Discover more from read, eat, repeat (with emily fiffer)
Sweet Snacks + Clandestine Convents
Chocolate Tahini Date Fudge + Small Things Like These
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, pub. 2021
Buy: Bookshop.org or your local bookshop
When a book’s back cover includes quotes from Colm Tóibín, Hilary Mantel and Ali Smith, I pay attention. An unabashed Anglophile / Irelandophile (?), I order books from a stealth UK Bookshop.org account (and, when desperate, a stealth UK Amazon account). There’s something about the way they spell ‘favour,’ the lilting nature of their prose, the metric measurements in cookbooks! It all speaks to me. For that reason, I have a healthy collection of Irish and British novels on my shelf. On a recent trip to the UK, I made it a point to visit multiple bookshops and picked up a copy of Claire Keegan’s latest. I drank it up in one sitting: It’s Ireland in 1985, just before Christmas. Bill Furlong, father of five and owner of the town’s coal company, is nearing 40 and taking stock of his life. He’s itching to make meaning and sort out unanswered questions: Who is his father? Will he be able make ends meet this year? And what’s the story with those girls at the convent? Like much excellent Irish literature, not much ‘happens’ in this one. The intrigue is in the interiority and the cadence of the day-to-day. I love being pulled into the mind of a person who’s really going through it; this guy is no exception. For 114 pages I accompanied Bill on his coal and log deliveries, sussed out his relationship with his wife, and was quietly swept into a thread about nuns keeping secrets. We know I love a story about women’s inner worlds. Turns out men can be pretty interesting, too.
Pairs well with: mince pies, frosty boots, craic, Sister so-and-so
Mixing it up this week with a sweet to balance out all that inner Irish tumult. I feel a little silly calling this a recipe, but in truth, it’s really tasty, I eat it every day and friends have asked how to make it, so I’m going with it! Because there are only three ingredients, I’m going to politely request that you use the good stuff. Notes on that below. Enjoy!
A few notes:
- I use 100% Pump Street chocolate here (IYKYK); you can use any dark chocolate bar!
- Please use good tahini! Not-good tahini tastes like the inside of an old cupboard; good tahini tastes toasty and slightly sweet. I adore Villa Jerada’s.
- You’ll want your dates to be soft enough for food-processing. If your dates are hard, soak them in boiling water for a few minutes and drain before using.
- I like things not very sweet. Add more dates if you’d like it sweeter, more tahini if you want to balance out the chocolate.
- This recipe is designed for a small food processor. If you don’t have one, it should work in a blender. If you use a large food processor you might consider doubling the recipe.
- Lastly: The fudge needs to harden up in the fridge before being cut. I use a 4x6-inch glass tupperware for this. Just use any smallish, shallow container and you’ll be fine.
Chocolate Tahini Fudge
makes 1 4x6-inch rectangle, aka roughly 20 cubes
70g dark chocolate
2 Medjool dates, pitted (more if you’d like it sweeter)
⅓ cup tahini
Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler or microwave. Add the melted chocolate, dates and tahini to the bowl of a small food processor. Blend until completely smooth (don’t overblend or it’ll seize!), then pour into your container, sprinkle with Maldon, cover and refrigerate. After an hour or so it should’ve solidified. Cut into cubes and enjoy! (Keep in the fridge.)
P.S. You can sprinkle nuts, seeds, rose petals, spices, etc. into the fudge if you fancy.