MasterChef

Choc Top Extraordinaire

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Choc Top Extraordinaire
There have been many lovely dessert recipes on MasterChef this year (like most years). Some of the top chefs in Australia share some of their beautiful recipes, some which can be mastered at home, and others which are a bit more difficult to achieve at home (either due to equipment or accessibility to ingredients).

One of the recent recipes was by Nick Palumbo from Messina (an amazing gelato store and one of the best in Sydney), and it was a decadent looking choc-top. Having visited Messina many times to try both their gelato and magnificent desserts from their Creative Department, I knew this dessert was one I wanted to try.

I took two days to make the components (as I needed to organise my time around my bubs naps). The first day I made the almond meal, hazelnut paste, amaretti and gelato base (and left it in the fridge over night before churning), the second day I made the ice cream cones, Italian meringue, ganache and chocolate dip and assembled it.

Choc Top

My first cone didn’t turn out very well (shape-wise), which meant we got to try it! It was lovely and crunchy and a had wonderful flavour. I would love to make them again (even if they were time consuming). I think I may have also taken the caramel a little too far, as I ended up with a slight bitter taste in the gelato (although it still went well with all the other flavours.

The cone that made it into the pictures, was piped (using a piping bag) and placed in the freezer for a while (maybe 20 mins?) and then dipped into the chocolate, which had cooled a little, but was still warm. The choc-tops were very lovely, quite sweet (probably not helped by the melting gelato). I would love to make the cone mixture again, even if just in rounds to have with ice cream.

Choc Top

My notes to help the home cook:

    • I made 1/3 of the almond meal, hazelnut paste and gelato (this base was placed in my two ice cream makers). I made half the quantity of the amaretti, ganache, chocolate dip and cones (it made 7 cones – which only used about half the gelato and even less of the biscuits).
    • I used some cotton gloves handle the cones before setting.
    • I made my own templates for moulding the cones. Cut an A4 piece of cardboard in half. Twist the cardboard, making the middle of one of the long edges the point of the cone. When satisfied with the shape, staple in place and then cover in foil.

Homemade cone rollers

  • I found a skin formed on the top of my gelato base, as it was left in the fridge overnight (I just whisked it back in).
  • I made the ganache and Italian meringue 3 hours before serving, and this was fine (could have even gone longer).
  • I churned the gelato and placed it in the freezer 2 hours before serving, and it should have been in longer. Once I piped it into the cones it was already melting, although we didn’t have time or space to leave them to set in the freezer for longer – this made dipping them in the chocolate very hard.

Choc Top Extraordnaire

Recipe by Nick Palumbo (recipe seen on MasterChef season 6)

Ingredients
Almond Meal:
100 g almonds, skin on

Hazelnut Paste:
200 g hazelnuts
20 g vegetable oil (I needed a little more oil than this)

Gelato:
3000 g milk
200 g egg yolks
70 g maltodextrine (I used dextrose, as I didn’t find this in time)
300 g skim milk powder (I used normal milk powder, as that’s what I had available)
20 g Murray River salt
800 g caster sugar
1000 g cream

Amaretti Biscuit:
100 g egg white
100 g icing sugar
100 g sugar
5 grams bi-carb soda
pinch cream of tartar
5 g bitter almond extract (I used vanilla essence, as I don’t like almond essence)
30 g almond meal

Ganache:
50 g hazelnut paste
160 g cream
20 g dextrose (glucose powder)
40 g liquid glucose
160 g milk chocolate

Italian Meringue:
125 g egg whites, room temperature
200 g sugar
50 g liquid glucose

Sugar Cone:
4 egg whites
230 g caster sugar
80 g milk
2 g vanilla extract
pinch salt
170 g plain flour plus more for dusting
40 g unsalted butter, melted
cooking spray

Chocolate Dip:
320 g dark chocolate
40 g hazelnut paste
120 g cocoa butter

Method

Preheat one oven to 150C and a second oven to 195C.
To make the almond meal, place almonds on a baking tray and place in the 195C oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and place in blast chiller to cool down. Transfer almonds to the thermomix and blend to make almond meal, being careful not to blend too much. Set aside to use in the amaretii biscuit.

To make the hazelnut paste, place hazelnuts and vegetable oil in a thermomix and blend until smooth. Pass through a drum sieve into a bowl and set aside to use in the ganache and chocolate dip.

To make the gelato, place milk in a 7 L saucepan, set over medium heat and heat to 40C.
Place egg yolks in a bowl and whisk till pale.
Place malodextrine, skim milk powders and salt in a bowl and mix until combined.
Once the milk hits 40 C, add the powders and blend. Pour about ¼ of the mix slowly into the egg yolks and keep whisking. Then, pour the yolks with a ¼ mix, back into the saucepan with the rest of the mixture and bring up to 75 C. Take off the heat and let stand.
In a large saucepan, place the sugar with a little water and make a slurry and put on a stove on highest heat and let sugar caramelize till you get a dark amber colour.
At the same time, place the cream in a saucepan and heat to just before boiling, careful not to burn the cream.
Once sugar is dark amber colour, take off heat and very slowly pour the hot cream in, being careful that it doesn’t bubble over.
Once sugar and cream are combined, add to the reserved mixture. Blend with a stick blender and strain into shallow pans. Transfer to the blast chiller and cool until the mix gets to around 5 degrees.
Transfer mix to the soft serve machine and set to production mode.

To make the ganache, place hazelnut paste, cream, dextrose and glucose in a thermomix and heat to 80C, speed 3. Turn off thermomix and reset to 37C, speed 3. Slowly add chocolate until combined. Transfer to a shallow container and place in the fridge to cool.

To make the amaretti biscuits, place egg whites, icing sugar and sugar in mixer with whisk attachment and mix until meringue forms and sugar is dissolved. Add bi carb and cream of tartar while still whisking and then add the bitter almond extract. Fold in reserved 30 grams almond meal. Transfer mixture to a piping bag and pipe small droplets the size of a 20 cent coin onto a paper lined tray.
Place in the 150C oven and bake for 10 minutes, reduce oven to 110 C and continue to bake until dry and crunchy, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Amaretti

To make the Italian meringue, place sugar, glucose and enough water to make a slurry in a saucepan and set over medium heat. Heat to 121C.
While the sugar is heating, place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until firm peaks form.
While the mixer is running, slowly pour in hot sugar syrup. Whisk until mixture is room temperature and thick and glossy. Transfer mixture to a piping bag and set aside in the freezer.

Italian Meringue

To make the sugar cone, place egg white, sugar, milk, vanilla and salt into a food processor and blend together for a few minutes. Add flour and butter and beat until fully incorporated and batter is smooth.
Lightly spray a 25cm crepe pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Pour 45gr of batter on to the cold pan and roll the pan around and tap it a little so you form what looks like a pancake about 18cm round, making sure it is even thickness all over.
Place pan in a preheated oven at 195 C until a nice tan colour around edges, about 9 minutes. Take out and flip and place back in oven for another 1-2 minutes.
Take pan out of oven and quickly lay sugar disc onto a clean towel and top with cone roller, leaving enough of the disc sitting off the edge of the roller to allow for a pointed cone base to form. Using towel and cone roller as a guide, roll sugar disc into a cone shape with a 6cm opening. Hold seam side down for 1 to 2 minutes or until cone cools, making sure to also pinch the bottom of the cone so there is no hole at the bottom.
Cool pan completely in an ice bath, wipe dry and repeat until all batter has been used. Set cones aside.

Rolling the cone

Cones

To make the chocolate dip, place chocolate, hazelnut paste and cocoa butter in a thermomix and set on time 10 minutes, temperature 50, speed 4. Set aside, keeping at 50C.

Transfer the ganache to a piping bag and return to the fridge.

To assemble the cone, take the ganache piping bag from the fridge and pipe a little into the base of the sugar cone. Using a small palette knife, work the ganache up the inside wall of the cone all the way up to the opening, making sure to have the same thickness lining the inside of the cone.
Piping
Ganache
Take the Italian meringue piping bag from the freezer, cut the tip and pipe a little into the cone. Using a small palette knife, work the meringue up the inside wall of the cone all the way up to the opening, making sure to have the same thickness of meringue lining the inside of the cone.
Meringue and Ganache

Crush amaretti biscuits finely and sprinkle inside the cone covering the meringue. Tip cone upside down to remove any excess crushed amaretti that didn’t stick to the meringue.
Meringue and Amaretti
Place the cone hard up to the gelato machine and ensure that the gelato packs firmly inside the cone. Once you have packed the cone level, slowly turn the cone around in a circular motion to achieve the classic soft serve cone. Place in the blast chiller to firm up for 1 minute.
Piped caramel gelato
Remove gelato from blast chiller and stab the gelato with the Italian meringue piping bag and pipe in 3 lots of meringue.
Stab the gelato with the ganache piping bag and pipe in 3 lots of ganache. Return the gelato to the blast chiller to firm 1-2 minutes.
Dip the cone in the chocolate topping ensuring that you cover the gelato and at least 2 cm of cone as well, ensure it doesn’t run down the cone by keeping it on an angle.
ChocTop
Sieve crushed amaretti biscuit and sprinkle the gelato with larger pieces of crushed amaretti biscuit.
Serve

Surprise Cakes – Daring Bakers Challenge July 2014

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Surprise Heart Cake

For the July Daring Baker’s Challenge, Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to bake a cake. But not just any cake; she asked us to add in a special surprise for our eyes as well as our taste buds!

