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Posts from the ‘chocolate’ Category

Chocolate Pear Galette with Praline Crunch

I promised I was going to make a chocolate galette and here it is…chocolate pear galette with a praline crunch topping. It worked perfectly and so simple to make, particularly since I had some chocolate pastry left over from a previous workshop. The chocolate pastry is just a regular short pastry with the addition of cocoa powder. Adding the sliced pears and making a quick toffee and adding the hazelnuts to to make a praline crunch. Of course if fyou didn’t want to make the toffee you could just add chopped hazelnuts.

The only downside of having pastry left over from a previous recipe was I really would have liked a lot more of these galettes they were so yummy! The recipe below will make four reasonable size individual galettes or one family sized galette. I recommend serving it straight from the oven with ice cream or cream.

I do seem to have an obsession with galettes at the moment and I am just waiting for asparagus to come in season to make a savoury one topped with some goats cheese….mmmmm I can almost taste it, just a few weeks to wait……


  • 180g plain flour
  • 110g butter
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 2-3 pears
  • 50g hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • additional sugar for dusting
  • A little milk for glazing the pastry


  • Preheat oven on ‘bake’ to 180C .
  • For the pastry, place the flour, cocoa & butter in a bowl.
  • Work the ingredients together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the egg and bring dough together and divide into 4 equal portions, shape them into balls and flatten.
  • Rest dough in fridge for an hour before rolling out.
  • Prepare the pear by coring them, slicing them into halves and then into 1 cm thick wedges.
  • Roll one piece of dough into a circle the size of a ‘side plate’.
  • Arrange pear wedges in a circle from the centre of the dough leaving 4cm free at edges.
  • Fold dough into the centre, pleating as you go, it doesn’t have to be perfect, galettes are rustic.
  • Brush the pastry with a little milk and dust the whole galette with sugar.
  • Repeat with the rest of the dough. Alternatively you can make one large galette.
  • Put the water & sugar for the toffee in a pan on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved then turn up the heat.
  • The sugar liquid should boil and start to turn golden brown, once it does turn off the heat and add the hazelnuts to the pan.
  • Pour mixture out onto a grease tin to cool. Once set, blend in a food processor or bash with a mortar & pestle!
  • Sprinkle the mixture over the top of each galette.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown (a larger galette will take approx 35 minutes).

Chocolate, Hazelnut & Orange Tart

It’s quite deceptive this tart, it looks rather pleasant but doesn’t jump out at you with decadence and have you drooling at the picture but believe me it is rather unexpectedly delicious! I saw the recipe in one of our local NZ food magazines and thought “hmm looks pleasant, I’ll throw that one together for sunday dinner with friends”. The combination of hazelnut, orange and chocolate together are perfect, not too sweet and quite luxurious. I don’t often make things twice but I loved it so much I made it again this weekend for a friends birthday treat…. I hope she lets me have some!


  • 300g sweet short pastry
  • 210g hazelnuts, finely chopped (not ground completely)
  • 150g castor sugar
  • 90g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest of one orange
  • 100g 70% chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp orange liqueur


  1. Pre heat oven to 180C.
  2. Roll out pastry to fit a 24-26cm loose bottom tart tin. Place pastry case in fridge while making the filling.
  3. In a large bowl beat together the butter & sugar.
  4. Add eggs and beat for further two minutes until light & fluffy.
  5. Add the chopped hazelnuts, chopped chocolate, orange zest and liqueur to the bowl and combine all the ingredients.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tart case and smooth the top.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes on a low shelf in oven (helps cook pastry quicker) until the filing is set and golden in colour.
  8. Allow to cool in tart tin before removing.

Gluten Free Chocolate Ricotta Cake

Thank you Jamie for this wonderful chocolate cake recipe! It’s rich and heavy with a lovely hint of cinnamon.

I had made paneer cheese on Saturday fully intending to turn it into a curry for our monthly curry club that evening but having class that same day I ran out of time so Sunday I needed to find a recipe for paneer or ricotta. For those who do not know, paneer is made the same way as ricotta but it is pressed to remove more whey turning it into a soft cheese block. All I needed to do was blend it up and make it into a smooth cheese.

It’s a really easy recipe but I have changed the method slightly to make it easier to work with the melted chocolate. The original recipe I found firmed up quickly before all the egg white could be added so I am recommending using a ban marie to keep the mixture warm to prevent this.


