There are so many moments that stand out as milestones or proud achievements in our 16 years of chocolate making but Mary’s invitation to be the chocolatier in the upcoming The Great New Zealand Cookbook is definitely in another league. Mary says she’s “over the moon” after seeing the preview of her recipe pages for the book. She feels very honoured to be included in this collection and we are all excited that the books are now in stores available for purchase.
The Great New Zealand Cookbook includes 80 of New Zealand’s best chefs and bakers making food that is perfectly suited to New Zealander’s tastes. Mary produced three recipes for the cookbook – a mint truffle, fruit and nut slab and candied citrus peel. Each of the recipes was made in Mary’s own kitchen, a nice reflection of Bennetts of Mangawhai’s beginnings as a real cottage industry. Mary’s recipes walk you through some essential chocolate-making techniques such as tempering chocolate and making a ganache. These techniques are the basis for many of the chocolates we make and sell every day and we hope that you take these basics and experiment with your own flavour combinations. Chocolate is so much fun to work with and puts a smile on everyone’s face so we are excited to share some of the magic with you.
The cookbook is beautifully produced with stunning artwork and features some fabulous chefs including household names, Al Brown, Simon Gault and Peter Gordon. If you only buy one cookbook this year, this is the one to have!
Start by making the decoration the day before. Whisk the egg white lightly with a fork. Dip mint leaves to coat both sides. Dust with caster sugar. Lay on a tray lined with baking paper and leave to dry overnight.
To make the ganache, place mint, cream and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. Allow to rest for 1 minute, then discard the mint. Meanwhile, break the chocolate in pieces and put in a bowl. Pour the hot cream over and whisk until smooth and glossy. Allow to cool, then cover and place in the fridge until set. Scoop out teaspoons of the ganache, roll into round shapes and place the truffles on baking paper. Set aside.
To make the coating, break up chocolate and place 400 g in a stainless-steel bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of water. Simmer on a low heat, allowing chocolate to melt slowly for up to an hour. Do not allow water to boil.
Once chocolate is melted, remove bowl from the heat. Add the remaining chocolate pieces and stir in until dissolved. The chocolate will cool fairly quickly. When it is at body temperature, place the bowl back over the warm water. After a few minutes, dip the tip of a knife into the chocolate – if it sets smooth and glossy, the chocolate is tempered and ready to use.
With the help of a fork, dip the truffles one by one into the chocolate, shake off excess chocolate, and place on baking paper in the fridge for 15–20 minutes until set.
To finish, decorate with pieces of candied mint leaf. A drop of liquid chocolate helps the decoration stick to the truffle.
Rolling truffles is a messy business, so dip your hands in cocoa powder every so often.
When melting the chocolate, the bowl must not touch the water below as it simmers.
We thought this could be a good opportunity for you to get to know Mary a little better so we’ve put some questions to her:
What was it about chocolate that made you want to pursue training as a chocolatier?
Chocolate is an amazing medium to work with. It offers a huge amount of variety which means it is never boring. When we started I felt we could push the boundaries of innovation within chocolate, for example, we were the first to use the quintessentially kiwi Feijoa fruit in a filling. And I suppose the child in me liked the idea of becoming the Willy Wonka of Mangawhai.
New Zealanders are known chocolate lovers, what is it about Bennetts of Mangawhai chocolates that makes them stand out from the crowd?
We combine well-known local ingredients with high quality chocolate. The pairings we create often bring out something new and fresh to old favourites.
Growing up in Ireland, did you ever imagine you’d end up living half way around the world? What makes NZ home for you?
Falling in love with a kiwi wasn't what I expected to happen but I wouldn't have it any other way. The fact that my children have grown up here and so many of my friends are here makes New Zealand my home.
What was your favourite childhood game/toy?
Swimming was our favourite pass time especially in the summer even though sun was in short supply. We swam in local lakes in County Cavan where I grew up. There are over 300 lakes in this region.
Do you have a favourite item of clothing? What is it and why?
A linen jacket I got 8 years ago. I was in Provence doing some chocolate research when I came across a shop selling beautiful linen clothing. I was admiring the jacket the shop owner was wearing and was dismayed to discover there was no other like it in the shop. But lo and behold she took off her jacket and simply gave it to me and I have loved it ever since.
Idea of a perfect Friday night?
An omelette, a beer and a good book
Favourite Bennetts chocolate?
It changes frequently but right now I am hooked on our salted caramel