Surprise Heart Cake

I’m glad this months challenge is done! On Friday night, I spent a few hours, cooking, colouring, carving and icing the surprise cake for the daring bakers challenge.

Surprise Heart Cake

It doesn’t look anywhere near as beautiful as the heart cake made by Amanda Rettke in her Surprise-inside Cakes book, but I am glad with how mine turned out, considering this was my first time, I was in a rush, and I probably chose the wrong cake recipe. (I used a cupcake recipe, but this had too much air and made bubbles, which doesn’t help with the carving)

For a great tutorial on how to make the actual cake, please see this website.

I didn’t want a huge cake (as I didn’t really have an event to make this for), so I made 2x quantity of cupcake mix, and cooked up a loaf tin plus a few cupcakes (which I coloured in varying pink shades). I placed both the loaf cake, and cupcakes in the freezer once they had cooled, so I could carve them better. And once I had a 3D heart carved out of one of the cupcakes, I made the indents in both halves of the loaf tin (which I had cut with a circle cutter).

Surprise Heart Cake

Creating the ruffles was the easy part! (there are heaps of tutorials on the web). As much as I didn’t feel I had the energy to make the cake, I am glad I managed to make it. Challenge complete!

Assembly

Assembly

Assembly

The mess

Eve

Friday, February 14th, 2014

One of my biggest cooking challenges since giving birth, was this cake, but I had desperately wanted to make it for Valentines day (as I knew Nick would probably prefer a different cake for his birthday), so the next best excuse was today (even though we don’t normally celebrate the day).

Eve was made by Kirsten Tibballs from Savour Chocolate and Patessiere School on one of the MasterChef episodes in their “Love” week last year. Having been lucky enough to do a short course at Savour a while ago, and tasting their wonderful creations, I was looking forward to making this cake. I have also noticed Kirsten has a cookbook released recently which looks lovely and one day I would like to get my hands on it.

The cake turned out extremely well, and it was extremely rich (you only need a small slice). I was happy with all three components, although a number of people thought a little less cremeux would be good. It looked quite impressive once put together and I was super happy with the result.

My notes and troubleshooting:

I had trouble with the red colouring for the mushrooms. The powder I used wasn’t turning the chocolate red, more of a brown colour, so then I added some of my Wilton colouring gel, and although it turned it a maroon colour (and not vibrant red initially), it also seized the chocolate, meaning it was hard to pipe – I had to pipe it best I could and then use a spoon or knife to spread it into a shape.

For the stems of the mushrooms, I ended up seizing the chocolate too much, so couldn’t pipe it – it was so solid I ended up just moulding it with my hands (like fondant).

I cut the cake into two, as it was quite large and I thought the decorations wouldn’t look in proportion if the cake was left its original size.

I used less chocolate for many aspects (mushrooms and toppings), as I didn’t want much left over. I also just used what chocolate I had available, e.g. cooking chocolate that didn’t require tempering

For the hazelnut praline paste I halved this recipe from Sweet as Honey. I added a bit of water, but it didn’t really get as liquidy as the photos on that website. Therefore for the crispy almond layer I needed to add more melted chocolate and some hazelnut spread.

Eve Cake

Recipe by Kirsten Tibballs
*You will need a 33cm x 23cm cake pan for this recipe

Pistachio dacquoise
145g egg whites, at room temperature
2g cream of tartar
64g caster sugar
2 drops green food colouring
128g ground pistachios, sifted
100g icing sugar, sifted
24g plain flour, sifted
Good quality raspberry jam, for brushing

Crispy almond layer
70g Callebaut dark chocolate, broken into pieces
180g Hazelnut praline paste, or increase chocolate by 40g and add 1 tablespoon almond oil (I made my own hazelnut praline, but also added 50g more chocolate and 1 tablespoon Nutella)
172g slivered almonds, roasted
30g Callebaut cocoa nibs or almonds (I used the almonds)

Chocolate cremeux
690g thickened cream
156g egg yolks
76g caster sugar
265g Callebaut milk chocolate (33.6% cocoa), broken into pieces
265g Callebaut dark chocolate (60% cocoa), broken into pieces

Chocolate leaves and bark
100g good quality dark chocolate (57.8% cocoa) (I used only about 30-50g)
Assorted fresh leaves, washed and dried with paper towel

Chocolate mushrooms
150g Callebaut W2 white chocolate (28% cocoa) (I used only 50-100g)

Red chocolate heart tops
200g Callebaut velvet white chocolate (I used only 50-100g)
20g red soluble oil based powder

Edible pebbles
30g pistachios, roughly chopped
Edible green metallic (I used gold)

Pistachio dacquoise
1. For the pistachio dacquoise, preheat oven to 170C.
2. Whisk egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer to soft peaks, on medium speed.
3. Increase speed to high, then gradually add caster sugar while mixing continuously to allow sugar to dissolve. Add food colouring, whisking to combine.

4. Meanwhile, combine pistachios, icing sugar and flour in a bowl.

5. Gently fold meringue into bowl with pistachio mixture until just combined.

6. Using a palette knife, evenly spread mixture into a 35 x 25cm Flexipat or same-size tray lined with baking paper. Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes, then remove, and set aside to cool completely.

7. Trim dacquoise to 33cm x 23cm rectangle.

Crispy almond layer
1. For the crispy almond layer, grease and line the cake pan with baking paper.

2. Melt chocolate to 36°C in a microwave in 30 second increments. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

3. Evenly press mixture into cake pan. Set aside until just before the almond layer sets, then place dacquoise layer on top.

4. Brush a thin layer of jam over the top of the pistachio dacquoise.

Chocolate cremeux
1. For the chocolate cremeux, bring cream to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until well combined. Whisking constantly, slowly add half of the warm cream to bowl with egg yolk mixture until combined.

3. Pour egg yolk mixture into pan with remaining cream, and place over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until mixture reaches 80°C, and coats the back of the wooden spoon.

4. Meanwhile, place chocolate in a medium bowl. Strain cream mixture through a fine sieve over the chocolate, and stir until melted and combined.

5. Pour crémeux over the raspberry jam layer.

6. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. You can freeze for up to 1 month in the freezer.

Chocolate leaves and bark
1. For the chocolate leaves and bark, temper dark chocolate as per instructions below.

2. For the bark, brush a thin layer of chocolate onto a piece of baking paper and roll up and set aside.

3. For the leaves, brush a thin layer on each leaf, until you can’t see the leaf. Once the chocolate has set, carefully remove the leaf.

Chocolate mushrooms
1. For the chocolate mushrooms, temper chocolate as per instructions below. Add a few drops of water at a time, stirring until the chocolate thickens to a piping consistency. With a disposable piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle, pipe 3 mushroom bases onto a tray lined with baking paper. Set aside until firm.

Red chocolate heart tops
1. For the heart tops, temper chocolate as per instructions below. Sift the red powder into ¾ of the white chocolate and mix until combined. Transfer red chocolate to a piping bag made of baking paper. Pipe red chocolate into heart shapes, using a template as a guide underneath a sheet of baking paper. (see last page) Set the chocolate for 20-30 minutes before removing from the paper.

2. Use the remaining white chocolate to pipe white dots onto the mushroom tops, and to stick the tops and stems together.

Edible pebbles
1. Place pistachios in a bowl and add green metallic, tossing to coat.

To Assemble
1. To assemble, temper the dark chocolate as per instructions below. Brush a thin layer of chocolate onto the surface of the cake to create a rough texture. Brush with gold metallic once set.

2. Garnish with chocolate leaves, bark, chocolate mushrooms, pebbles, raspberries and hazelnuts.

Tempering chocolate
1. Place required chocolate in a plastic bowl (glass retains too much heat).

2. Melt chocolate in a microwave for no more than 30-second increments, stirring in between.

3. Melt chocolate until you have 50% solid chocolate and 50% melted chocolate. Continue stirring without applying any additional heat. It may take a few minutes for all of the solid chocolate to melt. Stir continuously during this time.

4. If the chocolate does not melt completely, apply gentle heat with a hair drier. Do a test by spreading a small amount of chocolate onto a piece of baking paper, in a room at a temperature no higher than 22C. The chocolate should set at room temperature in 5-10 minutes.

a. Dark couverture should set in approximately 5 minutes.

b. Milk couverture should set in approximately 7 minutes.

c. White chocolate should set in approximately 10 minutes.