  • 500g Ricotta
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 300g castor sugar
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 250g chocolate, 70%, chopped
  • seeds from 1 vanilla pod
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • icing sugar and crushed pistachio nuts to decorate


  1. Pre heat oven 180C. Grease & flour a 24cm spring form cake tin.
  2. Boil a pan of water and sit a large bowl on top of it (big enough for all ingredients). Turn the heat off.
  3. Place chocolate in the bowl over the pan and allow it to melt.
  4. Add the ricotta, zest, sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon & vanilla seeds to the melted chocolate and combine.
  5. Add the egg yolks and combine.
  6. In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites till soft peak consistency.
  7. Remove the chocolate bowl from the hot pan. Add the egg whites to the mixture and gently fold through until completely combined retaining as much air as possible.
  8. Spoon batter into cake tin and smooth top.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes, then allow to cool in tin before removing.
  10. To serve, dust with pistachio and icing sugar. Goes well with unsweetened Greek yoghurt.

Chocolate Peppermint Biscuits

Since I am away for ten days in Australia, four days for work in Sydney and then six days holiday I thought I better get prepared with a few post before I go. I Have been thinking about making these chocolate peppermint biscuits for quite some time but never go around to it but felt quite inspired after my class on Saturday so I whipped a batch up, that’s the good thing about biscuits, tehy are so quick to make. Unfortunately with the rush of the weekend and heading off to Sydney Sunday evening I only managed to eat two of them. Lucky for the friends who ‘cat sit’ and fish mind our babies while we are away, we left a whole container of biscuits for them to enjoy. Nice early Easter treat!

The recipe is a modified shortbread/sable recipe, adding melted chocolate to the mix, so it has the lovely shortbread ‘melt in the mouth’ texture, once you get through the chocolate layer! You could of course eat them without the added chocolate coating…but then again, why would you?


  • 12oz/340g Four
  • 8oz/227g Butter (soften but not melted)
  • 4 oz/114g icing sugar
  • 100g chocolate, 70%
  • 1 tsp peppermint essence


  1. Preheat oven on bake (not fan bake) to 180 degrees centigrade and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Sift flour & sugar into bowl.
  3. Melt butter, chocolate & peppermint together in a pan and then add to flour, combine.
  4. Add the egg and bring together to form a soft dough. Do not over knead otherwise the dough will be come tough and the biscuit will be hard.
  5. Form a cylinder shape with the dough and wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes. This will make it easier to slice the biscuits
  6. Slice through the dough cylinder about 2 centimetres thick to form biscuits and place on prepared baking tray.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.
  9. Melt additional chocolate and cover the tops, allow to set.

Chocolate Nemesis Cake with Cardamon & Orange Blossom Yoghurt

The original recipe for Chocolate Nemesis Cake comes from The River Cafe but this is a tweaked version from Rococo’s ‘Real Chocolate’ cookbook.

We have a curry club which we still continue through the summer months, not that it matters too much in NZ as the evenings always cool quite a bit. We all take a dish along and try something new each month, this is Ps domain, he always makes the curry but this month the group requested a dessert at the last minute and I knew the girls love chocolate and it’s something my kitchen is never without. So I had a quick look in my Rococo book which made me realise I had never made this cake before so I thought I would give it a go but decided to add orange blosson water to the cake mix and accompany it with a and Indian dessert flavoured yoghurt, or something similar to a lassi anyway.

The cake is unbelieveably rich and the tangy yoghurt really complemented it. Hmmm, I think I may have a small obsession with cardamon and orange blossom at the moment!


  • 100g icing sugar
  • 250g chocolate (70%), chopped
  • 150g butter, softened
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 1 tsp cider
  • 1 tbsp orange blossom water


  1. Preheat oven 180 degrees C and grease & line a 20cm round cake tin.
  2. Put 2/3 of the sugar in a heavy based pan with 5 tablespoons water and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stir until melted and then add the butter. This should be a thick glossy mixture.
  4. Whisk the egg whites and the remaining sugar together and add the salt & vinegar until it reaches soft peak meringue consistency.
  5. Beat the egg yoks into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Add the meringue mixture bit by bit to the chocolate mixture, gently folding each addition.
  7. Add the orange blossom half way through adding the meringue mixture.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  9. Boil a large kettle of water and pour into a large baking tray large enough to hold the cake tin. Put cake tin into baking tray, the water should come up the side of the cake tin.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes or until set. It should be firm and an inserted scewer would come out clean.

