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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Chocolate Covered Almonds

Chocolate Covered Almonds

I have never understood the art of tempering chocolate. It’s one of those things that has been explained to me, that I’ve read up on, watched videos etc but I still don’t understand the science behind it. When someone starts to clarify the process, I can feel my eyes glaze over and even if I nod my head and say all the right things (i.e. “ah so that’s why!” “oh, now I get it!”), I’m still as confused as ever.

One thing I do know, is that if you don’t temper chocolate, you don’t get that beautiful shine and nice crisp…. which is why I love this recipe, because you can cover up the fact that you don’t know how to temper chocolate properly and still make something pretty damn impressive!

I like to serve these chocolates with coffee or tea. I usually coat them in cocoa powder but have also coated them previously in a combination of cocoa and orange zest.

Chocolate Covered Almonds

Chocolate Covered Almonds

Chocolate Covered Almonds

  • 50 grams water
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 500 grams blanched almonds
  • 25 grams butter
  • 350 grams dark good quality chocolate, chopped evenly
  1. Lightly oil your kitchen bench top with a neutral oil like grapeseed.
  2. Place the water and sugar in a heavy based saucepan. Heat until 110c then add the almonds and coat with the syrup.
  3. Take the almonds off the heat and stir vigorously so as to separate the almonds into pieces. Then, place the almonds back on to the heat and continue to stir over a low heat until the almonds are caramelized, around 15 minutes
  4. To test if the almonds are done, take a piece and cut in the middle and see whether the inside of the almond is a nice golden colour.
  5. When done, add the butter and stir through the almonds. Remove from the heat and place on your kitchen bench top. Using two forks, separate the pieces of almonds carefully so they don’t stick to each other.
  6. Allow the almonds to cool then proceed to coating with chocolate.
  7. First temper the chocolate. Take around 2/3 of the chocolate pieces and place in the microwave. Heat in 20 second intervals until the chocolate has almost all melted, making sure to stir the mixture every now and then (especially if your microwave heats unevenly) and then add the rest of the chocolate and let the heat from the chocolate melt the remaining chocolate, and ensuring to stir constantly.
  8. Once the chocolate has reached around 31c, pour 1/3 of the chocolate in to the almonds and stir vigorously again, with the goal of separating the almonds into pieces (try not to have too many clusters of chocolate almonds).
  9. Place the bowl in the fridge and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Now, add another 1/3 of the chocolate (if it gets cool, you can again microwave for around 10 seconds or so before adding this to the refrigerated almonds.
  10. Once again, mix the chocolate vigorously, aiming to keep the almonds separated. Place the almonds back in the fridge for another 5 minutes.
  11. For the last time, pour the remaining chocolate and stir to keep the almonds apart. Place the almonds in the fridge to set for 5 minutes.
  12. If the almonds have stuck together, carefully separate them.
  13. To finish, dust the chocolates in cocoa powder.

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Chocolate Carrot Cake Muffins

Chocolate Carrot Cake Muffins

When I was six my birthday fell on Easter Sunday.  I must tell you – this was probably the high point of my childhood.  I mean, how cool was that for MY birthday to fall on this day?  It was such a happy surprise and I wondered why I didn’t realize that this was the case for previous birthdays.  Easter egg hunt!  Birthday Cake!  Gifts! More Gifts! Party!!!

I spent most of the next year looking forward to my seventh birthday.  Dreaming about how to improve on that glorious birthday.  Could we get the Easter Bunny to make a surprise guest appearance?  What about a piñata in the shape of a rabbit?

My birthday bubble was shattered when I found out about a month before my seventh, that Easter Sunday wasn’t going to fall on my birthday (I know… I wasn’t thinking).  It was a rude awakening to discover that Easter Sunday changed every year.  No wonder I got weird looks When people asked me when my birthday was, I’d say “it’s the same day as Easter Sunday!”

Chocolate Carrot Cake

Chocolate Carrot Cake

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Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies


This last week has made me reflect on the many happy accidents in my life.  Starting, in fact, nine months before I was born.

I always thought it was cool that my sister and I were the same age for a month during the year.  I liked it when I told people we were sisters, “same age but not twins”. I found it hilarious when they would give us this puzzled look. It only dawned on me one day, when  I was around thirteen or fourteen, my family was having dinner at the house of some friends they had just met.  The lady was introducing her four children.

“The eldest is James, he is sixteen, followed by Natasha, she is twelve.” She said.

“Then this is Raul, he is eight.  Bea, my youngest, is also eight.”  Then the lady patted her youngest daughter’s head and said as she smiled cheekily and said “She’s the accident of the family!”, to everyone’s amusement.

Everyone, except me, as I was shocked.  If Bea and Raul were the same age and Bea was an accident… I started to think about the age gaps between all my other siblings – everyone was around two years apart except for me and my sister.  I felt my face turning red. Could this mean I was an accident too?

It was only after the dinner that I confronted my Mom about this discovery.

“Am I an accident too?” I asked.

This is why my Mom is so fantastic.

“If you were, you’d be the best accident ever!”  she said.

Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

Which brings me to these Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies.

