Moist Chocolate and Beet Cake

Have you dared to try it?
I’ve put it off for years but the time for testing and tasting is finally here!

Advertisements

IMG_5815

 

Beetroot in a cake??!!!

‘Chocolate beetroot cake,’ has been a phrase that has both intrigued and repulsed me for YEARS!   No, I just couldn’t do it.  So many opportunities to do a trial and so many reasons to not go there. Please, don’t get me wrong, I am a big beetroot fan in its many of its guises; most importantly; a burger is no burger of mine without it.  But, no matter how many people said a beetroot chocolate cake was all kinds of wonderful, I just couldn’t make the leap….until today.

When I decided to listen to my family and post reviews of the recipes I tested, I knew there were 2 recipes that I have avoided for decades yet, never been able to let go of.

Time to make the plunge; this Moist Chocolate Beet Cake recipe is originally by Nigel Slater but I found it via David Lebovitz website.  I followed the recipe to the letter, although I did not have an 8 inch springform so used a 7 inch and had batter left over.  You definitely need an 8 inch and in fact I probably could have used a 9 inch pan.

IMG_5816
Beautiful, just set and wobbly in the centre
IMG_5817
Sank a little while cooling. Not a big deal. Maybe another 5 minutes in the oven?
IMG_5821 cropped
Looking pretty with the entire tub of creme fraiche poured over it, and sprinkled with poppy seeds

 

 

Bliss

 

“A beautifully textured cake, full of deep chocolate flavour and just enough sweetness to balance the bitterness of the cocoa. If you  like chocolate and beetroot paired, this is a spectacular recipe!  For the adventurous, definitely try it, you might find you enjoy it.”

Taste heart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emoji

Texture heart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emoji

Do I have a good recipe for…heart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emoji

tickGluten free substitution suitable.   I would feel happy to bake this cake with a gluten free flour substitute.  It may have a slightly gummy feel to it though.  Another option would be to substitute half almond meal and half gluten free flour.  I feel all almond meal would change the texture too much.

tickUnrefined sugar substitution suitable.  This cake would actually take on a whole new complexity of flavour using coconut sugar or rapadura sugar.  The caramel flavours of these sugars would really give you a lovely depth of flavour.  To avoid grittiness, process the sugar until it is finer before you use them.  Raw castor sugar or Stevia would also work.

tickRecipe as written, is nut free.

DeleteRed Not dairy free.  The flavour that is added by this amount of butter would make it difficult to change out for anything else.

when nothing goes right go  left
Image from www.upnorth.com

What would I change?  As a chocolate beet cake it was beautiful, I wouldn’t change it at all.  Although, I found the flavour of beetroot had mellowed even more after 2-3 days.Since I am a big believer of allowing chocolate cakes time to develop in flavour, I would even consider making it 2 days ahead of serving.

I personally, would consider cutting the beetroot with some green apple to help smooth the transition between chocolate and beetroot.  But hey, that’s just me!

To ‘Bliss’ it, I would serve it with sour cream on the side to give it a punchier flavour and a creamier accompaniment.  Creme fraiche was a little bit delicate in flavour and texture for me and I didn’t really think the poppy seeds did anything for it.  I would consider a really airy cream cheese frosting for it as well, but it would definitely have to be whipped within an inch of its life!

Wow, so there it is; Nigel Slater’s Moist Chocolate and Beet Cake.  What a great start!

I hope you  have enjoyed my first recipe review, and found it useful?  Would love to hear what you think.

See you next time 😉 X

PS if you are looking to get a springform pan, it is definitely worth spending a little bit more money to get one that won’t leak!
This is a link to Amazon.com, for a particularly highly rated tin by Kaiser, that won’t break the bank.


Kaiser Bakeware Noblesse 8-Inch Round Non-Stick Springform Pan

Josephine Baker Jaffa

Allen’s Jaffas, staple of all Aussie kid’s lolly bags; that was all this cake was going to be about.Simple to make, accessible and relatable, that’s what we want, isn’t it?

