Eunice Power - Outside Catering Company, Waterford, Ireland.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Cuisine: Irish
Course: Dessert
Cooking Time: 90 mins

Ingredients for the cake:
2oz/50g cocoa powder
4oz/110g butter
4floz/110ml oil
8floz/225ml water
12oz/350g sugar
8oz/225g self-raising flour
2 eggs
4floz/110ml milk
half tsp bread soda

Ingredients for the chocolate Swiss meringue:
9 egg whites
600g granulated sugar
600g butter, softened but cool
1 tsp vanilla extract
330g chocolate (I use 55% cocoa), melted
For the meringue mushrooms:Makes 12
2 large egg whites – older ones are better
150g caster sugar
1tsp cocoa powder
100g plain chocolate, melted

For the cake, preheat an oven to 150 degrees/gas 2. Grease and line an eight inch/20cm cake tin with parchment paper.

Put the cocoa, butter, oil and water into a wide saucepan and bring it to the boil. Remove from the heat and then stir in the sugar and flour. Beat together the eggs with the milk and bread soda and then add this mixture to the saucepan. Pour this into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1¼ hours

Allow the cake to cool and then turn it out onto a wire tray and let it get completely cold, which will take a few hours.

Meanwhile make the Swiss meringue. Place the egg whites and sugar in a large metal or glass bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water, and whisk, continuously, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture looks opaque.

Remove the bowl from the heat, add vanilla extract, and whip on high speed until completely cool.

Whip in the butter, a tablespoon at a time, until thick and fluffy. If it begins to look curdled, continue to whip until it comes back together, before adding the remaining butter. Fold in the melted chocolate. If the egg whites and/or the butter are slightly too warm, the buttercream may not thicken properly. This can be easily remedied by placing it in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, then whipping again.

To make the meringue mushrooms, pre-heat an oven to 130 degrees/gas ½. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a clean dry bowl, preferable stainless steel or glass, whisk the egg whites and sugar together at full speed until the mixture forms stiff dry peaks. This will take eight to 10 minutes. Put a round tip about 10mm wide on a piping bag and fill the bag with the meringue mixture. For the stems, press out a tiny bit of meringue onto one of the trays, then pull the bag straight up. Do not worry about making all of the pieces exactly the same. The mushrooms will look more natural if the pieces are different sizes. To pipe the mushroom caps, squeeze out round mounds of meringue onto the other baking tray. Pull the bag off to the side to avoid making peaks on the top. Place the cocoa powder in a fine-mesh sieve and lightly dust it over the stems and caps then blow on the cocoa powder vigorously to blur it and give the mushrooms a realistic look. Bake for one hour and then turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool in the oven. When cool, the stems are attached to the caps using a little melted chocolate to glue them together. The stems may need to be trimmed so use a sharp knife to cut the tip off each stem to create a flat surface.

To assemble: Divide the cake into three evenly-sized layers. Line an eight-inch/20cm tin with cling film, place one layer of cake in the bottom of the tin, spread a thick layer of the icing over this layer, put the second layer of cake on top and repeat with the icing, and put the final layer on top of this. Cover with the cling film and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

Remove the cake from the fridge, take it out of the tin and remove the cling film. Cover the cake with a thin coating of icing, then, using a ruffle nozzle, pipe the icing on the sides of the cake.

Once the cake is decorated put it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to set again. Decorate with the meringue mushrooms. This cake will keep for at least a week.

Photography: Shane O’Neill,
Food Styling: Leona Humphreys,

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Orange And Almond Christmas Cake

Cuisine: Irish
Course: Dessert
Cooking Time: 90 mins

Ingredients for cake:
200g of butter, softened
200g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
200g self-raising flour
The rind and juice of one small orange
100g of ground almonds

Ingredients for the almond paste:
130g ground almonds
75g caster sugar
75g icing sugar
1 large egg
A dessert spoon of brandy
To ice and decorate:
2 x 350g bags of instant royal icing .
Icing sugar and mandarins to make dried orange slices

First make the almond paste. Sieve the ground almonds and icing sugar together. Add the caster sugar and mix well. In a separate bowl whisk the egg and brandy together with a fork and add two thirds of this liquid to the dry ingredients and bind them together.

Do not add all of the liquid at the start as you may or may not need it all, depending upon the size of your egg. Add the remaining liquid only if it is needed to bind the mixture together.

The almond paste should look like a ball of pastry after it has been kneaded together. Wrap in cling film and store in the fridge until required.

Preheat an oven to 150 degrees/gas 2. Butter and line a deep eight-inch/20cm round cake tin.

Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. Pour in the eggs and orange juice and beat well. Mix in the flour one third at a time. Fold in the ground almonds and orange rind until evenly mixed. Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin.

Roll out the almond paste to a 7½ inch/19cm circle. Lay this on top of the cake mixture in the tin, and then cover with the rest of the mixture.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean; the skewer may be slightly sticky from the marzipan in the centre. Cover with foil after one hour. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes and then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To ice the cake, I used royal icing made by CPAC in Foxford, Co Mayo, as it has the whitest colour - some instant royal icings can have a bluish tinge. I used dried oranges to decorate. I find that mandarin oranges have the brightest colour. To dry the oranges, slice them thinly and lay them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Dredge them with icing sugar and dry out in the oven at 100 degrees/gas ¼ for three hours. These also make gorgeous Christmas tree decorations.

