This bittersweet dark chocolate mocha tart is rich in flavour and texture and perfectly contrasts with the buttery French pastry used in the tart. I first came across this unique way to make French butter pastry from JJ at 84th and 3rd, who discovered the technique from David Leibovitz.
It involves heating the butter, oil, water and seasonings in a bowl in the oven (what?!) and then stirring the flour into this bubbling, golden brown mixture. It throws the traditional pastry method of combing chilled butter and flour out the window and I know I will be making this pastry recipe over and over again!
For the filling I wanted something decadently rich but not too sweet. I added instant espresso powder to the chocolate ganache to make it mocha flavoured and it was a huge hit when I bought it to dinner! We served it with ice-cream but you can eat it on its own, with cream, or some berries would be delicious too.
- 90g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 150g plain flour
- 170g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 tsp instant espresso
- ½ cup thickened cream
- 1 tbsp butter
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 210º C.
- Combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized ovenproof bowl – I used a Pyrex bowl.
- Put the bowl in the oven for around 15 minutes, or until the butter starts to brown just around the edges and is bubbling.
- Carefully remove the bowl from oven, keep your over mitts on as it will be VERY hot. Quickly stir in the flour until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball.
- Dump the dough into a 9-inch/23 cm tart tin with a removable base and start spreading it out with a spatula.
- Allow the dough to cool enough so you can handle it and spread it out evenly across the base and up the sides. Use a fork to gently press the dough against the sides to reinforce it.
- Keep a small piece of dough aside for patching any cracks.
- Prick the dough all over with a fork, then bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before filling with the chocolate mocha ganache.
- Combine chopped dark chocolate, honey and instant espresso powder in a medium bowl.
- In a small saucepan bring the cream to a simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted.
- Add the butter and vanilla extract to the chocolate and stir until the mixture is very smooth.
- Pour the chocolate ganache into the cooled tart shell.
- Put the tart in the fridge and allow to set for at least 2 hours.
- Serve at room temperature with icecream.
I recently made a batch of cupcakes for a 30th birthday party and adorned the Pineapple and Coconut Cupcakes with pineapple flowers, an idea I saw Martha Stewart once do. I received several questions on how to make these so I thought I would share the technique, as well as some other easy ideas for decorating desserts.
1. Pre-heat oven to 110°C and line 3 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
2. Thinly slice a pineapple (or split pineapple rings in 3 horizontally) and arrange rings on the baking trays.
3. Bake for 30 mins, then turn and cook for another 30 mins.
4. Transfer rings to a muffin tin to cool so they curl upwards and form the shape of a flower.
And now for some other decorating techniques:
♥ Sugar Art
A lot of great sugar decorating options are now becoming available in supermarkets and specialty stores. My absolute favourites are the sugar buttons from Donna Hay. Cheaper options from the supermarket include silver cachous, little pink flowers and they often have seasonal decorations like these cute Christmas-themed ones I found.
Fruit is a simple, colourful and healthy way to decorate your desserts. Berries are always an easy and delicious way to jazz up a dessert. Or try contrasting colours and textures such as kiwi and passionfruit. Get a little creative and top chili-chocolate cupcakes with a chili ganache and small chili, or turn strawberries into Santa hats for a Christmas treat!
♥ Toppers, nuts and more
Purchase some cupcake toppers from a homewares store (or make your own… more on that in another post!), or get creative and make a birds nest out of chocolate and crunchy noodles and top with an Easter egg for an Easter-themed cupcake. Otherwise, nuts make a delicious and crunchy decoration, either spread across the sides of a cake or on top.
I have been collecting numerous decorating inspiration on my Pinterest Board. Some new tricks I am dying to try out:
♥ Cookie Stamping
I hope this has given you some more ideas for decorating your own desserts!
When I asked my friend what he wanted me to bake for his birthday he instantly declared pavlova! I must admit I had a bit of “pavlova anxiety”. Having eaten a fair bit of bad pav in my life – dried out, collapsed or even undercooked (ugh) I wanted to perfect my recipe.