Last week I had some friends over who wanted to learn how to make macarons.  I had prepared the almond meal, cocoa powder, icing sugar and caster sugar in little bowls so that all we needed to do was make the meringue and mix.  I pointed to the  almond meal, cocoa powder and icing sugar and told them to mix all of it.  I turned my back to separate the eggs.

“Do you want me to add the sugar?”  My friend asked.

“Yes please.” I told her.

As we started to make the meringue, I asked where the caster sugar was”

“It’s with the almond meal mixture!”  They told me.

“What?  We needed it for the meringue.” I said.

“But I asked you if I should add the sugar.” She said!

I just had to laugh.  Of course I did tell her to add the sugar!  So she added even the caster sugar. Silly silly me!

But that’s okay, because just when I thought that my Trissalicious World’s Best Pistachio cookies couldn’t get any better, I made this with that accidental supply of almond meal and sugar mixture. So here you have the the chocolate and pistachio version, gluten free, easy to make, and terribly delicious.

Serendipity!

Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

Trissalicious Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

  • 180 grams Pistachios (raw, shelled)
  • 225 grams almond meal
  • 120 grams caster sugar
  • 125 grams icing sugar
  • 30 grams dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 75 grams eggwhites (from around 2 to 3 eggs)
  1. Chop the pistachios roughly and set aside.
  2. In a bowl place the almond meal, sugars and egg whites. Mix well until you form a paste.
  3. Scoop the cookie batter and form into logs around 5 cm long, (at this point, if you find the batter too sticky add a little bit more almond meal to the paste) then roll them in the pistachios.
  4. Place them in a baking sheet, around 2 cm apart and bake for around 13 minutes at 150c (fan forced).
  5. Update on recipe: Dust with icing sugar when cool.

 

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Chocolate and Hazelnut Bombe Alaska

Chocolate and Hazelnut Bombe Alaska

It’s funny how some of the major decisions in our life are made on impulse.

One weekend, over a month ago I was in the kitchen (where else?) when my husband walked in and mentioned that a house we had looked at four years ago was again for sale.

“Which one?”  I asked.

“The one on so and so street, with the sandstone facade, large kitchen (he knew how to get my attention) and backyard.” he said. “Do you want to have a look?” he continued.

I remembered that one.  It was a brand new house we both fell in love with but for one reason or another we didn’t buy it.  And now four years later the house was up for sale again.

“Nooooo. I said.”  I remembered the last time we bought a house.  First there was the heartbreak of being told that our bid was accepted only to be gazumped, the frustration of losing out on several auctions and of course the stress of our last move where I packed over 80 boxes.  Plus, I didn’t think it was in our price range. “I’m busy baking.” I told my husband.

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Savour's Chocolate Petit Gateau

Savour's Chocolate Petit Gateau

A wise woman once said: “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”  I find it inspiring that these words were attributed to someone who learned to cook at the age of 37 and yet managed to change the face of cooking, Julia Child.

My passion of course, is food and I’ve found the best way to feed this passion is to learn as much as I can on it.  Among the most valuable of my experiences have been my time at the Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School.  I wanted to tell you about my time there so I thought I would copy down a few words I had written in a previous post about a two day Pastry course I attended last year:

This school was a natural choice because (1) I wasn’t aware of any such intensive course for non-professionals (i.e. people like me who didn’t want to give up their day jobs) in Sydney and (2) I had such great success with my macaron class a few months back that  I vowed to one day come back and when a spot opened for a two day course in Petit Gateaux Level 1, I knew I had to sweet talk my husband into allowing me to go. Kirsten Tibballs owns and manages the Savour school and upon entering the premises I know I am in good hands.  Browsing through the store infront of the the kitchen I spot a couple of international pastry magazines and books featuring some of Kirsten’s creations.  Upon meeting her, I am in awe.  Not only is she super nice and approachable, she is also a walking encyclopaedia of chocolate and patisserie!  Plus, the best part, is that she is totally willing to share everything she knows.  Everyone in the class feels immediately at ease.

As a testament to how popular the Savour classes are, many of those in the class have been to other classes before and are already familiar with some of the techniques she briefly discusses in the introduction.  Apart from your baking enthusiasts, a number of those in the class are graduates from Le Cordon Bleu, others are pastry chefs at top restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne.

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Peanut Butter and Chocolate Semifreddo

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Semifreddo

“You have to get rid of some stuff!”  My husband tells me every so often.  “Stuff”, referring to the multitude of kitchen appliances I have amassed over the years.  It has come to a point where we’ve had to put in extra shelving in the garage to accommodate my “little helpers”.

I’ve learned to engage my inner zombie every time he brings this up.  I don’t even bother pretending NOT to know what he’s talking about.  I just zone out…

Yes, it’s true, guilty as charged, I am a kitchen appliance hoarder.  Every time I make an attempt to get rid of one of them I always find myself thinking “Oh but in the future, I just might actually use it again…”  Never mind that I have only used my express pizza oven once (I find now that cranking the oven heat right up and a pizza stone works just fine.).  I don’t even want to remember the vacuum sealer that I bought a year ago after buying Thomas Keller’s Sous Vide Cookbook, which sadly, remains unopened. There’s also the smoker, the portable barbecue, the tagine…

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