Photography: Shane O'Neill,
Food Styling: Leona Humphreys,

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Doughnuts With Cranberry Dipping Sauce

Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Cooking Time: 45 mins

  • 300ml warm milk
  • 75g melted butter
  • 1 x 7g sachet of fast action dried yeast
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Extra caster sugar with a large pinch of cinnamon for coating
  • 300g fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 200g sugar
  • 150ml orange juice
  • 100ml water
  • 1tsp freshly grated ginger
I took my deep fat fryer out of hibernation for these sugar coated beauties. I tried to make them using a saucepan filled with hot oil but found it hard to control the temperature of the oil, causing the doughnuts to burn before they were cooked – so it's definitely a job for the plug-in fryer.

Put the flour, sugar, salt and dried yeast in a large mixing bowl and stir until combined. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Add the milk and gently warm the milk until tepid, then mix in the yolk. Stir this into the dry ingredients. Roll into a ball then knead on a floured board for five minutes, until springy. Put it back in the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave it in a warm place for an hour or so. The dough will almost double in size.
Knock back the dough and break it into 25g balls. Place on a baking tray and allow to prove for another 30 minutes, covered with a clean tea towel.

Meanwhile heat the oil in the deep fat fryer to 180 degrees Celsius. Gently lower the dough balls one at a time into the hot oil, in batches of two or three, and fry for three to five minutes, or until golden-brown, and then carefully turn over. Remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Scatter a thick layer of caster sugar onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle over a large pinch of cinnamon and mix. As you take each one from the oil, roll it in the sugar to coat These can be made a few hours in advance, and reheated in a low oven for 10 minutes. Serve warm with cranberry sauce.

To make the cranberry sauce, place the cranberries, sugar, ginger, orange juice and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over a gentle heat and let the mixture come to the simmer until the cranberries start to burst. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent cranberries from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Remove from the heat and process in a blender until smooth. Using a spatula, push the blended sauce a little at a time through a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. Discard the contents of the strainer. Cover the sauce and refrigerate until needed. If it thickens too much, you can thin it out with a little water.

Photography: Shane O Neill
Food styling: Leona Humphries,


Little Mincemeat & Almond Tarts

Cuisine: Irish
Course: Dessert
Cooking Time: 45 mins

For the pastry:
  • 175g plain flour
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 100g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 free-range egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp cold water
For the almond topping:
  • 70g melted butter
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 140g ground almonds
  • 70g caster sugar
2 jars of mincemeat (or make your own)

You will need a 24-hole mini muffin tray. To make the pastry, place the flour, butter and salt into a large, clean bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, working as quickly as possible to prevent the dough becoming warm.

Add the water to the mixture and, using a cold knife, stir until the dough binds together. Add more cold water, a teaspoon at a time, if the mixture is too dry.

Wrap the dough in cling film and chill it for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Remove the pastry from the fridge. Place on a lightly floured surface and, with a floured rolling pin, roll out to the thickness required – about the thickness of a €1 coin.

Using a pastry cutter slightly larger than the holes on your muffin tray, cut out 24 circles and line each muffin hole.

For the almond paste, mix all the ingredient together until you get a smooth paste.

To assemble, spoon a scant teaspoon of mincemeat into each of the lined muffin holes and cover with the almond topping.

Pre-heat an oven to 160 degrees/gas 3 and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly in the tin and remove. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

The little tartlets can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge or freezer until needed. They can be cooked from frozen.

Photography: Shane O Neill
Food styling: Leona Humphries,


Lemon Curd, Crushed Meringues & Whipped Cream

Cuisine: Irish
Course: Dessert
Cooking Time: 30 mins

Makes 12 small or six large ones
  • 6 meringues or meringue nests - crushed into small chunks
  • 200ml whipped cream
  • Lemon curd
  • 100g butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 4 lemons - if you can find unwaxed lemons,all the better
  • 4 eggs and additional 2 yolks
The success of this dessert relies on the quality of the lemon curd, after that it is a simple assembly job. You can buy or make meringues. I use an assortment of little glasses and pots to serve this wonderful tangy dessert in, giving guests a teaspoon to tuck in.

On a very low heat melt the butter, add the sugar, lemon rind, lemon juice and sugar and stir in the well-beaten eggs.

Contrary to most recipes where lemon curd is stirred using a wooden spoon, I prefer to use a whisk as I feel it add lightness to the curd.

Stir with a whisk from time to time until the butter has completely melted. Let the curd cook, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, until it is thick and custard-like. It should feel heavy on the whisk.

Remove from the heat and stir occasionally as it cools. Pour into spotlessly clean jars and seal. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
To assemble, spoon the curd until the glasses you are using are one-third full, cover the curd with a dollop of lightly whipped cream and sprinkle generously with crushed meringues.

