11 November 2007

Test Kitchen!

homebase is an avid reader of the Ice Cream Ireland blog, and I check it on occasion. The author, Kieran Murphy, runs what looks like a very nice ice cream shop in Dingle, Ireland and the blog is packed with recipes, stories, anecdotes and lots of great photos. So when he asked for volunteers to 'test-kitchen' some of his recipes that he is considering including in his upcoming book, homebase was one of the first people to comment and enlist her support. And she quickly informed me that we would be doing some cooking when she visited this weekend. We made a trip to the grocery store after I got off work on Friday and after a little dinner, got to work in the kitchen.
First up, we made the Extreme Cocoa. We used Ghiradelli cocoa and it is a simple recipe but the end product was well received by the tasters. It was rich, velvety and intensely chocolate, but still very drinkable. The recipe made a nice amount; the six servings stated were probably right on, perfect to warm up a few friends or family after any outdoor winter activities. We were glad that we made the whipping cream, as we thought it really balanced things out nicely, plus it just looks so nice especially with the chocolate shavings we added.
Next, we worked on the Gourmet Chocolate Crust. Nestle's 60% dark chocolate is what we ended up using for this one. That, paired with butter was all that was called for, so again, the simplicity factor was very high which is nice when you want to try several recipes in a night. We had picked up some Breyer's Natural Vanilla ice cream earlier so we got out our small bowls and began applying the crust to the ice cream. Now, the old adage that too many cooks spoil the soup is just a wives' tale, isn't it?!? After the first sample was served, neither of us were perfectly content with it so we kept working at it, except with one of us scooping the ice cream and the other spooning the topping, neither of us thought the other person was doing their job exactly right so we had considerable 'sharing of advice' going on and someone may have considered rubbing someone's nose in the ice cream at one point. :) In the end we were laughing our heads off and we had a half dozen dishes of ice cream & topping on the counter, out of which I got maybe one decent picture. My opinion on this one (not sure if this feeling was shared by homebase) is that, to really be a 'crust' it would need to be just slightly thinner so it could pour easier and cover more of the ice cream before chilling into its shell. The flavor was great and it had no problem setting up just like it should, I just wanted it to spread a bit more before setting.
Lastly, we attempted the Strawberry & Sage ice cream. I would chalk this one up as a flop. The strawberries & sage are supposed to be cooked into a coulis, which I never felt got thick enough. It was very watery and when we folded it into the ice cream base, the watery coulis was too heavy so it just get separating. I did get a chance to sample it and it had good flavor and I think if it is sort of recombined when served it is still a nice dessert. The sage, even though there were only two leaves, definitely was tastable and I liked the combination of it with the strawberries. One last suggestion was noted by homebase, that it would be helpful to include an easy conversion for the metric measurements for those of us on the other side of the pond. More pictures can be found in my flickr.
Regardless, it was a very fun night spent in the kitchen, with some jazz on the stereo and caboose showing up towards the end to provide a third and unbiased opinion. I know for sure that these three will not be the end of our attempts at mimicking some of Ice Cream Ireland's wonderful treats.
[co-authored with homebase]


  1. His recipes are fantastic so we must try more. Hope to get his book if we can manage the cost of shipping it to the US. He is a super nice guy, seems so from his blog. :)

  2. Brilliant post! Thanks so much. I'll have to give another look at that strawberry and sage recipe.

    I appreciate the comments re: conversions for the book. There's a great conversion site for on-line use here.

  3. Sounds like a very fun night - and the chef checked out your handiwork, which is nice!

    I agree w/middleson on the 'crust', although if aimed at an American audience, I'd have to suggest that the thicker the chocolate layer the better.

    Finally, I'm pretty sure I can guess to was pushing noses into the ice cream!