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Chocolate Mud Cake with Chocolate Shards, Honey Comb and Salted Caramel Popcorn

Chocolate Mud Cake

This chocolate mud cake with mint chocolate ganache is a GAME CHANGER. It is essentially your familiar mud cake taken to the next level. The cake is incredibly moist and intensely rich in chocolate flavours, and the mint chocolate ganache rounds it off with a hint of freshness.

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I tailor-made this birthday cake for a client whose son is a huge mint chocolate fans like me. *high five* There were two main requests: mud cake, and mint chocolate. Well, I was thrilled about the order as I could let my imagination run free. As you can see the cake has that mysterious, galaxy vibe thanks to the dark theme and gold sprinkles. With the chocolate shards, honey combs and salted caramel popcorn as the extra elements, this cake cake looks luxurious and captivating, unlike an ordinary mud cake. (Secret: I’ve decided to put it on my menu when I have my own patisserie in the future, and I am gonna name it Mud, lol) 

 

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For the cake base, I used the recipe from Cake Paper Party that yields a rich, moist dark chocolate mud cake. If you are interested, I recommend you to take a look at the recipe as explains how she came up with the best mud cake recipe which makes perfect sense. I poured pure cream and baileys onto my left over chocolate cake and it’s sooo good. 

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I considered using Lindt Intense Mint Chocolate for the  ganache, but I didn’t because I found it so much sweeter than the normal 70% dark chocolate. Therefore, I decided to introduce the mint flavour by adding mint extract, which went extremely well. That said, however, feel free to leave out the mint extract if you prefer to stick with the original dark chocolate taste. I used to have problems making ganache as it would split once I mixed the hot cream and chocolate together. But now I realise the key to making ganache is to let the cream-chocolate mixture sit for around 3 mins before you gently stir it. Also, try to stir as gently as possible as you don’t want to incorporate too many air bubbles into the ganache. 

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Thank you for reading and have a good weekend as always! 

Ingredients :

Dark Chocolate Cake (the cake batter is enough to pour into two 8 inch cake pans, each cut into two layers) 

  • 220g unsalted butter
  • 200g dark chocolate, broke into small pieces 
  • 350g caster sugar 
  • 60g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 300ml hot water 
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract 
  • 3 eggs, room temperature 
  • 280g all purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 

Mint Chocolate Ganache 

  • 2 tbsp mint extract 
  • 400g dark chocolate 
  • 500ml pure cream 
  • 50g soften unsalted butter 

Chocolate shards with gold sprinkles

  • 200g dark chocolate (I tempered my chocolate using XX)
  • Gold sprinkles 

Honey comb

  • 300g granulated sugar 
  • 150g honey 
  • 80ml water 
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp baking soda 

Salted Caramel Popcorn 

  • 100g salted caramel (find the recipe here) 
  • Popcorn *I used the plain microwave-popcorn and mixed it with homemade salted caramel, or you can directly buy salted caramel popcorn if that’s what you prefer

Instructions:

Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175C). Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with melted butter. Line the pan bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter and whisk until completely melted and smooth. Alternatively, you can use the microwave, but check every 30 seconds.
  3. Mix the instant coffee powder and hot water. Set aside to let cool a bit until ready to use.
  4. Whisk in sugar and then cocoa powder into chocolate-butter mixture until fully incorporated.
  5. Slowly add hot coffee in 3 additions while whisking constantly until fully incorporate.
  6. Add vanilla and then the eggs( one at a time).
  7. Now, prepare the dry ingredients by sifting flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in another mixing bowl with a beater attachment. Beat in low speed for 30 seconds to combine.
  8. While the mixer is still on low speed, slowly pour in the chocolate mixture.
  9. Change to medium high speed, beat for 1 min. Scrap the bottom and continue beating for 30 seconds until smooth.
  10. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pans, and bake for about 35 mins or until a skewer inserted into the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  11. Let cool in pans for 10 mins before you take the cake out to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  12. Cut each cake into two 1.5-cm thick layers with a cake cutter or serrated knife. Set aside until ready to use.

Mint Chocolate Ganache

  1. Break the chocolate into small pieces in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a sauce pan, boil cream and pour onto the chocolate.
  3. Let sit for 3 mints before gently stirring it until incorporated.
  4. When the mixture is cooled to around 35C. Stir in the butter and whisk until fully mixed.
  5. Cool the mixture using an ice bath until the ganache reaches a pipable consistency.
  6. Put the ganache into a pipe bag with a 6mm round nozzle.

Honey Comb

  1. Line a flat, big tray with parchment paper. Set aside until ready to use. And you will need a sugar thermometer.
  2. Put sugar, honey, water, and golden syrup in a large saucepan with enough depth. Cook, while stirring continuously with a spatula, on low heat until all sugar dissolves.
  3. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to boil. Cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 154C on the thermometer. Immediately remove from heat and let the bubbles subside.
  4. Add the baking soda and mix thoroughly to let the reaction occur. Many bubbles will form and the mixture will rise so please be careful. Pour the mixture onto the prepared tray and set aside to cool completely.
  5. Break the honeycomb to pieces to your preferences.

Salted Caramel Popcorn

  1. Mix the salted caramel and popcorns together until the popcorns are evenly coated with salted caramel. 

*if your salted caramel is a bit firm, microwave for 20-30 seconds so that they can evenly coat the popcorn. 