5. It is necessary to maintain the chocolate in a liquid state by reheating if necessary. Be sure to take a new test every time you reheat.

6. To test if your chocolate is tempered correctly, dip a teaspoon or a square of acetate in the couverture and leave it to set. This should take around 5-10 minutes at room temperature. If the couverture does not set after 10 minutes, it is not tempered correctly. If it sets but there are streaks on the surface, you will need to continue stirring the couverture, then take another test.

Gaytime goes nuts

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

The wonderfully talented Christine Manfield featured on the season finale of MasterChef this year. I haven’t watched much MasterChef this year, but I always have to watch for the dessert in the finale. It never ceases to amaze and I always want to make it.

I watched the contestants eating the dessert with envy, and couldn’t stop saying – I want that dessert. Straight after the finale, I went searching the internet for the recipe, hoping it was featured in a book or magazine. Luckily it was featured on the MasterChef website the next day, and I set to task planning, buying and cooking.

It took me a lot longer to make everything, as I had to cool the ice cream base for most of a day/ overnight before churning. I also had a lot of dishes to wash between making everything. Overall it probably took 1 1/2 – 2 days.

It certainly gives you an even greater appreciation for the beautiful desserts made at top end restaurants, and I am feeling excited at the thought of the next hatted restaurant I go to (I have yet to decide where to go). I can’t wait to go to Universal too. I have wanted to go there for dinner for at least a year or two. Maybe I’ll go there.

When it comes to this dessert, all I can say is it is wonderful (and quite rich). The components worked beautifully together and it looks gorgeous.

My notes on the recipe:
It makes a lot more than 4 serves. (Maybe 10-16?)

I needed to use my 2 ice cream makers twice! The honeycomb ice cream made around 2L of liquid before churning, and the caramel ice cream made a bit over 1L before churning. If you don’t have two ice cream makers, you may prefer to halve the honeycomb recipe, or be ready to mix the ice cream every hour or so in the freezer.

For the ice cream, I filled a 19cm square tin (approx 3-4cm height) for each ice cream. I could not have put the ice cream in half a tin as I think it wouldn’t have held its shape. Even with filling up the two tins, I had ice cream left over.

I made my own fondant icing using this recipe

I could not find wafer balls and had to use maltesers and honeycomb balls instead.

I did not have access to the 250g Valrhona gianduja hazelnut chocolate, so used 50g nutella + 100g milk chocolate + 100g dark chocolate. (I am sure the Valrhona gianduja hazelnut chocolate would have tasted amazing). The mousse ended up being quite chocolatey and not very hazelnut-y.

I also didn’t have Valrhona Caramelia chocolate, so used some Calebaut chocolate and milk cooking chocolate.

I am not sure of the strength of the gelatine leaves I had, so I used 1 1/2 leaves which weighed 6g.

I don’t have a thermomix, so made the anglaise the same way I made the ice cream base. (heat the cream, beat the egg yolks with the sugar, add the hot cream, pour this into the saucepan and heat until 80-84C.)

I cooked the ice cream bases in the saucepans rather than a bowl over water, as this is how I normally make ice cream.

Be careful with the caramel ice cream (I am not sure whether adding some of the ice cream base to the caramel would be a better idea, than adding the caramel to the ice cream base.) When I made it the way it said here, the caramel splattered out of the pot and a little bit landed on my arm. Be careful of your eyes and keep children away from hot caramel as it can cause nasty burns.

I made my own template out of paper – it was a bit flimsy though, cardboard might have been better.

I needed to sieve quite a lot of the chocolate caramel over the template, and place it in the oven for a while (1-2min) for it to completely melt.

Hopefully these tips will help anyone attempting to make this dessert at home.

Please enjoy the dessert if you make it, or if you go to Universal!

Gaytime goes nuts

Recipe by: Christine Manfield
Serves: 4 (I think it serves at least 10 people)
Recipe found on MasterChef website

Honeycomb
360g caster sugar
120g glucose
60ml water
15g bicarbonate of soda

Honeycomb ice cream
700ml pure cream
750ml milk
8 egg yolks
300g caster sugar
250g chopped honeycomb

Caramel ice cream

300g caster sugar
75ml water
750ml pure cream
375ml milk
9 egg yolks
90g caster sugar

Base anglaise
50g egg yolks
25g caster sugar
125ml pure cream
125ml milk

Hazelnut chocolate mousse

150g base anglaise
2 leaves gold-leaf gelatine, softened in cold water
250g Valrhona gianduja hazelnut chocolate, chopped
200ml pure cream, whipped to soft peaks

Hazelnut caramel
200ml pure cream
75g glucose
½ vanilla bean, split
100g caster sugar
25g unsalted butter, chopped
1½ cups hazelnuts, roasted and peeled, coarsely chopped
Vanilla salt, to taste

Chocolate collar wafers
240g liquid/pouring fondant sugar
160g glucose
160g Valrhona Caramelia chocolate, chopped

Gaytime Dust
50g chocolate ripple biscuits
150g sponge fingers (savoiardi)
30g hard nougat
20g honeycomb

chocolate wafer balls to serve

1. For honeycomb, line a deep large baking tray with baking paper.

2. Place sugar, glucose and water in large saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally over medium heat until sugar dissolves.

3. Bring to the boil, without stirring, then cook until mixture just begins to change colour. Agitate the pan to circulate the colour. You want a very pale yellow colour (as when the bi-carb is added the honeycomb will cook quickly and burn).

4. Remove the pan from the heat, add bi-carb and whisk quickly. Pour into prepared tray and leave to cool.

5. Break into large chunks and store in airtight container until required.

6. For honeycomb ice cream, place cream and milk in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.

7. Whisk yolks and sugar in a metal bowl until thicken and pale, gradually pour in hot cream and whisk constantly to combine.

8. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, ensuring water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Cook the custard, stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture coats the back of the spoon.

9. Cool over a bowl of iced water or in a shallow tray in the blast chiller until cold.

10. Pour into a pacojet cannister. N.B. Make sure it is not filled above the safety line. You need to allow room for the ice cream to expand. Place cannister in blast freezer until set solid in the centre, about 1 hour 30 minutes or overnight in a freezer. Churn in pacojet. N.B. Make sure you press the release button before removing from machine or you will damage the machine. If you don’t have a pacojet, churn in an ice-cream machine following manufacturer instructions.

11. Line a 16x25cm base-measurement 3cm-deep slice tin with cling wrap or baking paper. Fold honeycomb through churned ice cream. Spread ice cream into one half of the tin. Make sure you have enough for 4 x 4.5cm disks. The caramel ice cream will fill the other half.

12. Place in blast freezer until firm. When firm, use a round cookie cutter to cut out 4.5cm discs, place on a tray and blast freeze discs until firm.

13. For caramel ice cream, place sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil, agitating occasionally to ensure sugar is dissolved before mixture reaches the boil. Continue to boil until mixture reaches a deep caramel colour.

14. Meanwhile, place cream and milk in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.

15. Whisk yolks and sugar in a metal bowl until thicken and pale, gradually pour in hot cream and whisk constantly to combine.

16. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, ensuring water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Cook the custard, stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture coats the back of the spoon.

17. Pour in hot caramel and whisk until smooth and combined. Cool over a bowl of iced water or in a shallow tray in the blast chiller or freezer until cold.

18. Pour into a pacojet cannister. N.B. Make sure it is not filled above the safety line. You need to allow room for the ice cream to expand. Place cannister in blast freezer until set solid in the centre, about 1 hour 30 minutes or overnight in a freezer. Churn in pacojet. N.B. Make sure you press the release button before removing from machine or you will damage the machine. If you don’t have a pacojet churn in an ice-cream machine following manufacturer instructions.

19. Spread into the unfilled half of the 16 x 25cm base measurement 3cm-deep slice tin. Make sure you have enough for 4 x 4.5cm disks. When firm, use a round cookie cutter to cut out 4.5cm discs, place on a tray and blast freeze until firm.

20. For anglaise, to operate thermomix, press time first, then temperature, then speed. Place egg yolks and sugar in thermo jug, set 20 seconds, then speed 7.

21. Add cream and milk, and set for 7.5 minutes, then 80°C button and then speed 4. Light will stop flashing once anglaise comes up to temperature.

22. For hazelnut chocolate mousse, pour 80°C base anglaise into a large metal bowl, add softened gelatine, stirring to dissolve the gelatine, then cool over ice to 45°C.

23. While anglaise is cooling, place chocolate in a metal bowl over water bath and heat to 45°C.

24. Fold melted chocolate through anglaise until combined. Cool completely over a bowl of iced water, fold in whipped cream.

25. Divide into 2 plastic rectangle containers and refrigerate until firm. Do not blast freeze as it weakens the gelatine structure.

