Chilli Chocolate and White Chocolate Cardamon Panna Cotta

2015-05-13 21.21.58.jpgChilli chocolate is a mix that is quite common and we all know works well. White chocolate and cardamon is another mix that just works. Now imagine marrying these two flavours together and you get this amazingly delicious dessert. The chilli and cardamon flavour remind me of an indian style dish, but then you add the two chocolates to the mix and it brings it to a completely new level. The kick that the chocolate delivers is then balanced out by the rich creaminess of the panna cotta, but then you get a extra spiciness and chocolatyness (I’m pretty certain that’s not a word, but for now it is).

2015-05-13 21.21.58This is a great dessert for people who don’t want something to sweet but still want dessert. The sugary sweetness that normally comes with a panna cotta gets balanced out by the normally savoury flavours of chilli and cardamon. Although they can be a bit time consuming they are well worth the effort. When I make desserts I tend to make sure there are at least three textures/elements. In this dish you have the panna cotta, the cookie crumble and then the choc chilli ganache. All in all I highly recommend that you try making something of this style, even experiment a bit.

2015-05-13 21.21.52Ingredients

1 3/4cups heavy cream

2 gelatine leaves

2 tbsps sugar

1 pinch salt

100g dark chocolate

50g white chocolate

4 cardamon pods

1 small chilli

6 chocolate biscuits

1 tbsp butter, melted

1 tsp cayenne pepper

A couple of frozen raspberries, crushed

Method

  1. Start by dividing the cream and sugar into two different saucepans, add the cardamon pods to one and the halved chilli to the other and simmer over low heat. Add the 2 gelatine leaves to a bowl of cold water while the cream is heating. Once simmering, add the white chocolate to one saucepan and 50g of dark chocolate to another. Stir until melted. Add  one gelatine leaf to each saucepan and stir until dissolved. Strain the mix through a sieve. Now for the tricky part, pour both mixtures into the desired moulds or cups at the same time. Put in the fridge for 5 hours or overnight, or if you feel like cheating a bit you could put them in the freezer for 1 1/2 hours (I do this lots).
  2. While the panna cottas are setting make the crumble. To make the crumble first crush the biscuits however you want as long as they are a rough crumb by the end, I quite enjoy placing them between two sheets of baking paper and crushing them with a rolling pin. Once crushed add the butter and mix through. Set aside until serving.
  3. To make the choc chilli ganache melt the remaining chocolate in a double boiler, I don’t use a proper one, I just put a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted add the cayenne pepper and stir thoroughly, both for your guests sake and your own. When making this the first time I added to much cayenne and forgot that it was very spicy, so smart little me decided to scoop up the left over ganache and eat it all….. It was hot!
  4. To serve grab a small handful of the crumble and make a rough mound on the plate. To get the panna cottas out put your mould in in very hot water for 7 seconds and then turn upside down and either shake or tap it until the panna cotta comes out, place on the crumble. Drizzle the chocolate ganache around the plate and add some crushed raspberries.

Now sit back and enjoy the toils of your labour. 🙂

Earl Grey and Vanilla Cake and Savour Chocolate Cake

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I love cake. I mean I really love cake. And for me, one of my favourite parts of making cakes is the presentation. 2014-11-07 20.37.29Fondant cakes are cool, but they’re not really my sort of thing. I really prefer to use ingredients and things from the garden to decorate the cakes and make them look amazing as well as tasty. This pretty little cake used a basic vanilla cake as the base with a few tablespoons of earl grey tea mixed through. I then made a tonne of vanilla icing and mixed a bit more tea through that. The thing I really liked about this cake was that the tea wasn’t right up front when you cake a bite, but it was the last taste on your tongue. It is kind of like making a pot of tea in your mouth as the icing melts and infuses the tea. 2014-11-07 19.42.53

I am really lucky that we have a great food shop in town (A Tasty Surprise) that also sells flowers so they were able to help me pick out a few flowers that hadn’t used pesticides and were safe to use with the cake. I’ve seen other cakes with the flowers cascading down the side and really like that look, so was really happy when the flowers worked with this style. 2014-11-07 20.37.56 2014-11-07 20.37.37

The next cake I want to share with you is the rich, decadent Savour School Chocolate Cake-tomcake5

Unfortunately I can’t share the recipe with you, but I can tell you where I got it from- if you have a look at Savour School’s online classes here- http://www.savourschool.com.au/online-classes.aspx then you will find their Decadent Chocolate Cake recipe. It is incredibly rich, incredibly decadent as the name suggests and you will definitely go back for seconds. cake4

It is a gluten free cake, but not your average gluten free chocolate cake. This one uses almond paste, which makes it much more moist and rich…. and delicious! Thankfully Mum was curious (and probably hungry) so she bought me some. cake5

I kept the decorations simple with this one so the cake could stand out more. All I did was use a bit of the orange zest that was in the cake, fresh raspberries to give a contrast and chocolate shavings just to finish it off.