Tempered Chocolate shards

  1. temper the chocolate and spread it thinly on a tray lined with parchment paper.
  2. Put some gold sprinkles on top of the chocolate before they’re completely set. 
  3. Break them into pieces to your liking.

Assemble

  1. Place one layer of cake onto a cake turntable and top it by piping ganache in a swirling motion. Smoothen the ganache with palette knife. Repeat with the second and third cake layer, and then last layer of cake. Frost the cake with remaining frosting.
  2. Decorate with chocolate shards, honey combs and salted caramel popcorn. Enjoy!

 

8 comments
Zen – Matcha Almond Tart with Swiss Meringue and Sesame Brittle

This matcha almond tart with swiss meringue and sesame brittle wonderfully plays with the popular Japanese dessert flavours – Matcha and Sesame. The earthy taste of the matcha almond filling pairs perfectly with the caramel, nutty taste of the sesame brittle that’s on top of the dreamy toasted Swiss meringue.  

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This tart came as a total surprise for me, because I originally made the matcha almond filling for Mont Blanc, a classic French dessert that’s made with chestnut puree and meringue. Unfortunately, there were lots of issues in the making and the mont blanc didn’t turn out as well as I expected so I decided to use the filling for something else. I promise you all that I will perfect my mont blanc recipe and share with you when the time comes around!

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And I do want to talk a bit more about the sweet pastry here. I recently bought some new tart rings that I had been craving for so long due to its more sophisticated finish. There’re quite a few methods out there to line pastry into these circular rings. After testing out on all the methods, I do find that the method of cutting out a larger circle of pastry and directly fit that in to the ring is the easiest and the most guaranteed. If you wanna watch how to do it in a video, I’d recommend Cupcake Jemma’s tutorial video  Alternatively, you can also cut out circles of pastry that are almost the same size as the base of your tart ring, as well as strips of pastry to fit as the sides. And you are gonna push the edge of the base to stick with the strips. Personally, I do find this a bit more tricky as sometimes as the pastry is too dry, the strips won’t stick too well with the base and they’ll separate when baked.

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As you’d all notice, I am recently super obsessed with meringue (the feeling of blow-torching meringue is just incomparably satisfying), so I decided to incorporate it into this tart to add another layer of texture. From top to bottom, you get the crispiness of the sesame brittle, the softness of the swiss meringue, the creaminess of the matcha almond filling, and the crunch of the sweet pastry. I chose to use Swiss meringue this time because I wanted it to be firmer and finer to top the tart with. And I adjusted the sweetness of the meringue recipe so it won’t be overwhelmingly sweet. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

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Ingredients (make 6 small tart):

Sweet Tart Crust

  • 125g unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes 
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 250g all purpose flour
  • 55g whole egg, beaten

Matcha Almond Filling

  • 60 g butter
  • 60 g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp matcha powder
  • 1 tbsp milk

Swiss Meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 150g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp salt

Sesame Brittle:

  • 60g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 30g water
  • 1/4 salt  

Instructions:

Sweet Tart Crust

  1. Rub together cold butter, sugar and flour to a fine crumb.
  2. Add egg and mix to a dough.
  3. Wrap dough with plastic and rest in the refrigerator to firm up until needed.
  4. While your dough is resting, preheat your oven to 180C.
  5. Dust your work surface with flour to avoid sticking. Roll pastry to 3mm thick and line into 6 small tart rings.
  6. Poke holes on the pastry with a fork and put it back into the fridge to rest for 30 mins.
  7. Blind bake for around 10 mins until slightly golden. Let cool on a wire rack. *Don’t bake until golden brown at this stage as the tart will continue to bake when you bake the filling*

Matcha Almond Filling

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium high speed until pale and fluffy. It will take around 5 minutes.
  2. Add egg and beat until incorporated.
  3. Add almond meal and matcha powder into the sugar-butter-egg mixture. Mix with a spatula until it forms a paste.
  4. Add milk and mix until incorporated.
  5. If your tart shells are ready by now, fill them with the matcha almond filling (only to 85% full as they expand when baked) and bake for 10 mins. Let cool completely.

Swiss meringue

  1. Add  egg whites and sugar to an oil-free bowl. Using a double boiling method, gently heat the egg whites mixture up, while whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140F (60C).  The sugar should have completely dissolved at this stage.
  2. Add the hot egg white-sugar mixture to your electric mixer mixing bowl (oil-free). Whip on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool. This will take about 7-10 mins.

Sesame Brittle

  1. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, water, and salt and cook over medium-high heat, continue stirring until the mixture reaches 260°F (127C). Add the sesame seeds and continue cooking while stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 350°F (177C). Stop cooking if you see the mixture turns into a golden brown color.
  3. Remove from heat and immediately pour the mixture into the prepared parchment paper, spreading it with a palette knife into an even, thin layer. Set aside to cool until firm.
  4. Once the brittle is cooled, break it into pieces of your desired size.