26. For hazelnut caramel, place cream, glucose and vanilla bean in a saucepan over a medium heat until simmering.

27. Make a dry caramel by melting sugar in a deep frying pan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, and continue to cook, agitating the pan occasionally until sugar reaches a caramel colour.

28. Pour in warmed cream mixture, stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes until caramel dissolves.

29. Add butter and stir to combine. Remove from heat and cool, stirring occasionally.

30. To serve, combine a few tablespoons of chopped nuts with a few tablespoons of caramel and season with vanilla salt to taste.

31. For chocolate collar wafers, preheat oven to 200°C. Place a silver oven tray upside down in oven and allow to become very hot.

32. Place fondant sugar and glucose in a saucepan and cook to 180°C. Add chocolate and mix until smooth, making a homogenous paste. Spread onto a silicone mat, roll to 5mm thick with a silicone rolling pin and leave to cool. Break set toffee into pieces and transfer to a bowl.

33. Take 1/3 of toffee and place in a mortar and pestle. Pound to rough 1cm pieces and transfer to a thermo mix or blender. Blitz to a fine powder. Tap jug on a bench to loosen and blitz for a further 10-15 seconds.

34. Spoon some of the powder into a fine sieve, place a rectangular 20 x 7.5cm stencil over a silicone mat on a flat baking tray that has one end open for easy transfer. Sieve mixture over stencil to 1-2mm thick. The powder should just be level with the thickness of the stencil.

35. Place one finger at one end of the stencil to keep in place and gently lift the opposite end, ensuring not to indent the powder. Lift the stencil away completely.

36. Take the upside down oven tray from the oven and place upside down on a flat bench. Gently slide the powder-covered mat onto the tray and allow powder to melt completely, this will take 60-90 seconds. If the powder doesn’t melt together completely place in the oven for 15-30 seconds.

37. Run a small crank spatula over the wafer to check consistency. You want it to be set and cool enough to be pliable and easy to roll but not hot enough that it stretches easily.

38. Lift up one end by gently flicking it with the spatula, lay a 5.5cm base-diameter squeezy bottle over hot wafer and roll up around the bottle. Gently press the join to the hot mat to seal and gently ease off the bottle. Repeat until you have the desired amount of wafer cylinders.

39. For gaytime dust, blitz together to a fine crumb.

To assemble:

A bowl of gaytime dust
A tray of ice cream rounds, 4x honey comb and 4x caramel rounds
A small bowl or plate of chocolate wafer balls

Chocolate wafer collars
A small bowl of caramel
Chopped roasted hazelnuts
Vanilla salt
3 dessert spoons, for serving
A palette knife
A white cloth
A bowl of warm water, for quenelling

1. Place a spoonful of gaytime dust in the centre of a serving plate and flatten a central circle large enough to fit the chocolate collar wafer.

2. Take a round of honeycomb ice cream and place it in the centre. Dip the caramel ice cream in the chocolate wafer balls and place on top.

3. Gently ease the chocolate wafer collar over the ice cream to encase and fill with a little bit more ice cream if required to bring it to 1cm below the top of the collar.

4. Combine the hazelnuts and caramel and season to taste with vanilla salt. Spoon on to the ice cream to cover and bring to the top of the collar.

5. Place a spoonful of gay time dust over the caramel and top with a quenelle of mousse.

Tropical Snow Egg

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

After our trip to Quay last year, I have wanted to replicate Peter Gilmore’s Snow egg. It never occurred to me again, until I saw Peter Gilmore in a Gourmet Traveller video, where he showed roughly how his two signature desserts (the eight-textured chocolate cake and the snow egg) were made, along with his inspiration behind them. I went searching for recipes for poached meringues, crispy tuilles and with terrible luck (and terrible search terms) it took me quite a few hours before I had found the actual recipe on the internet…

And then I saw it everywhere, even little searches brought me to his recipe, either posted by someone who went to Peter’s cooking class or even on a lifestyle website. Then it was the final dish to be prepared by MasterChef contestants in series 2.

The best part of this dessert being on MasterChef were the comments by people below the recipe, as everyone was discussing where to buy maltose. Beforehand I tried looking in the shops and found rice malt – a brownish liquid maltose (+ carbohydrates and a little glucose). I decided to try it out, without trying any other parts of the recipe, to see if this would work. It didn’t. The tuilles melted into a terrible mess. After checking out the MasterChef website I found people suggesting going to Asian grocery stores. And with much luck, my local Asian grocery store had it. I had to ask for it though as it was too difficult to find, although the lovely staff member there found me some – it was labelled: Wheat Sprout Sugar, Ingredients: Rice, malt…

These tuilles were perfect! They worked very well on baking paper and hardly any broke. It also didn’t matter if they stayed on the paper a while.

The other piece of equipment I was missing were the hemisphere moulds. Although my Mum came up with the brillant idea of using an egg poacher for the meringue moulds. Lucky my mum’s one had smooth hemispheres compared to mine with a flat base. These worked perfectly, with the only problem being that there were only 4 moulds, so I had to clean them between cooking each batch of 4 halves. I made a total of 8 snow eggs, so this part got tedious after the 2nd batch.

The flavours Peter uses are gorgeous, although trying to make this using seasonal fruits or frozen fruits I had on hand, made me change the recipe to suit the timing of the year. I decided on a passionfruit ice cream for the “yolk” of the egg, with a tropical, strawberry, pineapple and passion fruit granita along with a strawberry cream. I think most flavours worked wonderfully – although the strawberry cream was maybe a little overpowering in flavour.

I have learnt so much from this challenge – the maltose experience was extremely interesting, as were making the poached meringue and granita. I am so glad I have made this, and even more glad the extremely talented and incredibly gifted Peter Gilmore shared such a beautiful recipe of his. I would much like to go back to Quay at some point as the experience was just amazing. I am also greatly anticipating the launch of his book on 1st November this year!!! I tried to make my own version of Peter Gilmore’s eight textured chocolate cake as I could not find his recipe anywhere – although it didn’t turn out particularly well in the presentation department (and obviously didn’t compare to the flavours of Peter’s, but was still delicious). I’m not sure whether I should post it due to the bad photos… – although I have heard his actual recipe may be in his book – making me super excited!!

And to answer your questions, I think this dessert is worth making. Many components can be made the night or a few nights beforehand, the presentation is lovely, the flavours are beautiful, the concept is amazing. (Although, this is on the condition of getting some hemisphere moulds – as cleaning the egg poachers was too tedious. Please let me know if you find any in Sydney or on the internet?) {now that’s not a hint for a birthday present, if I ever did give one 🙂 }

Tropical Snow Egg

Recipe adapted from Peter Gilmore from Quay‘s Guava and Custard Apple Snow Egg

Passion fruit ice cream
100ml milk
3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
100g passion fruit pulp
50ml pouring cream

Vanilla custard base
400ml pouring cream
2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
80g caster sugar

Tropical granita
100g caster sugar
500ml water
150g pineapple, diced
100g passion fruit pulp
100g fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

Poached meringue (I used all the left over egg whites from the ice cream and custard – making a meringue of ~200g egg whites and ~200g caster sugar)
Canola oil spray or vegetable oil
150g egg white
150g caster sugar

Maltose tuiles
200g liquid maltose
100g caster sugar
20g flaked almonds

Vanilla cream

100g vanilla custard base
100g double cream

Strawberry Cream
100g of strawberries, pureed and sieved
200g vanilla cream

1 cup icing sugar, to serve

Preheat oven to 150ºC and turn on ice cream machine to chill.

For the passion fruit ice cream, bring milk to the boil in a small saucepan. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together by hand, then pour boiling milk onto the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Pour into a stainless steel bowl and cook while whisking over a pot of simmering water for about 10 minutes or until it is thickened. Whisk sabayon until cool over ice, then whisk in the passion fruit pulp and the cream. Strain and then place the mixture into an ice cream machine and churn for about 40 minutes. Place in the freezer until set.

For the vanilla custard base, heat cream and vanilla seeds together in a small saucepan until it just begins to boil, and then remove from the heat. Whisk by hand the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together in a stainless steel bowl until combined. While whisking the eggs, slowly pour on the hot vanilla cream. Mix well and remove the vanilla pods. Pour this mixture into 4 dariole moulds to a depth of 5 cm, place the dariole moulds into a small baking dish with boiling water around the dariole moulds up to halfway to form a water bath. Place the water bath into a 150ºC oven and cook the custard 25 minutes or until the custard is just set. If the centre is still runny place in the freezer until set then place in refrigerator until needed.

For the granita, combine sugar and water in a large saucepan; bring to the boil then lower heat. Add diced fruit and gently simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to infuse at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pass the liquid through a muslin cloth and discard the solids. Pour the syrup into a lamington or slice tin to a depth of 5cm. Place in the freezer until solid. Scrape with a fork into crystals and then transfer to the freezer until required.