Voila! (And now I’m hungry.) cake6

Coconut and Lime Pannacotta

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Coconut and lime panacotta is a refreshing, zesty summer dessert that is easily adapted to make variations on this flavour. One of my most popular desserts uses this as a base (but I’ll share that with you another time).

Light, smooth panacotta is given a twist a lime to make it deliciously zesty which plays off nicely against the coconut. When making desserts you, ideally, want at least 2 different textures, which in this dessert is the creamy panacotta against the crispy, biscuit crumb base. Easy to make, this can be made ahead of time and then pulled out of the fridge at the last minute, making it perfect for dinner parties. 2015-01-22 18.26.56

Coconut and Lime Panacotta

Ingredients-

1 1/2c coconut cream

1 1/2c milk

1 vanilla bean

1/2c castor sugar

2 1/2 tsp gelatin powder

2 tbs boiling water

1 1/2 limes

12 plain sweet biscuits

2 tablespoons of butter, melted

Method-

Pour milk and sugar into a saucepan, heat until warm and then add cream. Stir and continue to heat until boiling and the sugar has dissolved. Meanwhile, mix boiling water and gelatine. Once the milk mix is boiling and sugar has dissolved, remove from heat, whisk in gelatine. Add juice from 1 lime, mix again and then pour into moulds. I used plastic cups as moulds for these ones. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until set.

While the panacottas are setting, crush biscuits until they are just rough crumbs. Stir through melted butter. Sprinkle the biscuit crumb onto plate in a small mound. Place the panacotta on top. If you are having trouble removing them from the moulds, try dipping the mould into hot water for 10 seconds and then tap upside down on the bench. Transfer to plate. Garnish with zest from first lime and wedges of remaining half. Enjoy!  2015-01-22 18.25.59

Butterscotch Milkshake

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My favourite treat for after school is this delicious butterscotch milkshake. Ok, so it’s a little bit more involved than your average milkshake, but you can make the sauce and keep it in the fridge making 2015-02-16 16.08.05it much easier for next time- if you can wait til next time and not drink it all in one go!

Creamy, rich and satisfying, everyone at my house loved it. Though come on, who doesn’t love butterscotch? Made with a homemade butterscotch sauce, you know exactly what goes into it. It’s a great recipe to get help from the younger kids with too.

This recipe can be easily adapted to make a deliciously rich hot butterscotch (instead of hot chocolate). Simply heat the milk over a medium heat and add the sauce. Stir and serve when it gets the desired temperature.

Butterscotch Sauce

2015-02-16 16.07.45Ingredients-

60g butter

150g brown sugar

180ml cream

2tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

Method-

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk in brown sugar once butter is fully melted. Then add the cream and allow to bubble for 5 mins without stirring. Remove from the heat and add vanilla and salt. Set aside until cool if you are making milkshakes. Or keep warm to serve over ice-cream, pancakes or waffles, cakes or eat by the spoonful.

Butterscotch Milkshake

Ingredients

1/3 batch of butterscotch sauce

1 cup milk

Method

Simply blend together in a milkshake maker or a blender till frothy and milkshakey.

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Adventures in Caking- Watercolour Cake Painting

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So I’m still very much learning… but I can still share with you some of the things I have learnt so far. This is a really cool cake technique that I have discovered, it involves simply mixing cake food colouring, icing sugar and water together and ‘painting’ it on a fondant covered cake. It’s definitely just a cheat’s way, and please don’t tell any serious cake decorators that I do it this way, but it works for me.

I won’t tell you how to do all the fondant-y stuff (see picture below for why), there are plenty of great YouTube clips out there to learn this from. Shout out to PrettyWittyCakes.com for their awesome tutorials.

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Ok, seriously don’t be judging my fondant (lack of) skills. I have a lot to learn, but I’m pretty happy with this as a start.

Basically you just mix it, as I mentioned before, but you want it to be a very liquid sugar paste. Just add a few drops at a time until you get a nice texture that you can paint with. Don’t forget to add the colour. I used a warm gold and a hot pink, both Americolor brand. Then you just paint it on, no need to be neat, this will just add to the effect. If you are painting in layers like this cake, make sure you let the bottom layer dry completely first, otherwise it can mix and make some weird colours.

