Potato meets chocolate
Potatoes and chocolate may come from the same place, but getting them into the same dish is usually a slightly chancy operation… especially on Irish turf.
Chocolate arrived in Ireland in the last decades of the 1600’s and quickly became part of trendy life in Dublin, then the United Kingdom’s second city. Chocolate houses — close cousins of the coffee houses that spread like wildfire through the cities of England, Scotland and Ireland in the 1600’s — started springing up in cities and towns all over Ireland in the early 1700’s. The descendants of those chocolate houses are still with us in the form of establishments like the Butlers Chocolate Cafés now appearing in shopping centers and airports in Europe and elsewhere around the world.
For a good while, chocolate was too expensive for most of the Irish population to afford. But as time went by and chocolate’s European market increased, its price began to fall, putting chocolate more easily within reach of the country cook as well as the city consumer. Eventually the Irish came to consume even more chocolate per capita than the Swiss: the choco-consumption rate here remains one of the highest in the world.
Putting chocolate in cake is an obvious option: the earliest chocolate cake recipes start turning up in Irish cookbooks of the 1700’s. It was probably only a matter of time before someone got the idea of adding potato to the mixture as well, since fresh mashed potato is famous for making breads and cakes tender, and for improving their keeping qualities, too. Our Chocolate and Potato Cake uses both grated chocolate and cocoa for a darker flavor and more luxurious mouthfeel.