A taste of chocolate heaven in the Kingdom

Culann, Kieran, Finn and Jack enjoy the chocolate tasting at Skelligs Chocolate Factory in Co Kerry

World Chocolate Day was the perfect excuse for sweet-toothed Esther N McCarthy to sample the scrumptious treats at Skelligs Chocolate Factory.

DID you know a single chocolate chip can give you enough energy to walk 150 feet? Following that logic, after our chocolate tasting trip to Skelligs Chocolate Factory in St Finian’s Bay, Co Kerry, we should have just enough energy to walk back to Cork.

Today is World Chocolate Day and as a life-long chocoholic, with the arse to prove it, I felt it my duty to go right to the source for this special day and take a tour of a real-life chocolate factory.

Annoyingly, the kids got wind of it so I ended up with a bit of a sweet-toothed entourage. Three adults, four children and a deep commitment to thorough research. I’m nothing if not professional.

Plonked on one of the most scenic coasts in all the land, overlooking the Skelligs rocks, the factory is a small, family-run business with a open-plan production area where little vats churn fluid chocolate and hair-netted ladies go about their business. Not an Oompa Loompa in sight.

A taste of chocolate heaven in the Kingdom

Finn wields his spoon like a pro while making his chocolate lollipop. 

We got kitted out in plastic aprons, hair nets and shoe covers and went to make our very own chocolate lollipops. The kids loved it, especially the decorating part and may have been slightly overzealous in the sprinkles department. I went for a plain milk chocolate lolly with a dainty dash of white drops because that’s just the kind of classy bird I am.

The other two adults let themselves down with a garish display of fried egg jellies and marshmallows. There was even a spoon-licking incident that frankly, we were lucky to not get thrown out over.

While the lollipops hardened, we moved on to the tasting area, where a passionate Mary Kate told us the higher the dark chocolate content, the better.

To find a favourite, we tried everything she threw at us. Of the dark chocolate we sampled chilli and pink peppercorn, gin and tonic, sea salt, Irish honey, lime and black pepper and rose and pistachio. But for research sake, we also hit the brittles — orange and mint, the truffles — white chocolate lemon and lime citrus, and the clusters — honeycomb and chocolate marshmallow. CEO Colm Healy reveals the gin and tonic is one of their bestsellers and the chocolate shoes won the overall best product at the SHOP trade fair in 2012.

It was hard work, but I persevered and declare the salted caramel my favourite. Although the mint brittle was fantastic too.

* No entrance fee, you can see the chocolates being made, ask questions and taste the treats - www.skelligschocolate.com

Skelligs chocolate lollipops (makes 10 pieces) 

200g chocolate (this can be white, milk or dark depending on personal preference) 

Various toppings: candied peel, nuts, dried fruit, marshmallows, etc. 

In a bain marie style setup (Pyrex dish over saucepan of water — make sure dish is not touching the water) add the chocolate and stir till melted. 

When melted and like a nice chocolate sauce take a dessert spoonful and pour 1 or 2 spoonfuls onto a parchment paper on a tray and with the back of the spoon smooth it out in a circular motion to make a larger circle. Once done take a selection of toppings and go mad. Twirl a clean lollipop stick 1/4 the way up the circle. 

Repeat for as many discs as you can make and place in the fridge till set. Remove and enjoy a quick and easy treat.


Lifestyle

Bonnie Ryan couldn’t be happier.On a roll: Why Bonnie Ryan couldn't be happier

From Ireland to America and fashion to homeswares, designer Helen James is developing interiors products for the high street with an emphasis on sustainability, beauty and function, writes Carol O’CallaghanConsider this: Meet Helen James

Laura Harding goes on location to see where the new adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma was shotBehind the Scenes: Getting the inside story on the movie Emma

More From The Irish Examiner