Fortunately this technique is easy and relatively fool-proof and produced the most gorgeous pavlova – crunchy on the outside and soft and marshmallowy on the inside. Success! I wanted to top it with seasonal fruit and picked up some gorgeous passionfruit and kiwis to adorn it with. Combined with a generous dollop of whipped cream it was promptly devoured.
- 4 egg whites (room temp)
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 3 tsps cornflour
- 1 tsps white vinegar
- 250ml thickened cream
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 2 x kiwifruit
- 2 x passionfruit
- Preheat oven to 150°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Using an electric mixer, beat egg-whites until soft peaks form.
- Gradually add the sugar, beating well until the mixture is glossy and the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the cornflour and vinegar and fold through.
- Spoon mixture into a 18-20cm circle. Using a palette knife, shape into a circle with high sides.
- Place in the oven, reduce the heat to 120°C and cook for 1 hour.
- Then turn the oven off and allow the meringue to completely cool in the oven.
- Using an electric mixer, beat cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form.
- Gently transfer pavlova to a cake stand. To serve, top with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
You can top it with whatever fruits are in season- berries, figs, cooked apples, or add cocoa powder to the meringue and top with chocolate and cream!
Last year I posted about receiving 2 jars of delicious Dulce de Leche (or in Portuguese Doce de Leite) from my cousin who had just returned from South America. Unsurprisingly the jars were finished a little too quickly. After some internet research I discovered you can buy the real deal from Mi Casa Fine Foods, or at a store called La Torre, 9 Nelson St Fairfield. But I really wanted to try and make my own. Not only is it cheaper, I can make it on demand whenever I wanted!
I have heard horror stories of tins of sweetened condensed milk exploding after being submerged in boiling water for too long and wanted to find an easier (and safer) method. I learnt from a friend that cooking the sweetened condensed milk in the oven not only is less stressful, but results in a richer and more caramelised final product. Sold.
- 1 400g can sweetened condensed milk
- Sea salt (optional)
- Preheat oven to 220°C.
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk into an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle over sea salt if needed. Tightly cover the dish with foil.
- Place covered dish in a roasting pan and fill with water until it comes ¾ of the way up the oven-proof dish, to create a water bath.
- Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour and 30 mins, checking every 30 mins to top up the water bath if need be (I had to top the water up once).
- Once the mixture is nicely browned and caramelised, remove from the oven and let it cool down.
- Once cool, whisk the dulce de leche until smooth.
- Store in an airtight, clean container (I used a mason jar).
Here is a quick visual step-by-step guide:
Step 1. Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk into an oven-proof dish.
Step 2. Tightly cover the dish with foil and fill the roasting pan 3/4 full with water to make a water bath.
Step 3. After cooking down the condensed milk for 1 hour and 30 mins, the mixture should be golden and caramelised.
Super easy, right? Now you can the recipes for 2 awesome homemade spreads! (the gluten and dairy-free Nutella recipe is here).
Need some ideas on what to make with this homemade dulce de leche? How about caramel-filled Bunny Biscuits? Or Sesame Seed Biscuits with Dulce de Leche, Banoffee Pie with Salted Pretzel Crust or Ginger Biscuits with Salted Caramel Buttercream?
Autumn is settling in to Sydney and bringing with it a delicious array of seasonal fruits, vegetables and nuts. This month’s Sweet Adventure’s Blog Hop focuses on seasonal produce and gave me a chance to develop a recipe with two of my favourite autumn ingredients – apples and walnuts! Naturally I had to add spices to the loaf – cinnamon is apple’s best friend and nutmeg is warming and a perfect flavour for the cooling days. I topped off the loaf with a streusel topping – a satisfying sweet buttery crunch.
- 2 cups diced apples (about 1½ large)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 120g butter, softened
- 1 egg, room temp
- 1¼ cups plain flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- Preheat oven to 180°. Grease a loaf tin with butter (or use a silicon non-stick one).
- Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in a large bowl.
- Add egg and continue beating until well combined.
- Stir in diced apples.
- Sift flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda into bowl. Add chopped walnuts and mix thoroughly.
- Transfer mixture to prepared pan.
- In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir until well combined and crumbly.
- Sprinkle streusel mixture over the top of loaf before putting into the oven.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the loaf is brown and crusty on top and a skewer comes out clean.
- Cool loaf in tray on rack.
I also made a batch into little muffins, this recipe makes 12 cupcake-sized treats. Make sure you fill each liner with mixture nearly all the way (about 7/8 full) as the mixture doesn’t rise much.
You know when you stumble across something on the internet and think “damn I wish I thought of that”. Well, it happens to me quite often. And when I saw these awesome fashion-inspired cupcakes made by Edsalv Lisa and photographed by Therese Aldgard I knew I had to share. They accurately portray the style of each fashion label through lighting, colour and design, cleverly creating boob cupcakes for Agent Provocateur and a red velvet interior to represent the infamous Christian Louboutin shoe.
Which is your favourite designer cupcake? Are there any fashion labels you would love to see them create?
I loooooove Nutella and try to avoid keeping it in the house as you will always find me in the kitchen clutching a jar, spoon in hand. This is the perfect treat for those who are on a gluten or dairy free diet, who dislike additives in their food or who simply just love the idea of being able to whip up a batch of homemade Nutella whenever they feel like it!
- 250g hazelnuts
- 1 cup pure icing sugar (Pure icing sugar is gluten free; soft icing sugar & icing sugar mixture contain cornflour)
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp vege oil (or similar flavourless oil)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 180ºC. Arrange hazelnuts on an oven tray and roast for 10 mins.
- Transfer roasted nuts to a clean tea towel and gently rub off the bitter hazelnut skins.
- Transfer the hazelnuts to the food processor and blitz for a few minutes until their oil is released and it forms a paste.
- Add in the sugar, cocoa, oil, vanilla and salt and blitz again for 2 minutes until it forms a spreadable consistency.
- Taste the Nutella at this stage, if you want it sweeter then add more icing sugar, if you want it more chocolately and rich, add more cocoa.
- Transfer the Nutella to a clean, airtight jar. I store mine in the fridge and it can last up to a month (but I doubt it will!)
Here is a quick visual step-by-step guide:
Step 1. Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking tray and toast for 10 mins in the oven.
Step 2. Transfer nuts to a clean tea towel and gently rub off the bitter hazelnut skins. It makes a bit of a mess.
Step 3. The clean, roasted hazelnuts! Blitz them in the food processor, and then add remaining ingredients.
Step 4. The ideal finished consistency.
Apart from spreading your homemade Nutella on toast or just eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon, what else can you do? How about using it in a Nutella Cheesecake? Or in a Triple Decker Ferrero Rocher Cake with Nutella Buttercream? Or sandwiching it between some super easy and rich biscuits?
I hope you’ve all had a wonderful and chocolate-filled Easter break! My addiction to cookie cutters is getting worse and after stumbling upon some bunny shaped ones in a variety store, I KNEW I had to make bunny biscuits for Easter!
I wanted to fill them with something delicious and ended up making my own homemade dulce de leche and Nutella (both surprisingly easy). And fear not, my friends, the recipes for both of these will be up soon!
The actual biscuit is also crazy easy and has just 3 ingredients – butter, sugar and flour, making it a rich and dense cookie. Perfect.
- 225g butter, softened
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 2¼ cups plain flour
- Dulce de Leche (recipe link above)
- Nutella (recipe link above)
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Sift in the flour and bring the mixture together to form a dough (don’t overbeat).
- Place dough between 2 pieces of glad wrap or parchment (so it doesn’t stick) and gently roll it out to approx 3mm thick.
- Using a cookie cutter, cut out your shapes and place them on your lined baking trays, leaving at least a 3cm gap between each cookie.