Assemble:

  1. Spoon or pipe the swiss meringue on the tarts and create some “peaks’ with a spoon.
  2. Insert the sesame brittles into the meringue.
  3. Toast the meringue with a blowtorch.
2 comments
Enchanted – Mint Chocolate & Strawberry Concord Cake

This mesmerising-looking cake is my take on the Concord Cake – a double chocolate cake that perfectly combines chocolate meringue sticks and chocolate mousse with homemade strawberry jam in between. This recipe is adapted from the Concord recipe by Kirsten Tibballs – the master of chocolate – as I borrowed her book Chocolate at the school library a while ago which I absolutely loved. I am not kidding, for a huge chocolate lover like me, I want to make EVERY SINGLE item listed in the book. In particular, I couldn’t take my eyes off her Concord as it looked so interesting and challenging to make.

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Yet, as you all know I always like to do a little bit adjustment to an existent recipe to make it more satisfying. This time, I straight away knew that I had to incorporate the classic combination of strawberry and mint to this chocolate cake, as the acidity of strawberry and the freshness of mint would balance out the richness of chocolate. Also, as I immediately associated the appearance of Concord cake to forest the moment I saw it, I wanted to accentuate the “forest ambience” through my presentation.

Anyway, this concord cake is meant to be:

  1. Delicious
  2. Fascinating
  3. Fun

Well, it was really a lot of fun to make this Concord cake. I understand that it might look very complicated but let me assure you that it’s really just a piece of cake & so much easier than you’d expect! Basically, all you have to do is make the meringue, pipe and bake them, and meanwhile you can prepare the chocolate mousse and the jam. Then you can start assembling the cake the way you like it. Easy, right?

 

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What’s even better is, that you can let your creativity run wild as the flavour combination for this cake is literally infinite – oreo/matcha/rainbow meringue stick, infuse some flavours for your chocolate mousse, or introduce new toppings etc.  This time, my friend helped me use food colouring to paint some wooden patterns on the meringue sticks and I was shocked at how authentic they looked! 

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To let you all understand how to construct this cake more easily, I asked my talented friend to draw me a step by step illustration below that’d help tremendously.

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To finish off the cake, I put some mint leaves, raspberries, strawberries, pistachios, shaved chocolate to add some colour and texture, and I am really happy about its final look. Don’t even begin to ask me how to cut the cake properly because YOU CAN’T, just tear the meringue sticks apart and share the cake unapologetically 😉  So that’s my Concord Cake and I hope you like it. Let’s make the magic happen, shall we?

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Ingredients (adapted from Kirsten Tibballs’s Chocolate):

Chocolate Meringue Sticks

  • 55g dutch process cocoa powder
  • 120 icing sugar
  • 200g egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tar tar
  • 150g caster sugar

Mint Chocolate Mousse

  • 255g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 150ml pure cream (a)
  • 20g unsalted butter, softened
  • 230ml pure cream (b)
  • 1 tsp mint extract


Strawberry Jam

  • 125g fresh strawberry
  • 60g sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions:

Chocolate Meringue Sticks

  1. Sift the cocoa powder and icing sugar together.
  2. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar to medium peaks and gradually add the caster sugar (Don’t add the sugar with the egg whites straight in the beginning as the egg whites won’t whisk well). Once all the sugar is added, continue whisking for 1 minute so all the sugar dissolves (You can feel if all the sugar is dissolved by rubbing the meringue between your fingers). Using a spatula, gently fold through the coao powder and icing sugar mixture (Try not to knock out the air in the meringue, be as gently as you can). Stop folding once all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Transfer just over half to a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle.
  3. Preheat the oven to 140C. You will need a baking tray topped with a parchment paper. Trace three 16cm circles onto the paper. Turn the paper over and pipe the meringue into 3 discs; start from the centre and pipe it outwards. *you can pipe some meringue under the baking paper to help stick it to the tray
  4. Line a separate baking tray with baking paper. Put the remaining meringue in a piping bag with 8-mm plain nozzle. Pipe individual lines the length of the tray approximately 1 cm apart on the tray. Bake both trays of meringue for approximately 1 hour or until the meringue is crunchy. Cool the meringue at room temperature.

Mint Chocolate Mousse

  1. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Put the cream (a) in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Pour it over the chocolate, let it sit for 3 mins before stirring it with a whisk by hand until the chocolate is melted and combined. When the mixture cools to around body temperature, add the butter and whisk again until incorporated to create a ganache. Leave the ganache at room temperature and set aside to cool down.
  2. Meanwhile Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment or by hand, whisk the cream (b) to a semi-whipped consistency and set it aside in the refrigerator until the ganache cools down. Once the ganache is ready, fold through the chilled semi-whipped cream. Add mint extract and mix gently.


Strawberry Jam

  1. Bring sugar and strawberry in a saucepan on high heat for around 2 mins until all sugar has dissolved. Mash raspberries with a fork as you go.
  2. Turn to medium heat, continue to cook the jam until it’s thickened enough to your liking. Ideally, it should be smooth and spreadable. 
  3. Turn off heat. Add lemon juice and mix well.
  4. Transfer the jam into airtight jar for later use.

 

5 comments
Mini Chocolate Cake with Italian Meringue, Raspberry, and Shaved Chocolate

Chocolate_sour_cream_cake_with_meringue_raspberry_and_shaved_chocolate4These mini chocolate cakes are amazingly moist and rich in chocolate flavours, and the marshmallowy toasted Italian meringue would simply melt in your mouth like a dream! I also used fresh raspberry and shaved chocolate as the toppings, because this time I want to keep the recipe as simple as possible, and these are the flavours that just go perfectly together. And the best part? They look fancy but they’re also incredibly easy to make – win win!