Baked Chocolate Fondant with Cardamom & Orange Blossom Ice Cream

Saturday was cooking class with the ‘Muriwai Girls’ and this week we were indulging our chocolate cravings with a warm fondant cake and a little ice cream to show we hadn’t completely forgotten that it was summer out there. Thankfully the surf was excellent on Friday and I spent two hours surfing that evening in preparation for the calorie onslaught the next day!

I had eaten this dessert at Clooney’s restaurant in Auckland a few weeks ago and just had to recreate it. The chocolate fondant was served with cardamom ice cream, I have made from a yoghurt base because I love the tang it offers and it is also more convenient than making a custard base, I also added the orange blossom water.

The fondant cake is quite easy to make but too tempting to bake it longer than the 12 minutes required, which is where most people go wrong and don’t try making it again. It might look a little undercooked when you take it out of the oven after 12 minutes with a shiny, soft top that looks like it will collapse but this is what you want in order to have the chocolate run out from the centre. The one I had at the restaurant stood tall and proud, mine always sink a little but taste divine, I am wondering if I increase the sugar would the shell crisp even more…does anyone know?

Ingredients – Baked Chocolate Fondant

  • 50g unsalted butter, plus extra to grease
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder, to dust
  • 50g good quality bitter chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), in pieces
  • 1 free range egg
  • 1 free range egg yolk
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • Icing sugar to dust


  • Preheat oven to 160˚C.
  • Butter two large ramekins, about 7.5cm in diameter, and dust liberally with cocoa, shaking out any excess.
  • Slowly melt the chocolate and butter in a small bowl set over a pan of hot water, then take off the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Whisk the whole egg, egg yolk and sugar together until pale and thick.
  • Add to the chocolate mixture.
  • Sift the flour over the mixture and gently fold in, using a large metal spoon.
  • Divide between the ramekins and bake for 12 minutes.
  • Turn the chocolate fondants out on to warmed plates and dust the tops with icing sugar and serve immediately with the ice cream.

Ingredients – Cardamom & Orange Blossom Ice Cream (serves 2)

  • 150ml cream, whipped
  • 150ml Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • seeds from 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water


  1. Melt honey and cardamon together and cook gently for 2 minutes, allow to cool.
  2. Once cooled add honey and orange blossom to the yoghurt.
  3. Add whipped cream to the yoghurt and gently fold together retaining as much air and volume as possible.
  4. Pour into an ice cream maker as per manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. If you do not have an ice cream maker place into a container as it is and freeze, the whipped cream will keep the texture light but not a creamy as from an ice cream maker. But it still taste good! For this method remove from the freeze 10 minutes before serving to allow the mixture to soften slightly.

Chocolate Truffle Strawberry Tarts


A dessert fit for strawberry growers!

Strawberry season is in full swing again here in New Zealand and as much as I love them it is a pretty hectic time in our household. P works together with a group of growers selling their produce into retail stores so it’s non stop from September to February trying to sell 100s and 100s of crates a day! It does have it’s benefits of course, we get our strawberries straight from the field and they are always the best quality.

This dessert was created for a dinner the growers were hosting for their customers and we wanted to show their product off to it’s full potential. I also made a strawberry mousse cake which I will post shortly.

What I love about this dessert is that it is quite easy to make but looks quite decadent and richness of the chocolate is balanced with the fresh berries.

Ingredients – chocolate pastry

  • 110g Butter
  • 180g flour
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 egg

Ingredients – tart filling

  • 200g 70% cocoa chocolate, chopped
  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 250g strawberries, hulled & sliced
  • Additional whipped cream for decorating
  • Chocolate shavings for decoration

Method – pastry

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
  2. Grease and flour a loose bottom, 22cm, flan tin.
  3. Place the flour, butter, sugar, cocoa in a bowl.
  4. Work the ingredients together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  5. Add the egg and bring dough together.
  6. Rest dough in fridge for an hour before rolling out.
  7. Roll out pastry to fit bottom & sides of tin, prick bottom of pastry case.
  8. Place a piece of greaseproof paper over the bottom and sides of the pastry shell and fill the case with dry beans, rice or lentils.
  9. Place the tart shell in the over with the dried beans and bake ‘blind the shell for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and remove the greaseproof paper and beans and return the pastry to the oven.
  11. Bake for a further 10 minutes.
  12. The first baking with the beans is to prevent the pastry side slipping down with no filling in the case. The second baking is to crisp the shell.
  13. Allow to cool.

Method – tart filling

  1. Bring cream to almost boiling point.
  2. Add chopped chocolate and stir gently until melted and silky smooth.
  3. Pour into cooled tart cases and allow to cool and set before decorating.
  4. Decorate with sliced strawberries, whipped cream & chocolate.

Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream made with Rice Milk

Playing with new ingredients as well as a new lens!


A friend has someone visiting who is on a dairy, wheat, soy and egg free diet so it was a bit of a challenge to make a sweet treat for her. She knew I had been making ice cream lately from yoghurt and asked if it would be possible to make ice cream from rice milk. I said I would test run a recipe and then pass it along if it was successful. Of course I passed on the first batch of rice milk ice cream too! Since I couldn’t make a custard base with eggs I opted for a Gelato style ice cream, thickened with corn flour. The rice milk, which I had never tasted before, was quite sweet so there is very little sugar added to the recipe and the richness of the 70% chocolate over shadows the rice milk flavour.

It was a great success by everyone, not just the young lady on the special diet.

I have also been playing practising with my new macro lens and trying out new techniques, some are working well but other things I took for granted with a wider lens are proving frustrating but I suppose it is just a case of practise make perfect.


  • 500ml rice milk
  • 50g sugar
  • 100g 70% cocoa chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tsp corn flour/ corn starch


  1. Mix 50ml of rice milk and corn flour together till smooth.
  2. Heat the rest of rice milk in a pan.
  3. Just before the milk boils remove from the heat and stir in the corn flour.
  4. Once thoroughly mixed return pan to the heat and cook on a low heat, stirring constantly for a few minutes until milk thickens. It is important to cook out the flavour of the corn flour otherwise the gelato will taste floury.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the sugar.
  6. Pour into a bowl and add the chocolate and stir continuously until the chocolate has melted.
  7. Chill in fridge overnight or until completely cold.
  8. Transfer the mix into the ice cream maker and process according to manufacturers instructions.
  9. Keeps well for a week (if you can keep it that long!) but after that I find it forms too many ice crystals in a domestic freezer.

Chocolate Mousse & Whisky Layer Cake

domecakeIt was Ps birthday and the conversation went a bit like this ,”what kind of cake would you like for your birthday hon”, quickly followed by “but not one I’ve already made before”, which I’m sure all Bloggers can understand, you can’t repeat the same blog twice can you. “But I really would like that big layer cake you made the other week”, he was refering to the Dobos Torte from the Daring Bakes Challenge which he ate most of. “Ah but I have already posted that one on my Blog, I need something new”. Ps response was a big sigh, “but that’s the one I fancied”. “You can have anything, absolutely anything else you have ever seen in a cake shop, a restaurant or on the net…how exciting is that”? “Hmmm”, was his reply, “Ok how about one of those cakes we saw at the Hospitality Show then” …oh..oh now I know something big was coming because all the cakes on display were from the trades show competitions. “Which was that dear?”  “The dome shaped one with all the different chocolate layers, you said you’d make one one day”. Hmm, I must have conveniently forgotten but I suppose it karma for not letting P have his first choice. So that is how Ps birthday cake was born, that and his love for malt whiskey from Islay. Just don’t tell him how much of his single malt I used in the cake, we dragged it half was across the world from Islay but I don’t think his intention was for it to go into a cake! It did taste divine though and he really enjoyed it and said it was better than the Dobos Torte.

Ingredients – Sponge (can be made a day ahead)

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 120g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 140g castor sugar

Method – sponge

  1. Preheat over to 180 degrees centigrade.
  2. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper (30×40)
  3. Whisk egg whites until fluffy.
  4. Add one spoon of sugar at a time to egg whites and whisk each time to form a stiff meringue consistency. It is important to add sugar gradually to prevent mixture from liquifying.
  5. Mix in egg yolks.
  6. Sift cocoa and flour and fold gently with a metal spoon into egg mixture, keeping as much air as possible in mixture.
  7. spoon into prepared baking tray.
  8. Bake for 10- 12 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Do not over bake as sponge will become hard and you will not be able to mould it.
  9. Remove from greaseproof while warm and then lay back onto the same greaseproof paper. Cover with a cloth to help keep it moist.
  10. Allow to cool before assembling.

Before you make your mousse you need to cut your sponge to fit the bowl, the mousse will set quickly so you need to be ready to layer and assemble quickly. The cake is made up of layers of sponge and mousse which is all sealed with a sponge ‘jacket’.