For the poached meringue, whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until they form soft peaks and then slowly add the sugar bit by bit. Keep whisking until the meringue forms firm peaks and the sugar has dissolved. Spray hemisphere moulds lightly with canola oil spray. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle. Pipe mixture into moulds so it sits above the surface. Place the filled moulds into a large baking dish and pour boiling water into the baking dish to a depth of about 3cm. Bake at 150ºC for 15 minutes until just. Allow to cool for 2 minutes, then trim off tops so they are perfect hemispheres. Gently un-mould and place cut side up on a baking paper lined tray in the fridge until needed. Increase oven temperature to 180ºC.

To make the maltose tuiles, stir maltose and sugar together in a small saucepan then bring to the boil until it reaches hard crack stage (until it caramelises) (this will occur at 160ºC or a little higher). Take care to brush down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in water so it doesn’t crystallise. Once golden add the flaked almonds and immediately pour the mixture onto a silicon mat, allow to cool completely. Process the cooled praline in the bowl of a hand blender to form a fine powder. Next sift a fine layer of the praline mixture through a drum sieve, over an acetate stencil with 11cm circles cut out of it onto a silicon mat on a baking sheet. Melt this mixture in a 180ºC oven for a few minutes until it forms a clear liquid paste. Cool tuiles slightly and peel off silicon sheet while still flexible. Store flat between sheets of baking paper until ready to use.

For the vanilla cream, whisk the cream and custard together to form soft peaks. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

For the strawberry cream, place the strawberry puree in a small bowl and fold through the vanilla cream gently to form a rippled effect. Do this just before you are ready to assemble the dessert.

To assemble, take 8 of the half hemisphere poached meringues. Using a teaspoon or half teaspoon measure remove a small scoop from the centre of each half hemisphere being careful not to break through the outer edge. Then place a teaspoon or half teaspoon measure scoop of passion fruit ice cream in four of the hemispheres. Invert the other four hemispheres over the ice cream filled meringues to form a complete sphere. Use wet fingers to stick the two halves together. Place a tuile on top of each sphere and using a blow torch and an even motion, melt it over the sphere, patting it down if necessary. Dust spheres liberally with icing sugar. Next add a generous spoonful of the strawberry cream in the bottom of each serving glass. Top the cream with the tropical granita. Use two teaspoons to place the snow egg on top of the granita and serve.

V8 Cake

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Yes, that’s right. I decided to make Adriano Zumbo’s V8 cake. Not a car cake as might be thought by the name, but a gorgeous cake composed of eight different layers of vanilla. Vanilla crème chantilly, toasted vanilla brulee, vanilla water gel, vanilla glaze, vanilla ganache, vanilla macaron, vanilla dacquoise, vanilla chiffon cake, vanilla almond crunch… hmmm.. that’s 9 layers… oh well.

After the pressure test episode on MasterChef, I had loads of people coming up and asking whether I would be making the cake – with all of them hoping to get a chance to try it.

I haven’t made anything from this series of MasterChef, even though there was one other dish that looked very gorgeous and tasty. So, I decided to make this cake (unfortunately not using all the beans used here, and substituting vanilla essence for some – as they are quite expensive). I also didn’t use any of the titanium dioxide in the glaze or chocolate. I know this would have made a gorgeous colour, but it would have been difficult to get a hold of, and I thought that 12.5g was a little large for the cake. The cake still looked gorgeous, without the brilliant white look.

I am glad tonight’s episode is the last MasterChef, as hopefully I can get a bit of my time back – I haven’t been visiting people blogs, getting enough sleep, blogging as much as I’d like and experimenting with some of my own creations.

My notes on making this cake:
I didn’t use all the vanilla beans, due to expense. I used half the number here + vanilla essence.
I made my own almond praline paste – not sure if it’s what it’s supposed to be like, the recipe is at the bottom of this page.
I made my own miroir glaze – this recipe is also at the end – it makes more than required (about 1/3 extra).
I didn’t use Titanium dioxide – the cake still looked gorgeous.
I made my own 20cm acetate box – cutting out a 20cm x 20cm square + 4 20cm x 9cm recatangles (although these were too large and could have been 20cm x 7cm). Sticky tape the rectangles to each side of the square, then sticky tape together. Use cardboard for supports on the bottom and each end.)
You can use projector sheets or sheets that cover the front of a book for acetate in this recipe.
I thought the ganache was a bit more difficult to get smooth than more traditional ganaches (pouring hot cream over the chocolate). Although with lots of pressure from the food processor – it came together in the end. I would suggest cutting it up finely to begin with, otherwise cream goes everywhere. This also made around 1/3 too much I think.
In place of the 1.5g gellanin the vanilla water gel, I used 2 sheets gold gelatine (4-5g) to get a jelly layer.
I used All Bran wheat flakes instead of the pailette feuillitine, but only 20g of it.
There was way too much vanilla syrup. I would suggest doing 1/4 of the recipe or less.
There was too much brown sugar crumble – this could have been cut by half.
There could have been a bit more vanilla creme chantilly made, as this was a little short for me… Make 1/4-1/2 more.

Enjoy!! If you decide to make it 🙂

V8 Cake

Recipe by Adriano Zumbo on MasterChef Australia 2010 (series 2)
see my notes above

2 vanilla beans
100g blanched almonds
Sugar spheres, to serve

Vanilla crème chantilly
4g gold strength gelatine leaves
590g thickened cream
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
175g caster sugar
24g cold water

Toasted vanilla brulee

3 egg yolks
50g dark brown sugar
250g thickened cream
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla water gel
250g water
38g caster sugar
1.5g gellan
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped

Vanilla glaze
9.5g gelatine leaves
60g cold water
40g glucose liquid
35g water
250g caster sugar
400g thickened cream
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
150g miroir glaze (specialty cold-application patisserie glaze)
7.5g titanium dioxide (white colourant, powdered)

Vanilla ganache
300g white couverture chocolate
185g thickened cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
95g unsalted butter, softened

Brown sugar crumble
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
50g dark brown sugar
50g almond meal
¼ scraped vanilla bean

Vanilla macaron
53g egg whites
50g pure icing sugar
150g TPT (equal parts sifted almond meal and sifted pure icing sugar)
½ scraped vanilla bean

Vanilla dacquoise
60g egg whites
43g caster sugar
65g almond meal
40g pure icing sugar, sifted
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
½ tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla chiffon cake

17.5g plain flour
1 roasted and finely ground vanilla bean
1.25 (21g) egg yolks
5g dark brown sugar
17.5g water
15g canola oil
45g egg whites
22.5g caster sugar
2.5g rice flour

Vanilla almond crunch

45g milk couverture chocolate
90g almond praline paste
90g pure almond paste
18g unsalted butter
45g brown sugar crumble
45g pailette feuillitine (crunchy wheat flakes)
18g toasted diced almonds
1 roasted and finely ground vanilla bean
2g sea salt
¼ scraped vanilla bean

Vanilla syrup
125g caster sugar
250g water
½ vanilla bean, split
1 tsp vanilla extract

White chocolate flower and tiles
500g white couverture chocolate, grated or finely chopped
5g titanium dioxide

Please note – you will need precision scales. The vanilla crème chantilly, vanilla glaze, brown sugar crumble, and vanilla syrup can all be made ahead of time.

1. Preheat oven to 160°C.

2. To make the roasted vanilla beans, place 2 vanilla beans in oven until burnt and charcoal in texture. Grind to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Cover and set aside.

3. To make the pure almond paste, place 100g blanched almonds on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes or until deep golden. Grind to a coarse paste. Cover and set aside.

4. To make the vanilla crème chantilly, cut gelatine into small squares, soak in the cold water. Place cream, vanilla and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to 70-80°C, and then stir through the gelatine and water mixture until dissolved. Place in a container, cover the surface with cling wrap and place in the fridge.

5. For the toasted vanilla brulee, mix yolks and sugar in a bowl by hand with a whisk until just combined. Add cream and vanilla bean to a small saucepan and bring to the boil, pour a little over the eggs while stirring, then add the remaining liquid including vanilla bean. Puree with a hand blender until smooth and pour into a shallow baking tray about 25 x 38cm. Place into the oven and cook until just set, about 10 minutes, then increase oven to 200°C and bake until it forms a golden brown crust, about 5 minutes. It should look slightly split when removed from the oven. Scrape mixture into a thermomix, blender, or small food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside in a small bowl, covering the surface of the brulee with cling wrap so it doesn’t form a skin. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C.

6. To make the vanilla water gel, place a lined 18cm square cake tin in the fridge to chill. Boil all ingredients in saucepan whilst whisking until dissolved and mixture starts to thicken. To test if set, drop about a teaspoon of liquid into a metal bowl, it should thicken slightly. It will thicken on cooling. To speed up cooling, pour into a metal bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Pour into chilled cake tin and place in the freezer until solid, about 30 minutes. Remove from mould and keep gel in freezer.