 

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Also, I think you’ve already noticed it, BUT I WILL TELL YOU ALSO – I have done a make over for my blog today! To be honest, changing the appearance of my blog had been on my to-do list for quite some time because this blog is my creative outlet and I want it to speak volumes about who I am and my aesthetics. I am really happy with how my blog looks right now.

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I made these cakes at the same night I made the earl grey honey cake. I usually wouldn’t dare to make two desserts on the same day here in Sydney- because firstly, although pastry chefs should be the master of multitasking, but I still prefer focusing on photographing and sharing one recipe with you guys before I move on to the other; and secondly, there are definitely too many cakes piling up in my fridge already (like always). However, I made these cakes spontaneously as I had too much left over sour cream, meringue, chocolate, fresh raspberry (and the list goes on and on and on…), and I just couldn’t bare not creating something else out of them. I added instant coffee and my beloved coffee liqueur to the cake mix to enhance the chocolate taste. For those who aren’t the biggest fan of coffee, don’t worry, as the addition of coffee is just to intensify the chocolate flavour.

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And as you can see my random project turns out successful and I shamelessly brought them to my classmates who obviously have had too much cake in their daily lives already. I hope you enjoy this recipe and let me know how it goes if you try it out! Have a nice weekend everyone 🙂

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake

  • 240g all-purpose flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g butter
  • 200g white granulated sugar
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100g melted dark chocolate
  • 150g sour cream
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee powder (melted in 60ml hot water)
  • 120 ml milk

Italian meringue

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 60ml water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2  tsp vanilla

125g fresh raspberry

chocolate decorations

Instructions:

Chocolate cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175C) . Line your cake mould with melted butter. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Melt coffee powder in 60ml hot water. Stir until the coffee dissolves completely. Set aside to let cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, sift and combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. These are your dry ingredients. Set aside.
  4. In another mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium high speed until creamy and smooth. This will take around 4-5 mins.
  5. Slowly add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, and continue beating for 2 mins.
  6. Add melted chocolate and sour cream, beat until incorporated.
  7. Turn to low speed, add the cooled coffee mixture and milk; mix until smooth.
  8. In 3 batches, pour the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture, and gently stir with a spatula until incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  9. Fill your cake mould to nearly full and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake’s centre comes out clean. Take the cakes out from the mould once they have slightly cooled down. Let cool completely until ready to assemble.

Italian Meringue

  1. Put sugar and water in a small saucepan and do NOT stir. Bring the water and sugar to boil at 118C. When the syrup reaches 115C, simultaneously start whisking the egg whites to soft peaks on a medium speed.
  2. When the sugar reaches 118C, pour it over the egg whites (pour the hot syrup on the side of the mixing bowl to avoid cooking the egg whites). Add Vanilla,  turn the mixer to high speed and continue beating for about 5-7 mins, until the meringue is cooled down to 50C and glossy stiff peaks have formed.

Assemble
Using your favourite piping nozzle, pipe the meringue onto the cake and lightly toast them with a blowtorch. Top it with raspberries and chocolate.




2 comments
Earl Grey Honey Cake with Passion Fruit Curd and Toasted Italian Meringue



These mini Earl Grey Honey Cake with Passion Fruit Curd and Toasted Italian Meringue are perfect for an afternoon party to feed  your guests! They are bursting with fruity freshness with a subtle citrus tone, not to mention the cake’s melt-in-your-mouth soft texture.



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The background story of this creation can be traced to the madeira cake I made at school at the beginning of this term. Medeira cake is a simple citrus cake served with tea or sweet wine; it has a golden brown surface and light yellow interior, and is characterised by its close crumb structure because of its specific making method. I loved this cake when I first tried it because it got the texture that I liked and it’s so simple yet delicious. Yet, this time for my own creation, I, of course, changed things up a bit with some additional elements to make the cake interesting.

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To pair with the sweet, citrus taste from the earl grey honey cake, I decided to use passion fruit curd and some toasted meringue. I have eaten passion fruit desserts before outside but It’s actually my first time to buy passion fruit in my life (I know right..). And I realised I’d been missing out such a great fruit! The moment I cut it open, the fragrance coming out from it was just heavenly and I could instantly well imagine how good it would taste with some greek yogurt and honey for breakfast.

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Also, I also grasped today’s free time to practise tempering chocolate. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but tempering chocolate gives me a headache most of the time and sometimes it gets really frustrating. Luckily, today I did manage to temper chocolate and make some simple decoration successfully. I will need to temper chocolate again the coming week and I hope today’s experience is gonna give me more confidence. Anyway, I hope that you all like this recipe and have a fruitful week ahead of you! (pun intended)


Ingredients (makes around 15 mini cakes) :

Earl Grey Honey Cake

  • 180g cake flour
  • 100g corn flour
  • 80g almond meal
  • 4 earl grey tea bags, loose leaves of
  • 5g baking powder
  • Salt, pinch of
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g honey
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice of
  • 3 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 50g sour cream
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod

Passion fruit curd 

Italian Meringue

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 60ml water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2  tsp vanilla

Instructions:

Earl Grey Honey Cake 

  1. Boil milk, 2 bags of earl grey loose leaves, and vanilla beans in a pot. Let it infused until ready to use.  
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest in the last minute of mixing.
  3. Add eggs SLOWLY until all incorporated (only add more eggs until they are fully incorporated or you’d risk curdling the mixture; also, mind that the eggs should be at room temperature/slightly warm to achieve the best result)
  4. While the eggs are mixing, prepare and sift your dry ingredients (i.e. cake flour, almond meal, 2 bags of earl grey loose leaves, baking powder, and salt). Gently fold in dry ingredients into the butter mix until just incorporated (don’t over mix)
  5. Slowly add earl grey-infused milk, lemon juice and sour cream. Mix until just incorporated.
  6. Put the batter into a piping bag and pipe evenly into silicon mould. Tap the mould to release air bubbles. Bake at 180C for 25-30 mins until golden brown. Let cool. 

