It’s not that I need an excuse to bake, especially if there’s a cake and/or chocolate involved, but the radio was so full of International Women’s Day blather today – George Hook was particularly enjoying himself with his list of “top ten females” on Newstalk! – that I just had to make something to distract myself.
Sweet treats for the one you love: Chocolate Caramel ShortbreadNever mind flowers and forget about going out for dinner, with Valentine’s Day tomorrow, get baking for your sweetheart with this Chocolate Caramel Shortbread. This recipe makes plenty to devour and share but it’s so good that your biggest problem will be not eating the entire thing today.
It was only a matter of time before Kieran Murphy’s entertaining Ice Cream Ireland made it to the printed page. The Book of Sweet Things, written by Kieran and his brother/business partner Seán, tells the story of how two Americans got into the ice cream business in Dingle a few years ago. Now Murphys’ Ice Cream is sold from two shops – one in Dingle and the other in Killarney – and their distinctive blue and white containers are stocked in delis and foodstores throughout Ireland. I got my first taste of their wares by picking up a tub of vanilla (or fanaile) in Morton’s of Ranelagh; now, fortunately, I’m never too far from a freezer-full of varieties at work in Urru.
Sometimes you start with one particular recipe and end up going off on a slightly different tangent. That’s what happened with these Chocolate Hazelnut Squares. After a comment by Sarah on my Lemon Traybake, I wandered over to Val’s Kitchen and took a look at the Hazelnut Caramel Slice that she made from a Rachel Allen recipe, dug out the book and started baking.
If you’re anywhere in the Mallow area this coming Saturday, 5 April, you can catch the first Mallow Farmers’ Market in the wee courtyard outside URRU – the culinary store, deli and café where I work – from 10.30am to 1pm. Stalls that will be there include my favourite Fermoy Natural Cheeses, smoked fish from Geraldine Bass’ Old Millbank Smokehouse and herbs from West Cork’s Gairdín Eden, which supply the fantastic salad leaves that we sell in URRU. Hopefully the weather will stay fine!
As a child, I was an avid cookbook reader and collector. Of course, growing up in a small town in the middle of the countryside, there weren’t too many opportunities to actually buy many new cookbooks so the few that I did have were well-treasured. One of my most loved books, judging by the ingredient-encrusted pages, was a cookbook devoted to chocolate. Although the book itself has long since disappeared, it did leave a legacy behind – my beloved Chocolate Brownies recipe.
If there’s one thing nicer than Murphy’s Seacláid (chocolate) Ice Cream, eaten straight from the tub beside the fire (yep, it’s still cold in Ireland!), then it’s got to be that self same cold, intensely flavoured ice cream topped with great generous spoonfuls of creamy sweet/salty confiture de lait. Perfect for an Easter treat! Literally translated as milk jam, confiture de lait is a truly luxurious, indulgent toffee caramel sauce, similar to the Argentinean dulce de leche, and often used as a spread for bread, or even to sandwich cookies together.