Category Archives: desserts

Recipe: Lemon and Raspberry Tarts with Ruby Chocolate

Yes, I went to the Ruby Chocolate demo, and yes, I pre-ordered a big bag of ruby chocolate, so there are probably going to be a few ruby chocolate recipes on this blog in the near future.  For those unfamiliar with ruby chocolate, it’s being hyped as The Newest Chocolate – an entirely separate sort of chocolate to dark, milk or white chocolate, made from a particular variety of red cacao bean, and treated in such a way as to keep its pink colour (though, alas, this denatures pretty fast when exposed to heat – you can’t really use this chocolate in baking and have it retain its colour).

We were informed at the demo that when the first ruby chocolate recipe was tested – this is the recipe for manufacturing the chocolate itself, not recipes made from the chocolate – they decided to reduce the sugar by 9%, because ‘people are more health-conscious these days’.  I find this hilarious, because certainly, when I am feeling health conscious, the absolute first thing I do is focus on the sugar levels in my chocolate…

The demonstrator, Kirsten Tibballs, told us that ruby chocolate was more like milk chocolate in its manufacture than other chocolate types.  Myself, I find that it tastes closer to white chocolate – but a very tangy, acidic sort of white chocolate.  It supposedly has berry overtones, and I can certainly taste that, but I think it also has citrusy overtones, hence my tendency to use it with lemon, a flavour that I normally think tastes terrible with chocolate.

Having said all that… much as I want to love ruby chocolate, I don’t think I’m ever going to be a big fan of it.  I like it, in moderation, but it’s a little sweet for my taste, and I’m not sure acidity is what I look for in chocolate.  Basically, I’m a dark chocolate girl all the way.  But it’s definitely an interesting flavour to play with, and I think it works well here.

This recipe is adapted from a Savour recipe for a Ruby PB&J Tart.  I don’t like peanuts, so I replaced them with almonds in the pastry and the crunch, and I took out the peanut and ruby chocolate cream and replaced it with lemon curd, because you can’t really go wrong with lemon curd in a tart.  The ruby chocolate whipped ganache is entirely theirs, however. 

The results were pretty good – I’ve reduced the sugar in the pastry here, because I found it to be a little on the sweet side (nothing to do with being health-conscious, though, I promise!), and I think if I were doing this again, I’d find smaller tart shell moulds, or give people half a tart each – this made for a pretty enormous dessert.

Having originated as a Savour recipe, this recipe has a lot of parts to it, but the good news is that you can make most of them well in advance.  The pastry shells are basically a biscuit crust – you can make them and bake them a couple of days ahead.  Lemon curd is happy in the fridge for several days, and you can make the whipped ganache up until the point it needs whipping a day or two in advance, too.  The only thing you really have to make just before you use it is the chocolate crunch, but that’s a five minute job. And you should whip the ganache just before putting it on the tarts, but it will sit quite happily on the tart once done – I mean, I have one tart left in the fridge from yesterday, and it’s still fine, so you can safely make this in the morning and serve it in the afternoon.

If you are making the tarts all on the one day, I’d recommend starting the whipped ganache first, because it needs to cool in the fridge for 4-6 hours, or more.  Make the pastry while the ganache is cooling.  Or, if you are me, take a nap and then make the pastry (it’s been a very long few weeks at work). The pastry needs to sit in the fridge for half an hour, so you can use that time to make the lemon curd, and then get that in the fridge.  Then you make the pastry tartlet shells, which are probably the most difficult part of this recipe and definitely the part that takes the longest.  Then you make the crunch and spread it over the tart shell bases.  Then you put on the broken raspberries.  By this time, if you are lucky, the lemon curd will be cooled and set, so you can spoon it over the broken raspberries and add some whole ones.  Finally, you whip the ganache and pipe it onto the tarts, hopefully more successfully than I did.

