Sixteen Shades of Chocolate, Part 2

16 Shades of Chocolate I forgot, in writing my previous post, to say how things went with us and our Sixteen shades of chocolate! Both my brother and I were slightly concerned at taking away vanilla, honeycomb, raspberry sorbet, and all of our other popular flavours for the food festival to make way for a scooping cabinet filled only with chocolate ice creams.

How foolish! Customers were transported. It made my chocoholic heart melt to see the ecstasy and beaming faces. We offered a scoop with Valrhona special reserve melted chocolate on top as a festival special. I don’t think we’ve ever witnessed such abundant happiness!

Many thanks to our staff, who staunchly coped with the onslaught and allowed me to run around on festival business…

By the way, Laura, who showed true pioneering spirit in coming down for the first annual festival (along with her “lesser-spotted specius ice-cream fiendius”), has posted a photo of my brother and I doing our cooking demonstration here. I think Laura and Fiendius definitely get the award for customers of the year!

On a final note, I think it would be pretty cool to somehow include food bloggers in the next year’s festival. Maybe we could set up a blogging wifi kitchen. Any ideas?

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Dingle Food Festival Huge Success

Clodagh McKenna in St. James Church I am happy but exhausted! The Dingle Peninsula Food and Wine Festival was a bigger success than anyone of us could have ever imagined.

Camphill at the marketEvery event was packed, especially the cookery demonstrations in the church. For the last charity cook-off on Sunday, festival-goers even filled the balcony.

The only real problem the festival had was that everyone sold more food than expected, and many in the market and on the taste trail sold out either late on Saturday or early on Sunday. Still, one could have worse problems!

Michael in the Fevre VanThe wine tastings worked well, and there were many in Dingle with high spirits indeed! The highlight defintely was the Sheridan’s Cheese and wine tasting in the Dingle Framer’s Gallery. Talk about decadent!

The local support was tremendous and really ensured the success of the festival. We also raised a bundle for the festival’s charity – Hope Guatemala.

I think that there is little doubt in anyone’s mind that this will be an annual event. Clodagh McKenna’s TV program on Dingle should go out in March.

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Cups vs. Litres

Measuring cup It’s funny – as I’ve been working through recipes for the cookbook and for our demonstrations, I’ve come up against the problems we had in our early days with using cups as measures. We only use litres and grams for production here, and now I remember why!

The “imperial” or UK pint is 20 ounces. A US pint is 16 ounces. A UK cup is 10 ounces, and a US cup is 8 ounces. The problem is that here in Ireland, depending on the manufacturer of the measuring cup, it might be US or UK. That’s a 20% difference in volume!

We had so many recipes come out wrong in the early days. We knew the standard here was imperial, so we did our calculations. What we didn’t expect was that we were sometimes using US measuring cups. We couldn’t understand how recipes could come out so differently, until we finally figured it out.

I wonder how many people out there have been disappointed with the results of recipes that might be US measures and they have a UK measuring cup, or vice versa.

So… I’m going metric only in the cookbook, with a conversion page. Believe me, what ever you might think of metric, it’s far safer!

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Chocolate Whiskey Sauce

Chocolate Whiskey Sauce As part of the food festival, my brother and I will do a cooking demonstration in St. James’ Church in Dingle (Saturday, 3:30). We’ve decided to do brown bread ice cream with a chocolate whiskey sauce. I’ve been tinkering away with the sauce, and here’s what I’ve come up with…

Chocolate Whiskey Sauce


  • 150g good quality dark chocolate (I used 2 bars of Valrhona Gran Couva)
  • 100ml milk
  • 20g sugar (around 1.5 tablespoon)
  • 45ml cream (about 3 tablespoon)
  • 30ml whiskey (about 2 tablespoons)

What to do:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
  2. Irish Whiskey PouringHeat the milk and sugar in a very small saucepan over low heat to a low simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the milk in small parts to the melted chocolate, stirring all the time until you have a smooth, glossy emulsion.
  4. Stir in the cream.
  5. Allow to cool completely.
  6. Stir in the whiskey.

Note: you can freeze this sauce if you won’t use it all soon. Otherwise, it will last in the fridge about 3 days.

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Sixteen Shades of Chocolate

Chocolate Ice Cream Cone My chocoholic streak has triumphed over all sense, I think, as we’ve decided to take all our other ice creams out of our shop‘s scooping cabinet for the Dingle food festival and serve up only chocolate ice cream. Sixteen flavours of chocolate! My brother is as excited as me (he shares a common chocolate gene). Here’s the line-up:

  1. Valrhona Tanariva (milk chocolate)
  2. Chocolate Hazelnut Praline
  3. Chocolate Sorbet with organic ingredients
  4. Chocolate with Baileys
  5. Chocolate Love (with raspberry and chocolate shavings)
  6. White Chocolate
  7. Valrhona Single Estate: Palmira
  8. Mixed Belgian and French Chocolate
  9. Black Chocolate Sorbet (using cocoa and 100% Lindt Chocolate)
  10. Chocolate Whiskey
  11. Skelligs (strawberry and champagne) truffle
  12. Stracciatella (for the faint at heart)
  13. Aztec Chocolate with chilli peppers and other spices
  14. Chocolate Crunch (with caramalised nuts)
  15. Chocolate and Honeycomb Swirl
  16. Mocha

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Can the Italians Standardise Coffee?

Espresso According to the Telegraph, the Italians are so offended by the quality of espressos in European cafes that they are trying to set out a golden standard for their favourite drink. The Telegraph writes:

Marco Lion, the head of Italy’s parliamentary agriculture commission, is worried that the “true identity of Italian coffee” could be lost because, he says, many cafes in Europe do not have the faintest idea how to make a good cup.

Espressos must be “of a hazelnut hue with ornate flourishes of red and a smokiness that creates a uniform tiger-stripe pattern”.

Meanwhile, the “crema”, which sits on top, must be like a “tight sweater, with very fine bubbles, if at all, and of a height of between two and four millimetres”.

…and… “There is only one true and authentic way to make a cappuccino, but for some reason there appear to be myriad types sold in cafes,” he said.

I have to say I agree with his concerns. The purist in me hates the drift to ever bigger drinks, hotter drinks, less care given by baristas under severe time pressure, and style over substance. One would like to think a fight back by the Italians might help solve things, but somehow I doubt it, especially since the cappuccino in the Telegraph’s photo is all about latte art. Poor Signor Lion would have palpitations if he saw it…

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Trip down memory lane

Keys to new shop As I’m writing the introduction for the upcoming ice cream book, I’ve dug out some of the old photos from the Murphys Ice Cream archives.

Sean and Kieran Murphy outside shop

It’s quite something to see how much things have changed since 2000, when we opened! The top photo shows my brother and I on Strand Street in Dingle with the keys for our new shop (originally Nell’s Cafe).

The photo on the right shows our first sign, and ourselves enjoying our first ice creams.

I’m so glad we got rid of the orange colour!

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