Ice Cream Bling in Japan

 I’m off to Japan in a couple of weeks, joining a Bord Bia food tour (life could be worse!)

In researching ice cream there, I came across a Japanese outfit, q-pot, who make jewelry in the shape of ice cream and other sweets, as well as sweet-themed accessories, including Chocolate ipod cases!!! (photo right).

I think I’ll have to stop in!

By the way, if anyone has any tips for ice cream in Japan, ice cream of the edible kind, I’d be most eager to hear them! 

In fact, any tips would be welcome…

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A Quiet(ish) Wren

It was a quiet Wren’s Day in Dingle, without the huge crowds we’ve seen over the last few years.

I don’t know if that’s a sign of the times, but in many ways it made the day more special.

It was more about the music and the marching, and less about the onlookers.

For us, out on the march, there was the added benefit that there was no problem getting into pubs on the way and ordering drink.

There were also special moments, such as up at the Dingle hospital, the last resting place of Peig. It’s a usual stop for the wrens, and playing music in the wards is one of the highlights of the day (video below). This year, it had special poignancy since there’s a new retirement home being built, and this will be the last tour of the old hospital, which goes back to famine times, for the wren.

Here’s the John Street Wren in the hospital:

Here’s the John Street Wren outside our shop on Strand Street:

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Brandy Snaps for Christmas

 Here are some brandy snaps I made, and if you’re looking for an easy baking treat, it doesn’t get much easier than this. I rolled these, but you can also leave them flat. They are just as tasty! For good measure, I dipped mine in chocolate… I adapted the recipe from an old Cordon Bleu dessert book. 

Happy Christmas!

Brandy Snaps


  • 230 gm butter (room temperature)
  • 230 gm sugar
  • 230 gm flour
  • 80 gm golden syrup
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 tablespoon brandy

What to do:

  1. Heat the oven to 180C and lightly grease a baking tray. 
  2. Put the golden syrup, butter and sugar in a pan and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour, ginger, and brandy.
  4. Put small, teaspoon portions on the baking pan, about four inches apart. I used a piping bag, which makes things easier, since the dough is a bit sticky.
  5. Bake for 7 minutes, until golden brown. 
  6. Remove and allow to cool on the baking tray for about five minutes before removing. 
  7. That’s it!
  8. If you want to roll them, as I did, butter the handle of a wooden spoon. After you remove the cookies from the oven, leave them for a minute or so (or they will fall apart), then wrap them around the spoon handle, holding them in place until they take the shape. 
  9. If you want to dip them in chocolate, melt about 100 gm chocolate. Transfer to a small cup or bowl. Dip the cookies, and place on a non-stick baking sheet until they are dry. 

Makes about 40 cookies.

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Mini Chocolate Grand Marnier Brownies

I spent today making mini chocolate brownies to give out to our customers over Christmas. To make things a little more interesting, I enrobed them in chocolate.

If you wish to try them, follow the recipe here, substituting Grand Marnier for Kahlua. Mind you, they would be very good with Kahlua as well!

I tried baking them different ways – spooning out small amounts on a baking sheet, and also simply baking them as normal in a baking pan and then cutting them into very small squares. I think the latter method is definitely easier!

To enrobe them, melt some chocolate to 31C or so, and use a fork to dip in the cooled, cut brownie pieces. Leave them on a non-stick sheet to cool. If you know how to temper the chocolate, so much the better (they will last longer and not discolour).

Use good quality chocolate, and I would suggest adding a little bit of vegetable oil (I think grapeseed is best and used about 5% of the chocolate volume) to thin the chocolate. This helps you avoid making the chocolate shell too thick.

If you think there is no such thing as too much chocolate or too thick coatings, ignore the above.

For good measure, I drizzled the cooled, enrobed chocolate brownies with some melted white chocolate.

We’ll soon find out if our customers think they are a tasty as I do!

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Book of Sweet Things Wins Award

 I’m delighted to announce that our cookbook, The Book of Sweet Things, has won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for best Irish dessert cookbook!

The book was garnered mostly from this blog, so thanks again to everyone for your help, comments and feedback!

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Times are Tough

 It’s always upsetting to me when I see children begging, and my friends in NY used to mock me for being a soft touch, since I always gave money. In Killarney, I came across this girl on the street, but as I was reaching into my pocket, I noticed something remarkable.

What a begging bowl! I couldn’t believe it, and as I reached for my camera, my head filled with existential branding questions.

Why would she choose our tub, or was it just handy?

Did she feel that people might think she was just a few pennies short of a scoop?

I stood there and tried to figure out whether I should offer her a different cup or whether I should drop in some money.

In the end, I did neither and just let her be.

Paris Comes to Dublin

 A couple follow on tips from my trip to Dublin. The first was that I was delighted to see that the Palais des Thes has opened on Wicklow Street. I’m sure any tea lovers who have been to Paris will know this outfit, and if you want to serve something a little different and a little more special this Christmas, check out their wide range of blends and single leaf varieties.

Secondly, we paid a visit to the original Donnybrook Fair to see how our ice cream was doing, and we were given a tour of their beautiful new demonstration kitchen, The Cookery Room. It has a great kitchen, is wired for TV, and there is enough space for an audience of at least 50.

They will be offering cooking classes, so keep an eye out in the shop if you’re in the area. In addition, it would be a perfect place to launch a cookbook in Dublin, so if you have one in the works, keep it in mind. If you are interested, contact Donnybrook Fair and ask for Natasha.

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