Sara’s Salted Peanut and Caramel Sundae

A few days ago, we were playing with sundaes in our Dingle shop. We reached the stage where our bellies were groaning from all the tasting, when Sara (wearing green hat in photo below, with Claire), who happened to be working that day, piped up and said, “Yeah, those are good. But do you want to taste something amazing? It’s a peanut sundae with honeycomb ice cream.”

I politely said, “Please make one for us,” even though I was thinking, “I couldn’t really eat another bite of a sundae. And peanut? Hmmm. Doesn’t sound great. Where’s the subtlety in peanuts? Where’s the panache? Besides, it doesn’t have chocolate in it.”

Of course the last bit is my personal criteria for any dessert, even though I try to be open minded and make sure we offer all sorts of things in our shops. After all, I’ve been reliably informed that there actually are people out there who don’t always choose the chocolate option on the dessert menu.

Anyway, Sara waltzed off to the shop for some peanuts, whipped up the sundae, and presented it in front of us. In went tentative spoons, and all I can say upon tasting it is that Sean, Niamh and myself all had one of those transcendent moments where you think you’ve never tasted anything so amazing in your whole life. We couldn’t even speak. Our full bellies forgotten, we just ate until every last bit of it was gone.

I don’t know why it is so good. There’s nothing really special in it. There’s no secret ingredient or bit of culinary whizz bang. Whatever way the peanut, cream and the caramel meld, both in terms of taste and consistency is simply amazing.

Believe me, this will be on our menus very soon…

Thanks, Sara!

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Very Minty Milkshake for Paddy’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and if you want a hint of green in your dessert to celebrate, you have a couple options. You could grab a bottle of green food colouring and add it to most any dessert that is light in colour – from whipped cream to vanilla ice cream to creme caramel. It’s effective, but it’s something we would never do at Murphys. We’re stubborn that way, and on point of principle, we never use colouring – natural or otherwise. Of course, that limits the options for a green Patrick’s Day dessert of flavour.

However, it can be done, and the obvious candidates for green flavours are matcha (green tea) or mint. The latter makes an especially tasty milkshake if you are a minty kind of person, and I like mine strong. Blending fresh mint leaves with ice cream and milk makes also creates a pleasing light green hue that gives a nod to the patron saint of Ireland. Here’s how you can do it:

Fresh Very Minty Milkshake

Ingredients (serves 1):

2 scoops vanilla ice cream

1 cup milk.

30 fresh mint leaves (removed from the stalk)

What to do:

1. Put the ice cream, mint and milk in the blender or food processor and allow it to soften for at least two minutes. Blending it straight away will leave lumps of ice cream in the shake.

2. Blend until smooth, on high speed.

3. Garnish with cream and a mint leaf.

4. If you really like mint, add more leaves!

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Tiramisù della Mamma

tiramisu I like to think I’m quite adventuresome in the kitchen. However, with certain foods I’m an absolute traditionalist, and tiramisù is one of them. Italian for “pick me up” or “pull me up,” there are some who say the dessert originated in Sienna and others who claim it’s a relatively recent invention from Treviso, near Venice. In any case, it’s the one dessert that so regularly disappoints me at restaurants that I have stopped ordering it unless I am absolutely certain they will do it right.

marsalaFor me, tiramisù must have mascarpone, and it must have egg yolks (unlike Gordon Ramsey’s and Jamie Oliver’s versions – although from a catering standpoint I can understand why they don’t want the risks associated with raw eggs). I don’t want it with orange flavouring or variations of the alcohol (Marsala wine).

I guess you could say I want my tiramisù the way my grandmother used to serve it up at her house in the Ticino. I pressed her for a recipe shortly before she died, but she confessed that she didn’t actually make it herself and had brought it in on the sly each time we begged her for more. I never found out her source.

