There was a little hint of Spring today in Shanagarry. In the planters outside the front door at Ballymaloe, there are dafodiles bloomming and other spring bulbs about to bloom. God bless them because as an active observer of Irish weather, I would not want to peek my head out just yet!
I worked in the kitchen behind the demonstration kitchen this morning preparing ingredients for salads and measuring up this and that. It was a good morning and after lunch, I went to the student’s cooking demonstration. Darina Allen gave the demonstration assisted by two of her talented chef/instructors.
The demonstration featured some delicious goat cheese salads and a wonderful and simple haddock recipe, but the star of the day was the choux pastry. Choux pastry is reasonable easy to make and has so many variations.
There were eclairs, lemon curd puffs, a cheese gallette, cheese choux puffs with and without chirizo, and beignets with rhubarb sauce!
What really caught my attention, though, because I have been thinking a lot about my wonderful friends and family in Boston, was the hot chocolate with homemade marshmellos. If you find yourself snowed in yet again, this might be the antidote.
Recipe from Ballymaloe/Darina Allen
3 1/2 – 4 ozs (100-110g) best quality dark chocolate
2 1/2 fl ozs (62ml/1/4cup) water
1 pint (600ml/ 2 1/2 cups) milk
1-2 teaspoons sugar
4 large teaspoons whipped cream
Put the chocolate and the water into a heavy saucepan and melt on very low heat. Meanwhile, bring the milk almost to the boil (what we call the shivery stage) in a separate saucepan). When the chocolate has melted, pour on the milk, whisking all the time: it should be smoooth and frothy. Taste and add some sugar. Pour it into warmed cups, spoon a blob of whipped cream on top and some homemade marshmallows and sprinkle with a little grated chocolate.
This recipe is also from Darina Allen’s collection of cookery school recipes
“Real homemade marshmallows are a forgotten flavour but are east and great fun to make. Toast them over an open fire or drop one into hot chocolate and watch it slowly melt.”
Makes about 64
2 teaspoons confectionary sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour (sieved)
25g (1 oz) powdered gelatine
2 organic egg whites
500g (18oz/ 2 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
1- 8 inch square tin
Line the tin with bakewell paper (parchment paper), brush lightly with sunflower oil and coat with icing sugar (confectionary sugar) and cornflour (cornstarch). Sprinkle the gelatine to cover 125ml (4 1/2 fl oz/1/2 cup) water into a small bowl. Allow to sponge for to 3-4 minutes. Put the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Whisk the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks, preferable in the bowl of mixer- this makes adding the sugar syrup to the egg whites much easier.
Put the sugar into a saucepan with the 25ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) water. Stir over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and continue to boil fiercely until it reaches 122 degrees C/252 degrees F (thread stage) on a sugar thermometer. Turn off the heat
Pour the dissolved gelatine into the syrup and stir. Watch out – the syrup will bubble up a little.
Switch the food mixer on the lowest setting so that the egg whites can carry on whisking, then pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a gentle trickle, whisking all the time. The mixture will change texture and become creamy. Continue to whisk until the mixture becomes really thick, but still pourable. Pour into the prepared tin and leave to set in a cool place – but not the fridge- for an hour or two.
Dust a clean chopping board with the rest of the corn starch and icing sugar mixture and coat a sharp knife with vegetable oil. Gently ease the marshmallow out of the tin. Make sure that it is dusted all over with icing sugar, then cut into squares. Oil and dust the knife again as often as necessary. Thread the marshmallows onto skewers or spear them with forks. They are delicious toasted over an open fire.
Warm thoughts to you,