But, as I wandered around the market, all I could see were ‘slurp-alicious’, juicy, sweet navel oranges. Fresh juice and zest with Dutch cocoa, were always going to be a part of a Jaffa cake but the more I thought about it the more I needed to make some home made, fresh orange juice jelly to give it zing. I smothered it all in dark chocolate ganache and KAPOW :), I had it.

Rich, fudgy, full of real, fresh, flavours.

Zingy, fresh orange juice jelly cuts through a rich and fudgy, jaffa flavoured, chocolate cake.
Zingy, fresh orange juice jelly cuts through a rich and fudgy, jaffa flavoured, chocolate cake.

Now I had caked myself into a corner; with all this real, home made style flavour and texture; how was I going to incorporate my bag of supermarket lollies?  Jaffas are most notable as being the confection of choice in the day, to be rolled down cinema aisles (yes, pre-carpet!) and thrown at people from the balconies?!  Besides eat the whole lot myself I just couldn’t see how I was going to use them.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love my supermarket lollies, or else I wouldn’t have bought them to make the cake in the first place, but I was feeling really stuck now.

As I was playing around, a  little skirt of Jaffas started building up around the cake and suddenly….
I thought of Josephine Baker!

Beautiful, graceful and elegant Josephine Baker
Beautiful, graceful and elegant Josephine Baker

Her incredible style, grace and beauty contrasted with her sense of humour and willingness to do (and wear) the bizarre and ridiculous; the idea just somehow seemed to work with this juxtaposition of home made and commercial flavours and textures.

Josephine's famous banana skirt!
Josephine’s famous banana skirt!

Call me mad, but I topped the cocoa dusted cake with a little kiss curl of Jaffas and some pretty flowers, and thought it worked great!  All in the Josephine Baker tradition of  beauty and artistic expression through the quirky, and the contrasting.

 

Crazy combination that works... I think?!
Crazy combination that works… I think?!

20140614-223632.jpg

Kooky, quirky and humorous Josephine Baker.  What would she think?
Kooky, quirky and humorous Josephine Baker. What would she think?
    Bliss’ delicious Josephine Baker Jaffa Cake, what do you think Jo Jo?

Feel free to drop me a comment if you would like me to post the recipe!

If you are enjoying being ‘blissed’, don’t forget to subscribe to my email list or follow me on wordpress to see all my latest ramblings 🙂

 

 

Could You Have The Time To Make Mini Chocolate Brioche Rolls for Brunch? Bliss ‘How To’ Recipe For Busy People

Warm Brioche, soft and buttery. Indulgent breakfast food :) It's a far cry from muesli!!
Warm Brioche, soft and buttery. Indulgent breakfast food 🙂 It’s a far cry from muesli!!


Brrrriiiiiioche
, even the act of saying the word is sexy and indulgent.  It was the kind of bread my mother turned her nose up at, “too rich, too much butter….”,  and if that is your belief, this post is not for you.  However, if like me, you believe those phrases were invented purely to pique your interest, please, come into my parlour! 

I had dreamed of brioche, and fantasized about it’s buttery delights long before it was available here in Melbourne.  At that time, I could only use my imagination to envisage how magical this egg and butter enriched, fluffy bun must be.  I would, as I grew, be able to travel halfway across the city to buy croissants, freshly baked, by a real French baker, but being ever so entranced by my croissants, I never did ask to buy a brioche!  It would be many years until I would be brave enough to try my hand at baking bread, and since I never fancied myself as any good, I always left the brioche of my fantasies, right where it had always been, only in my dreams.

Dreamy brioche with a gooey chocolate heart. Straight out of the oven.
Dreamy brioche with a gooey chocolate heart. Straight out of the oven.