Another take on these ingredients is to mix together the whipped cream, lemon curd and crushed meringues . Line a 2lb pudding bowl with a double layer of cling film and fill the lined pudding bowl with the mix. Wrap in cling film and freeze overnight, or until needed. Remove from the freezer 30 minutes before required, and turn out on a serving plate. If you have lemon curd left over, pour some on top and serve. This will serve six. If you have some curd left over, it will keep in the fridge in a covered jar for two to three weeks.

Photography: Shane O Neill
Food styling: Leona Humphries,


Chocolate Salami

Cuisine: Irish
Course: Dessert
Serves: 0
Cooking Time: 20 mins

  • Makes 3 x 25cm salamis about 5cm wide
  • 250g butter
  • 150g Golden Syrup
  • 400g dark chocolate
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 250g Digestive biscuits, broken up into small pieces.
  • 100g walnuts
  • 100g sultanas
  • 2 tbsp of rum
  • 200g glacé cherries
  • 100g desiccated coconut
I was first introduced to chocolate salami by a Portuguese work colleague in London. It arrived in a Christmas parcel from her mother, beautifully wrapped in cellophane with string tied around it to replicate its meaty counterpart. I have adapted my biscuit cake recipe to make three chocolate salamis. There is plenty of room for personal expression when making this, ingredients can be chopped and changed depending on what’s in the cupboard, just keep the first four ingredients the same as in the recipe.

Chocolate salami is very impressive on a dessert platter or as a petit four served with coffee. It will also keep for weeks in the fridge or a cool place, well hidden, and it freezes beautifully. Be warned – it has that addictive quality which makes it virtually impossible stop nibbling it.
Place the chocolate, butter and Golden Syrup in a large bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and allow to melt, helping it along the way with an occasional stir. When melted, remove from the heat and beat in the egg, add the walnuts, sultanas, cherries, and broken biscuits and stir until all ingredients are combined.

Put a large double layer of cling film on a clean work surface that has been wiped with a damp cloth (this will help the film to stick). Spoon one third of the chocolate mix into the centre of the film – you need a rough sausage shape about 25cm long. Wrap the sausage in the cling film, pushing against the work surface to make it quite tight. Once completely covered, hold the ends of the cling film and roll the salami as if it were a rolling pin, to help tighten the wrap. Tie the ends into a knot, then chill for at least eight hours, preferably overnight.

Repeat this for each salami. To serve, unwrap the salami and roll it in desiccated coconut, then slice using a hot knife.

Photography: Shane O Neill
Food styling: Leona Humphries,


Winter Fruit Salad

Cuisine: Irish
Course: Dessert
Serves: 6
Cooking Time: 15 mins

  • Oranges
  • Pomegranates
  • Honey
  • Pistachios
Having written thus far about chocolatey, creamy and sugary treats, the Mammy is breaking out in me and I feel morally obliged to mention a fresh fruit offering. I am a very visual cook, so while taste, seasonality and flavour are all paramount, the overall look of a dish is also important to me – we eat with our eyes. So that brings me to brilliantly coloured oranges and the jewels that are pomegranate seeds. At this time of year, I use pomegranate seeds constantly. They add sparkle to the simplest of salads.

To segment the oranges, use a sharp knife and start at the top and slice downwards, following the curve of the fruit. Try to cut away all of the skin and the pith without taking too much of the fruit. I usually err on the side of caution and then go back afterwards to trim up spots that I missed. Slip the knife between one of the segments and the connective membrane. Cut until you reach the middle of the orange, but don't cut through any of the membrane. Go slowly and keep your fingers out of the way. Use a scooping motion to turn the knife back on itself, hook under the bottom edge of the segment, and pry it away. The side that is still attached to a membrane will peel away, leaving you with a perfect wedge. Repeat with all the other segments. The first segment is always the hardest to get out and the rest are a lot easier.

Preparing a pomegranate doesn't have to be a sticky, messy job – but do wear an apron and if you are fussy about your hands being stained use latex gloves – as the juice will stain. Insert a paring knife into the top of the pomegranate, angling toward the middle. Cut a cone-shaped piece and gently pry it out. Then, cut a thin slice from the bottom of the pomegranate. Score the ridges – looking down at the pomegranate, you'll see ridges radiating out from the top. Run your paring knife along those ridges, scoring the skin and barely cutting into the pith. Break the pomegranate into segments. Hold the pomegranate in both hands with your thumbs on the cone-shaped indention on top. Gently tear the two halves apart. They should split evenly along the score-marks. Continue tearing the pomegranate along the score marks into individual segments. Release the seeds into a bowl of water. Working one segment at a time, submerge a segment into the water and gently pry away the seeds with your fingertips. The seeds will sink to the bottom while bits of the membrane will float to the top. Repeat with all your segments. I find this whole process very therapeutic. Strain the seeds. Use or store the seeds.

To assemble your salad, sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on the orange segments. Depending on the sweetness of the oranges, I sometimes drizzle a little honey over the fruit, then to add an extra dimension in terms of colour and texture I sprinkle some chopped shelled pistachio nuts on top.

Photography: Shane O Neill
Food styling: Leona Humphries,