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Butlers Chocolates - Special Irish Foods & The People Who Make Them

Butlers Chocolate EggGeorgina Campbell

Chocolate may once have seemed an unlikely speciality for artisan producers in Ireland to adopt in their droves, but it has proved a very successful one. There seems no limit to the Irish passion for chocolate and, fortunately for producers, no seasonal downs either, although there are pleasing peaks at Christmas, Valentines Day - and Easter.

A large number of skilled chocolatiers are now turning out top quality products all over the country and, while many of many of them are one-man (or woman) operations in small kitchens, there are also larger companies with a well-earned reputation for quality and innovation, of which Butlers Chocolates (www.butlerschocolates.com) is probably the oldest.

Dating back to 1932, the company was originally called Chez Nous and founded by an enterprising lady called Marion Butler who ran it until 1959 when it was taken over by the Sorensen family of Cork, who still run it today.

Enterprise and innovation have continued to bring success, with major milestones including the opening of the first Butlers Chocolate Café in 1998 (there are now more than fifteen in Ireland alone and the concept has exported very successfully to some surprising destinations, including New Zealand).

The Butlers Chocolate Cafés in both terminals at Dublin Airport are a very welcome sight, although a painful reminder of the missed opportunity to use our airport shopping areas specifically to showcase the best of Irish, as the original duty-free shops once did at Shannon Airport.

Cake Decorating at Butlers Chocolate ExperienceMore recently the company opened the Butlers Chocolate Experience in north Dublin, which is now one of Dublin’s top attractions and includes a chocolate museum, chocolate cookery classes (with Ballymaloe trained demonstrator, Yvonne Carty) and children’s birthday parties as well as the factory tour. The tour takes an hour and a half and it’s best done on a weekday if you want to see the factory in action.

A great day out over the Easter hols, perhaps - but it’s very popular so booking is essential (small discount when booking online).

The Butlers Easter range is much in demand at the moment, of course, and there’s a great online shop offering a painless way to get everything from hot chocolate to seasonal treats or wedding favours.

Recipe From Apron Strings, Recipes from a Family Kitchen by Nessa Robins

“I grew up with a serious love of chocolate biscuit cake. For as long as I can remember, the popular treat that my mother would make was her famous chocolate biscuit cake. Never there a birthday party or a family gathering but a large tray of it was on offer. It was a perfectly simple recipe, and a lot less luscious than my own version, however it is still a recipe I use to today.

Jack loves orange-flavoured chocolate, and he also loved my Mam's biscuit cake. So for his eighth birthday I developed this recipe. The invigorating zestiness of orange along with the creamy chocolate gives such a wonderful depth of flavour to this cake. It is incredibly indulgent, so a little finger per serving will suffice. It benefits greatly from resting, tightly parcelled, in the fridge, so only pack in a picnic hamper just before leaving the house.”

Use any good quality dark chocolate (min. 60% cocoa solids) for this recipe. [All of the Butlers Chocolates bars can be used for cooking, notably their plain white and dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids); the range is available online from their website.]

Chocolate Orange Biscuit Cake

Chocolate Orange Biscuit Cake by Nessa Robins300g Marietta biscuits

250g good quality dark chocolate
100 butter, melted
1 tsp drinking chocolate
½ tsp of orange extract
1 tin condensed milk

Topping:

100g milk chocolate, melted
½ an orange, zest only

Roughly crush the biscuits in a bowl.

Melt the chocolate, butter and drinking chocolate together in a large bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat, and then stir in the orange extract and condensed milk.

Pour this chocolate mixture over the bowl of biscuits and stir well to combine all the ingredients.

Line a 2lb loaf tin with cling film (or baking parchment) and spoon the mixture into it. Place the tin in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.

Place on a serving plate and drizzle with the melted chocolate and grate over the zest of half an orange.

The cake will keep in the fridge for 3 days.

 

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