food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘cakes & desserts’ Category

chocolate and brandied prune terrine + walnut tuiles

leave a comment »

Rich with dark chocolate and with a good hit of brandy, this was the perfect dessert for a French menu. The addition of a walnut tuile added some buttery crunch.

I always keep a jar of brandied prunes – a jar filled with pitted prunes and topped up with brandy. The prunes taste better and better as they age and the brandy becomes a gorgeous syrup. If you don’t yet have any brandied prunes, place 300g (10½ oz) of pitted prunes in a bowl or jar. Gently heat ⅓ of a cup of brandy (this will slightly speed up the process) and pour it over the prunes. Allow them to steep overnight. To make the terrine you will need a terrine or an oblong container to make a long narrow loaf shape. Lightly oil it and line it with cling wrap. In a double boiler over simmering water (or on low power in the microwave) melt 180g (6⅓ oz) of chopped dark 70% chocolate and stir it until smooth. In another bowl beat 90g (3 oz) of butter and 45g (1½ oz) of sugar by hand until light then add 3 tablespoons of sifted cocoa powder and mix well. In a separate bowl beat 3 egg yolks with another 45g(1½ oz) of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate to the butter mixture then fold in the egg mixture and finally fold in 225ml (7 fl oz) of thick cream. Add the prunes (I chopped mine into smaller pieces) with any remaining brandy and fold everything together until well combined. Transfer into the prepared mould, cover the top with overhanging plastic and chill until firm. To serve, use a hot knife to cut into thick slices and serve with crème fraîche. For the tuiles, preheat your oven to 180℃ (350ºF). Combine 200g (7 oz) of sugar, 45g (1½ oz) of flour, 135g (4¾ oz) of melted butter, 30g (1 oz) of finely powdered walnuts and 100g (3½ oz) of finely chopped walnuts. Spread the batter onto a silicone mat or baking paper in small disks (they will spread) and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the edges are browning. Lightly grease a rolling pin, carefully remove the hot tuiles with a palette knife and lay them over the rolling pin to set into a curl. Cool and store in an airtight container. 

*adapted fro this recipe


Written by michelle picker

July 11, 2018 at 12:13 am

yoghurt honey cheesecake

leave a comment »

I agree with Yotam Ottolenghi about cheesecakes – baked is always the best. So when he described this set cheesecake in glowing terms, he piqued my interest. He wasn’t wrong – absolutely delicious!

Before you start this cake, place 500g (17½ oz) of Greek style yoghurt in a clean cloth, tie it together and hang it over a bowl or sink. Allow it to drain until it’s about ⅔ of it’s original size – this will take at least a few hours, ideally overnight. Next, line a 23cm (9″) springform cake tin with greaseproof or baking paper. The original recipe calls for Hobnob biscuits (a kind of digestive made with oats) but since they’re not available in Australia I went local and used Anzac biscuits. They are probably a lot sweeter and crunchier than Hobnobs but they worked brilliantly. Finely crush 200g of your chosen biscuit either in a food processor or by putting them into a plastic bag and bashing them with a rolling pin. Mix them with 60g of butter and 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves and press this mixture into the base of the cake tin. Chill in the fridge while you make the filling. Whisk together 400g (14 oz) of full-fat cream cheese, the strained yoghurt, 40g (1.4 oz) of sieved icing sugar and 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest. Melt 150g (5.3 oz) of white chocolate in a double boiler. Make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water below and that you don’t get any moisture into the chocolate – white chocolate is very temperamental. Whisk the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture then spread it evenly on the biscuit base. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours or even overnight to set. Warm 60g (2.1 oz) of honey with 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves until just runny. Remove the cake from the fridge and the tin and drizzle the honey over the top of the cake.

Written by michelle picker

May 30, 2018 at 1:04 am

pandan chiffon cake

leave a comment »

Here’s a wonderful Asian treat.

This amazingly green and fantastically light sponge cake is popular throughout South-East Asia. Pandan leaf is often used to flavour desserts and, as in this cake, is often paired with coconut. I’ve bought excellent versions of this cake at Asian grocery stores but for a while there was a shortage and, in desperation, I bought a packet mix. I do like to make everything myself but I cheated with this one and the result was excellent! Maybe I’ll try a recipe next time…..

Written by michelle picker

May 9, 2018 at 12:33 am

two desserts in one

leave a comment »

Lovingly prepared by Cindy after a Moroccan meal, this dessert combines Baclava-style nuts with a simple strawberry yoghurt. Morocco has it’s version of Baclava and strawberries and yoghurt are a no-brainer as Morocco is the 5th-largest exporter of strawberries in the world.

For the nuts, combine 2 cups of roughly chopped almonds, walnuts, pistachios and macadamia nuts (or just one or two types if you prefer) and toast them a little in a dry pan or in the oven. Place them in a bowl with some cinnamon to taste. Now make a honey syrup with ½ a cup of sugar, ½ a cup of honey, ½ a cup of water and 1½ tablespoons of lemon juice. Heat until boiling and then simmer for 5 minutes or so until thickening. Add the syrup to the nuts and stir to combine. Allow to cool. For the yoghurt, slice 1-2 cups of fresh strawberries and sprinkle them with a little sugar. Let them macerate for a while then add them to thick Greek-style yoghurt. Flavour the yoghurt with the seeds from a vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water if you prefer. Serve together garnished with fresh mint.