Passion fruit curd 

  1. Dissolve gelatin in hot water and add to the passion fruit curd while it’s still warm.
  2. Mix thoroughly. Refrigerate until they start to set*

*They set pretty fast so please be ready to pipe when they reach the ideal consistency.

Italian Meringue

  1. Put sugar and water in a small saucepan and do NOT stir. Bring the water and sugar to boil at 118C. When the syrup reaches 115C, simultaneously start whisking the egg whites to soft peaks on a medium speed.
  2. When the sugar reaches 118C, pour it over the egg whites (pour the hot syrup on the side of the mixing bowl to avoid cooking the egg whites). Turn the mixer to high speed and continue beating for about 5-7 mins, until the meringue is cooled down to 50C and glossy stiff peaks have formed.

P.S When you assemble the cakes, you should first pipe the meringue AND toast them, before you pipe the passion fruit curd to avoid melting the curd.

 Yum




7 comments
Banana Salted Caramel Mascarpone Parfait




This banana salted caramel mascarpone parfait is everything you’re looking for as a party dessert or romantic dessert for two – it has its own visual impact while pleasing your palate to the last bit. It is intricately layered with light mascarpone cream, banana slices, biscuit crumbs, salted caramel, and topped with salted caramel cream and cocoa powder.




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The idea of making this parfait came up more than a month ago, but I was hesitant to make it because I didn’t have (and didn’t want to spend extra money to buy) the glasses that I thought were the best fit for the parfait. Students’ problems. However, for some reasons, I gave in as the urge of making this dessert became irresistbably strong when I was making tiramisu at work. As you can see, the plastic containers that I decided to use surprisingly looked good in the end!

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This mascarpone cream is essentially the cream used for tiramisu – it’s light and airy using just the simplest ingredients for baking. The recipe for the mascarpone cream is not sweet at all so it’s preferable to use riped bananas and, of course, you can go a little bit crazy with the salted caramel drizzles! To me, the key to a heart-winning parfait is having different layers and textures that well complement each other. For this reason, I added biscuit crumbs in the middle layer as the needed crunch among the smooth. Also, just to accentuate the flavours of salted caramel, I mixed it with the remaining mascarpone cream and pipe little cute blobs dusted with cocoa powder on top as the finishing touch. A small reminder: as the cocoa powder absorbs moisture very quickly after dusting, you should only dust it right before serving.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 50g  salted caramel* (to mix with cream)
  • 80g salted caramel (to drizzle)
  • 2 bananas, thinly sliced
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  • 70g biscuit, crushed
    * I used the Homemade Salted Caramel recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction for this parfait.

Mascarpone cream

  • 350 mascarpone cheese
  • 250g pure cream (semi-whipped)
  • Sabayon:
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 100g caster sugar  
  • Meringue:
    • 2 egg white
    • 35g caster sugar

 

Instructions:

  1. Semi-whip cream and keep it in fridge until ready to use.
  2. Make meringue by whipping egg white and caster sugar until stiff peak. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. While the meringue is whipping. Put and whisk well egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar in bowl. Heat the mixture over bain marie while stirring occasionally to 65C. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer on high speed to make sabayon (it’s also called the ribbon stage when the egg mixture becomes pale yellow and thick).
  4. Turn to low speed, add mascarpone cheese to sabayon and mix until incorporated.
  5. Using a spatula, gently fold in the meringue in 2 times until just incorporated. Then, gently fold in the whipped cream just until the mixture becomes homogeneous.
  6. Reserve 200g of cream in the mixing bowl, transfer the remaining mixture to a piping bag topped with a round nozzle.
  7. Add 50g salted caramel to the mixing bowl, mix with the reserved cream on medium cream until well mixed. Set aside.  

Assemble:

  1. Pipe a layer of mascarpone cream into each mould.
  2. Sprinkle biscuit crumbs.
  3. Arrange a layer of banana slices.
  4. Generously drizzle salted caramel.
  5. Pipe another layer of mascarpone cream until it fllls up the mould.
  6. Smoothen the surface with a palette knife.
  7. Squeeze out any remaining cream from the piping bag, and transfer the salted caramel mascarpone cream into the same piping bag. Pipe cream on top.  
  8. Dust with cocoa powder.

