Michelle Darmody is baking with the old favourite - coffee

A COFFEE cake is an “oldie but a goodie”, I love it when freshly baked, but it also lasts quite well in a tin, for a few days.

Keep it in a cool place, but not in the fridge, as this will make the sponge hard and dry. It is one of those cakes that I come back to time and again.

It is not too challenging to make and anything smothered in coffee buttercream icing is a positive for me.

The more typical recipe for this cake uses walnuts but I think pecans give it a more subtle flavour, the walnuts can be bitter.

Hazelnuts also work really well if you prefer to use them.

Coffee is one of life’s treats. I enjoy the hit of caffeine as well as the richness of its taste.

There has been a coffee revolution, for want of a better word, over the past decade.

Irish palates have become more discerning and micro-roasters are providing

employment up and down the country.

Coffee is one of the world’s most traded commodities.

Many small roasters buy it in large sacks on the exchange and then create added value here in Ireland using their expertise to create rich and interesting blends.

I generally drink my coffee short and strong, a double espresso once, maybe twice, a day.

I do not have the patience for measuring and weighing coffee once I am in the comfort of my own home, I use my trusty old stovetop moka pot each morning and that is what I used to make the coffee for all of these recipes.

Coffee soaked prunes with mascarpone can just as easily be a dessert in its own right, without the trappings of the ginger cake.

They are a very tasty combination and which can be topped with some crushed amaretti or ginger biscuits, if you liked the idea of that combination.

Affogato is another simple but effective dessert made simply by pouring a strong espresso coffee over a scoop of good vanilla ice-cream.

Coffee and pecan nut cake

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  • 225g of soft butter
  • 210g of caster sugar
  • 225g of self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 100g of pecan nuts, chopped
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 40 mls of strong espresso

For the icing

  • 120g of soft butter
  • 220g of icing sugar
  • 20 mls of cold espresso
  • a drop of milk, if necessary

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees. Line an 8 inch round, loose base or springform tin with baking parchment.

Place the softened butter and the caster sugar into your mixing bowl and beat with the whisk attachment until the mixture is light and fluffy.

In another bowl combine the other ingredients. Add these to your butter and sugar and mix slowly until everything is combined.

Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Beat all the ingredients for the icing in the mixer with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy. Add the milk if necessary, it just loosens the mixture slightly and makes it easier to spread.

Ice your cake and serve.

Coffee and chocolate pots

  • 240g of dark chocolate, broken into small, even size pieces
  • 100 mls of strong espresso coffee, warm
  • 3 tbs of dark rum
  • 1 tsp of golden caster sugar
  • 290mls of cream

Place the chocolate pieces into a bowl with the coffee and rum. I use a 70% chocolate for this recipe.

Bring the cream and sugar to a gentle boil. Pour this over the chocolate mixture and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Divide the mix between 6 small containers and refrigerate until it has solidified.

Ginger Loaf with Mascarpone and Coffee-soaked Prunes

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  • 230g of self raising flour
  • 1 level tsp of bread soda
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of mixed cake spice
  • 110g of cold butter, cubed
  • 100g of light muscovado sugar
  • 280mls of milk
  • 100g of treacle
  • 115g of golden syrup
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Coffee soaked prunes
  • 200mls of espresso coffee
  • 20g of golden caster sugar
  • 250g of soft stoned prunes, halved

To decorate

  • 250 mls of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • the zest of 1 small lemon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a 2 lb loaf tin with parchment

Put flour, spices, soda and butter into a bowl, and mix till it forms fine breadcrumbs.

In a saucepan gently warm milk, sugar, treacle and golden syrup together, stir occasionally, till the sugar dissolves. Lightly mix it with the flour mix, then add the eggs, and beat on a low speed, or with a wooden spoon, until it is smooth.

Pour the cake batter into a the lined tin and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes then turn out onto a wire wrack to cool completely.

While the cake is baking add the coffee, sugar and prunes together in a heavy based saucepan, simmer over a low heat for about ten minutes and set aside to cool.

Mix the honey and lemon zest through the mascarpone.

Once the cake is cooled slice through the centre and spread some mascarpone and then sprinkle this with some of the prunes. Place the other layer of cake back on top. Spread the mascarpone over the cake. Place a line of the prunes on top and serve.




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