Posted 13th Oct 2014
Jenny Donoghue, Chocolatier for Lily O'Brien's gourmet Irish chocolates, sat down with us for Chocolate Week (13th to 19th October) to tell us how her love of chocolate later became her job
How did you get started as a chocolatier?
â�¨I’ve been working at Lily O’Brien’s since 1996, only four years after the company first started, so I’ve been here almost from the beginning. I have always had a love of food and trying out new recipes, so this job was perfect for me, especially as I’m a big lover of chocolate. â�¨Originally, I started in the production team in the factory, where I was involved with packing the chocolate.
Describe your day-to-day role as a chocolatier at Lily O’Brien’s? â�¨
No two days are the same at Lily O’Brien’s. I spend most of my time creating chocolates and making the filling for samples or trialling a new idea to see what it tastes like. â�¨â�¨Chocolate is quite seasonal, so we have loads of time for research and development one week, and the next the factory could be in full production.
What is the secret to making great chocolate?â�¨â�¨
Firstly the quality of the chocolate is very important. The higher percentage of cocoa content, the better quality the chocolate will be. The tempering of the chocolate is the next most important element. Tempering is what gives it the nice shine and the crack in your mouth when you bite into it.
Are you sick of eating chocolate or do you still like it?â�¨â�¨
I don’t think I could ever get sick of eating chocolate; it’s one of those things that once you have one you can’t stop going back for more throughout the day.
Do you use Irish ingredients in the chocolate?â�¨
We source our products locally where possible and make our own unique caramel on site. We try to keep to our Irish heritage and have a number of Irish recipes including Irish cream liquor and burnt Irish cream caramel – which are both very tasty.
How does your Irish heritage inspire you when you work with chocolate?
â�¨â�¨It’s funny, when I first started working with chocolate it brought me back to my childhood when I used to make chocolate coated apples with my Granny. I had to wait for them to set before we could eat them – that was always the hardest bit – and nothing’s changed!
What is the most unusual chocolate combination you've created? â�¨
We are constantly developing new and exciting flavours, we have experimented with various combinations over the years, some that turned out amazingly and others which didn’t work. â�¨A few of us made a jalapeño and chilli flavour chocolate as a prank and gave them to the unsuspecting staff in the canteen. Needless to say there was a run to the water cooler.
What do you think differentiates Irish chocolate from other chocolates?
â�¨I think Irish chocolate has a strong reputation around the world for quality. Even though the price of cocoa has gone up, we are so proud of our recipe that we will not be changing it.
Courtesy of Lily O'Brien's