Yum




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Boozy Bite – Guinness Double Chocolate Brownies



Guinness Double Chocolate BrowniesGuinness Double Chocolate Brownies

Another chocolate dessert for you all! These Guinness Double Chocolate Brownies are luxuriously rich and moist, carrying a hint of roasted malt taste from Guinness that intensifies the chocolate flavour of these brownies. If you haven’t noticed, I really like adding alcohol to my desserts for some boozy, delicious treats, and this time I choose to use Guinness – an Irish dry stout that has a distinctive burnt, malty flavour from roasted barley. If you’re interested in alcohol infused desserts, feel free to check out my other posts:

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse with Baileys Ladyfingers (topped with chocolate soil)

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

White Wine Poached Pear Almond Tart

Coffee Liqueur Double Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Muffin

Lemon Curd Limoncello Meringue Éclair

Guinness Double Chocolate Brownies

Guinness Double Chocolate Brownies

As I planned to use this brownie as the base for my Salted Caramel Stuffed Brownie Truffle (recipe coming soon!), I purposely toned down the sweetness of these brownies through using smaller amount of sugar, as well as using chopped dark chocolate that oozes out from the brownies when baked. With the addition of the Guinness, these brownies have a strong malt,  and bittersweet chocolaty finish which I personally love. However, if you have a serious sweet tooth, free feel to adjust the sweetness by adding an extra 50g white sugar to the batter. Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll have fun making these delicious brownies for a special occasion! (or anytime really- I mean, who needs a reason to eat brownies?)

Guinness Double Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 200g white sugar
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature  
  • 180ml guinness
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 180g all-purpose flour
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • 100g chopped dark chocolate

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a square or rectangular baking tray and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sieve and add flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. In another mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, vegetable oil, white sugar, brown sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape the mixing bowl in between if needed. This is will about 5 mins.
  4. Reduce speed to medium, add eggs ( one at a time) and beat until well combined.
  5. Add guinness and vanilla, mix until well combined.
  6. Add the prepared flour and cocoa powder, mix until just incorporated.
  7. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tray. Bake for 25 mins or until until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Do not overbake. Set aside to cool. Enjoy!

 
Yum




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Taste of Summer – Coconut Lime Cupcake with Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Lime curd filling

I understand that cupcakes don’t appeal to everyone. I get that; the huge pile of buttercream can look quite intimidating if you have had awful experiences of eating overly sweet and dense buttercream sitting on some dry sponge cake before. But I promise you that these coconut lime cupcakes are nothing like that – the swiss coconut buttercream is light in texture while rich in flavour; and thanks to the addition of coconut milk, the cake is incredibly moist and the lime curd inside will definitely give you a little surprise when you bite into it. And don’t forget they are the combination of the two refreshing flavours that make you want to devour it with a glass of gin and tonic in the summertime (or anytime..)!

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The idea of making these cupcakes emerged when I saw the coconut lime cupcake by the Scran Line https://www.thescranline.com/coconut-lime-cupcakes. I got especially excited when I happened to have a bunch of limes left in my fridge. This cupcake recipe is modified from my own trusty cupcake recipe. I always prefer to away away from the traditional American buttercream because I simply find it too heavy in texture and taste, and the meringue lightens up the richness of butter brilliantly. I tried to incorporate as many lime and coconut components as possible and the outcome didn’t disappoint me!

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It seems that It’s been a while since I last talked about my school life. I just had the first two weeks of school (intermediate level), and we’ve already made a wide variety of pastry/dessert items. I am going to attach the images of my products at the end of this post so you will have a better idea. At this early stage, the difficulty of the items we’re required to make each lesson is not necessarily higher (so far..), but we have to work at a much faster pace to get more things done in the same period of time. I guess the school is gradually trying to get us used to the real working environment where time management is everything.

The other difference between basic and intermediate is that there are more assessments – on the second week, we were assessed on making a roulade with strawberry and cream filling. I don’t have much experience in making roulade and the last time I made one was ages ago, so I was a little nervous. The trickiest part of making a perfect roulade lies in rolling it up well to create the swirl while maintaining the shape and keeping the outer layer intact without any crack. To achieve this, the sponge cake has to be baked properly – if underbaked, it will become too sticky; if overbaked, it will crack. My first roulade during the practice session cracked on the surface. So during the real assessment, I made sure I didn’t overbake my roulade and I would pre-roll it when it’s freshly baked to create the “rolling memories”, a trick that I learnt and mentioned in my Black Sesame Swiss Roll Post before. Luckily, I passed the assessment but I know there were a few flaws that I must correct next time.

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We will be making Danish Pastry tomorrow and I am so pumped for it! Hopefully I can share the results with you later. May you all have a good weekend!

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Sacher torte

Madeira_Cake

Madeira Cake

Bienenstich(Beesting)

Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)

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Bagel (cream cheese, smoked salmon, chives) , Apple Strudel

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Savarin with Chantilly Cream and Fruits

Ingredients (make around 15 cupcakes):

For the cupcake

  • 190g all-purpose flour
  • 50g dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 115g butter, softened
  • 30g coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 120ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the buttercream

  • 5 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 280g butter, softened and chopped into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the lime curd

  • Juice and zest of 3 limes
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 60 cold butter, chopped into small cubes

Instructions:

For the cupcake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175C) . Line pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift and combine flour, desiccated coconut, baking powder, baking soda and salt. These are your dry ingredients. Set aside.  
  3. In another mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, oil, and sugar on medium high speed until creamy and smooth. This will take around 4-5 mins.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating for 1 min. Add coconut milk and vanilla. Continue beating for 30 secs.
  5. In 3 batches, pour the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture, and gently stir with a spatula until incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  6. Fill cupcake liners to nearly full and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake’s centre comes out clean.