7. For the vanilla glaze, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until softened. Drain, squeezing out any excess water. Boil glucose, water and sugar until 165°C, brushing around the sides of the saucepan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water as you go. Do not allow caramel to take on any colour. In another saucepan, bring cream and vanilla seeds to boil and then add to the sugar syrup. Mix through, then allow to cool to 70°C and add softened gelatine, stirring well. Add miroir glaze and titanium dioxide and blend well. Strain, then freeze until set. Reheat to 35°C when glazing the cake.

8. For the vanilla ganache, place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth and creamy. Cover closely with cling wrap and set aside until needed.

9. To make the brown sugar crumble, place all ingredients in an electric mixer and beat mix until dough forms. ‘Grate’ through a cooling rack with a lined baking tray sitting underneath to catch the crumble then bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until golden.

10. To make the vanilla macaron, draw an 18cm square on a piece of baking paper placed on a baking tray. Using an electric mixer or hand beaters, whisk egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form then slowly add pure icing sugar, checking it has dissolved in between additions until you have stiff glossy peaks. Stir through TPT with vanilla seeds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 5mm nozzle. Pipe into the pencilled frame using a continuous snaking motion to fill the entire square. Let a skin form and then bake for 10 minutes at 160°C until golden. Remove from oven, slide baking paper off tray and place on kitchen bench. Increase oven temperature to 180°C.

11. To make the vanilla dacquoise, draw an 18cm square on a piece of baking paper placed on a baking tray. In an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form then slowly add caster sugar, beating until you have stiff glossy peaks. Mix almond meal with icing sugar, vanilla seeds and extract, gently fold through egg whites. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 5mm nozzle. Pipe into the pencilled frame using a continuous snaking motion to fill the entire square. Dust with icing sugar, let sit 2 minutes then dust again. Bake at 180°C 10-12 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven, slide baking paper off tray and place on kitchen bench. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C.

12. To make the vanilla chiffon cake, draw an 18cm square on a piece of baking paper placed on a baking tray. Mix flour, roasted vanilla bean powder, egg yolks, brown sugar, water and oil in a bowl until combined. Whisk egg whites in an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form then slowly add the sugar and rice flour, beating until you have stiff, glossy peaks. Fold the meringue through the batter gently. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 5mm nozzle. Pipe into the pencilled frame using a continuous snaking motion to fill the entire square. Bake in the oven set at 160°C until golden, about 15 minutes.

13. To make the vanilla almond crunch, melt milk chocolate, add almond praline and the pure almond paste and mix well. Melt butter and take to nut brown (noissette) stage. Add crumble and fueilletine flakes and mix through praline mixture, then fold through burnt butter, followed by toasted almonds, crushed vanilla beans, sea salt and scraped vanilla seeds. Smooth a 5mm layer over vanilla dacquoise and set aside.

14. To make the vanilla syrup, bring all ingredients to the boil, then allow to cool.

15. To make the white chocolate tiles and flower, bring 5cm of water in a medium saucepan to the boil, turn off the heat and sit a metal bowl with 300g of the chocolate over the water. Stir until just melted then remove bowl to the bench and add about 100g more chocolate to bring the temperature down. Stir vigorously until the chocolate has melted, if the chocolate does not feel cold to the touch, add the remaining 100g chocolate to bring down the temperature. Add titanium dioxide and mix well. Keep stirring well to remove all lumps. If the chocolate mixture feels cold to the touch, spread a small, thin layer onto a small piece of baking paper. Set aside for about 3-4 minutes, it will start to harden if it is tempered correctly. If the chocolate becomes too thick and the temperature is too low, gently reheat the mixture in the bowl set over the saucepan of steaming water, but it still needs to be cold.

16. When the chocolate is tempered, to make the flower, spread a thin layer, about 2-3mm thick on 2 pieces of acetate (30 x 40cm) using a large palette knife. Once the chocolate has almost set, on one sheet of acetate carefully mark 3 strips lengthways on the strips, about 7-9cm-wide. Mark thin triangles in each strip. These form the flower petals. Place a piece of baking paper over the top, and wrap around a rolling pin or similar cylinder and allow to completely harden.

17. On the other sheet use a ruler to mark out 4 ½ cm squares. Place a piece of baking paper over the top and invert onto a board or clean work surface to completely harden.

18. To assemble the cake, in a 20cm acetate-lined straight-sided cake tin spread a 5-10mm layer of Chantilly crème around base and sides of tin. Chill in freezer until firm. Lay vanilla gel at the base of the tin and smear with a tiny amount of brulee so that macaron layer will stick to the gel. Lay macaron layer over brulee smear. Cover macaron layer with an even 5mm of brulee. Place chiffon cake over brulee layer. Brush chiffon cake with a little vanilla syrup. Spread a 5mm layer of ganache over chiffon cake. Invert the dacquoise/crunch layers so the vanilla almond crunch layer is sandwiched next to the ganache and the dacquoise is facing up. The dacquoise will become the base of the cake.

19. Fill in any gaps with Chantilly cream, then place in the freezer for 30-60 minutes until firm. Place a large piece of cling wrap on the bench and place a cooling rack on top. Remove the cake from the chiller and invert onto the cooling rack. Heat sides of cake tin gently with a blow torch to help release the mould from the cake. Remove any acetate. Smooth top and sides if necessary with a palette knife. Pouring generously and using a palette knife, spread the vanilla glaze evenly over the top and sides, completely covering the surface. Using a large palette knife transfer the cake to a cake stand and place the chocolate tiles around the cake.

20. To assemble the flower spread a small amount of melted tempered chocolate onto a small piece of baking paper and use this as a base to stick the petals, starting in the centre, working outwards to create a flower. Using choco-cool will help ‘fix’ the petals in place and firm up the chocolate base. Place chocolate flower on top of the cake and decorate the top of the cake with a few sugar spheres.

Almond Praline
Recipe by Anita @ Leave Room for Dessert

50g caster sugar
60g blanched slivered almonds

Roast the almonds for 5-10mins at 160°C. Heat the sugar on high, until the sugar starts browning around the outside. Gently stir in the un-melted sugar, until it is all caramelised in colour. Pour over the roasted almonds. Allow to cool, then blend in a food processor. (It won’t go into the same paste texture as the almond paste above).

Miroir Glaze
Recipe by Anita @ Leave Room for Dessert

2 gold gelatine leaves (4g)
220g water
60g caster sugar
30g glucose

Place the gelatine leaves into cold water to soak for 5 minutes. Heat the water, caster sugar and glucose in a small saucepan until it starts to boil. Remove from heat and let it cool to 70°C. Squeeze excess water from gelatine leaves, place in saucepan and stir until dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool slightly before storing in the fridge.

Chocolate Swirl Croquembouche

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

ChocSwirlCroquembouche13

I started craving croquembouche again after the second last celebrity MasterChef. I was craving it so bad, that I didn’t think I could wait until Christmas (which is when I had planned to make my next croquembouche) to eat a custard or pastry cream filled profiterole with the lovely caramel or toffee crunch.

ChocSwirlCroquembouche15

The chocolate delice challenge was taking up my time and weekends were being filled so fast with dinners, outings and a gingerbread house, I didn’t know if I would get any Christmas shopping done (I didn’t get much done, lucky I have a wonderful mum and sisters who did most of it, and whom I thanked with this lovely croquembouche along with the rest of Christmas lunch).

ChocSwirlCroquembouche20

For Christmas I decided to make Adriano Zumbo’s chocolate swirl croquembouche, as I was intrigued by the chocolate profiteroles, but I still wanted the original gorgeous profiteroles too.

ChocSwirlCroquembouche17

Others and myself looked around quite a bit to find isomalt and the white food white colouring, but were unable to find any in shops – a few places online look as though they sell it. So, instead I decided to make some royal icing butterflies to go on top (using the leftovers from my gingerbread house).

ChocSwirlCroquembouche22

After comparing these quantities to those from the first croquembouche, I decided to cook half the quantity of choux pastry (for the normal and chocolate ones) and a bit more than half the caramel (although I should have made the full quantity of caramel/toffee, as I was making the base and the extra was required for this). I think it’s better to have left over custard than profiterole cases and toffee.

ChocSwirlCroquembouche14

The half amount of choux pastry made almost the perfect number of profiteroles for the vanilla pastry cream. I ended up with a decent amount of chocolate pastry cream left over, but I’m not complaining – as both pastry creams are delicious.

ChocSwirlCroquembouche18

I ended up making quite a large filled croquembouche this time around, although probably wouldn’t recommend one quite as large, as mine only lasted long enough for the photos before crashing down. The next day all the caramel/toffee had dissolved into a large sticky puddle, even though the profiteroles were in an air tight container. We had a large amount of humidity on Christmas day.

ChocSwirlCroquembouche16

I’m really happy I tried the chocolate swirl croquembouche, although think I would stick to the normal one in future, and make the tower a bit smaller.

