Hot Cocoa for the Holidays

Cocoa with Orange Simon from Tuppenceworth and my brother have been asking for a hot chocolate made with cocoa, so I finally got around to creating one for the shops. The basic idea for this recipe comes from the Swiss cantone Ticino, where my grandmother retired, and a very old Swiss recipe book that is long out of print. I’ve made variations to suit my love of full-on chocolate, and this is not for the faint-hearted! However, it does make a thick, spiced chocolate that is perfect for a Winter’s night in by the fire, or as a great addition to a holiday meal.

Murphys Cacao del Ticino

125 g cocoa (unsweetened)
800 milk
225 gm sugar
1/2 teasp. cinnamon
Zest of one orange
2 drops almond essence

Hot Cocoa Holiday1. Mix the cocoa, sugar, cinnamon and orange zest.
2. Add the milk in small parts, stirring to create a paste, then diluting the paste until the milk and cocoa mix are combined. Add the almond essence.
3. Pour into a saucepan and place the over medium heat, stirring all the time until it reaches 60-65C.
4. Strain to remove the orange zest.
5. Garnish with grated chocolate and/or whipped cream and enjoy!

Six servings.


1. If you find it too strong, you can always dilute it with more milk.
2. The amount of sugar will vary depending on the chocolate. Obviously you can add more if you want it sweeter.

3. Beware the almond essence. It is very volatile. Don’t use too much!

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Ice Cream Snowman

Ice Cream Snowman Red Ok, call me a little crazy here, but I’ve had it in my head to make an ice cream snowman for a while, using our vanilla ice cream and chocolate. Since there is a Festive Food Fair over at Morsels and Musings, I thought this might be a good entry, although it’s not exactly a recipe…

Making Chocolate Hats

Still, it would make a nice (though quickly melting) centrepiece to a holiday dinner dessert course or even individual desserts if you want to make a full project of it. So here’s how I made my snowman:

1. I melted down about 100 grams of 70% chocolate and used a spoon to fashion the buttons, arms, mouth, and pipe. I used a flexible baking sheet, but you could also use baking paper. Wait until its completely cold before using a knife to separate it from the sheet. Handle the pieces as little as possible, or they will melt – body temperature is higher than the melting point of chocolate!

2. The hats I made by spreading the chocolate in a circle for the brim, then cutting a chocolate truffle in half and placing it on top. Finally, I coated the chocolate truffle with some of the melted chocolate.

Ice Cream Snowman3. I put a saucer in the freezer to make it good and cold (or the ice cream will melt as soon as it hits it!)

4. I scooped three scoops of vanilla ice cream onto the saucer to make the snowman. I pushed a plastic spoon into the body to give it a spine and help keep it together before I put on the final scoop (the head).  I then put the snowman back in the freezer to harden it before decoration.

5. I decorated it with the chocolate shapes I made, the bottom tip of an ice cream cone for the nose, a bit of red ribbon for the scarf, and put it back in the freezer. That’s it!

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Spicy Aztec Hot Chocolate

Aztec Chocolate I wrote an article for the Irish Times (should be in the Dec. 5th issue) about chocolate, and as part of my research I found out that until the 1830s, chocolate was only a beverage. This got me thinking about doing more variations on the hot chocolates we serve in the shops, and it seemed to me the first place to start was with an homage to Montezuma, the Aztec king of chocolate.

Myth has it that he drank 50 cups of chocolate a day, using golden goblets that were not re-used. He considered chocolate to be a great aphrodisiac, and would always down a goblet or two before visiting his concubines.

Jalapeno PepperChocolate, for the Aztecs and for the Mayans before them, contained spices including hot chilli peppers. This was echoed in the movie Chocolate.

In any case, here’s my recipe. I think it’s a great holiday drink, especially on a cold night!

Murphys Aztec Hot Chocolate Recipe

200 g chocolate (good quality 70%)
800 ml milk
60 gm sugar (4 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Very small pinch dried jalapeno (about 1/16th teasp)

Melting Chocolate1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.
2. Heat the milk, sugar, and spices together to about 45C and whisk to make sure the spices are dispersed and the sugar is dissolved.
3. Strain to remove the chilli pepper.
4. Add the warmed milk to the melted chocolate in small parts, mixing all the time, to create a smooth emulsion.
5. Warm to drinking temperature (55C).
6. Garnish with grated chocolate and/or whipped cream and enjoy!

Six servings.

1. The quality will really depend on the quality of chocolate that you use. I suggest Valrhona, Callebaut, or Lindt dark chocolate.
2. The amount of sugar will vary depending on the chocolate. Obviously you can add more if you want it sweeter. Adding less won’t necessarily make it more “chocolate-y” as the taste buds need some sweetness to bring out the flavour of the chocolate.
3. Beware of the jalapeno. Taste the milk as it’s cooking, and strain it if it’s getting too spicy. It should warm you, not burn you!

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New Tubs Have Arrived

Murphys Ice Cream New Tubs Today I loaded in 50,000 of our new tubs. We’ve printed the top four flavours with a photograph, which will hopefully make it easier for our customers to find flavours. We have also switched to a taller tub. They will be in the shops as soon as we get the labels for the lids!

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Food Producer Courses for Munster

For any food producer in the Munster area who is interested and hasn’t received a flyer, the Rural Food Company, which is a part of Leader Network, is offering some interesting and very heavily subsidised courses in Killarney and in Cashel. They include:

Business Growth and Development (€150) – 5 nights over 2 months, starting Nov. 29th

New Product Development  (€65) – 3 nights, starting Nov. 22nd

Intermediate Food Hygiene (€45) - 2 nights, starting Nov. 29th – Killarney only

Other courses for the future will include brand development, digital photography for food producers, packaging, etc.

Contact details for the courses are here.

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Painting Production

Production When you’re in the ice cream business, one of the important things is to take advantage of the slow season, because there’s little else one can do in the summer month other than churn out product as fast as you can.

The off season is all about house-keeping and planning. So this week we’ve been painting in the production and warehouse, and it’s great to have a gleaming “new” floor in the lab.

I think I will baptise it tomorrow by playing with hot chocolate. I’ve been wanting to do some variations on our basic recipe. I’ll keep you posted!

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Wanted: More Irish Food Bloggers

It’s amazing how few food blogs there still are in Ireland. As far as I know, these are the sum total of blogs dealing primarily with food or drink (excluding myself, of course):

Bibliocook, Bubble Brothers, Conor O’Neill, Diet Cast, Martin Dwyer, Random Grub, Ummera, Where’s the Salt.

Am I missing any? Why aren’t there more?

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A Sweet Cure for Hangovers?

Hangover Drops Given that it’s the weekend, and there might be a few around with woolly heads, I thought it might be pertinent to write about a product my brother found. We’re now stocking Discreet Sweets Hangover Drops in our shops. I wouldn’t know too much about their curative properties, but they do contain panax ginseng, which could well help mental acuity. They are fully natural, also contain bramble, orange, raspberry and rosehip, and the red colour comes from beetroot. I’m going out tonight, so maybe I will test them tomorrow together with a cappuccino!

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