Tag Archives: chocolate

Foodie adventures in the wild west (of Ireland)

It’s been at least a week since I’ve posted any baking photo’s or recipes but I’ve just returned from an amazing trip visiting a good friend in the Wild West of Ireland. So for the time being I hope a healthy dose of Irish food porn will suffice…

My mate Brig lives in a gorgeous little village called Kinvara in an area of West Ireland called the Burren in Co. Galway and runs The Burrenbeo Trust, a landscape charity dedicated to protecting the future sustainable management of the Burren region. As part of the charity they run Cafebeo, where I worked for two days and which I completely fell in love with. 

Cafebeo is Ireland’s only conservation cafe, it serves only Burren produce and 100% of its proceeds go back into the work of the Burrenbeo Trust. They serve delicious homemade soups, Burren organic smoked salmon with local goats cream cheese on homemade brown bread and fresh salad and cakes and the most amazing scones baked by a local lady.

I didn’t realise how popular scones are in Ireland. They’re a whole different ball game to English scones…apparently the main difference is the addition of buttermilk. I’m intrigued by them so I’m going to source a recipe and attempt to make my own.

Brig is well aware, as are most people, of my passion for cafe’s, cakes and food in general and did a sterling job of taking me on a tour of all the culinary hot spots in the area. First stop was the Gallery Cafe in Gort…

where, amongst other things, we ate a yummy goats cheese and beetroot pizza. I forgot to take any photos as I was overcome by hunger after a long day working in the cafe 🙂

Every Friday Kinvara hosts a farmers market, my own little slice of heaven…

It had everything….live music…

cheese…

and the most amazing cake stall serving chocolate fudge cake…

carrot cake…

even the gluten free lemon cake looked amazing…

and a chocolate and guiness cake…not a traditional Irish recipe as you may imagine…apparently it’s one of Nigella’s – another to add to my ‘to bake’ list.

After much deliberation and drooling I decided to buy a slice of mango, banana and coconut cake…it was quite similar to a hummingbird cake that I made a while ago from the Hummingbird Cookery book but substituting pineapple for mango. It was one of the most moist, fruity cakes I have ever eaten…

That evening we popped into Galway and paid a visit to Bar No.8 on the docks. It didn’t look much from the outside but the food turned out to be a real hidden gem. The menu sounded so amazingly good that we decided to share a couple of things…

Parsnip, wild garlic and red cabbage fritters with beetroot yoghurt…

Potted crab with Jess’s Brown Bread. The crab was rich and creamy, mixed with celery and spring onion and was accompanied by a scrummy dressed salad. Simply perfect!

We couldn’t resist the chocolate brownie with wild berry biscuit ice cream for desert. It arrived looking like a true work of art, decorated with edible flowers (well at least we hoped they were edible because well…we ate them). They even cut the brownie in half for us so that we didn’t get into a fight about who had eaten most 🙂

We spent my last day on a mini road trip taking in the beautiful scenery of the west coast and despite not being in the least bit hungry, managed to fit in one last cafe trip to the Burren Perfumery

for carrot cake…

and a chocolate cupcake…

After such a wonderful trip it was a real struggle making myself leave Kinvara and get on the plane back to London…I have no doubt that I’ll be back.

 

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Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.

I love perusing food magazines and am amassing a substantial collection, which I flick through every now and again for inspiration. Two of my housemates share the same birthday, which gave me the the challenge of producing a cake amazing enough to be able to get away with only making one for them to share without them feeling slighted.

I found what looked like the perfect solution in the April 2010 edition of Sainsbury’s Magazine….

Devil’s Food Cake with Raspberries

I am so unbelievably proud of this cake and can’t be modest about how good it looked and tasted 🙂 The texture is more fudgy than spongy and it’s supremely naughty…

225g butter

200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

6 large eggs

200g caster sugar

40g plain flour

25g ground almonds

100g white chocolate

350ml double cream

1 tbsp icing sugar

175g raspberries

For the ganache – 

250ml double cream

150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

50g soft butter

Line 2 x 22cm cake tis with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and leave to cool to room temperature.

In a separate large bowl whisk the egg yolks and 150g of the caster sugar with an electric handheld whisk until thick and pale. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and fold together with the flour and the ground almonds.

In another clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the remaining 50g caster sugar and 1/4 tsp of salt until they form soft peaks. Gently fold into the chocolate mixture in batches making sure everything is combined. Pour the mixture into the cake tins and bake for 30 minutes until the cakes have risen and are firm the the touch. Leave them in the tins to cool – they’ll sink but that’s normal so don’t panic!

This is the first time I have ever been instructed to do this but…wrap the cold cakes, still in their tins, in clingfilm and chill for 3-4 hours or even better overnight. I made my cakes on Thursday evening and left them chilling until Saturday and they definitely didn’t suffer for it. The chilling just makes them even more fudgy and delicious!

For the ganache you need to bring the cream to the boil, pour over the chocolate and leave for 2 minutes before mixing it in thoroughly. Leave it to cool for another 5 minutes and then add the butter. Leave to cool and then chill for approx 30 mins as it needs to be the consistency of chocolate spread. The ganache was absolutely amazing…the most sinful, creamy, chocolatey, shiny gloop I have ever seen.

To make the chocolate curls you melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and then pour it onto a baking sheet of plate and leave it to set for approx 30 minutes. Then drag a sharp knife over the surface to produce the curls. I was impressed with how easy this was to do and how professional they looked.

To assemble the cake place one on a serving plate, whip the 350ml of cream with the icing sugar and smother over. Top with the raspberries and sandwich with the other cake. Pile on the ganache and sprinkle over the white chocolate curls….simple!

I was dying to tuck in but had to wait a few more hours…boy was it worth the wait…

The whole cake was consumed in a matter of minutes and the feedback was really good. Using 70% cocoa solid chocolate means that it’s not too sickly, which is also helped by the tangy-ness of the raspberries.

I have most definitely yielded to the Devil…and invited him in with open arms! 

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Brill tiffin

Another cafe that I visit regularly on Exmouth Market is Brill. It’s a small, independent music shop with a few tables and chairs, good coffee and bagels freshly toasted and prepeared to order (I can recommend smoked salmon and gherkin – not a combo listed on their board but one from my personal repertoire). I popped in one day after having already eaten lunch but with a longing for something to satisfy my sweet tooth and I picked up a tiffin.

You may find it hard to believe but I’d never come across a tiffin before so after devouring it I set about googling how to make them. Apparently they’re also known as refrigerator cakes and as the name may suggest, don’t require any cooking at all. I decided that tiffin making would be my mission for this evening. I’m going to Winchester tomorrow to celebrate my friends birthday and thought tiffin would make a good birthday cake substitute.

Here is the finished article…I dare you not to drool….

It was incredibly easy to make and they can be tailored very easily to your individual tastes.

This version contained

125g ginger nut biscuits

125g rich tea biscuits

50g mixed raisins

50g dried apricots roughly chopped

50g walnuts

100g butter

25g soft brown sugar

3tbsp cocoa powder

4tbsp golden syrup.

Oh and as if that isn’t naughty enough….approx 200g melted chocolate to pour over the top.

Crush the biscuits roughly but so they are still quite chunky, I just used my hands, no rolling pins required. Add the fruit and nuts of choice.

Melt the butter, sugar and syrup together and add the cocoa. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until everything is coated with chocolatey goodness. Pour into a tin (I lined mine with greasproof paper to minimise on mess), even out, pour over the melted chocolate and put in the fridge for 1 hour.

It really is as easy as that! Once set use a sharp knife to slice into squares and then enjoy!

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