For the lime curd

  1. Prepare a double boiler. Fill a saucepan with 1-1.5 inches high of water and bring it to simmer. Find a heatproof bowl that fits in the saucepan without directly touching the water.
  2. Put all ingredients except the butter into the heatproof bowl. Using a whisk, stir the mixture continuously and gently to slowly cook the eggs. The lemon curd is ready when it starts to thicken up. This process will take about 5-7 mins. Remove the bowl from the saucepan.
  3. Stir in the cold chopped butter into the mixture. Mix until the butter completely melts. Let cool and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Buttercream

  1. Add  egg whites and sugar to an oil-free bowl. Using a double boiling method, gently heat the egg whites mixture up, while whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140F (60C).  The sugar should have completely dissolved at this stage.
  2. Add the hot egg white-sugar mixture to your electric mixer mixing bowl (oil-free). Whip on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool (this is very important, otherwise the butter you’re about to add it will melt). This will take about 7-10 mins.
  3. Turn to medium-low speed, gradually add the softened butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until a silky smooth texture is reached. Add coconut milk, lime juice and salt, and beat until well combined. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Assembly

  1. When the cupcake is cooled to room temperature, use a corer to remove the centre of the cupcake to insert lime curd later.
  2. Fill the lime curd into a piping bag with a round tip. Pipe into the cored cupcake until it just starts to ooze out.
  3. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes with your favourite piping tip, and sprinkle lime zest and desiccated coconut on top as decoration if desired.

Yum




4 comments
Earthy Soul – Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse with Baileys Ladyfingers (topped with chocolate soil)




If you’re hosting a party soon and looking for a fancy-looking dessert recipe to impress your hungry guests, you’ve found the right place. This Hazelnut Bailey Chocolate Mousse Cup is made of the same rich & smooth hazelnut dark chocolate mousse used for the chocolate semi-sphere I shared before, with devilicious baileys-soaked lady fingers layered between. You think it cannot get any better? How about if I tell you it’s finished off with some crunchy hazelnut chocolate soil on top? Conventionally, people would put mint leaves onto the “soil” but I didn’t have any mint that day so I skipped it. Dig into these layers with a spoon and I promise you it’s one of the most satisfying feelings ever.



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I came up with this idea when I was asked to prepare party food for a bunch of young adults. I got so pumped and I thought about what would make the best dessert to get the party going? Alcohol. Duh. Rum, Cointreau, limoncello and Coffee Liqueur are the to-go alcohol that I would use for desserts, but it’s about time I tried THE renowned Baileys, a creamy and smooth Irish whisky-and-cream-based liqueur that is usually served cold (with ice-cream, yum!). As you can all imagine, Baileys is delicious just as it is, but it goes extremely well with chocolate too. I didn’t hold myself back when I was dipping my ladyfingers into Baileys (I mean, why I should I?), so there could be 2 shots of baileys in each cup and everyone loved it. But you’re wary of getting your friends drunk, do try to limit yourself with it.

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I made my own ladyfingers this time using the recipe by Anna Olson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezR5UUqiOJc), as I always preferred making things from scratch if possible. But if you’re running out of time or feeling a little bit lazy, feel free to get them in supermarket. For those who don’t know what a ladyfinger is, it is essentially a simple sponge biscuit that resembles the shape of a large finger. It’s commonly used in layered dessert such as Tiramisu, and all sorts of parfaits; or it can be dipped in chocolate and enjoyed as it is. I love it for its subtleness and versatility. Make this boozy mousse cup and get indulged in all the creamy chocolatey goodness!

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Ingredients (make 10 mousse cup):

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 6 egg whites
  • 35 caster sugar
  • 25g nutella

Ladyfingers (modified from http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipe/chocolate-dipped-lady-fingers/12698/)

  • ½ cup (64g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 tbsp (63g) cornstarch
  • 3 eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 9 tbsp (113g) sugar
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar

Hazelnut Chocolate soil

  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 110g granulated sugar
  • 50g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 50g  hazelnut, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt

Instructions:

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse

  1. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate on low heat until melted. Let it cool slightly. Stir in butter and nutella. Set aside.
  2. Using a whisk, lightly beat egg yolks until pale and creamy. Add to the chocolate mixture, mix well.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat egg white until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat egg white to stiff peaks.
  4. Gently stir in the chocolate-egg yolk mixture (in three additions) into the egg whites, mix until no obvious egg white is visible.  
  5. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Ladyfingers (extracted from http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipe/chocolate-dipped-lady-fingers/12698/)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour and cornstarch together and set aside. Whip the egg yolks with 3 Tbsp of the sugar until thick and pale and they hold a ribbon when the beaters are lifted. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy, then slowly add the remaining 6 Tbsp of sugar and continue whipping until the whites hold a medium peak when the beaters are lifted.
  3. Fold the whites into the yolk mixtures using a whisk, then fold in the flour until just incorporated. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe lady fingers onto the prepared trays that are 4-inches long and an inch apart (they will spread a little once piped). Bake for about 8 minutes, until the fingers are an even golden brown. Allow the fingers to cool completely before removing them from the trays.

