Extreme Cocoa

Extreme Cocoa I’ve posted various hot chocolate recipes, and this is what we’ve settled on for a hot chocolate with a huge cocoa hit and a drink that’s not too sweet. This cocoa is thick and luscious, and it’s going down a storm in the shops. It’s for real chocoholics only…

Murphys Extreme Cocoa

Extreme Cocoa glass125 g cocoa (unsweetened)
800 ml milk
225 gm sugar
1 teasp. natural vanilla essence

1. Mix the cocoa and sugar.
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 vanilla essence.
3. Pour into a saucepan and place the over medium heat, stirring all the time until it reaches 60-65C.
4. 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, but then again if you do find it too strong, this is probably the wrong recipe for you!
2. The amount of sugar will vary depending on the chocolate. Obviously you can add more if you want it sweeter.

3. You can freeze any excess and thaw it later when you want to drink it…

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Cycling in the Maharees

Maharees With all this beautiful weather, we’ve been really busy in both shops. We are training two new staff members in Dingle and trying to keep up with the work.

Maharees With MountainsStill, I did manage to get out for a cycle, heading over the Conor Pass to Castlegregory and the Maharees. This spit of land, known as the windsurfing capital of Ireland, makes for a perfect cycle on a calm day, since it is relatively flat.

In the summer, it can be full of cars as the caravan parks fill to capacity and the surfers and windsurfers arrive in earnest. This time of year, the roads were quite empty and the scenery beautiful.

As with many places in Kerry, there has been a huge amount of development, with dozens of new houses since I was there last. Still, it’s worth a wander to hear the call of the sea birds and the sound of the waves. If you want a change of pace from the bike, there are miles of shoreline to explore.

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Marzipan Few Irish people seem to like marzipan, but I certainly do. Perhaps people don’t like it because most marzipan here is terrible, and finding the good stuff is very difficult indeed. It helps that I have a sister-in-law who is from Lubeck, and brings back Niederegger every time she returns from a visit home.

So I was thrilled when a friend recently showed me a recipe for making it, which I had never done before or even considered. My first attempt wasn’t nice at all – dried out and tasteless, and that got my juices flowing – things not turning out become an irresistible challenge!

So I tested several recipes. The best one I found in terms of method was here. Cooking the ground almonds as directed brings out the flavour, and the egg white keeps it soft. (There are recipes using raw eggs, but I kept away from them, in case I ever wanted to use the marzipan in the shops). 

More MarzipanIf you want to try it, a few suggestions:

1. Use half the quantities unless you want a huge pile of the stuff.

2. I ignore cream of tartar whenever I come across it.

3. I found I had to add another half cup of ground almonds because the initial marzipan turned out quite soggy.

4. Make sure your ground almonds are super-fine (I gave mine a whirl in the food processor).

In the end, I had soft, tasty marzipan, which I enrobed in 70% chocolate. Yum!

I do think it could use a bit of extra flavouring, and I’ll play around some more. Perhaps I’ll post a recipe when I’m completely happy with it…

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Cycling in Killarney National Park

Killarney Boats I have written here before about Killarney National Park, and I still remain in awe of the beauty to be found within its boundaries.

Killarney Swan

Just before this busy weekend, I had to visit our shop in Killarney to drop off a few things, and I decided to bring along the bicycle for a spin in the park. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this before!

After I was done with my errands, I pulled out the bike and spent a few peaceful hours with the birds and the scenery. The park is a cyclist’s dream, with perfect paths along the lakes and good protection from the wind that usually makes cycling in Kerry a challenge.

I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Killarney, since you will see much more than if you were on foot. If you don’t have your own bicycle, there are places in town to rent one. Pack a lunch if the day is fine, roll up your trouser legs, and head away…

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New Music for the Shops

Salsa Celtica Anyone who has been in our shops knows how much we love our music. I wanted to freshen up the world category, which has more than 3,000 songs (on an Ipod) but has been a bit over-loaded with North African music after my trip to Morocco, so I bought a few albums. My favourite of the lot is Salsa Celtica’s “El Camino.” This Scottish band has a beguiling blend of salsa with a blast of celtic fiddle. Some of it went into our Irish category. The mix of Cuban and Celtic might sound lame, but it really works and the album is well worth checking out…

PS. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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More Good News About Cocoa

Cocoa In case people still needed an excuse to eat good chocolate or drink cocoa, there is more out on the health benefits of cocoa. Professor Norman K. Hollenberg from Harvard Medical School spent years studying the Kuna people in Panama and found that cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart failure were reduced by 10% in people who drink up to 40 cups (!) of cocoa a week. It seems that there is a very beneficial chemical in cocoa called “epicatechin.” Chocoholics rejoice! Bottoms up!

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Brown Bread & Guinness Ice Cream

Brown Bread Guinness Ice Cream We have made one of the nicest flavours to ever have come out of our production, and it is Brown Bread and Guinness ice cream. My brother Sean wanted a special flavour for St. Patrick’s Day, and this is what we came up with. Here it is:

Murphys Brown Bread and Guinness Ice Cream


Guinness cans1 Cup (237ml) Sugar
5 Egg Yolks
1 1/8 Cups (266ml) Cream
1 1/8 Cups (266ml) Milk
1 Can (500 ml) + 2 tbsp. Guinness
2 Cups (500 ml) volume of stale brown bread crumbs (use a dense, dark brown loaf).
7 Oz (200gm) Dark brown sugar
Yield: 6 Servings

1. Measure out 100ml of Guinness and set aside.

2. Boil 400ml Guinness until it reduces to 100ml in volume. Cool.

3. Beat the sugar and egg yolks together until thick and pale yellow.

4. Bring the milk to a simmer.

5. Beat the milk into the eggs and sugar in a slow stream.

6. Pour the mixture back into pan and place over low heat. Stir until the custard thickens slightly (around 70C). Use a thermometer, as at 75C the eggs will scramble!

7. Allow the custard to cool.

8. Put the dark brown sugar in a pan, add the 2 tbsp. Guinness, and cook until it is melted and completely liquid. Remove from the heat.

Brown Bread9. Stir the bread crumbs into the melted sugar, then spread on a baking tray and cook in the oven at 175C (350F) for about 20 min, until the brown sugar is caramelised and the crumbs are crispy. Keep an eye on it, though, that it doesn’t burn.

10. Cool the crumbs, and add to the custard base.

11. Stir in both the reduced and non-reduced Guinness.

9. Whip the cream.

10. Gently fold into the custard.

11. Freeze using a domestic ice cream machine, or cover and place in the freezer.


1. I havent made this recipe for home use, so I would love any feedback if you try it!

2. I combine reduced and non-reduced Guinness because using just reduced loses a bit of freshness in terms of flavour.

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