- Keep re-rolling dough scraps until finished – if the dough starts to get too soft and unmanageable, roll the dough flat on a board and place it in the fridge for 5 mins to firm up slightly.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden brown.
- Once the biscuits are completely cool, spread a spoonful of dulce de leche and/or Nutella on the backs of half the biscuits and sandwich them gently together.
The bunnies lightly golden and fresh out of the oven. Allow them to completely cool before icing.
Spread the homemade dulce de leche and Nutella on the backs of half the biscuits and then sandwich them together!
You can make these versatile biscuits in any shape and fill with whatever your heart desires – how about jam and cream, or lemon curd?
I recently tried a coconut macaroon at Lorraine’s Patisserie and fell in love – it was so light and full of crunchy coconut. Heaven. (And before you ask, I am not talking about the often confused macaron, there is a recipe for one here if you like).
And since Easter is coming up, I couldn’t help but think the fluffy white balls looked vaguely like bunny tails (?!), and when pressed in the centre – birds nests!
These are ridiculously easy to make and have only 4 ingredients in them! You can also make them smaller and sandwich halves together with a ganache.
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 1½ cups caster sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups shredded coconut
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- Beat the egg whites in a bowl using an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- Gradually add the sugar, beating constantly, until the mixture becomes stiff and glossy.
- Fold the vanilla extract through with a spatula.
- Gently fold the coconut through with your spatula. Be careful not to overmix the mixture as you will lose the volume of the egg whites.
- For big macaroons, use an icecream scoop to portion out the mixture onto your tray. If you want to sandwich them with a ganache later, use a teaspoon to portion the mixture.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the macaroons are slightly browned. Allow to cool completely before serving.
To make macaroon birds nests for Easter, gently press in the centre of each macaroon before they go into the oven to form a birds nest shape. Once the macaroons are cooked and completely cooled, fill with small Easter eggs (I used M&M Easter eggs). For another Easter-themed birds nest recipe, check out my Chocolate Peanut Butter Birds Nest Cupcakes.
What are you baking for Easter?
This month’s Sweet Adventure’s Blog Hop theme is cocktail party! I have been wanting to try and make a champagne cupcake lately and thought this would be the perfect opportunity. I used champagne (well, Prosecco – I’m not rich!) in the cupcake batter to produce lovely fluffy and light cupcakes, and reduced champagne mixture in the buttercream for a hint of boozy flavour.
My favourite way to drink champagne is with a strawberry popped into the glass to absorb the delicious champagne and make for a boozy treat at the end. I made my own strawberry filling and left it intentionally quite tart to complement the sweet cupcake.
- 240g butter, room temp
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1¾ cups flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup champagne (or prosecco or sparkling wine)
- 1 punnet strawberries, finely chopped (around 2 cups)
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp icing sugar (tailor this depending on how sweet your strawberries are)
- 1 cup champagne
- 250g butter, room temp
- 4 cups icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 20 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy in a large bowl.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder in a separate bowl, set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk together the champagne and sour cream.
- Add flour and champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour.
- Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full with mixture and bake for 15-17 minutes until lightly golden brown.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
- Finely chop strawberries and place in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Add in lemon juice, cornstarch and icing sugar and let bubble over the heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool, if it’s still a bit chunky then squash with a potato masher.
- Make a small cross with a sharp knife in the top of each cupcake. Pour strawberry filling into a piping bag with small nozzle attached and pipe cooled strawberries into each cupcake.
- Simmer champagne over medium-high heat in a small saucepan until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Transfer to a small bowl and allow to cool completely.
- Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
- Gradually add in 4 cups of sugar until thick and fluffy.
- Pour in the reduced 2 tablespoons of champagne and continue mixing for another few minutes.
- Taste the icing, if you feel it needs a little more champagne flavour then add in another tablespoon straight from the bottle (no need to reduce it). Mix well afterwards.
- Spoon the mixture into an icing bag with a nozzle attached and ice the cupcakes.
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