Baking Cupcakes

Chocolate cup cake I have never baked cupcakes before, but coming across Chockylit’s cupcakeblog made me want to give them a try. We were a little shy on cakes from our baker today in the shop, so I decided to go baking, and above are the results of my efforts using the cupcakeblog’s recipe for chocolate mint cupcakes.

It is amazing what is out there in the world of blogging, and some of the recipes for cupcakes on the above blog are truly interesting, especially the ones using herbs and flowers. There’s even an ice cream cupcake. Definitely something to try soon…

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Good Cooking Chocolate

Valrhona Gastronomie Baking ChocolateWe have decided to bring some good quality cooking chocolate into our shops because it is so hard to find in Kerry. We’ve started with two types of Valrhona baking chocolate.

A big part of our philosophy in terms of making ice cream or anything else is that good ingredients will make a good product.

I know that is a bit of a cliche, but it is true. All the cooking technique in the world wont cover inferior ingredients.

Especially for home cooking and baking, it won’t cost you that much more to source high quality ingredients, and the difference in the final product will be immense.

So if you’re setting out to bake some brownies or make chocolates, chocolate sauce, hot chocolate, or anything else of a chocolate persuasion, please use good chocolate as a starting point!

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Poire (Pear) Belle Helene

Poire Helene Another dessert invented by Escoffier, also with a musical theme, is Pear Helene (Poire Belle Helene). The inspiration came from the 1864 operetta of the same name, by Offenbach.

A favourite dessert in our family, it’s simple and delicious. All it takes is some poached pears (you can use canned ones to make it dead easy, although I wouldn’t during the summer season), vanilla ice cream, and warmed chocolate sauce. That’s it.


It’s a treat I remember from my childhood (and I can thank my parents for lavishing such things on us as youngsters – resulting, perhaps, in my chronic sweet tooth).

I haven’t had it for ages, but leaving my parents house a few days ago, I noticed that their pear tree was full of pears, and that was enough for me to go poaching.

I used a sugar syrup (a ratio of about 1:10 – sugar to water), and only poached them enough to soften them slightly (about 5 minutes).

Pear HeleneI don’t especially like over-cooked fruit, but raw pears are not as luxurious in this dessert. It’s a bit of a balance, though, for soggy pears are not very appealing either…

There’s little assembly required – a bit of ice cream, some warm chocolate sauce liberally dribbled on top, and the spoon is ready for work.

I have seen this dessert presented as whole poached pears resting on a lake of chocolate with the ice cream adjoining them, and that has quite a dramatic effect!

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Ice Cream and Alcohol

Vanilla and Kahlua For me alcohol and ice cream are natural companions. If it wasn’t for the licensing laws in the country, I would love to be able to serve alcohol over ice cream (not to mention with coffees) for the customers in our shops. Alas, that is not to be!

However, it is not illegal to do it at home, and it makes a very adult and heady dessert. You can either pour in some booze first and then add the ice cream or simply serve a shot over the ice cream as you would a sauce.

Kahlua Vanilla 2The Top Ten Combinations that come to my head are:

1. Chocolate ice cream with Cointreau

2. Coffee ice cream with Baileys

3. Vanilla ice cream with Kahlua

4. Mango sorbet with tequila (I favour Sauza) and a bit of lime

5. Raspberry sorbet with Vodka (A good brand like Grey Goose)

6. Cognac with almost anything

7. Blackcurrant sorbet with Guinness

8. Chocolate with whiskey (Irish whiskey is great since it’s not over-powering).

9. Pear, peach, strawberry, or black currant sorbet with champagne.

10. Port with just about anything.

I’m sure you can think of many more!

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Ice Cream Truffles

Ice Cream Truffles Even though it’s busy season, and most of our attention is going into keeping the shops in ice cream, we’ve been playing around with the idea of making ice cream truffles here in the world of ice cream.

I don’t know if it’s a silly idea, but it seems to me that it might be pretty interesting to have a gold box of ice cream truffles in the freezer cabinet of a specialty food shop. It could make an impression at a dinner party.

We’ve just started fooling around with it, but it’s a tasty treat. I would love to get any feedback. Would you buy such a thing?

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Baileys Brownies

Stack of Brownies Our baker Wiebke is 7 months pregnant, and so I’ve been doing more baking than usual. I can’t manage her fantastic cakes, but I can turn out tarts, pies and cookies and brownies without too much trouble.

Brownie with Ice Cream

Yesterday I decided to try a variation on our Chocolate brownie recipe by adding Baileys Irish Cream. I like the combination of chocolate and Baileys, and we have a regular ice cream flavour Bó Dhubh, which is just that.

In any case, the result was very yummy, and if you want to try it, simply use the recipe I gave here and add 100ml Baileys after mixing in the flour.

Brownies are great with ice cream, and I would serve it with a scoop of vanilla or Baileys ice cream and chocolate sauce

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How to Make a Sundae

Ice Cream SundaeLike the banana split, the ice cream sundae has some controversy about its origin, with many towns from Ithaca NY to Evanstown IL, claiming to be its birthplace.

The story I like best is that during the 1890s, when the rage was consuming ice cream sodas in chemist shops, ice cream sodas were banned on Sundays by the preachers as being too sinful. So someone came up with the sundae as a less sinful alternative.

If that was the height of sinning in the 1890s, one does have to say that those were gentler times!

It’s a bit confusing for me, because I can’t see how a sundae would be any less sinful, but maybe it’s down to the lack of fizzy bubbles. However, it must have been considered a bit naughty all right, for the odd spelling of the name is attributed to avoiding an ice cream dessert named after the Sabbath.

To make a sundae, you will need:

What to do:

  1. Take a tall glass, dribble some sauce at the bottom of it.
  2. Put in a scoop of ice cream.
  3. Add some more sauce.
  4. Add a second scoop of ice cream.
  5. Add more sauce.
  6. Top with cream and toppings.

That’s it! Find yourself a long spoon and dig in.

It’s a decadent treat for a lazy summer day!

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Baking with Payard, Part Deux

Yesterday I had a chance to return to Payard’s Simply Sensational Desserts. Chocolate Mousse CakeAfter the success with his lemon tart and reasonable luck with his chocolate tart, I decided to tackle his chocolate mousse cake.

I must say it was tasty indeed! In fact so much so, that I didn’t have the patience to decorate it fully or let the mousse set fully, which is why the middle layers are a bit thin. (It wasn’t all my fault. I had friends who heard I was baking, and they had even less patience than me.)

In the book he suggests two mousses – milk and dark chocolate, but he mentions that he makes it for his own shop with three – white, dark, and milk chocolate. So I did that very thing, using Valrhona for the bitter chocolate, Lindt for the milk chocolate, and Green and Black’s for the white chocolate.

Chopped chocolateFor making a chocolate emulsion he has a different method than I described before.

It’s a tricky thing making a chocolate emulsion, and he gets around it by chopping the chocolate, adding boiling cream, and stirring it until the mixture is smooth.

This works very well and has a velvety result, if you have the patience to chop all that chocolate!

However, I think we’ll stick with our method for the chocolate sauce and hot chocolate!

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