ChocSwirlCroquembouche21

Chocolate Swirl Croquembouche

Recipe slightly adapted from Adriano Zumbo’s recipe on Celebrity MasterChef 2009

Serves: 12 (I think it serves 20 or more)

Vanilla pastry cream
2 litres milk
500g egg yolks (from around 30 large or extra large eggs)
500g sugar
200g cornflour
200g butter
2 vanilla beans, split, seed scraped out

Chocolate pastry cream
750g of the vanilla pastry cream
375g cream
190g Cocoa Barry 72% Venezuela Chocolate (I used 100g 70% Lindt Chocolate + 90g dark cooking chocolate)

Choux pastry (this is half the quantity from the original recipe and made around 130 profiteroles)
212 ml water
265 ml milk
10g sugar
10g salt
200g butter
265 g plain flour
8 eggs

Chocolate choux pastry (this is half the quantity from the original recipe and made around 40 chocolate profiteroles)
80ml water
100ml milk
4g sugar
4g salt
75g butter
75g flour
25g Barry cocoa powder
3 eggs

Caramel
1kg sugar
300ml water
400g glucose
250g chopped almonds

Decorations (optional)
200g isomalt
20ml water
A few drops of food colouring
Selection of food colouring

1. To make the pastry cream: place milk and vanilla beans into a large saucepan. Heat gently over medium heat until milk almost boils. Remove from heat, discard vanilla beans and set aside. Beat egg yolks, sugar and cornflour with electric beaters until thick and pale. Gradually whisk in the warm milk and return mixture to the same pan. Stir over medium heat until the custard boils. Remove from heat and pour onto flat tray, spread out to cool rapidly. Cover the surface of the custard closely with cling film, to prevent a skin from forming. Use a candy thermometer to check temperature of custard. When mixture has reached 55ºC, stir through butter and refrigerate, still covered, until completely cooled.

30 egg yolks - the most I've ever used

30 egg yolks - the most I've ever used

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The custard mixture was too much for the bowl I had. So I whisked in 1 litre of the milk mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks and sugar, before straining it all back into the remaining 1 litre of milk in the saucepan.

ChocSwirlCroquembouche27

2. To make the chocolate pastry cream: place 750g of cooled vanilla pastry cream, chocolate and cream in a saucepan and reboil. Pour onto a tray, cover with cling film and refrigerate until completely cooled.

3. To make the choux pastry: preheat the oven to 210ºC convection. Lightly grease 2-3 large oven trays and set aside. Combine the water, milk, sugar, salt and butter in a large heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and using a wooden spoon quickly beat in the flour. Return saucepan to the heat and continue beating until the mixture comes together and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cook stirring over low heat for a further 1-2 minutes to cook out the flour. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

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4. Using hand beaters, beat the mixture to release any more heat. (I used my KitchenAid to get rid of a lot of the heat before adding the eggs). Gradually add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well between each addition until all the eggs have been added and the mixture is thick and glossy (a spoon should be able to stand upright in it). Beat for several more minutes, or until thickened.

Half way through the eggs

Half way through the eggs

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5. To make the chocolate choux pastry: repeat step 3 & 4 to make chocolate choux pastry adding the cocoa powder with the flour.

6. Spoon the mixtures, in batches, into piping bags fitted with a 1.25-1.5cm nozzle. Cover remaining pastry with cling film. Pipe mixture onto trays about 2.5cm x 2cm high leaving room for spreading. Bake for 25-30 minutes, in batches, or until firm and hollow when tapped. Transfer puffs to wire racks.

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7. Spoon custards into separate piping bags with a nozzle less than 1cm. Poke a small hole in the base of each puff and fill choux pastry with vanilla pastry cream and chocolate choux with chocolate pastry cream. Set aside.

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8. For the caramel: grease a cake ring with cooking spray. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan until it boils. Add glucose, and cook until syrup turns a caramel colour. Remove from the heat and dip the base of the pan in a bowl of cold water to cool slightly. Pour just enough caramel to cover almonds and mix well; pour almond caramel into ring to form a 5mm base. This is the base for the croquembouche.

9. Dip the puff bases (I dipped the tops of the profiteroles) in enough toffee to coat and place upside down on a tray lined with silicon paper or silpat mat. (I used baking paper, which worked reasonable well).

10. Combine isomalt and water in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Using a candy thermometer, bring mixture to 160ºC. Remove from heat and add white food colouring. Mix well; mixture will turn completely white. Slowly add drop by drop of colours and swirl pan to mix slightly. Pour into silpat moulds, reserving 1-2 tablespoons of mixture. Stand butterflies for 5 minutes or until hardened.

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I improvised and made royal icing butterflies, by piping different coloured royal icing onto baking paper – be careful – they are fragile (two of my three fell apart.

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11. To assemble: oil the inside of the croquembouche cone. Dip the sides of the puff balls in the toffee one at a time and place around the inside of the cone in a single row. Place one chocolate ball in each row, to the bottom right of previous chocolate ball. Continue adding rows of vanilla balls and single chocolate balls until the cone is filled and the chocolate balls forms 2 spirals pattern. Place a small amount of caramel on the last balls inside the cone. Place base inside the cone, gently invert cone and slide off the metal cone. Using reserved isomalt mixture, dip butterflies into mixture and fix to top of croquembouche.

Note: I built my croquembouche from scratch, although it was too tall to stand by itself. I may have needed to use more toffee to hold it together. I would make a smaller one in the future.

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Lemon Tasting Plate and the MasterChef Cookbook

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

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My family and friends know how much I loved watching MasterChef. Most of my readers have probably also picked up on this from the other recipes I’ve already made from MasterChef:
Strawberries and Cream Dessert
Sticky Date Pudding
Aria Chocolate Tart
Croquembouche
Chocolate Delice
Scones

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So why did I like it so much? While others were interested in watching drama unfold, I was waiting for the food. What will they cook with those secret ingredients, what would I cook? Which celebrity chef will be on? I wonder what they will make? (I really loved seeing the Chefs recipes, who wouldn’t?)

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That’s why I was so excited to be receiving a copy of the MasterChef Cookbook! (Thanks to Random House for sending me the book). I know that many of the recipes can be found on their website, but how can people resist having the recipes in their bookshelf – along with some of the recipes, tips and step-throughs not included on the website. (My love of cookbooks will probably see me getting some new ones as Christmas presents this year 🙂 ).

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One of the recipes I was looking forward to was the ice cream recipe – I remember how much people loved the silky ice cream, and the method seemed easy enough. One recipe most people won’t remember, as it was made very early in the series, was Linda’s blueberry and violet rice pudding. I remember it being presented to the judges when contestants were trying to get past the first round. It’s just so pretty! It’s on my list, and I’m happy to have the recipe.

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The book itself is around 260 pages and covers a lot of the basics for cooking. Some of the tips include how long dry, wet, fresh and frozen goods should be kept, knife skills, sauces and stocks, different types of potatoes and onions and their uses, as well as a few step-by-step instructions, where it’s needed. There are photos of all the contestants, reminding you who made the dish, photos of the action, the judges and the celebrity chefs.

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In front of many of the recipes are contestants views and thoughts of the dish, their inspiration or history behind it or just a reminder of where the recipe fitted into the competition. I love the large photos (almost one opposite each recipe) and I think this helps cooks make a quick decision as to whether they would be interested in making the dish, or at least how the dish should look once finished.

I would have liked to have seen a few other recipes in there, such as the chocolate and jaffa souffle which looked gorgeous, buttermilk hot cakes with candied apples and Julia’s baked ricotta (the recipe that got her through past the first round).

Overall, I think this book is presented in a great way and would appeal to both inexperienced and veteran cooks alike, and to anyone who likes a challenge!

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I decided I would finally have to make the lemon tasting plate seen on one of the Masterclasses on MasterChef. This included Julie’s Lemon Diva Cupcakes, lemon curd, lemon creme fraiche and lemon vanilla syrup. The book has recipes for both the lemon curd and lemon cupcakes, although I just made up my own lemon cream to go with it – the result, a gorgeous blend of lemon flavours. The lemon cupcakes were lovely and light (these would also be great as plain vanilla cupcakes) and worked well with the slight tang of the lemon curd and the sweetness of the lemon cream.

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Lemon Tasting Plate

Edited 18/12/09: Recipes removed due to request

My lemon tasting plate consists of Julie’s Lemon Diva Cupcakes and Lemon Curd from the MasterChef cookbook and my recipe of lemon cream

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Lemon Cream

Recipe by me

250ml thickened cream
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
1/3 cup caster sugar

Beat all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl, until cream becomes thick and whipped.

To serve:
Cut a shallow hole out of the top of the cupcakes (cut this piece in half). Place a teaspoon of lemon curd in the bottom of the well and then top with some lemon cream. Place the cut out halves into cream, with the curved sides facing one another to look like butterflies.