If I had followed my food dreams as a teen, I certainly would have apprenticed as a patissier. When I look back, the number of cookbooks I picked up when I was younger, and the number of recipes I tried to emulate astounds me. Yes, a ‘can do’ attitude will lead you to mistakes and disappointment, as I discovered when I tried to make my own croissants at the age of 16, in the middle of a hot Melbourne Summer, with no airconditioning! 

However, the call of patisserie has been like a Siren song across the years, something I would succumb to and, dabble in occasionally, but always with the hard-won, knowledge that pastry making was developed for those with time and patience.  Yep, something that busy working Mum’s are never in great supply of!

So, armed with Bernard Clayton Jr’s recipe for brioche, (yes, a practical and highly regarded, American baker), and an eye on the clock, I am providing a ‘how to’ guide for getting brioche’s hot out of the oven for Sunday brunch.

Bernard Clayton’s Brioche (yeah okay, I made some very, very minor changes!)

Friday or Saturday Night (approx. 20 minutes of work time) :

a) Before you start cooking dinner, (if you sleep early, or if you have very young kids). 

b) Or, After you have finished dinner, and before you start anything else (maybe sitting down to watch TV?!);

4 cups plain flour

3 Tblspns (15ml) sugar

2  Tspns salt

1 package of dry yeast

1/4 cup full cream milk powder

1/2 cup warm water

230g butter (room temp)

4 extra large eggs

Into a large mixer bowl pour 1 cup of flour, the other dry ingredients, anbd water.  Beat in the mixer for 2 minutes at medium speed.

Add the butter and continue beating to blend together.

Add a second cup of flour. Mix thoroughly.  Add the eggs, one at a time and the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time beating after each addition.

The dough will be soft and sticky, and it must be beaten until all ingredients have been well incorporated..

Attach a dough hook to your mixer.

Turn the mixer on medium.  The dough hook will seem to turn aimlessly, but soon the dough will begin to come away from the sides.  Be patient.  Mix for a total of 10 minutes. 

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 2 hrs.

Later that evening (approx. 10 minutes of work time) :

a) After cooking, eating and possibly clearing up after dinner, (but definitely before you do little kids bath and bedtime). 

b) Or, after about 1 1/2 -2 hrs of clearing dinner, and other ‘stuff’ (reading, surfing or watching TV if you are lucky!);

Marvel at how your dough has risen to about double the size!

Take off plastic wrap and keep it aside.

Grab dough and give it a squish or two with your hands, or as Bernard says, “stir down dough” if you know what that means?!

Wrap dough in the plastic wrap you took off the bowl.

Put it in the fridge and go to bed.  Yes, you can keep it there until Sunday if you are making dough on Friday night, or you could just bake it Saturday morning if you want!

Sunday morning 8 am (approximately 30 min of work time):

a) If you are an early riser, or have young kids, get up, make them breakfast, throw the laundry in the machine, make yourself a cup of tea, tell your partner to watch the kids, and then see below;

b) If you don’t normally get up early, sorry, you need to get up around 8.30- 9.00am (you can go back to bed in a few minutes!);

50% Cocoa chocolate bits or a bar that is roughly chopped, approximately 2 cups.

1 egg beaten with 1 Tblspn (15ml) milk to brush.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Place one onto floured work surface, keep remaining pieces wrapped in refrigerator.

Press and roll dough into a narrow rectangle approximately 1cm thick.

Cut strip of dough into rectangles approximately 5cm x 10-15 cm.  (I actually use a stainless steel ruler to cut straight lines, although I don’t actually measure!)

Place chocolate bits approximately 1 cm down from the narrow edge of the piece of dough. Pick up narrow edge, roll over chocolate bits and keep going until you have a neat little roll.

Place brioche rolls, seam side down on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. 

Repeat process until all the rolls are made.

Brush all the rolls with the egg and milk mixture.

(This whole shaping process takes about 2o – 30 minutes)

Turn on oven to preheat, at 180 degrees Celcius.  Don’t put the rolls in yet!!!

