Dark chocolate Swiss Meringue Frosting


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It’s been a while since I made icing for cakes. I didn’t like my old buttercream recipe as it was fiddly and a bit too buttery for my taste. I haven’t tried swiss meringue buttercream and thought it would be interesting to see how it turns out.

Three words: WOW. WOW. WOW. Pillowy, soft and cloud-like.  Amazing. Thanks to bloggers like @stylesweetca and @toplessbaker my cake deco game is back on! 🍰🍫 The buttercream was a joy to make and pipes so well. So smooth and tastes light. It also sets a bit when cooled in the fridge which is great if you have to transport it. This will be my go-to recipe for icing!

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I added Fresh As freeze dried raspberries inside each of the layers, raspbery chocolate paste from Sabato, Miann gold dusted almond and coffee Valrhona dark chocolate, Solomon’s Gold new chocolate kibble (as deco pieces and also melted and added into the chocolate icing), Valrhona cocoa powder. What a cutie!

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Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Frosting

(Adapted from Style Sweet Ca)

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites (120ml)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (340g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons mascarpone, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 60g dark chocolate, melted (best you can afford)
  • 4 teaspoons of your best baking cocoa powder

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). Whisking intermittently, warm the egg mixture until it reaches 60-65 degrees C on a candy thermometer.
  3. Once hot, 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).
  4. Turn the mixer speed down to low and add in the softened butter and mascarpone, two tablespoons at a time.  Stop the mixer and change the whisk to the paddle attachment.
  5. Add in the vanilla, melted chocolate, and cocoa.  Mix on medium-high until the buttercream is smooth, fluffy, and cloud-like (about 3 minutes).

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Just for fun I switched the tip and pipped some ruffle stars as well!

Key points:

* Make sure your butter is at room temperature when you add it to the meringue. Keep mixing if it looks like it has curdled.

* Make sure your meringue has returned to room temperature before adding the butter or your bowl of cloud will become bowl of soup! Cool the whole bowl and mixture for 20 minutes before whipping again.

Oreo macarons with white chocolate ganache


Oreo macarons with white chocolate ganache

I used to make Oreo macarons with crushed Oreos in the Mac shells. The process is a bit tedious and result not as consistent. Here is a simplier version, by making a simple spleckled shell with an oreo chocolate ganache filling. Still very yum!

Macarons shell ingredients (makes about 40 macarons)

  • 150g icing sugar
  • 150g almond meal
  • 110g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 38ml water
  • 1g meringue powder
  • 2 drops of gel colouring, I used black

Filling

  • 120g 28% cocoa White chocolate
  • 60ml cream
  • 4 oreo cookies, blitzed into crumbs

Instructions

  1. Follow my basic recipe to make the shells.
  2. Heat cream and pour over white chocolate that has been broken up into small pieces in a bowl.
  3. Wait for a minute before stiring the chocolate ganache. Leave in the fridge for 10 minutes for it to set.
  4. Mix in Oreo cookie crumbs (about 4 cookies, blitzed into crumbs beforehand).
  5. Spread or pipe a teaspoon of your chocolate ganache on half of your shells and top them with the remaining half of your shells.
  6. The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to soften the shells and also for the flavour to fully develop.

Oreo macarons with white chocolate ganache

Oreo macarons with white chocolate ganache

Marshmallow


Marshmallow, homemade, freeze dried fruit
Home made marshmallows are fun bites to have at any party and as gifts. These squishy bites are cloud-like and melts in your mouth! Perfect for cake decorating or donut-adorning. By adding the fruit powder you prefer, a multitude of flavours can easily be made.

I used Fresh As’s blackcurrant powder here, to give the beautiful purple hues. Check out their range: strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, mandarin, mango, passionfruit, lime…even kaffir lime! Try variations with cocoa powder and freeze dried instant coffee powder too.

Ingredients:

  • 10g gold strength gelatine leaves (about 5 sheets)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 60g water
  • 70g egg whites (about 2 size 7 eggs) 
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 15g Fresh As Blackcurrant powder

Mallowpowder for dusting:

  • 50g icing sugar
  • 50g corn flour

Directions:

  1. Mix the ingredients for mallowpowder.
  2. Line a small tray (15cm x 10cm) with baking paper. Dust a thin layer of mallowpowder on the paper with a fine sieve. Reserve the rest for dusting later.
  3. Soak gelatine sheets in a container with cold water.
  4. In a small pot, combine 200g sugar and water. Place a candy thermometer in, making sure it touches the sugar. Bring to a boil, till it reaches 130C.
  5. In a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites and 10g sugar together until soft peaks.
  6. Once the sugar water reaches temperature, pour it into the egg whites in a thin stream, all the while whisking. Keep whisking for 3 minutes.
  7. Squeeze excess water out of the soaked gelatine sheets and add to the marshmallow. Whisk till it is combined.
  8. Add fruit powder and whisk for a further 5 minutes to cool the mixture down.
  9. Spread onto prepared tray and use a pallet knife to smooth the top. Leave to set for 4 hours or more. 
  10. Dust mallowpowder on your knife before cutting, and cut in downward motion for clean cut sides. Dust cubes of 3cm x 3cm with more mallowpowder.
  11. Store in a tight lidded box. 

Sugar is ‘water loving’ so it might get sticky if you leave it at room temperature for too long. Try freezing the marshmallow cubes to add to hot chocolates and coffees later on. 