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The white chocolate shards that are on top were super easy too. I just smeared white chocolate on baking paper, top with another layer of baking paper. Roll it up into a fairly loose cylinder, set in the fridge. Once it is set, unroll it and let it crack as you go. You want this to happen so that you get lovely big shards of white chocolate curls. Arrange them into a bit of a pyramid on top and gently push them into the fondant so that they stay put. Try to avoid handling them much though as the chocolate is so thin it melts very quickly.

Nothing left to do after this other than dazzle your friends with you amazing cake skills and bask in their compliments.

Classic Blackberry Pie

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This blackberry pie is perfectly warming treat for a cold winter’s night. Made with a simple, crumbly shortcrust pastry and plump, juicy blackberries it makes a delicious combination of both tart and sweet. I think this classic combination is made even better with a zing of lemon. This a repeat of the first pie I ever made and has since become my go-to dessert…. especially when we have some thick double cream to dollop on the side.

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Classic Blackberry Pie

Ingredients-

500g plain flour

100g icing sugar

250g butter, chilled and cut into cubes

2 eggs

zest of 1 lemon

splash of milk

500g blackberries

1/2 lemon, juiced

50g castor sugar 

extra splash of milk and 1tbs of sugar

Method-

To begin the pastry, sift the flour and icing sugar into the food processor into a large bowl. Rub 250g of butter into the flour with your fingertips. Make sure that you keep your ingredients as cold as possible while using them. Next mix in the two eggs until a crumbly dough forms, add a splash of milk at a time until dough comes together. Dust a clean surface with flour and turn dough onto it. Knead until shiny and elastic- this is when the gluten is activated.

Preheat the oven to 180degrees.

Roll between two sheets of baking paper until about 1/2cm thick. Line a greased pie tin with the pastry and trim edges. 

Gather up the scraps, re-roll them to about a 1/3cm thick (just so they are slightly thinner than before). Cut into strips of about 2cm width and set aside. 

Now for the filling, in a small bowl mix the blackberries with the lemon and castor sugar. If your blackberries are frozen, leave them until they are thawed. When mixing, I like to keep the berries as whole as possible as it adds to the texture and appearance of the pie. 

Next, fill the pastry lined pie tin with the blackberry mix. Cover with the strips of pastry in criss-cross pattern leaving a small gap between each strip. Brush the top with extra milk and sprinkle with extra sugar. 

Bake until golden, about 30-40 minutes. Remember to turn the pie as it cooks so it will be evenly golden.  

Now for my favourite bit- pop a slice on a plate with a big dollop of cream and enjoy!

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PS. In the background is my slowly evolving veggie garden, at this point there are tomatoes, broccoli, rocket, spinach and herbs. It is a bit messy, but growing strong. I am loving having access to fresh ingredients that I have grown myself! 

Mum’s Caramel Chocolates

choc6It’s Sunday morning. Not just any Sunday morning, Mothers Day Sunday morning… And I am presentless. So what do I do? I make chocolate- as any self-respecting boy would do if he had yet to spoil his Mother on Mother’s Day. Indeed this is the best way to appease any forgotten Mother- lots and lots (and lots) of chocolate.

These chocolates were perfect to make because I had to think of something fast, and everything I needed was in the cupboard (there is always chocolate in our house). They are sweet, they are tasty, they are simple…. they are chocolate- what else do I need to tell you?

choc5Mum’s Caramel Chocolates

Ingredients:

120g castor sugar

50g pure cream

50g butter

3-5 drops of vanilla essence (or to your liking)

250g dark chocolate

Champagne metallic edible dust

Method:

Heat cream and sugar until sugar dissolves. Increase heat slightly and stir constantly until cream is just boiling. Add the butter and vanilla essence. Stir and continue to heat until it holds it’s shape when you scoop a spoonful out. I like my caramel soft, but if you continued to cook it, it would become more chewy.

Once the caramel is at the desired consistency, spoon into dome shaped silicone moulds. Refrigerate until cool and set. While the caramel is cooling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler (if you don’t have one, pop a bowl over simmering water). Dip the caramel into the melted chocolate using a dipping fork. Lightly tap on the surface of the chocolate until you have a thin, even layer of chocolate over the caramel. Place on baking paper to set.

Now for decoration- once they are set use a food dedicated paint brush to dip into the metallic dust, tap on the side so there isn’t too much dust, then sweep across each chocolate top once.

Finally, present these to your Mother. If it is now late on Mother’s Day, you might (for your own safety) want to throw in a back rub or a clean bedroom too.  Happy belated Mother’s Day to the Mothers of the world.

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PS. Dad’s like these too.