Leave rolls in a warm place to rise for 30 – 45 minutes

a) & b)  Whether you have kids or not, go back to bed, with a cup of tea and the paper, maybe?   Okay, reality bites, hang out the laundry, sweep the floor, clear away the kids breakfast (or feed them the cold leftovers!) and stack the dishwasher.

Sunday Morning 10am (approx 5 minutes of work time then 20 minutes baking time)

Brush rolls a second time with egg and milk mixture and bake for approximately 20 minutes.

Leave to cool on a wire rack or just devour them steaming hot!

Left overs can be reheated in the microwave for 10-20 seconds and if you have more than you can eat, freeze them for next week’s brunch!

Et voila, a time managed indulgence for the family, or maybe just for you and a special someone. 

Home made, French patisserie before 10.30am on a Sunday morning, Bliss!

Tell me how you go with this 'time managed' recipe.  If I can mange the occasional treat of home made, brioche for brekky, so can you! :)
Please tell me how you go with this ‘time managed’ recipe. I think that you could indulge in the occasional home made, brioche brekky too! xxx L

If you are enjoying being blissed, please drop me a line with any feedback or comments!  I would love to know what you are enjoying most and what you would like to see more of.

If you have any photos, please visit my facebook, instagram or pinterest page and post some pics of your wonderful creations!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list or follow me on wordpress to see all my latest ramblings 🙂

Chocolate Ripple Cake with Roasted Wattle Seed and Creamed Honey Recipe

Entertaining season is on us with a vengeance! Are you ready? How many family and friends’ barbecues and Christmas parties are you attending over the next 2 weeks? How many pavlovas and chocolate ripple cakes will you see this December?

Bliss it up!  A new Aussie Classic as far as I am concerned.  If you are making a chocolate ripple cake this Christmas, try this truly Australian version, I promise you will love it!
Bliss it up! A new Aussie Classic as far as I am concerned. If you are making a chocolate ripple cake this Christmas, try this truly Australian version, I promise you will love it!

After posting on facebook, a photo of an American version of a chocolatey, cream cheese and cool whipped easy to assemble, mad indulgence, my sister reminded me of the importance of keeping it real! Let’s get back to our roots, let’s not forget a good old, Aussie, chocolate ripple cake; ‘Blissed’ of course!

Pavlov's dog...who doesn't need a cup of tea when they see this iconic logo?
Pavlov’s dog…who doesn’t need a cup of tea when they see this iconic logo?

Arnott’s was the biscuit company of our time. We grew up with great Aussie faves such as Chocolate Ripples, Tim Tam’s, Chocolate Royals (yes, I took inspiration for the name ‘Royale’ for one of my cakes from this!), Tic Tocs, Iced Vovo’s, Nice, Marie, oh my goodness….too many to name! This simple line says it all, “Arnott’s is more than a food company, it’s a piece of Australia’s history.”

You can’t go wrong with a chocolate ripple cake and I am sure it sounds like a good idea to most, but I bet you are feeling hesitant about reading ‘wattle seed’ in the title. Biscuits, check, creamed honey check, but seriously wattle seeds? When I tell you, you can get bottles of roasted wattle seed at the local supermarket, and after you have taken your first lick of whipped cream with wattle seed, believe me, we as a nation, will all be wondering what we were waiting for!

Showers of golden, wattle flowers, bane of hayfever sufferers, and muse to photographers and artists across the country :)
Showers of golden, wattle flowers, bane of hayfever sufferers, and muse to photographers and artists across the country 🙂

Wattle is far better known by everyone, within Australia and overseas for the incredible masses of golden flowers it produces and the great green and gold colours which are synonymous with our sporting teams. Wattle is our national flower, so for goodness sake, why isn’t roasted wattle seed our national flavouring? Chocolatey, coffee, and hazelnut aromas are all what Melbourne cafe culture is about!! You get instant heady mocha aromas when you open the jar and then when you add it to a few spoons of Beechworth creamed honey, which is not too sweet, bursting with honey flavour and the perfect consistency for whipping into cream …. yes, you will know you are in heaven 🙂 Add some Victorian strawberries for a really Bliss-ed up version of the old chocolate ripple cake, and a new Aussie classic has been born!

