Treats for Your Sweet
Our national love affair with chocolate continues apace. Now pretty much synonymous with indulgence at Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day, it seems that any excuse will do - and, in fairness, we have an exceptional choice of very high quality gift ranges to choose from: see Ireland For Food Lovers for details of over twenty of our top producers, many of whom can supply online.
And serious chocoholics should head for Dublin’s Merrion Hotel where a unique culinary extravaganza, ‘We Love Chocolate’ (11-20 Feb 2011) marks the launch of the hotel’s signature chocolate, handmade with fair trade organic 68.7% cocoa in asssociation with the world’s leading professional supplier of high-quality cocoa, Barry Callebaut. (Dirk Schonkeren of Helena Chocolates in Castlebar is Callebaut’s World Chocolate Ambassador for Ireland – see Ireland For Food Lovers for details.)
Executive Chef Ed Cooney and a team of chocolate artisans plan to thrill guests from the moment they arrive at The Merrion throughout the ten day ‘choctastic celebration’, and The Cellar Restaurant even offers a decadent four course chocolate inspired menu complete with Head Pastry Chef Paul Kelly’s luscious chocolate dessert. And they even have chocolate treatments on offer at the hotel’s Tethra Spa...
But you don’t have to go anywhere, or spend a lot of money, to enjoy special chocolate treats – if it’s the thought that counts, why not invest a little time instead and create some treats for your sweet at home?
The following recipes are from baking specialists Dr. Oetker – an international operation with its headquarters in Germany, this fourth generation family business credits its success to their belief that “quality is the best recipe”.
They also have an Irish company based in Dublin, and small producers here may take inspiration from the fact that they started off with one product (baking powder) in 1891, and – thanks to quality that ‘guaranteed success every time’ – the home baking and baking ingredients are still at the core of business which has grown to include new brands and a range of innovative products.
***Heart-shaped cookware is available in Ireland from kitchen specialists, eg www.kitchencomplements.ie; www.kitchencookware.ie; www.kitchendresser.net; www.quirkykitchen.ie
Strawberry Delight Muffins
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Mini Amaretto Chocolate Hearts
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Click for recipe