Makes 8 x 12cm tartlets

Your shopping list

Ganache

250 + 325 g thickened cream
25 g glucose syrup
150 g ruby chocolate
red or pink food colouring

Pastry

160 g unsalted butter, softened
90g icing sugar
35g ground almonds
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
250 g flour, plus flour for dusting (trust me, you want the flour for dusting, this is sticky)

Lemon Curd

You need about 1.5 – 2 cups of lemon curd.  So you can either make a double batch of my lemon curd recipe, which will leave you with a LOT of egg whites to play with, or you can make a whole egg lemon curd with the following ingredients:

2/3  cup caster sugar
2 eggs
4 lemons (you want 2/3 cup of lemon juice and as much zest as you can get away with)
80g butter

The rest

125 g ruby chocolate
40 g roasted almonds, finely chopped (salted is nice, but I forgot that bit)
40 g almond spread, or any other nutty spread of your choice – mine had almond, cashews and brazil nuts)
300 g raspberries

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Recipe: Fierce Strawberries (and tentacle cake)

A while back, one of my Professors welcomed me back from long service leave with a copy of Deceptive Desserts: A Lady’s Guide to Baking Bad, by Christine McConnell.  I was particularly taken by her recipe for Screamberries, and my brother and I originally had evil plans to make this as a birthday cake for Elisabeth’s first birthday (just think of the photos!), but for some reason (possibly because my mother was appalled?) we decided to make the orange and banana cakes instead.

Well, this year, what with one thing and another, it became practical to have my brother’s birthday party and my niece’s both on the same day.  Obviously, this necessitated two cakes, and when I asked my brother what he wanted for this cake, the answer was ‘tentacles’.

So that was easy, then.

I made a few modifications to McConnell’s recipe.  Vanilla mousse seemed boring, so I filled the waffle cups half with vegan chocolate mousse and half with berry mousse.  Stabilised whipped cream seemed like way too much like hard work for a relatively small result, so I didn’t do that.  And my first batch of waffle cones weren’t great, so I had to make another double batch in the hour between getting back from cantoring in Middle Park and leaving for birthday shenanigans in Canterbury.  So I signally failed to follow the instructions and just dumped everything in together.  I can’t claim that they were brilliant waffle cups, but they were fresh and they did the job.

And really, who cared about the waffle cups?  The mousse was delicious, and really, we were all here for the strawberries and the tentacles, right?

Incidentally, you can make this recipe in advance and take the components in separate boxes to wherever you are going, at which point it takes about ten minutes to put together.

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Recipe: Saffron and Cardamon Yoghurt (Shrikhand)

I originally encountered this recipe in a pack from the glorious (and sadly, now on hold) Curry Delights startup.  It is a beautiful, pale-yellow-tinted, cooling yoghurt dessert flavoured with cardamom and the honey-like scent of saffron, and I absolutely loved it – so much that I made it two nights running, in fact. 

Ambika and Vikram’s version of this dish was super-easy and very quick, but relied on a couple of products that I was unable to source in Australia, so once I ran out (i.e., about four days after first encountering the recipe), I was out of luck.  I did have recipes for Shrikhand in other books, but none of them looked quite right (though I *highly* approve of the one that suggests adding popping candy, and I will be doing this at the first opportunity), and most of them, being more traditional, required a longer preparation time, as the recipes relied on drained yoghurt.

But I was really craving those lovely, cooling flavours again this week, so I decided that it was time to see if I could cross the various recipes, modified slightly to my tastes, and make a version that was feasible here.

Short version?  I did, and it was glorious, and I’m writing it up right now, so that I don’t forget the quantities…

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Your Shopping List

saffron strands – a big pinch, crumbled between your fingers into a little bowl
250 g light cream cheese
1/3 cup icing sugar (slightly heaped, to be honest)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder, also heaped
350 g low fat Greek Yoghurt (nothing wrong with full fat, but the low fat Black Swan one is nicer than the full fat anyway, and frankly, this dessert does not need to be any richer than it is)
200g raspberries, to serve.  Trust me, you want something fresh and acidic. Continue reading

Recipe: Italo-Franco-Australian Berry Trifle

It is no secret on this blog that I am very fond of Josephine’s beautiful French tea shop in Brunswick.  What I have perhaps not mentioned about Josephine’s is that in addition to her beautiful macarons, crème brulées, tarts, savouries and other handmade goodies, she also stocks a small collection of imported French goodies.

Among other things, these include Rose de Reims biscuits, which are a pink biscuit, rather like a small, elegant sponge finger, designed to be dipped in champagne.  They do not, alas, taste like roses, but they did instantly inspire in me a desire to make a pink version of my berry-mi-su trifle (which I could have sworn I wrote about here, but can no longer find anywhere on this site), spiked with rosewater and champagne.