Australian Herbs, Roasted Wattle seed...my new best friend.  What a gorgeous, amazing bottle of magic!
Australian Herbs, Roasted Wattle seed…my new best friend. What an amazing little bottle of magic!
A match made in the lucky country.  Smooth and sweet creamed honey with amazing mocha flavoured roasted wattle seeds.  I am claiming this combo as a Bliss specialty!
A match made in the lucky country. Smooth and sweet creamed honey with incredible mocha flavoured roasted wattle seeds. I am claiming this combo as a Bliss specialty!

I have done a little bit of a sexy version, however, feel free to leave out the alcohol and pile up the layers in little dessert or cake cups with extra sliced up strawberries for a more casual and kid friendly take.

Double or triple the quantities if you are doing a big party!

Blissed up Chocolate Ripple Cake – makes 6

1-2 packs Arnott’s Chocolate Ripple Biscuits- you will need 18 bikkies for this recipe

300ml bottle of thickened cream

1 tspn Roasted Wattle Seeds

2 tblspns Creamed Honey

1 tspn Kahlua

1 punnet strawberries

Pour thickened cream into a large bowl. Beat on low until frothy.

Add in roasted wattle seeds, creamed honey and Kahlua (or not, if you want it Kid friendly).

Whip until stiff peaks form.

Sexy version:

Transfer cream into a piping bag with a rosette nozzle.

Pipe a swirl of cream, that does not quite reach the edge, onto the first biscuit. Place a 2nd biscuit on top and press down lightly.

Repeat the swirl of cream, top with 3rd biscuit, and finish top with a swirl of cream.

Place in an airtight container and refrigerate over night.

Casual version:

Place first biscuit into a dessert cup, one of those paper ones with the stiff sides is perfect.

Spoon a generous tablespoon or so of cream to cover the biscuit. Top with second biscuit.

Repeat the dollop of cream, top with 3rd biscuit and finish top with a dollop of cream.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Top it up:

Decorate with strawberries and mint sprigs. Or rosemary sprigs, if like me, you want a more adventurous flavour combination, or truth be known, you have found that all your mint has died!

Yes, it is as delicious as I described!  So,  go out and buy yourself some roasted wattleseed!  Delish :)  xx
Yes, it is as gorgeous as I described, so go out and buy yourself some roasted wattleseed! Delish 🙂 xx

I hope to post a second Christmas inspired recipe post next week, however the best laid plans can go astray, so let me take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting my little Aussie blog. Have yourselves a very merry Christmas and see you in the new year xxx

Sundae(y) Afternooon, Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe.

I am an ice cream sundae, kind of girl.    And, being a Sunday afternoon, it can be kind of hard not to think about the more calorific, Soda Shop style dessert.

Okay, you caught me out, I dreamed of being one of the gang that hung out at Pop’s and wanted desparately to be able to order those ridiculous, overflowing, ice cream sodas, and to eat, foot high, ice cream sundaes.  I may only have been in primary school and happened to live on the other side of the world from any Soda Shops, but I loved wishing that I could be perched on a red vinyl stool, slurping down a real American, malted milk!

The closest thing I ever got to a hot fudge sundae was a dribble of Cottees chocolate syrup on a single scoop of Streets vanilla ice cream.  Ummm, sorry Mum….not even close.  So guys, let’s do this for real!.  Hot fudge sauce is another one of those things you never thought you could make and when you do, find it only takes you about 20 minutes flat.  No preservatives, no additives, just pure indulgence through and through 🙂

Mmmm, smooth, silky, hot fudge sauce :)
Mmmm, smooth, silky, hot fudge sauce 🙂

Basic Hot Fudge Sauce  (adapted from the Brown eyed Baker)

2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup Golden Syrup
¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
170g 35%couverture chopped, divided in half
30g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream, syrup, cocoa powder, salt and half of the chocolate to a boil. Reduce the heat to low (enough to maintain a low simmer), and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate, the butter, and the vanilla extract, stirring until smooth.

