Tomás Clancy on Easter wines;
Ksara Reserve du Couvent , Lebabon around €16.99 [ Beka Valley in Lebanon is the modern name for Cana (feast of same – water into wine ]
Caves de Lugny AC Macon around €10.99 [Wine of St. Bernard and the Cistercians crucial to the evolution of modern wine]
Mixing chocolate and wine:
Sweeter Conventional ‘Irish’ milk chocolates
Rancho Zabaco, Dancing Bull Zinfandel around €14.99 from Superquinn
70- 85% Cocoa Artisan Chocolate
Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port around €19.99
Over 85% ‘European or Connoisseur Chocolates (Valrhona etc )
Sweet Bordeaux or Botrytis wines (Sauternes of course but these are dear so try:) )
Tesco Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux Blanc, 2006 around €8
Pope Francis family are from Piedmont so Barolo and Asti Spumante are clear Papal wines, but obviously Mendoza Malbecs from Argentina will fit the bill too, but then there are crosses, wines like Masi Passo Doble and Altos Las Hormigas Malbec both joint ventures between Italy and Argentina using joint moneys and staff but above all the cultural and technical resources of each nation.
TWO CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPES
BALLYMALOE CHOCOLATE ALMOND GATEAU WITH CRYSTALLIZED VIOLETS
One of several incredibly rich chocolate cakes, use the best chocolate you can buy, Valrhona, Menier, Suchard or Callebaut.
4 ozs (110g) best quality dark chocolate (We use Val Rhona chocolate)
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) Red Jamaica Rum
4 ozs (110g/1 stick) butter, preferably unsalted
4 ozs (110g/1/2 cup) castor sugar
3 free-range eggs
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) castor sugar
2 ozs (50g/scant 1/2 cup) plain white flour
2 ozs (50g/scant 1/2 cup) whole almonds
6 ozs (175g) best quality dark chocolate
3 tablespoons (3 American tablespoons + 3 teaspoons) Red Jamaica Rum
6 ozs (175g/1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
Crystallized violets (see recipe further down), toasted almonds or praline
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.
Grease two 7 inch (18 cm) sandwich tins and line the base of each with greaseproof paper. Melt the chocolate with the rum on a very gentle heat, peel the almonds and grind in a liquidizer or food processor they should still be slightly gritty. Cream the butter, and then add the castor sugar, beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Add 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of castor sugar and continue to whisk until they reach the stiff peak stage. Add the melted chocolate to the butter and sugar mixture and then add the almonds. Stir in 1/4 of the egg white mixture followed by 1/4 of the sieved flour. Fold in the remaining eggs and flour alternatively until they have all been added.Divide between the two prepared tins and make a hollow in the centre of each cake.
IMPORTANT: Cake should be slightly underdone in the centre. Sides should be cooked but the centre a little unset. Depending on oven it can take between 15 and 19 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile make the chocolate butter icing.
Chocolate Butter Icing
Melt best quality chocolate with rum. Whisk in unsalted butter by the tablespoon. Beat occasionally until cool. (It may need to thicken again). When the cake is completely cold, fill and ice with the chocolate butter icing. Pipe the remaining icing around the top and decorate with crystallized violets or toasted flaked almonds.
The art of crystallizing flowers simply takes patience and a meticulous nature - the sort of job that drives some people around the bend but others adore, if it appeals to you, the work will be well rewarded, they look and taste divine.
What you will need
freshly picked sweet smelling violets
a child’s paint brush
The castor ought to be absolutely dry, so for extra protection, sieve and dry out on a swiss roll tin in a low oven, 140°C/275°F/regulo 1 for approx. 30 minutes. Break the egg white slightly with a fork, it doesn’t need to be fluffy. Using a child’s paint brush, brush the egg white very carefully and sparingly over each petal and into every crevice. Then gently pour some castor sugar over the violet so that every part is coated with a thin sugary coating. Arrange the flower carefully on a bakewell paper lined tray, continue with the other violets. Allow to dry overnight in a warm dry place close to the aga or over a radiator. If properly crystallized these flowers will keep for months. We store them in a pottery jar or in a tin box interleaved with kitchen paper.
AN EASTER CHOCOLATE CAKE
This recipe given to me by my sister is my absolute favourite chocolate cake. It’s a bit of a mission to make but it so worth the effort.
Serves 10 – 12
225g (8ozs) plain white flour
1/2 teaspoon bread soda
2 level teaspoons baking power
225ml (8fl ozs/1 cup) milk
75g (3ozs) chocolate – we use 52% (Valrhona or Callebaut)
150g (5ozs/1 1/4 sticks) butter
275g (10ozs/1 1/4 cups) soft light brown sugar
3 eggs, organic and free-range
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g (7ozs) plain chocolate - we use 52% (Valrhona or Callebaut)
250g (9ozs/2 1/4 sticks) butter
4 egg yolks
150g (5ozs/generous 1 cup) icing sugar, sifted
150g (5ozs) plain chocolate, chopped – we use 52% (Valrhona or Callebaut)
300ml (10fl ozs/1 1/4 cups) cream
2 x 9 inch (23cm) tins
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Grease the tin with melted butter, dust with flour and line the base of each with a round of greaseproof paper.
Put the milk and chopped chocolate into a saucepan, warm gently until the chocolate melts, allow to cool. Sieve the flour, salt, bread soda and baking power into a bowl. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, whisk the eggs with the vanilla extract, add to the creamed mixture bit by bit alternating with flour. Add the cool milk and chocolate and fold in the remaining flour. Divide between the two prepared tins. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes approximately. Allow to cool for a few minutes, turn out carefully and cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile make the filling.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a Pyrex bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Allow to cool slightly
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter in a bowl for at least ten minutes at the highest setting until it is white and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and icing sugar. Beat vigorously for a further five minutes.
When the butter mixture is thoroughly mixed, take 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) of it and add slowly to the melted chocolate. Then slowly pour the melted chocolate down the side of the mixing bowl and fold in quickly and gently until fully combined and smooth.
To make the chocolate ganache
Put the chocolate in a large bowl. Bring the cream to the boil, pour over the chocolate and leave for 8-10 minutes or until cool. Then whisk the chocolate and cream gently until it reaches really soft peaks – careful not to overwhisk or it will be too stiff to spread and may turn into chocolate butter. (Use as soon as possible otherwise it will become too stiff to spread).
To Assemble the Cake
Split the cakes in half with a sharp serrated knife. Spread a little of the chocolate filling onto each cake and sandwich the base of the cakes together. Ice the cake with the chocolate ganache and decorate as desired. We use chocolate curls and dredge them with unsweetened cocoa and icing sugar.