Category Archives: Recipes – Sweet Treats

Milk Chocolate Tart with Ombre Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream


Milk chocolate tart with Swiss meringue buttercream

Milk chocolate tart with Swiss meringue buttercream

Milk chocolate tart with Swiss meringue buttercream

Milk chocolate tart with Swiss meringue buttercream

Milk chocolate tart with Swiss meringue buttercream

Milk chocolate tart with Swiss meringue buttercream

Milk chocolate tart with Swiss meringue buttercream

Chocolate tart is a much loved dessert in our home. It is a taste sensation, with a smooth velvety ganache, melting in your mouth against a backdrop of crunchy tart biscuit. It can be sweet and bright (milk chocolate) or dark and salted (Salted dark chocolate). Use your favourite chocolate and this will be a great dessert for any occasion.

We’ve often decorated our tarts with chocolate pearls, tempered chocolate and Fresh As freeze dried fruits (raspberry and mandarin are our favourites). In this recipe, we’ve piped our favourite swiss meringue buttercream stars on as decoration. We used our latest favourite chocolate from Foundry Chocolate, a micro batch, bean-to-bar producer based in Mahurangi, New Zealand. Beans are sourced from around the world – Peru, Tanzania, Colombia, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia and Ecuador. Each batch produced is unique and has distinctive flavours. After multiple tastings (we’ve dutifully tried their whole range a few times at markets and shows), we can attest to that. We chose the Vanuatu for this particular occasion. From the Masidau Farm, Epi, Vanuatu, the flavour profile includes notes of toffee, caramel and mocha. I knew exactly what dessert I would add these to the moment I tried the chocolate.

To facilitate our Saturday morning styling sessions, I prepared the elements slightly differently to a normal bake-and-eat: I prepared the tarts the night before, to allow time for the ganache to set. Instead of piping the buttercream directly onto the tart (i.e. waiting 4 hours) I piped the swiss meringue buttercream stars onto baking paper and let them harden up in the fridge. This is done at the same time as the poured ganache is setting.

So when morning rolls around, the naked tarts will be ready to be decorated with the now-hardened buttercream stars. It’s quite easy really – using two offset spatulas, just gently lift each off from the baking paper and place onto the surface of the chocolate ganache. Another positive of this is that you can easily adjust the placement of the stars – as they have hardened, they will retain their shape as you lift and place them.

Chocolate Pâte Sablée tart shell

Ingredients

  • 420g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 80g (3/4 cup) almond meal
  • 30g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder (I use Valrhona)
  • 3g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 120g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter (I use Westgold), softened
  • 1 large egg + 1 yolk (size 7)

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg and yolk one after the other. Mix until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Turn the mixer to low, beat in the flour mixture until the dough just comes together and you can’t see any streaks of flour. Do not overmix. (The dough should hold when pressed together between your fingertips. If not, lightly mix in up to 1 tablespoon milk.)
  5. Place half the dough on a piece of baking paper. Gather the dough together and press it into a round disk. Place a second sheet of baking paper on top and roll the dough out to 3mm thick. Take note of the size of the ring you are using.
  6. Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
  7. Chill in the fridge for an hour or overnight.
  8. If using tart cases (rings with with a base), lift the dough over the case and press gently to fit it.
  9. If using rings, place rings on dough and using a sharp knife, cut a circle of dough by following the inside rim.
  10. If using perforated rings, cut dough by pressing down on dough.
  11. Cut long strips of dough to line the walls of the tart and press along the seams to close. Make sure you check there are no gaps – ganache will leak out! Prick the bottom of the dough.
  12. Place prepared tart rings on silicone mats to bake. I don’t need to blind bake tarts when using these, but if you aren’t using silicone mats, it is recommended that you blind bake the tarts for 8 minutes before removing the baking beans and baking a further 5 minutes.
  13. If using silicone mats, fan bake at 165 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes.
  14. Cool completely before assembling tart.