So I did.  I dipped the pink biscuits into champagne from a tiny bottle I was given a few years ago, combined mascarpone and ricotta with a little sugar, and layered the whole lot with mixed berries tossed a little rose syrup.

And it was delicious – light and fresh and unexpectedly alcoholic, a delicious meal for a hot day.

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Your shopping list

600 g mixed berries (prepared weight, any kind)
2 tsp rose syrup
250 mascarpone
250 ricotta (light ricotta works and then you can pretend this is healthy!)
50 g sugar
200ml champagne or chardonnay or any sparkling white
125g rose de renne biscuits (or sponge fingers)

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Recipe: Fruits in Liqueur

A couple of years ago, Diana Henry put out a book called Salt Sugar Smoke, which is all about preserving things.

I’m terrified of preserving things, because my kitchen is always full of dirty dishes and I’m convinced that no matter how careful I am about sterilising jars, I’m going to give everyone botulism.

However.  There was one collection of recipes that that looked so simple that it was basically irresistible.  Also, they are completely full of alcohol, and I defy any botulism bacteria to find a way in to something that is basically alcohol and sugar.

Lots of alcohol.  Lots and lots and LOTS of alcohol.  And sugar.

Lots of alcohol. Lots and lots and LOTS of alcohol. And sugar.

Also also, it’s November, and I’m about to get consumed by Christmas singing.  If I don’t get onto Christmas now, I’m basically stuffed.  And what could be more Christmassy than fruit preserved in excessive quantities of alcohol and sugar?

So on Sunday morning I hied me to the Farmers’ Market for stone fruits, and then to the bottle shop, where I proceeded to buy more alcohol than I have ever seen before (and probably considerably more than I have consumed in my lifetime to date, come to think of it), under the helpful supervision of the kindly Hannah at Dan Murphy’s, who took pity on my complete confusion about what eau de vie was and which kind of rum might work better in Confiture Vieux Garçon, and helped me find options that were not too outrageously expensive.

(She also very kindly did not look at me as though I was a total lush, though, to be fair, my obvious ignorance of what most of the things I was buying actually tasted like probably made it clear that I wasn’t a very promising candidate for alcoholism.  Though I did get quite distracted by a Sicilian blood orange liqueur which I could absolutely not justify buying…)

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Anyway, first, I want you to know that putting fruit in alcohol is awesome, and so is Diana Henry’s book.  My personal favourite recipe so far is the aforementioned Confiture Vieux Garçon, which is essentially a thing where you take fruit as it is ripe, mix it with sugar and cover it with brandy, kirsch or rum, and then leave it until the next round of fruit is ripe, at which point you sugar that and add it and cover it with more alcohol, and so on, until your jar is full of layers of different kinds of fruit, all thoroughly sozzled.

But the reason I’m really writing this post, the magic, glorious thing that I discovered this weekend is because I have discovered the ultimate Christmas gift recipe.  You can make it in November and then forget about it while you do all your mad Christmas parties and singing in December.  In fact, you want to make it in November, because it needs time to steep and become glorious.  It looks beautiful.  It tastes divine.  It is luxurious.  And it takes less than five minutes to make.

Do I have your attention?

Here it is:

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Your shopping list

500 g dried nectarines
750 ml white muscat Continue reading

Recipe: Italo-Australian Strawberry Trifle

This is one of those recipes that sort of evolved as I wandered along Sydney Road on the weekend, and then started poking around in my pantry at home. 

First, I fell for the beautiful tiny strawberries at La Manna, which were just begging to find their way into a dessert of some sort.  Then, my eyes were seduced by the enormous, glowingly-pink rosewater meringues at Josephine’s.  I pictured a sort of hot pink Eton Mess.  But as I came back from my walk today, I found myself drawn to the beautiful handmade sponge fingers at the Pasticceria on the corner of my street.  So I started thinking trifling thoughts… but trifle is very rich, and I really didn’t feel like making custard – especially when I already had meringues in the house and thus no simple use for all those extra egg whites…

A peek into my fridge, however, reminded me that I still had a bit of low-fat ricotta leftover from another recipe last week, as well as half a tub of mascarpone and a lot of low fat Greek yoghurt.    So that was the creamy part taken care of, though it was a little bit bland… which is when I remembered that I had a sachet of powdered strawberry gum, an Australian native ingredient from a Eucalypt with a sweet, fruity, floral sort of flavour that goes well with strawberries.