However, my partner Manuela, who is from Venice, recently managed to retrieve her mother’s tiramisù recipe. We made it at home last night, and it came out just about perfect in my eyes. Best of all, once you have the right ingredients, it’s quiet easy and quick to make. If you wish to try it, the recipe is below. I’ll call it Tiramisù della Mamma in honour of Manuela’s mother.

Please note that this recipe does contain raw egg yolks, so it’s not suitable for pregnant women, and I would suggest you use fresh, local organic or free range eggs from a source you trust.


Tiramisù della Mamma


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 80 gm + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 250 g mascarpone (at room temperature)
  • 250 ml cream
  • 1 packet savoiardi (lady fingers)
  • 75 ml + 1 teaspoon Marsala wine
  • 125 ml fresh espresso (cooled to room temperature)
  • Pure cocoa for dusting

What to do:

1. Beat 80 grams of the sugar and the egg yolks together.
2. Add the mascarpone and 1 teaspoon Marsala wine and mix until smooth.
3. Whip the cream until you have soft peaks.
4. Fold into the mascarpone/egg mixture.
5. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar to the espresso and stir until dissolved.
6. Add the remaining Marsala wine and transfer to a shallow dish.
7. Dip the savoiardi (lady fingers) into the Marsala/espresso mixture for about 5 seconds.
8. Put a layer of the dipped savoiardi into a round bowl (traditional in the Veneto).
9. Add a layer of the mascarpone/cream custard.
tiramisu210. Add another layer of of the savoiardi, then the remaining custard.
11. Coat the top with dusted cocoa.
12. Refrigerate for at least four hours and preferably over night.
13. Bring out at least half an hour before serving to so it’s not served at a chilled temperature.

Since Marsala wines and espressos vary so much in taste, it might take a bit of tinkering for you to get the balance right between the coffee and Marsala. It’s part of the fun!

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Kanten (Agar-agar) Raspberry Cubes

kanten One of the ingredients used in a lot of Japense desserts is kanten, also known as agar-agar. It’s a gelling agent made from seaweed, and not only is it flavourless and vegetarian (gelatine is derived from animal products), but it’s high in fibre, and contains 0 calories. In fact, it spurred a diet fad in Asia, known as the Kanten Diet. In Japan, we found it as jelly cubes in desserts such as Anmitsu, sometimes served with ice cream, or in traditional Japanese sweets.

I brought back a packet from Tokyo, and when I saw a beautiful-looking punnet of raspberries in the supermarket, I had to use it! Here’s what I did:

Kanten Cubes with fresh Raspberry


  • 4 gm kanten (agar-agar) powder. If you can only find the flakes, you’ll probably need to use more…
  • 350ml water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • kanten2About 12 fresh raspberries

What to do:

  1. Put the water in a saucepan, and sprinkle over the kanten powder.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat.
  4. Add the lemon juice.
  5. Pour into a 6″ square container, and allow to cool at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  6. It should have thinkened a bit by now, so put in the raspberries in neat rows, pushing them down so that they are covered by the liquid.
  7. Cover and refridgerate.
  8. To serve, remove from the container and cut into cubes.

PS. Agar-agar is most likely available at your local whole foods shop.

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Mini Strawberry Meringues

Strawberry Meringues Irish strawberries are in season, and here’s a real crowd-pleaser for a garden party. I tried it out on some very willing friends this last weekend!

Mini Strawberry Meringues


What to do:

  1. Make the meringue recipe, and using a piping bag (or a plastic bag – cut a 1/2″ hole in the corner) pipe the meringues into mini nests about 2 inches in diameter. Bake as per recipe.
  2. Whip the cream.
  3. Once the meringues are cooked, allow to cool, then add a small dollop of cream to each meringue.
  4. Hull the strawberries, and push them into the cream (cut the larger ones into halves or quarters).
  5. Serve, and watch them disappear!

Makes about 40

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Chocolate Fondue for Valentine’s

Chocolate and strawberry Happy Valentine’s Day!