Line the bowl with cling film (which will help remove it from the bowl once set). Cut a strip of sponge to fit the bottom of the bowl. Cut more strips and shape them to fit the sides of the bowl, trying to avoid any gaps. Cut 5 circles of various sizes to fit inside the bowl starting from the smallest that will sit close to the base to the largest which will be the last layer. If you don’t have enough full circles you can make a layer up by piecing a few left over strips together (it won’t be seen anyway).

Ingredients – dark chocolate mousse

  • 200ml whipping cream
  • 1 tsp gelatine granuals
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons water


  1. Place gelatin, water and 2 tablespoons of your cream together in a bowl and warm gradually in microwave until gelatin has dissolved.
  2. Whisk cream to soft peak consistency. I recommend you whisk both lots of cream at this point (for the milk chocolate mousse also).
  3. Add dissolved gelatin to whipped cream and mix but be careful not to over mix the cream (you want to keep the cream fluffy).
  4. Add the cool melted chocolate to the cream and fold together quickly but gently keeping the cream light.
  5. Put aside and quickly make the milk chocolate mousse

Ingredients – milk chocolate whisky mousse

  • 200ml whipping cream
  • 1 tsp gelatine granuals
  • 100g milk chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons of whisky


  1. Same method as the dark chocolate mousse just add the whisky to the hot melted gelatin before adding to the cream.

Assembly of cake

  1. Your bowl should be already lined at this point with sponge. If you wish to make it more alcoholic you can brush each layer of sponge with extra whisky. Pour half the dark chocolate mousse onto the sponge in the the base of bowl.
  2. Place smallest layer of sponge on top of mousse.
  3. Pour half of the milk chocolate mousse on top of that and then repeat the last two mousse and sponge layers finishing with a sponge layer.
  4. Cover with cling film and allow to at least two hours to set before removing from bowl and covering with ganache.


  • 150g 70% cocoa chocolate, chopped
  • 100 ml whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons of whisky


  1. Bring cream to almost boiling point.
  2. Add chopped chocolate and stir gently till melted.
  3. Add Whisky and stir till smooth.
  4. Remove cake from bowl and place on a wire rack with a plate underneath to catch the ganache.
  5. Pour ganache over cake and spread with a pallet knife to cover all of the cake

Claire Clark New Zealand Master Class

dessert-mainI was fortunate enough and very excited to nab one of the last tickets to see Claire Clark at the New Zealand Hospitality Trade Show at the end of August. It’s not very often that prestigious chefs venture over to NZ, with a small population base perhaps they feel that the following would be too small but Claire had no problem filling her three classes that weekend.

It was fabulous to see Claire in action, she is so ‘down to earth’ and seems to be at ease presenting to the public. She is certainly top in her craft and made the most elaborate of dishes look easy. It was a honour to watch her work and listen to her stories, the experience was quite humbling to realise how far one has to go to reach that standard. But claire has done the hard yards and deserves that spotlight, it would be nice to see her reap more rewards in the media, if of course that is something she wanted. But perhaps she prefers the honesty of working in top restaurants with a team of like minded people. So thank you Claire for visiting NZ and I hope we see you again in the future.

For those unfamiliar with Claire Clark here is a write up from the NZ Herald about her classes.

Widely recognised as one of the world’s foremost pastry chefs, UK-based Claire Clark has an unparalleled pedigree. From 2005 until April this year she was the head pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry where the price for a nine-course tasting menu is US$240 ($356). In 2005 she was named Best Pastry Chef by Restaurant Magazine and in 2007 her cookbook Indulge won Best Dessert Book at the World Gourmand Awards.

pt_dessertClark, who was pastry consultant at the House of Commons and a senior lecturer at London’s Le Cordon Bleu, was also the only female recipient of the Meilleur Ouvrier de la Grande Bretagne (Best Crafts Worker of Britain) – the highest award presented for professional excellence. So it’s quite a coup that Hospitality NZ has managed to lure her to Auckland to be the headline act at its trade show later this month.

In New Zealand, Clark will be demonstrating mint delice, a dish she describes as “one of the most fun things I created at The French Laundry. It looks very clean and sharp but it’s actually very technical and it eats well.”

A mint delice consists of two different types of chocolate ganache layered on top of a chocolate feuilletine (a crushed sugared wafer biscuit) and mint chocolate chip parfait all sitting inside a chocolate hoop.

“There’s no other flavour apart from the mint and the chocolate so there’s nothing to confuse – nothing unbalanced or unstructured,” she says.

Clark completed a two-year pastry course at London’s Thames Valley University and honed her skills at a series of upmarket London establishments including The Ritz, Claridge’s and Terence Conran’s Bluebird restaurant.

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