They say rosemary is for remembrance. Shakespeare’s Ophelia did at least. They even say it improves your memory and one of my favourite authors wrote about planting it by the garden gate so, at our house, it most definitely is. In fact we have it in such abundance the local bees have our joint permanently loaded into their internal GPS. Seriously, we have So Much Rosemary. It’s a bit insane.
In order to utilize our herbaceous bounty I dot the delicate, purple flowers on top of cakes and finely chop long curling sprigs of it for meat and roast vegetables. I snip stalks off and plunk them into small glass bottles just to have around the house or dotted down the middle of a table and B1, our eldest, munches on it raw?! (That’s taking it too far for me personally). Still, I’m a rosemary-seeking missile when I read cookbooks and if a recipe calls for rosemary it’s probably going to get a run in our kitchen. You can already guess, I’ll bet, just how thrilled I was to spot rosemary in Marian Keyes‘ cookbook, Saved by Cake. A recipe that requires rosemary? A sweet recipe with rosemary? I’m in. Hastily getting out the bowls and measuring cups…
Marian Keyes was the go-to author of my twenties. Her books are funny and authentic and romantic and I love her charmingly flawed protagonists. Of all her books, Rachel’s Holiday, about a young woman heading into rehab, is my favourite. To discover that Marian Keyes was writing about my most dearest subject, food (and not just any old food but CAKE. Hello.), made me pretty excited. The cookbook, Saved by Cake, is grand (I’m channelling an Irish woman here) but my favourite part may well be Marian’s introduction to the book in which she describes her sudden and debilitating struggle with deep depression and her attempts to claw her way out of it – “To be perfectly blunt about it, my choice sometimes is: I can kill myself or I can make a dozen cupcakes. Right so, I’ll do the cupcakes and I can kill myself tomorrow.” She is so frank about her struggle while remaining humorous; it is a captivating and inspiring read.
And then there is this chocolate-rosemary truffle recipe. It has rosemary, it has chocolate, it has only two other ingredients (sorry but I added one more in my version), it’s a no-brainer. Which particularly suits me because I’m essentially all enthusiasm and no talent. I’ve adapted the original recipe but all the credit goes to Marian for this great sweet-savoury combination. In fact her book features quite a few odd but appealing combos including “Sweetcorn, Coconut and Lime Loaf”, “Pear, Almond and Tahini cake” and “Tamarind, Date and Sour Cherry Muffins”; all of which I need to attempt and report back.
For now this truffle recipe is already the favourite because it’s so simple, contains such a nice pairing of flavours and looks a little bit posh. Which, for such minimal effort, is always welcome. The truffles are the perfect accompaniment for a cheese board with the rosemary being savoury and resin-y, in a really good way. In fact the rosemary functions like a grown version of mint (and we all know what a good bed partner he is for chocolate, ahem), if mint wore a suit and better cologne. If you happened to want to dial up the savoury a smidge more I’d throw in a fine dusting of sea-salt to the raw cacao powder at the very end. Who knows what would happen then. Marriage proposals probably.
150ml double cream
8 sprigs of fresh rosemary (may you or a holidaying neighbour have an abundant supply)
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids please)
Raw cacao for dusting (What is raw cacao? This is a good explanation. Cocoa without the roasting. Raw cacao can be found in health food stores and many supermarkets; it’s not bitter like the regular version and is supposedly jam-packed with anti-oxidants and other health benefitting hoo-ha)
+ Sea salt, finely ground, if you fancy being fancy.
What to do:
Pour the cream into a saucepan and pop in four of the rosemary sprigs.
Heat the cream till it is almost boiling but not quite (i.e. teeny bubbles and some steam) and then whip it off the heat. Let the rosemary infuse with the cream by allowing to stand for an hour or so.
Chop up your chocolate very finely, place in a heatproof bowl and add your butter, diced.
Reheat the cream (again, no boiling!) and then pour it through a sieve straight on to your chopped chocolate
Stir till lovely and smooth
Lay the remaining sprigs on the surface (not too deep or they get embedded in the final product) and then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
When you’re ready to get your truffle on, peel off the rosemary sprigs (I had a few persistent bits in my truffles, it wasn’t terrible) and then choose your shape. Marian lets her mixture warm a little and rolls it into pretty balls, dusts with coloured sanding sugar and rests against mini paper cases. I chose to hack my mixture into rock-like chunks. I’m just classy like that.
Roll each truffle about in the raw cacao. Done and (quite literally) dusted.
Thank you Marian for your courage, humour and frankness and for helping me use up some of my rosemary bounty. And for reminding me of those books I read and characters I loved and that time of my life…. Oh, that time. Gettin’ dangerously wistful… Rosemary….remembrance….Ophelia was right after all.
Side note: If you get a spare moment I urge you to watch this hilarious video of Marian Keyes unveiling her “Drawer of Dreams” – full of sanding sugars and sprinkles and cupcake doll-up-ery. I love the part where she mentions she has a law degree. And how about that accent? I want to give her a cuddle.