3. Pour half of the sauce into a clean jar or into a pouring jug for those who are chocolate purists.

But for those who are dedicated to Bliss-ing it up;  Keep reading 🙂   I won’t bore you with too many details, just suffice to say I was at Vic Market, killing some time and enjoying the company of my best bud, hubby and foodie companion, when I spied blood oranges…

Adding a little interest with tart, seasonal blood oranges, picked up on my wanderings...
Adding a little interest with tart, seasonal blood oranges, picked up on my wanderings…

1. Stir in the grated zest of one blood orange into the remaining half of the chocolate sauce. 

2. Squeeze in approximately 1 tablespoon of blood orange juice.  Stir well.

3.  Pour into a clean jar or into a pouring jug for those that like things just a touch more interesting!

To serve a Blissed up Hot Fudge Sundae;

I have no illusions about my ability to present food in any manner other than rudimental.  I have even wondered whether there are talented people out there, who I could pay to teach me!  There were 2 main reasons why it took a week for me to post this blog, even after I had made the sauce.  First, because I didn’t have the time to write it, but secondly, because I seriously didn’t know how to put it together, so that would be something that my dear readers might want to look at and maybe even want to eat!  So, here we go guys, and honestly I couldn’t even get a decent photo out of it.  If you have a better photo of your attempt at a Bliss Sundae, please post it on my FB page for me to drool over!

1. Cut 3 thin slices of blood orange and place into the base of a shallow dessert bowl.  I used a Japanese rice bowl, I just love them for desserts!

2.  Place a generous single scoop of any ice cream of your choice on top of the fruit slices.

3.  Drizzle with as much or as little sauce as you wish.

4.  I stuck in a couple of chocolate dipped Pocky sticks for a little bit of crunch.

Looks lickable?  Looks good to me! I am definitely no food stylist, so if you have a better photo of your attempts at a Bliss-ed up Hot Fudge Sundae, please post it to my FB page so I can drool over it!
Looks lickable? Looks good to me!
I am definitely no food stylist, so if you have a better photo of your attempts at a Bliss-ed up Hot Fudge Sundae, please post it to my FB page so I can drool over it!

Ms Maclaine and My Pear and Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Passionfruit Ganache

The first time I ever came across Shirley Maclaine was as a sassy, smart talking, lady of questionable repute in ‘Sweet Charity’ and of course, I LOVED her.

Hmm, short hair, red lipstick, AND a tattoo.  Why couldn't I be just like Shirley?
Hmm, short hair, red lipstick, AND a tattoo. Why couldn’t I be just like Shirley?

Julia Roberts may have caused an uproar about morally questionable role models in the ’90s, but way before then, my poor Mum really didn’t know what to do with her little primary school child wanting to be Shirley Maclaine and questioning why it was a bad idea to wear fish net stockings and get a tattoo!

Well, fast forward many years later, after I had worn my share of fish net stockings, have had my hair long, short and shaved, and tattoos are the accepted norm;   I fell in love with the indomitable Ms Maclaine all over again, when I found this quote in one of my recipe books;

LOVE that Ms Maclaine :)
LOVE that Ms Maclaine 🙂
Juicy and sweet, Bartlett pears peeled, sliced and ready to go!
Juicy and sweet, Bartlett pears peeled, sliced and ready to go!

Love it….love being able to play with chocolate cake and even more so when I pick up inspiration from fresh or home-grown produce.