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or

Smear some lemon curd onto a plate. Crumble over a lemon cupcake and quenelle the lemon cream and place on top.

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Chocolate Delice

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

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I was contemplating making the chocolate swirl croquembouche on the second last episode of Celebrity MasterChef, although that will have to wait until the Christmas holiday. I instead decided to make Eamon Sullivan’s Chocolate Delice, which scored the highest, 30/30 from the judges.

It sounded fantastic, like an upmarket Mars bar. Biscuit, crème brulee, chocolate cream, chocolate ganache and salted caramel sauce – it does sound good, doesn’t it?

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I also thought I could make it over two days and this would make it a lot easier. I decided to follow the recipe exactly (even though it doesn’t state the strength of the gelatine leaf – I’ve been wrong before just assuming Chef’s mean gold strength).

The biscuit came first and was a lovely consistency, it fell apart a little, but was lovely and silky. It was tasty once cooked too – like a cross between shortcrust pastry and shortbread.

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I got to the end part of the crème brulee section and thought to myself that the recipe sounded very strange. The crème brulee mix wasn’t a thick custard which would set, it was a thin custard which I thought could either be made into an ice cream by freezing or a crème brulee by baking in a water bath – which is the way I usually see it made. This recipe didn’t state anything about baking the crème brulee. Just pour it on top of the biscuit and refrigerate to set. Now, I decided to only test a few and leave the remainder of the mix in a jug in the fridge to make into proper crème brulee if it didn’t set.

Surprise, surprise, it didn’t set. My two biscuits in the cookie cutters were not tight enough and almost all the crème brulee mix drained out of them. My made-up mould consisting of a cut up overhead projector sheet, held the mix in on top of the biscuit, but it was too runny and would have run everywhere if I had undone the plastic.

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I decided to place all my remaining mix into 2 ramekins and placed the ramekins into a small lasagne dish with enough water in it to come half way up the ramekins and baked them for 20-30 minutes at around 150C. Once cooked (just set), I removed the ramekins from the oven and cooled them in the fridge for a few hours. Place one heaped teaspoon of caster sugar on top of each and place under a very hot grill until the sugar caramelises (or use a blowtorch if you have one). Serve immediately.

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After cooking my crème brulee’s, I decided to watch the episode of MasterChef again (as I was a little distracted while watching it the first time). I watched carefully and saw Eamon placing what looked exactly like the crème brulee mix into a lined tray and into the oven. He even mentioned his biscuit was cooling and his crème brulee was in the oven – but no mention of this in the recipe 🙁

I thought about stopping here and not continuing. But how could I? I was still concerned about the gelatine leaf, but hopefully it would be alright…

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Ok – so I made it again!!

This time things went ok. I still had a few problems, but the overall result was gorgeous. I was concerned it would be too rich, although the combination of all components worked wonderfully together.

I made the biscuit base and crème brulee the night before.

The biscuit base worked well (I rolled it out to fit a normal baking tray). It does crumble a bit while working with it. I cut 10cm diameter circles (6 in total) – although they could have easily been smaller, as the dessert was a little difficult for some to finish.

I cooked the crème brulee in a 23cm x 34 cm (2-3 cm high) baking paper lined tray for 25-30 minutes at 150C. This was then cooled overnight.

I made the chocolate cream (although didn’t use it all) using 2.5 titanium strength gelatine leaves (total 10g) (one titanium leaf is supposed to set 250ml liquid).

This was then cooled for 30minutes or more while I placed the crème brulee on the biscuit base. Firstly I scraped off the top layer of crème brulee, then cut it using a cookie cutter and carefully placed it on the biscuit base (most fell apart and I tried to spread it around evenly).

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I used cookie cutters and plastic overhead projector films/sheets to hold in the crème brulee and cream, the cookie cutters worked better, although the films worked well enough.

The cream was poured over the crème brulee and left to set in the fridge (for an hour or so).

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Prepare the glaze (I used half the quantity, which was just enough to cover all 6 delices). Let it cool and once the cream is set, remove cookie cutter (Eamon used a blow torch, although I don’t have one yet, so I carefully pushed the cookie base up). Pour the glaze on top and cool in the fridge.

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Roast the almonds (I forgot to do this), then place them around the set delice.

Melt the white chocolate (I used 100g, but you could use less). Drizzle over the top and cool.

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I had a little bit of a problem with the sugar in the caramel. I tried to melt it over low or medium heat, but it didn’t dissolve. I continued to cook it and the water evaporated and the sugar became quite dry. Although after continuing to cook it on medium/high heat, eventually it started to caramelise (without dissolving first). Take it off the heat and stir in the cream, a bit at a time if need be (be careful as this bubbles up a lot), then whisk in the remaining cream and butter. Cool a bit before serving.

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Chocolate Delice

Recipe from Eamon Sullivan on Celebrity MasterChef 2009
For my tips see above and some are also in the recipe below in italics

Biscuit Base
250g plain flour
150g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
Pinch salt
1 egg

Crème brulee
375g thickened cream
135mls milk
2 vanilla beans, scraped
7 egg yolks
1 whole egg
60g caster sugar

Chocolate cream
190g thickened cream
190g boiling water
60g cocoa powder
150g white chocolate
125g dark chocolate
15g gelatine leaf (I used 2.5 titanium strength gelatine leaves ~10g total)

Chocolate glaze (I made half this quantity)
340g dark chocolate
230mls thickened cream
165g glucose syrup
30mls water
¼ cup flaked almonds
200g white chocolate

Salted caramel
250g caster sugar
50mls water
150mls thickened cream
150g unsalted butter
Sea salt flakes

Preheat the oven to180C.

For the biscuit base, place the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and process to a breadcrumb consistency. Add the egg and process again to combine. Tip out onto a clean flat surface and roll into a smooth dough, wrap in cling film and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Once rested use a rolling pin to roll into a 1cm thick rectangle shape; place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool then using a circular cutter cut out biscuit bases, set aside.

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For the crème brulee, combine the cream, milk and vanilla beans in a saucepan and place over a medium heat, bring to the boil then remove from heat. Strain into a clean saucepan. Place the egg yolks, whole egg and sugar into a bowl and using an electric hand beater whisk until thick and pale, pour half the heated milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk continuously. Pour the mixture into the saucepan of remaining milk and place over a low heat, cook for 3-5 minutes stirring continuously. Pour into a jug and cool slightly. Place the biscuit bases on a baking tray lined with baking paper, place a ring mould onto the bases and pour the crème brulee into the moulds(I cooked mine for 25-30 minutes at 150C – see tips above), place in the refrigerator until set.

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For the chocolate cream, pour the cream into a saucepan and place over a medium heat, bring to the boil, whisk the cocoa in the boiling water and add to the cream, continue to whisk, add the white chocolate and stir until melted, add the dark chocolate and continue to stir until chocolate has melted, bring the mixture to the boil then remove from heat. Place the gelatine sheet in a small bowl of cold water to soak for a few minutes, using hands squeeze out all moisture, add to the warm chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.

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For the chocolate glaze, pour the cream into a saucepan and place over a medium heat, bring to the boil, reduce heat and add the chocolate, glucose syrup and water, whisk continuously until chocolate has melted and a smooth sauce is created.

Place the almonds on a baking tray and place in the oven until lightly golden.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Place the white chocolate in a bowl, place the bowl over the water and melt the chocolate, spoon the melted chocolate into a piping bag.

For the salted caramel, place the sugar and water in a saucepan and place over a medium heat, stir until the sugar has melted then allow to simmer until caramel has formed. Whisk in the cream then continue to whisk in the butter, whisk to a thick glossy sauce.

To prepare the delice, pour the chocolate cream over the set brulee and allow to set. Remove the moulds and pour over the chocolate glaze. Allow glaze to set. Place toasted almonds around the edges of each delice. Drizzle the white chocolate in stripes over the delice.

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To serve, spoon caramel sauce onto a serving plate and sprinkle with a small pinch of sea salt, top with the delice to serve.

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Scones

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

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I love scones. Almost nothing is as good as jam and whipped cream on some fresh scones.

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Even better is when they’re so quick and easy to make – and these ones surely are. They were seen on a masterclass show on MaterChef, although had dates and lemon. I’m sure this flavour combination would be great, but without them the recipe is lovely.

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Scones

Recipe adapted from MasterChef’s Date and Lemon Scone recipe

150ml-175ml milk
150ml cream
1 egg
3 cups self-raising flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Cream & jam, to serve

Preheat oven 200°C fan forced. Line large flat oven tray with baking paper.

Whisk 150ml milk, cream and egg together until well combined. Combine flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add milk mixture and stir gently to a soft dough, adding remaining milk if necessary. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough comes together.

Press dough out to 2cm-thick.

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Cut scones from dough and place onto tray flat-side up. Press dough together gently and repeat using the remaining dough.

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Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden and well risen. Serve hot with jam and cream.

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