Life has been busy for third-generation baker, bean-to-bar chocolatier and former Irish Country Living cover star, Kasha Connolly. As well as renovating the flagship Hazel Mountain Chocolate cafe that she runs with her husband John on his family farm in the heart of the Burren, Kasha welcomed daughter Isabella in late 2021 and has just released a new cookbook.

Packed full of favourite bakes from her previous sell-out books, along with new creations, both sweet and savoury, The Hazel Mountain Cookbook features everything from a pina colada celebration cake (hangover-free she guarantees) to a zebra cake for the wild at heart. In a unique twist, there are also gluten-free versions of the recipes, so that they can be enjoyed by all the family.

In this extract, Kasha shares two of her favourite bakes with Irish Country Living readers. The book is available at the Burren and Galway Hazel Mountain cafes, and online at priced at €29.50

Strawberry, vanilla & chamomile cake

Strawberry, vanilla and chamomile cake. \ Kasha Connolly


200g soft butter

170g caster sugar

5 large eggs

200g plain/spelt flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

100ml cream

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

Gluten-free version:

Use gluten-free baking powder

Replace 200g plain flour with 200g rice flour

For strawberry

chamomile jam:

350g strawberries (fresh or frozen)

1 heaped teaspoon of flour (or cornstarch)

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons chamomile tea, brewed in 70ml boiling water, strained

For strawberry cream:

250ml fresh cream, chilled

200g mascarpone cheese, chilled

3 heaped tablespoons icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment required:

24cm x 24 cm baking tin, bottom and sides lined with parchment paper.

1 Preheat the oven to 170°C.

2 All ingredients need to be room temperature. Cream soft butter for three minutes and add sugar in three parts, allowing three to four minutes in between adding each part. The butter will double in size and turn light in colour.

3 Start adding eggs, one by one, mixing for about a minute after each addition.

4 Add flour, baking powder and cream to the mixture half at a time and mix slowly. Add vanilla, scrape sides and bottom of the bowl and mix briefly.

5 Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for around 35 to 40 minutes.

6 While the cake is cooling, prepare the strawberry chamomile jam. Place the roughly chopped strawberries, sugar, flour and chamomile tea in a pot and bring to boil.

7 Take off the heat and mash with a fork or blend with hand blender. Retain two tablespoons of chamomile strawberry jam for later.

8 To make the strawberry cream, place cream, mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whip until the mixture thickens. Add cold chamomile strawberry jam mixture and whip again to quite a thick texture, about a minute.

9 Take the cold cake out of the tin, spread two tablespoons of chamomile strawberry jam over the top. Then spread the strawberry cream evenly over the top.

10 To serve, decorate with strawberries and chamomile flowers. Store in the fridge, although the chances are the cake will be long gone before it’s time to store it away.

Wild berry cream brownies

Wild berry cream brownies. \ Kasha Connolly


150g unsalted butter

120g dark chocolate (70%)

150g plain/spelt flour, sifted

2 tablespoons of cacao powder

1 teaspoons of baking powder

200g light soft muscovado sugar

3 eggs

100ml of water

Gluten-free version

Replace 150g plain flour with:

150g rice flour

40g ground almonds

Wild berry cream:

300g fresh/frozen blackcurrants & blueberries

170g soft butter

170g icing sugar, sifted

200g soft cream cheese


Prepare muffin baking tin (12 hole) by lining each bun with muffin cases.

The Hazel Mountain Cookbook features everything from a pina colada celebration cake to a zebra cake for the wild at heart.

For the cake:

1 Preheat the oven to 170°C.

2 On a very low heat, melt the butter and add the dark chocolate and keep stirring until fully melted. Take off the heat.

3 In a separate bowl mix the flour, cacao powder and baking powder.

4 In the bowl of a standing mixer, whip sugar and eggs until they triple in size. Reduce the speed to low and add water along with the flours and the baking powder.

5 Transfer the batter to a baking muffin tin (¾ fill the cases) and bake for about 25 minutes. Check with cake tester.

6 Leave the muffins in the muffin cases until they are completely cool and ready for the wild berry cream.

For wild berry cream:

1 With a hand blender (or by hand with a fork) puree all the berries together. If using frozen fruit, bring to the boil and remove from the heat immediately. Leave to cool completely.

2 Whip the softened butter and icing sugar together until the mixture is fluffy and turns very light in colour. Then add the soft cream cheese and mix well, then add berry puree and mix it in.

3 Transfer into a piping bag and place in the fridge for 15 minutes before piping the cream on top of the muffins. CL

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