So, in my grand tradition of walking into a shop and picking up ‘stuff’ that looks good, I found myself surrounded by mountains of Bartlett pears and, believe it or not, some great looking passionfruit!   Pears are a mainstay of cold weather but passionfruit?  From New South Wales, what’s more, so we are talking passionfruit in the middle of winter…I am guessing hot-house, but hey, my taste buds were talking, I was going to make an exception today 🙂

Bartletts are not my choice for eating straight up, that sweet, sticky juice, running generously through your fingers, as you try not to make a single handed mess, which inevitably turns into a double fisted, wet, napkin soaked drama; ending in a limp, and soggy mess with an urgent need to find a running tap!

Ha ha, maybe the Bartlett pears I am trying to eat for lunch are just too ripe, but for a dessert or a cake, they are my absolute favourites.  Suddenly all those sad and sorry, downfalls are in fact, the attributes that make them perfect!  Soft and melting, sweetly blessed with juice that flows and flavours everything that it comes in touch with, permeating with a fragrant, slightly caramel aroma that is unmistakable.

That's what I like to see, nice chunks of sweet and soft pear surrounded by a soft and light bed of...cake!
That’s what I like to see, nice chunks of sweet and soft pear surrounded by a soft and light bed of…cake!

I wanted to pair (no pun intended!) this luxurious texture and flavour of cooked pear with a lighter cake and decided on a buttermilk cake with just a hint of cocoa, to help the pear juice to be tasted through it.  The buttermilk gave the cake a slightly tangy flavour as well, which worked really nicely.

However, on its own, I have to say it was not a cake that had me jumping for joy, it definitely needed a little more.  Not exactly worthy of the  Hollywood aspirations of my childhood!

I decide that nothing tarts up a simple, wall flower of a cake, like a crowd pleasing 35% couverture ganache, but I wanted to lift it a little, so as to compliment the pear and to give it a little zing that even Charity would be proud of 🙂

Passionfruit in the middle of winter?  They look so good, I just have to break my seasonal rule today.
Passionfruit in the middle of winter? They look so good, I just have to break my seasonal rule today.

Please step in, passionfruit.  It may not be seasonal, it may not be home-grown but by stirring through the pulp of this little purple orb, and dribbling that thick and creamy chocolate concoction over my homely little cakes…yes, you guessed it; Bliss.

No, I know it is not Hollywood, walk of fame stuff, but served warm on a mid winters evening, I have to say this little cake makes me feel pretty sparkly, and special inside 🙂

Homely no more :)  A little white chocolate decoration gives my little cakes star treatment :)
Homely no more 🙂
A drizzled white chocolate piece, gives my little cakes the star treatment 🙂

Guest post gig

Fabulous Cheryl from ‘Itty Bitty Foodies’, wrote me a very succinct note to my offer of a guest post, my ‘Cutest lamingtons ever’ recipe.
YES!
Oh, wow, really? How do I do this? What do I wear? Hee hee hee, I’m pretty excited by the possibility of stretching my legs and stepping slightly outside the confines of my own page.
I can’t wait! Tell you when it is up. In the meantime here is a little sneak preview 🙂

The cutest lamingtons ever!

Will the real Bliss Bunny please stand up?

A sweet little, white chocolate, cherub. She looks like she forgives me?!

Please forgive me for I have strayed….I have been having so much fun lately that I forgot to stay on the straight and narrow.

The straight and narrow path of the ‘chocolate’ persuasion, I mean 😉

With all the excitement of my kid’s birthdays, engagement, baby arrival, and wedding cakes to discuss and plan,  my mind has been whirling with pretty decorations of all sorts.  The bright colours and flexible options of fondant icing have been absolutely enticing and have been so much fun to play with that I forgot, actually forgot, about chocolate! Shameful….I know 😦

A cute little, last minute, bunny…but, hang on, where is the chocolate work?

Just looking back at a recent baby arrival cake that I did, I  realized that in my last minute decision to add a cute little bunny, I had immediately turned to the pink fondant icing that was on hand.  Gasp, only then did I see my betrayal!