Milk Chocolate Ganache filling

Ingredients

  • 415g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 285ml cream (35% fat minimum)
  • 60g butter, unsalted

Instructions

  1. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the cream up until small bubbles starts to form on the side of the pan. Just before it starts to steam, take it off the heat.
  3. Pour this over the chopped chocolate, and let it sit for 2 mins before stiring with a spatula. It will thicken and become glossy.
  4. You can even use a stick blender to achieve an extra smooth finish to the ganache, should you prefer.
  5. Pour the ganache into the cooled tart base. Tap the tart lightly on your work surface to get rid of any air bubbles. Let it firm up in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours.

Ombre Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 75g egg whites (from about 2 eggs)
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 140g butter, softened (not melted)
  • 70g dark chocolate, melted (Foundry Chocolate – Vanuatu)

Instructions

  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Whisk by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan one-third full with water and bring to a simmer.
  2. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. (I have a small metal steamer rack that I use to rest the bowl on as my saucepan is a bit too wide for the bowl to sit on). Whisking constantly, warm the egg mixture until it reaches 60-65 degrees C on a candy thermometer.
  3. Once hot and sugar has dissolved, place the mixer bowl back on the stand. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form and the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature (about 8 minutes). At this point, it should be very glossy.
  4. Turn the mixer speed down to low and add in the softened butter about a tablespoon at a time. Stop the mixer and change the whisk to the paddle attachment.
  5. Have 2 piping bags ready, fitted with different sizes of star tips. Add half of the melted chocolate into the buttercream, paddle to incorporate into a caramel shade of brown. Scoop half of the buttercream into a piping bag. Add the remaining melted chocolate into the buttercream and paddle to combine into a rich dark chocolate shade. Scoop this into the second piping bag.

Assembly

When the ganache has set, pipe the two different shades of buttercream on, alternating in sizes and height.

Streamlining tip:
Sometimes I don’t have the full day to make this, and to save time on Saturday morning when we usually style and shoot photos, I pipe the stars ahead of time, onto baking paper and let them harden in the fridge (or freeze!). This way we have them ready for placement first thing in the morning.

Milk chocolate tart with Swiss meringue buttercream

Chocolate brownie crinkle cookies with powdered sugar and olive oil


chocolate brownie crinkle cookie with powdered sugar and olive oil

chocolate brownie crinkle cookie with powdered sugar and olive oil

Chocolate Brownie Crinkle cookie with powdered sugar

Chocolate Brownie Crinkle cookie with powdered sugar

Chocolate Brownie Crinkle cookie with powdered sugar

These reminds me of the view from 35,000 feet high, flying from Auckland to Christchurch for work. It was in the middle of winter and the Southern Alps was thickly covered by a blanket of snow – it was such a serene and beautiful scene.

J requested these cookies after sampling a version of them at a birthday party many years ago: “the icing sugar dusted chocolate cookies” was mentioned every now and then. Last weekend I finally got around to it.

They are brownie-like: soft and tender inside, but have a cookie-like crisp exterior. I have been blessed with a delivery of olive oils from Te Wheke Olives and they worked so well in this recipe. As the batter is very soft, it requires a minimum of 4 hours fridge time. You can speed that up by placing it in the freezer for 2 hours. Before you bring the batter out, have a few cookie sheets lined and the oven preheated, so that once you have two trays of 12 cookies each rolled in icing sugar, you can bake the first two trays straight away. This ensures they don’t loose too much height. I managed to complete rolling out dough for two more trays while the first batch is baking (I do have 6 identical cookie sheets – they were imperative for the large batches of macarons I make!)

The other option is to skip the icing sugar step, this creates brownie cookies with beautifully random cracks.

If you would like to make these gluten free, as I did for colleagues, just substitute the plain wheat flour with gluten free flour. The Countdown branded gluten free flour packs had corn and maize as the main ingredients. Be sure to check that your baking powder and icing sugar are free of gluten as well. They turn out a tad softer than the ones made with wheat flour, and my tasters actually prefer these!