Written by michelle picker

April 18, 2018 at 12:08 am

flourless mini chocolate cakes

leave a comment »

Another recipe from SWEET  by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. We ate these delightful little cakes while they were still slightly warm. With a thin crispy crust, they were moist and light on the inside and had a wonderful deep chocolate flavour. The amazingly glossy chocolate ganache was not so easy to make but tasted great and looked amazing!

For the cakes preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and grease 12 muffin tins or mini bundt pans. Separate 5 large eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a mixer. Over a double boiler melt 200g (7 oz) of dark 70% chocolate and 180g (6⅓ oz) of butter – the recipe stipulates unsalted butter but mine was salted. Whisk the mixture and when melted add 80g (2¾ oz) of caster sugar, 160g (5⅔ oz) of ground almond meal, the 5 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of instant coffee dissolved in a teaspoon of boiling water and 5 teaspoons of Amaretto – I didn’t have any so I used Frangelico instead. Stir to combine. Now add a whisk attachment to your mixer and if you’ve used unsalted butter add ¼ of a teaspoon of salt to your egg whites. Beat on high speed until you have soft peaks. Continue to whisk while slowly adding 80g (2¾ oz) of caster sugar until the mixture is light and firm. Spoon a little into the chocolate to loosen the mixture then gently fold in the rest. Here the recipe suggests resting the mixture for an hour but as I was short of time I divided it into my muffin tins and baked it for 20 minutes, turning the tray after 10 minutes to ensure even baking. Depending on your oven efficiency they may take a few minutes longer. Cool them in the tins for 10 minutes before turning them out. For the ganache measure 85g (3 oz) of dark chocolate into a bowl. In a small saucepan over low to medium heat combine 35g (1¼ oz) each of caster sugar and liquid glucose. Stir to combine and when the sugar melts, increase the heat to medium and cook until it turns a pale amber colour. Remove from the heat and carefully pour in 60ml (2 fl oz) of water. If the mixture seizes return it to the heat and stir gently to dissolve. Add the scraped seeds of ½ a vanilla pod and stir through. Pour this caramel mixture over the chocolate, allowing it to sit for 5 minutes then whisk to combine. While whisking add 35g (1¼ oz) of room temperature butter bit by bit until the mixture is smooth and shiny. If you find the mixture is too stiff, add a little boiling water to loosen it. When the cakes are cool enough, spread some ganache over each one allowing it to dribble down the sides. Cool and enjoy!

Written by michelle picker

March 28, 2018 at 12:07 am

sultana and sour cherry fruitcake

with one comment

Almost all fruit, this simple one-bowl cake has a nice tartness and a good hit of rum.

Preheat your oven to 160ºC (320ºF) and line a 22cm (8″) tin with baking paper. Measure 500g (17½ oz) of sultanas and 250g (8¾ oz) of sour dried cherries into a mixing bowl. Gently heat ⅓ of a cup of good dark rum and pour it over the fruit. Stir well, making sure all the fruit is moistened. Add 125g of melted butter, ½ a cup of dark brown sugar and 2 eggs to the bowl and stir to combine. Lastly, to bind the fruit, add 1 cup of plain flour and ½ a teaspoon of baking powder. Mix well and transfer into the prepared tin, spreading evenly. Bake for 1½ hours or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cover the tin and allow to cool.


Written by michelle picker

March 7, 2018 at 12:56 am

gluten free raspberry and lemon cake

leave a comment »

Don’t wait for your celiac friends to come over to try this amazingly delicious cake. No gluten means the mixture can’t be overworked and mashed potato makes the cake really moist. Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Heat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Butter and line a deep 20cm (8″) round cake tin. Beat 250g (8¾ oz) of caster sugar and 200g (7 oz) of softened butter together until light and fluffy then gradually add 4 eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Fold in 175g of ground almond meal, 250g (8¾ oz) of cold mashed potato, the zest of 2 lemons and 2 teaspoons of (gluten free) baking powder. Spread  half of the mixture into the tin, dot with some fresh or frozen raspberries and cover with the rest of the mixture, levelling the top. Bake for 40-50 mins or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning onto a wire rack. For the glaze place a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add 80g (2¾ oz) of raspberries, 80g (2¾ oz) of sugar and the juice of 1 lemon. Warm through for 4-5 minutes until the raspberries have softened and the sugar has dissolved. Strain through a fine sieve. With a small stick blender or a mini food processor add ⅛ of a teaspoon of xanthan gum, preferably while blending. This will thicken the raspberry glaze immediately. When the cake has cooled pour the glaze over the top, letting it drip down the sides a little.

Written by michelle picker

February 14, 2018 at 12:24 am