Hazelnut Chocolate soil

  1. Using a double boiler or microwave, melt butter and allow it to cool to room temperature.
    While the butter is cooling, put sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a mixing bowl.  Mix well with a whisk and set aside.
  2. While whisking, slowly add the melted butter into the sugar cocoa mixture. Continue to mix until the mixture resembles dark soil.
  3. Add the chopped hazelnut and mix to provide the soil texture. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Assemble

  1. Put the hazelnut chocolate mousse in a piping bag with a plain round nozzle, pipe the mousse into the bottom of the cup. Then, break the ladyfingers into pieces (I broke one ladyfinger into 3 parts) and soak them generously in Baileys, and put them on top of the mousse.
  2. Repeat step one to create alternating layers of hazelnut chocolate mousse and Baileys-soaked ladyfingers, with the hazelnut chocolate mousse as the top layer in the end (Save half an inch of space for the chocolate soil).
  3. Cover the top hazelnut chocolate mousse with chocolate soil. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 
Yum




12 comments
SO mint to be – Mint Chocolate Macarons with Mint Chocolate Ganache Filling




After spending two weeks in Brisbane reuniting with my friends, I’m home and it’s about time I updated my food blog. Some friends of mine noticed that I’ve been updating my blog less frequently than before since I moved from Hong Kong to Sydney. My deepest apologies… living by myself has been unexpectedly draining and due to all the desserts I learn to make at Le Cordon Bleu, I do not bake as often at home. In fact, I am starting my intermediate level next week (NERVOUS and EXCITED), and hopefully I can share my learning journey with you all every now and then!

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These lovely mint chocolate macarons are to die for – lightly mint-flavoured macarons shelled with rich, creamy mint chocolate ganache filling. When you take a bite into these macarons, you’re going to fall for the textural contrast between the crispy & marshmallowy macaron shells and the smooth chocolate ganache. Again, mint chocolate is my all-time favourite flavour, so I am not kidding when I say I am happy to devour the whole tray of these by myself.

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No matter how many times I failed making macarons at home, there’s something unique about these little cookies that mesmerise me and makes me push on. If you are feeling frustrated with failing your macarons over and over even though you swear to god that you’ve followed the recipe completely (which usually isn’t true…), you might want to try with a different recipe or adjust the baking temperature and time. I used to believe one rule works for everything, but I’ve been proven wrong through all the failed attempts. There could be a millions of reasons for your macarons to fail, so doing some research online will be a big help to specifically resolve your macarons issues.

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Reality check: every oven works differently and you must spend time getting to “befriend” yours. Because I got a new oven as a gift when I moved to Sydney, it took a few times for me to know what the temperature and baking time work best for creating the best macarons with my oven –  bake at 150C on the lowest rack for 13 mins, then move to the middle rack for 5 mins (use a baking paper to cover the macarons to prevent browning the shells too much). But this is only what works for my oven and it might vary for yours. Also, as I noticed that my macaron batter was a bit too runny to pipe, I adjusted the amount of water I put when making  the sugar syrup. And guess what? This change made all the difference. Hope you enjoy these!

Ingredients (yield 36-40 macaron shells) :

Macaron shells

  • 95g almond flour
  • 95g icing sugar
  • 75g egg white, separated into two portions, 37.5g each
  • 1 tsp of peppermint extract
  • 25g water
  • 100g caster sugar

Mint-Chocolate Ganache FIlling

  • 120ml heavy cream
  • 150g dark mint chocolate
  • 15g unsalted butter

Instructions :

Macaron shells

  1. Place the icing sugar and almond flour in a food processor, and pulse for 30 seconds until well combined and fine in texture. Sift the flour-sugar mixture through a sieve into a mixing bowl, and pour in the first portion of egg whites. With a spatula, mix together until well combined. You can still be quite vigorous at this stage.
  2. Now you prepare the syrup. Put sugar and water in a small saucepan and do NOT stir. Bring the water and sugar to boil at 118C. When the syrup reaches 115C, simultaneously start whisking the second portion of egg whites to soft peaks on a medium speed.
  3. When the sugar reaches 118C, pour it over the egg whites (pour the hot syrup on the side of the mixing bowl to avoid cooking the egg whites). Turn the mixer to high speed and continue beating for about 5-7 mins, until the meringue is cooled down to 50C and glossy stiff peaks have formed. In two additions, add the meringue over the almond mixture, and, using a spatula, gently fold in until combined and smooth. Work the batter until it flows in very thick ribbons when the spatula is lifted.
  4. Pipe rounds of batter about 3.5cm in diameter, spacing them 2cm apart on baking trays lined with baking parchment. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter to flatten the macarons and to remove air bubbles.
  5. Tap the tray on the work surface covered with a kitchen cloth. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes, until a skin forms on the shells.
  6. Preheat the oven to 150C, then put the trays in the oven. Bake for 15-18 minutes. (Cover the macarons with baking paper if they become too brown on top in the last 5 mins). Out of the oven, slide the shells on to the work surface. Let cool.

Mint chocolate ganache filling

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Using a saucepan or microwave, bring the heavy cream just to boil.
  3. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for 2 mins before stirring. Whisk until smooth. Stir in butter and mix well.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble:

  1. Place mint chocolate ganache into a piping bag topped with a rose nozzle and pipe it on the inside of the macarons and sandwich them together.
  2. Serve macarons at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a week.

Yum




4 comments