I had in my cupboard, the most gorgeous chocolate mold of Sanrio characters that I had collected on my travels, and yet I FORGOT!!!  Well, my 3D chocolate molding skills certainly needed improvement anyway, so I have paid penance and spent a few evenings last week molding little, pink, chocolate bunnies.  I threw in a few molded cherubs for a bit of extra technical practice, while I waited for my bunnies to set.    I am delighted with the results and here are a few of the lessons I have learned along the way;

  • Do not over heat chocolate- an obvious tip but so easily done.  Be patient if you are heating by microwave and allow the last few bits of chocolate to melt through stirring
  • Use oil based chocolate colours- normal food colouring or gel pastes will seize chocolate and make it thick and unworkable
  • Use a little piping bag to fill molds- go slowly try to avoid air bubbles at this point, much easier than trying to get rid of them later
  •  Tap and check for air bubbles- they are sly little things and it is completely frustrating to  only find them on your finished product after you have unmolded the set chocolate!  Use a toothpick to stick into your unset chocolate to burst them if necessary
  • Give yourself plenty of time to allow for the chocolates to set-  unmolding is as easy as a simple tap, if the chocolates are well set.  If you find the chocolates are not budging…they are not set!
Will the real Bliss Bunny please stand up?

Icing work is amazing in its applications and I am grateful to be able to draw on the incredible experience of dedicated cake decorators to help me achieve the results that I am looking for.  However, I have learned my lesson this week and paid my dues.  Should I ever need a Bliss Bunny I am definitely  back to chocolate 🙂

mmmmmmm, Mazet :)

What do you get up to when you are not working?

I spend way too much time on facebook, watch endless movies with my family and spend entire evenings googling ‘chocolate’.  As I have admitted previously I am no expert on wine and… reality check,  I am also no expert on chocolate!  I know what I like, and that is about it.  I am an accomplished window shopper, so much to see and know, yet so little that I have ever actually bought and eaten!

A bar that reflects history, just by looking at it!

I think that it is time that all that changed, so after a lovely birthday lunch with my friend, I crossed my local high street and headed straight into a new gourmet chocolate shop called Cocomaya.  I slowly made my way around the displays and, with my highly honed window shopping skills,  took in the beautiful sight of hand made chocolates and, colourful designer boxes and wrappers.  However, I couldn’t stop myself from going back to this little bar of chocolate that was completely unfamiliar to me.  Maybe it was the word praslines that attracted me, but the minute the owner mentioned that Mazet was one of the best chocolates in the store, along with Valrohna, I handed over the money!

It only took a small amount of searching to find that Mazet Confiseur is one of the oldest chocolate houses in Paris, and in 1636 Praslines, or those red, knobbly looking, candy coated toasted almonds were invented…yes, invented(!) by an illustrious ancestor of the dynasty.  Well, I have a thing for praline and to discover that it directly heralded from this illustrious chocolate house, I was floored!  I have window shopped their website and already mapped out all the items that I can’t wait to taste, Amandas, Passions, Givrettes, Flavoured Fondues, Dark Grapefruit….oh my goodness, anyone heading to Paris, please take my shopping list with you!

If you wish to do a little bit of window shopping of your own, here is the link:

http://www.mazetconfiseur.com/index.php/les-confiseries-mazet.html

Dark praslines, the beginning of a long affair, I think 🙂

So, what did I think of my first Mazet experience?  Luxurious, old world printing and packaging, the chocolate wrapped tightly in gold foil, I must say it exudes an expectation of quality.  Great. shiny bar with a good snap when broken, you can see how clean it breaks from my photo!  The flavour of the chocolate is deep and rich, no strong overtones though, which is a shame, but I have to admit I have been irreperably, spoilt by Michel Cluizel’s plantation range.  The praline is a lovely addition in texture, however not as sweet as I would have liked. Well, having been told by a French Chocolatier, that Australian’s have a much sweeter palette than the French do, that is probably not surprising.

I guess it goes to show, no matter how much I might appreciate a fine French affair, and wax lyrical about my love for dark chocolate, the Aussie chick in me will always, still crave Caramello Koalas 🙂