All that remained was to find a suitable soaking liquid for the sponge fingers, preferably something not too sweet and not too alcoholic – how fortunate that I had most of a bottle of Wild Dog Natural Produce‘s strawberry vinegar in the house.

The result?  A surprisingly light, fresh-tasting dessert with a wild pink topping.  I am not absolutely certain that the meringue was necessary to this recipe, but it certainly gave it a pizzaz it wouldn’t have had otherwise!  The strawberry gum made the ricotta mascarpone cream rather grey-looking, but the flavour was superb – and it complemented the strawberries beautifully.  I’ll be making this again.

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Your Shopping List

100g mascarpone
100 g low fat ricotta
100 g low fat Greek yoghurt
20 g brown sugar
15 ml powdered strawberry gum (optional, but magnificent if you can get it)
6 bit sponge fingers
1/2 cup strawberry vinegar
2 punnets of strawberries (about 400 g once you’ve hulled them)1 teaspoon raw sugar
1 gigantic pink meringue (vanilla, rosewater, raspberry or another berry flavour)

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Recipe: Apricot Mousse, or possibly cold soufflé – a reconstruction

Happy Easter! I have heard the words ‘Christ is Risen’ in at least twelve languages, and have learned how having faith in the Resurrection is quite a lot like barracking for the Melbourne Demons, except that one’s hopes are more likely to be fulfilled in the former case.  (Apparently, our minister has been a Melbourne supporter since the mid-sixties.  During that time, Melbourne has won precisely zero premierships, and is mostly found holding up the ladder, or, as my father would have it, ‘lulling you into a false sense of security which may well turn out to be a true one…’).

Also, I finally got to sing a descant, so now I really feel like it’s Easter.  You can’t have a resurrection unless you spend serious time above the stave, that’s what I always say.  It’s possible that my doctrine is a little suspect…

My family used to have a big get together every Easter, with roast lamb and all the trimmings, followed by some sort of spectacular dessert, always provided by my Oma.  The year I was ten or so, she produced this amazing cold apricot soufflé, a beautiful, light, pale orange concoction, made even more exciting to my ten year old mind by the little Easter Eggs decorating it.

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I’m not sure why this recipe, of all the recipes Oma ever made, stayed with me, but it did.  And, of course, I have no idea what the recipe was.  I had hoped it would be in Margaret Fulton (I have found a number of Oma’s recipes, suitably adapted, in the pages of my Margaret Fulton cookbook), but the only apricot soufflé in her pages was a baked one – not ideal for when one is expecting guests, really.  I did, however, have a recipe for Apple Nougat Soufflé in a Family Circle cookbook from my childhood, and the combination of whipped cream, egg-whites and gelatine sounded about right for the effect I remember. (No, this recipe is not vegan.  Not even a little bit.  Sorry.  In fact, this might well be the least allergy-friendly recipe I’ve ever done – oh no, wait, it *is* gluten free, so that’s something!)

So it was just a matter of changing a lot of flavours.  And some of the method.  And… well, you know by now what I’m like with recipes.  The result is not Oma’s soufflé – I don’t think Oma would have used orange flower water, and she certainly wouldn’t have used peach schnapps or made a praline garnish – but it is light and fluffy and apricot-flavoured, and it does have little pastel Easter eggs on top.  The spirit is right, even if the actuality is a little altered.

(We lit candles at the service today for those who were no longer with us, and were told of the Latin American tradition of saying ‘presente’ as the names of the dead were read out, to indicate that they were still with us.  This is a tradition I like very much, and I hope it will be continued.  But for me, Oma is far closer to me in the making of this soufflé than in the lighting of a candle.  Presente!)