Ingredients (50-60 cookies)

  • 125ml olive oil
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 95g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 eggs (size 7, about 60g each)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 80g icing sugar, for rolling

Instructions

  1. Place olive oil, caster sugar and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl. Paddle on a slow speed until homogenous. Add in eggs one at a time, making sure each has been incorporated before adding the next. Add in the vanilla paste.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt then add into the cocoa mixture. This will look just like a brownie batter, thick and runny. Chill batter for at least 5 hours, best over night.
  3. Preheat oven to 180C. Line baking trays with baking paper. Using two teaspoons, drop small scoops of thick mousse-like batter into a bowl of icing sugar. Roll the balls until they are covered with powdered/icing sugar.
  4. Place on lined baking trays.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

chocolate brownie crinkle cookie with powdered sugar and olive oil

Brown Sugar Iced Milk with Boba Pearls


Brown sugar milk with boba pearls

Brown sugar milk with boba pearls

Brown sugar milk with boba pearls

Brown sugar milk with boba pearls

My favourite boba/bubble drink used to be Taro milk tea. In my uni days there weren’t many Taiwanese tea houses in Auckland and I considered these a treat, rather than for a weekly consumption. I remember purchasing big bags of the drink mix to make bubble teas for friends at a gathering. It was manic having to brew so much tea and the pot of tapioca pearls took forever to cook through.

Fast forward to 2014, J was 6 and had been introduced to these milk tea drinks, but prefers chocolate milk with rainbow jelly. She said tea wasn’t really her thing and much preferred chewing on flavoured jelly rather than a tasteless blob.

Then came the Brown Sugar Milk drink in 2018. These were nick named “dirty” as warm brown sugar syrup were drizzled around the insides of cups, and when mixed with cold milk, it created a streaky effect, hence “dirty” illusion. It was a relatively simple drink, pearls cooked till tender and then soaked in unrefined brown sugar syrup to give the pearls a caramel taste. The best thing was the fresh milk that was used in the drink, no tea at all and is the reason why J didn’t mind trying it at first. In fact she drank most of that first introductory cup of brown sugar milk and was reluctant to share the rest with me 😅

One problem I have with the current tea houses selling such drinks: there seems to be no uptake of reusable cups for boba drinks. I guess the marketing strategy relies on customers seeing the layered drinks and contents. It makes me crinch everytime I buy one. At least I bring my stainless steel straw now, (the surprised look on the staffs’ face when I refuse their straw and pull out my own though) but one day I will bring my glass bottle or jar to the tea house and see if they will sell a drink to me in those. For now, this recipe to make these at home will suffice.

It’s really important to point out here that the quality of your milk makes or breaks this liquid delight. Use your favourite one, with fat retained. We used the gold class milk from a Jersey breed, by Lewis Road Creamery, from Waikato, New Zealand.

If you can, choose milk that has no permeate, a by-product of milkprocessing, which waters down milk. Jersey milk is naturally higher in butterfat and milk solids, making it a creamier milk with a full bodied taste.
This was perfect for this recipe. (this post is not sponsored nor have I been gifted the product. We truly love the milk).

Have fun making! (feel free to double or triple the amount of sugar syrup – you can easily use it on ice cream and desserts.)

Ingredients (makes 3 glasses)

  • 1 cup tapioca pearls
  • 5 cups water, boiling
  • 1 cup Mascovado sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 600ml Lewis Road Creamery Jersey Milk
  • Ice cubes, optional

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add the tapioca pearls to cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  2. Cover with lid and turn off the heat, to keep it slowly cooking in the residual heat for another 40 minutes.
  3. While the pearls are cooking, place sugar and water in a separate pot. Bring to a slow simmer till thick and sticky, and turn off the heat. Pour about a third of this syrup into a small squeezy bottle. Reserve the rest in the pot.
  4. Once the pearls are cooked, strain them into the pot with the sugar syrup. Let it sit for 30 minutes before using.
  5. When ready, scoop the boba pearls into 3 glasses. With the glass on a tilt, rotate the glass so that the syrup from the pearls glide onto the sides of the glass. From about one cm from the top of the glass, squeeze a line of syrup from the bottle along the insides of the glasses, while rotating the glass.
  6. Pour cold milk over the warm boba pearls.
  7. Give the drink a good stir before drinking.