I think there is nothing more romantic than chocolate, so what better thing to make for your loved on than chocolate fondue? There is something so sensual and luxurious about melted chocolate over fruit and other tasty items, and the very act of dipping and sharing fondue makes it special.

Raspberry in Chocolate FondueAs with all things chocolate, start with quality. Find a good, dark chocolate and there is little chance that the end product won’t be delicious.

I like a bit of Port in my chocolate fondue, especially when you’re dipping fruit. If you want even more of a kick, add an extra teaspoon!

Here’s my recipe…

Chocolate Fondue with Port


    200 g 70% Chocolate
    200 ml Cream
    2 teaspoons Port

What to do:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
  2. Warm the cream in a saucepan to a low simmer.
  3. Amaretti dipped in chocolateRemove from the heat and stir the cream into the chocolate in small parts, stirring all the time.
  4. Chocolate and RaspberryChocolate and RaspberryThe chocolate will clump at first, then it should become smooth and glossy.
  5. Stir in the Port.
  6. Transfer to a fondue pot and enjoy!

My five favourite things to dip into chocolate fondue:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Bananas
  3. Raspberries
  4. Biscotti
  5. Amaretti biscuits

I’m sure you can think of many other delicious things to dip!

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Warm Lime Meringue Mousse

Lime Meringue Mousse The idea for this this tasty dessert came originally from the New Basics Cookbook, but I have modified the recipe (for starters, it uses lemons, and the method and ingredients are different here). Anyway, it’s a light and fluffy dessert that always goes down a storm…

Warm Lime Meringue Mousse


Eggs and Limes60g Butter
150ml Fresh Lime Juice
Zest of Two Limes (finely zested)
200g Sugar
5 Eggs

What to Do:

1. Put the 100g of the sugar along with the butter, lime zest, and lime juice in a saucepan and cook over low heat until all the ingredients are melted together. Allow to cool slightly.

2. Separate the eggs.

3. Beat the egg yolks into the lime/sugar/butter mixture.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. (Do not let it boil, or you will have scrambled eggs with lime!). Remove from the heat.

5. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the rest of the sugar and beat until they are stiff and glossy.

6. Fold half the egg whites into the lime custard, stirring gently until they are combined.

Lime Mousse7. Pour into 6 ramekins.

8. Carefully spoon the rest of the egg whites to the half-full ramekins, so that the egg white is on top of the custard as a top layer.

9. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden in colour.

10. Serve immediately!

This has gone to Helene at Tartelette as part of her HHDD mousse party…

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Chocolate Tapioca Pudding

Chocolate Tapioca Tapioca makes a great pudding base, and it was a favourite in our household when I was growing up. It’s a simple dessert to prepare and great comfort food for the Winter. Since it has quite a neutral taste, almost anything can be added for flavouring.

Tapioca comes from the cassava root – a plant originating in Brazil but now common across Africa, South America and Asia as its root is nutritious and can be used for making many types of food. In these parts it comes in pearl or flour form (used as a gluten free alternative to wheat flour), and it’s the pearls I use.

Apparently, there is a thing called “bubble tea” that is all the rage in Taiwan and Asian communities around the world – it’s tea or fruit drinks served with tapioca balls mixed in. I must try that sometime, but I digress… All things must come back to chocolate, and since I did a black and white drink, why not a black and white dessert?

Try this for a simple and delicious end to a meal:

Cocoa Tapioca Recipe (served with vanilla ice cream)

100 gm tapioca Pearls
Chocolate Tapioca Closeup50 gm cocoa (pure, unsweetened)
50 gm sugar
700 ml milk

What to do:

1. Mix the cocoa and sugar together.

2. Add 100 ml of the milk in small parts, mixing until you have a smooth paste.

3. Transfer into a small saucepan, add the rest of the milk and tapioca, and heat over a low flame.

4. Stir continuously, keeping the pudding just below a simmer, until the pudding thickens and the pearls become clear (about 20 minutes).

5. Top with vanilla ice cream and serve!

Serves 4

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