      Marshmallow, homemade, freeze dried fruit

      Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


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      What kind of chocolate chip cookie do you dream about when a craving surfaces? Mine’s soft and chewy, buttery and chocolatey all in the same bite. Warm out of the oven, I can never resist sneaking one before it has cooled down. I especially love having multiple kinds and sizes of chocolate bits in it with it all melting differently, resulting in gooey chocolate yumminess. 

      How flat they go will depend on how warm the butter in the mixture is – the colder it is, the rounder and perkier the cookies will be. Better even, leave the dough in the fridge for 48 hours before baking and they will be perfect. You can add any nuts, chocolate or goodies you like to this recipe – just be creative!

      Ingredients

      • 250g butter, unsalted (room temperature)
      • 1½ cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
      • 2 eggs, size 8 
      • 2½ cups plain flour
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • ½ teaspoon salt
      • 1 cup chopped up good quality chocolate (into a variety of sizes) 

      Directions

      1. Preheat oven to 200c fan bake.
      2. With a stand mixer, beat together butter, brown sugar and vanilla until well combined.
      3. Add the eggs and beat until the mixture is well combined.
      4. Sift flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl and stir with a whisk to combine.
      5. Add flour mixture to the stand mixer and mix well.
      6. Stir in the chocolate bits.
      7. Using a small ice cream scoop, portion and place cookie dough about 5cm apart on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
      8. Place dough in the fridge for a minimum of 30 mins and up to 48 hours to firm up. (You can even freeze them!)
      9. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. If using two trays at the same time, switch the trays around half-way through to ensure even cooking.
      10. Cool the biscuits on the tray for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Eat them warm then make some more!

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      They are good as ice cream sandwich cookies too!

      The Chocolate and Coffee Show 2017


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      It was like candyland gourmet version: decadent chocolates everywhere and almost all the great brands and artisan chocolate and coffee producers in NZ were at this weekend’s Chocolate and Coffee Show at the Cloud.

      I think this is the only time I told Miss 9 to eat as much chocolate as she would like – we burst out laughing at her “what are you saying, mum?” reaction as I named the brands that are at the show. We simply couldn’t contain ourselves.

      As we only had 2 hours in between other appointments in life, I was worried we wouldn’t have enough time. Truth be told, I was worried I wouldn’t get close enough to the stalls to sample all the things I wanted to.
      None of that turned out in reality, as the Cloud was a beautifully lit space (thank you natural light my camera loves that) and the show was very nicely run. Stalls were large and well spaced so there was plenty of room.

      Our first stop was Macho Mini cupcakes. Perfectly cake to icing ratio! There were so many to choose from: Rocky Road, Mint, Oreos and even one inspired by Moustache cookies!

      Machomini cupcakes

      With the list of winners from this year’s Academy of Chocolate award and NZ Chocolate Awards in mind, we visited some of the NZ winners:

      Hogarth Chocolate

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      Nelson based chocolatiers, Karl and Marina source the highest quality cacao beans from around the world to create small batches of chocolate. From bean to bar, they sort, roast, crush and classify, winnow, grind and conche, age, melt, temper, mold, and wrap by hand to produce these beautiful products.

      Their chocolates are exquisite: Gran Blanco and Acul du Nord won silver in the Academy of Chocolate. 

      These here are our favourites:

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      The chocolate logs are a crowd favourite – Miss 9 later confessed she ate more than what I would approve while I was chatting with Karl. It must be really delicious!

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      Solomon’s gold

      They work directly with their network of cacao growers to produce organic single origin chocolate. Selection and grading of cacao beans take place in the Solomon’s Island, while the hand roasting and crafting of chocolate bars happen in their bespoke New Zealand factory. Their Smooth Dark is my go-to chocolate for ganaches and cakes. It also won a silver in the Academy of Chocolate awards!

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      Honest Chocolate

      Nico and Emily, creates beautiful chocolate bars and bonbons in Snells Beach. They use organic, sustainably sourced, single origin chocolate with no artificial flavourings, preservatives or palm oil. My favourite is the cacao nib bar, so moreish and smooth. 

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      They will shortly be opening a shop in Matakana, right next to the markets. Their Salted Caramel and Buckwheat milk chocolate tablet took out the supreme award at the NZ Chocolate Awards this year.

      Kako Chocolates – my chocolate box
      Have you signed up? Monthly subscription to 9 kinds of mystery chocolates, a great way of getting everyone to try something new. 

      My Chocolate Box, Kako Chocolates

      Metters espresso martini
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      This is my new favourite drink 🍸
      So easy to prepare – chill, pour out 2 servings. Screw cap back on and shake to make the crema – pour! I will be on the look out for their coffee liqueur and other delicious products in their range.

      Despicable cupcakes
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      With names like Despicably Chocolate and Nuts for Nutella, you can guarantee the cupcakes will blow your mind.

      Harpoon cold brew coffee
      There are two product available:
      The concentrate which you can use to mix with milk to make a milk based coffee.
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      Or drink straight out of the bottle!
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      There are many more stalls to see and taste, make sure you don’t miss the ones below!

      Milse pop-up
      Milse pop up

      Urban Blended – Spiced chai

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      House of chocolates
      House of Chocolate

      Hope you enjoyed the show like I did – I’ve started my Christmas shopping!
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      A blog about my kitchen adventures, photography, family and experiences

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