Brown sugar milk with boba pearls

Steamed egg custard 香滑炖蛋


Steamed egg pudding 香滑炖蛋

Steamed egg pudding 香滑炖蛋

A simple dessert, reminiscent of childhood days in Hong Kong. They are loved for the smoothness and silkiness of the custard. The key to this is to always use a sieve to remove clumps in the mix before pouring into bowls, and to tightly cover the bowls while steaming.

Try eating it hot as well as cold – there is quite a difference in the experience!

Makes 3 small rice bowl portions

Ingredients

  • 180ml full fat milk
  • 120ml water
  • 80g sugar (best to use chinese rock sugar 冰糖)
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked

Instructions

  1. Heat milk and water in a smal saucepan and melt the sugar in it. Set aside to cool to 40C.
  2. Whisk eggs lightly with a fork.
  3. Once the sugar mixture has cooled, add whisked eggs in.
  4. Using a sieve, pour the egg mixture into small bowls or ramekins. This removes any lumps in the mix.
  5. Cover tightly with foil and steam on a rack in a wok or steamer for 9 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat and leave for another 2 minutes before removing bowls from the steamer.
  7. Carefully peel back the foil to avoid water on the foil dripping over the surface or he custard.
  8. Serve hot or cold.

Steamed egg pudding 香滑炖蛋

Steamed egg pudding 香滑炖蛋

Espresso Mascarpone Chocolate Cake


Espresso chocolate cake with Caramélia coffee glaze

So pleased to be introducing this delightful cake: Espresso Mascarpone Chocolate Cake, drizzled with a Caramélia chocolate glaze with Cacao nibs.

Made with Nespresso Envivo Lungo extractions, this is the next cake you are going to fall in love with. Coffee and chocolate is always a perfect match and I’ve been changing up my cake flavours by switching to different Nespresso coffee variations. Each came out with a different flavour profile and I think each had a different personality too (!)

Mascarpone cheese makes this cake moist throughout. I love making cakes using buttermilk, sour cream or mascarpone cheese, it adds a tang to it and balances out all the sweetness. Mascarpone cheese results in a more uniform and smooth texture, whereas sour cream and buttermilk gives a crumbly light result.

The glaze, oh can I tell you about this star-of-the-show glaze! Valrhona Caramélia chocolate simply melted down with warm cream and poured all over. We lovvvved the outpouring of chocolate when we broke the chocolate dam. That added drama and was so much fun.

Oh and if this ever happens, the cake remains moist even after 1 week!! (but chances are you would have devoured it way before.)

Ingredients
Espresso Chocolate cake

  • 300g soft brown sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3g (1 tsp) Heilala vanilla baking extract
  • 2 large eggs (size 7)
  • 110g almond meal
  • 200g plain flour
  • 80g cocoa powder (Valrhona)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 160g mascarpone cream cheese (Tatua Dairy)
  • 190ml hot coffee (2x Nespresso Envivo Lungo extractions, you will have 10ml left over)

Espresso Caramelia Milk Chocolate Glaze

  • 135g Valrhona Caramélia milk chocolate
  • 135ml cream (at least 36% fat)
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C (fan forced) and lightly grease a bundt pan, careful to go into all the crevices.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat together the sugar and butter, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat for a few seconds to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each has been fully incorporated before adding the next.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and then add a third of it to the sugar/butter/eggs mixture. Add in half of the mascarpone cream. Add a third of the dry ingredients, then the second half of the mascarpone cream. Finally add the last third of the dry ingredients (The batter is thickish at this point).
  4. Mix in the hot coffee, until you have a smooth batter. Transfer the batter into the prepared bundt pan, smoothing out the top. Lightly tap the pan on a flat surface to ensure the batter has filled all the crevices.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes or until a long toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before upending it to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. For the glaze heat the cream in a pan and place the chocolate and coffee in a small pot with a pouring spout. When the cream begins to shimmer and before it boils (don’t let it boil as evaporation will reduce the liquid volume) pour it over the chocolate and coffee. Wait a few minutes before stirring, until the glaze becomes homogenous and is smooth and silky. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake, have some fun doing this! Slice and enjoy!

Espresso chocolate cake with Caramélia coffee glaze

Espresso chocolate cake with Caramélia coffee glaze