quickly mix the melted chocolate with the egg yolks. whisk in a third of the egg white to the chocolate mixture and then gently fold in the rest of the egg white. pour into espresso mugs and refrigerate for at least four hours.

let any little helpers lick the bowl and the beaters because four hours is a long time to wait!
add any toppings of your choice - cinnamon, ground ginger, grated nutmeg or softly whipped cream. my girls like a sprinkling of cocoa and icing sugar.

Monday, March 19, 2012

lime and black pepper shots

these make a perfect monday treat for when you might have overindulged at the weekend but are not quite ready to face the week without lovely food! i made this with ingredients i had in my cupboard and it resembles a cheesecake. as the beauty of this dessert is the element of experimentation, i would love to hear of other flavour combinations.

melting chocolate slowly over a bowl of warm water
i crushed an amaretti biscuit and combined it with a small amount of melted butter. i then pressed this into the bottom of two shot glasses. in a small bowl i combined a heaped tablespoon of cream cheese, about the same amount of icing sugar, a good squeeze of lime juice and the zest of half a lime. this goes on top of the biscuit base. finally i melted some dark chocolate (i used four pieces of cocoa bean's lime and black pepper bar.) drizzle this on top of the cream cheese and pop them in the fridge. i imagine it would do you no harm to eat them while the chocolate on top is still warm and melty if waiting isn't an option for you!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

easter, ash wednesday and avocado

the skelligs eggs are looking as beautiful as ever this year and with the weather getting warmer this week, i am feeling excited about spring and all things chocolatey: although being ash wednesday, many of you will have a long 40 days of abstinence before the start of feasting! i still stick to my beliefs that there are a lot more things worth giving up than chocolate (cigarettes, beer, ready meals, fast food, playstations...) but as a chocolate maker, i accept i am biased!

it is our eldest daughter, esme's 10th birthday on sunday which means it is nearly 10 years since emily and i first launched cocoa bean at limerick market with esme bundled up in a baby sling. she stills likes pickled sea weed and smoked fish which is definitely thanks to her early contact with the limerick market fish stall and nial's charm!

hope you all enjoyed your pancakes yesterday. i think it is still hard to beat melted dark chocolate and reduced frozen raspberries wrapped in a traditional pancake and dusted with icing sugar. a nice change is to make drop scones and layer them with chocolate in between and top with a pile of fresh raspberries.

this final idea has nothing to do with chocolate but it tastes so good that it needs sharing! ( and it does contains lime like our lime and black pepper bars) dice a large avocado and large ripe tomato. chop a slice of red onion into tiny, tiny squares and mix with the zest and juice of half a lime. add salt and black pepper and mix all ingredients together. it is great on toasted seed bread or with a rich black bean stew. good too with roasted chicken and new potatoes.