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Your Shopping List

1 1/2 cups of dried apricots
90 g butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon honey1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup peach schnapps
3 tsp gelatine
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp orange flower water
5 eggs, separated
1/2 cup cream
small chocolate eggs in foil
 

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Recipe: Vegan Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream

The trouble with hot days like this is that all the really *easy* desserts involve dairy.  So if you have someone visiting who can’t eat dairy, then you have a problem.  In the hope of solving this problem, I recently bought The Vegan Scoop, an entire recipe book devoted to dairy- and egg-free ice-creams.  There are some beautiful flavour ideas in there, but there’s just one little difficulty – all the recipes rely on soy creamer, which is relatively hard to get in Australia.  Also, I really don’t like the taste of soy.  Fortunately, almond milk and oat milk make lovely soymilk substitutes, and there’s always that standby, coconut cream, to provide that little extra bit of fat that makes ice-cream properly creamy.

The rhubarb crumble flavour was pretty much a matter of what I had on hand.  I’d made a sort of oat, almond and coconut granola to go with my breakfasts this week, and I’d roasted a lot of rhubarb to make Foolish Mess, so bringing the two together in an ice-cream was irresistible.  Also, I figured that the oat, almond and coconut flavours of the crumble would bring out the subtle flavours of these ingredients in the milk – and that way I could pretend I planned it all along!

The results are very pleasing, if I say so myself – rhubarb flavoured ice-cream with bits of chewy, slightly crunchy, sweet almond and coconut and oats throughout.  In fact, it tastes exactly like frozen rhubarb crumble, which is a little strange, actually. Weirdly wholesome for an ice-cream.  Which does allow you to pretend it’s healthy, of course…

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Your shopping list

500 g rhubarb
75 g vanilla sugar
2 tbsp honey or agave nectar or maple syrup
50 g rolled oats
50 g flaked almonds
25 g shredded or flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 tbsp tapioca or arrowroot powder
1 cup oat milk
1/2 cup coconut cream
150 g sugar

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Recipe: Foolish Mess

I am posting this recipe solely for the sake of being able to use this title.  Really, who wouldn’t want to eat something with such a silly name?  But it is also a logical name, because Foolish Mess is essentially a cross between Eton Mess and Rhubarb Fool – or it would be if I could bear to use that much cream.  It’s essentially a mixture of yoghurt and whipped cream with puréed rhubarb, fresh strawberries and pieces of meringue.

Which is another way of saying, it’s basically the perfect dessert.  Enjoy.

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Your Shopping List

500 g  rhubarb
75 g vanilla sugar
350 g low fat Greek yoghurt
150 g thickened or double cream
150 g strawberries, sliced
50 g meringues, crumbled

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Recipe: Strawberry, Mint and Dark Chocolate Gelato (Vegan!)

I blame FaceBook for this recipe.  I was just minding my own business, girding my loins for the next battle with spreadsheets, when FaceBook reminded me that this is strawberry season, and wouldn’t it be nice to make strawberry ice-cream?  As it happens, I had about three punnets of tiny strawberries in my fridge, waiting for me to think of something clever to do with them, and my first thought was that really easy strawberry frozen yoghurt recipe by David Lebovitz.  A sensible choice for a weeknight.  

served

Only then for some reason it occurred to me that this frozen yoghurt doesn’t have eggs, therefore it was my clear duty to make it vegan.  (No, I don’t follow that particular leap of logic either.  This is just the sort of thing that happens in my head sometimes.  It can’t be helped.)  Almond milk seemed like the way to go, especially as I love the combination of strawberries with mint, and coconut milk would have been a bit overpowering.  And then I remembered another ice-cream recipe that I have, for fresh mint ice-cream with dark choc chips…

I wanted the smoothness that one gets from making a sorbet-ish syrup, but I also really like the freshness of an uncooked strawberry ice-cream, so I compromised by blending all the strawberries and then taking out half a cup and boiling them into a syrup with the sugar.  Though not very well, as they were determined to erupt from my slightly-too-small saucepan.  The results weren’t quite as smooth as I’d hoped, but the texture was somehow pure gelato.  I have no idea how one makes an actual gelato, but I seem to have reverse-engineered it.

It’s good.

Your Shopping List

700g hulled strawberries (which is about 3 1/2 punnets before you hull them.  You’ll just have to eat the rest.  It’s a hard life.
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups almond milk
4 sprigs of mint
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp strawberry jam (optional)
100 g good dark chocolate (oh so very compulsory)

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