Tag Archives: Chocolate

Gianduia stuffed chocolate cookies (or just Surprise Cookies!)


I’m borderline obsessed with hazelnuts. One of my favourite ways of incorporating them are in these bars. I have been planning on making something with the Hogarth Milk Chocolate Hazelnut logs and an idea came to mind as I was making my gazillionth cookie over the Easter weekend: how about stuffing these inside a cookie?

I wanted a chocolate cookie that is on the dark side, and used Valrhona’s cocoa powder for the cookie dough.

The hazelnut log was cut into 20 semi circular pieces and placed in between layers of dough.

It was so exciting to break open the baked cookies to see the gooey filling. So delicious too!

If you can’t find hazelnut chocolate, you can freeze a rolled log of Nutella and use that instead.

Makes exactly 20 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 Hogarth chocolate milk chocolate hazelnut log, halved lengthwise and diced into 20 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter (I used Westgold), softened
  • 1/2 cup (90g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 cup (125g) plain flour
  • 1/3 cup (40g) dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp (3g) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (3g) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (1g) instant coffee

Directions

  1. Prepare the hazelnut chocolate pieces by halving the Hogarth milk chocolate log lengthwise. Chop the logs into 20 pieces.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Cream butter and sugars until pale. Add egg and vanilla.
  4. In a bowl mix flour with cocoa powder, instant coffee, salt and baking soda.
  5. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture.
  6. Place a large scoop of cookie dough on the baking paper, flatten the centre with your thumb slightly, add a piece of the hazelnut chocolate log and wrap the dough around it to seal it in. I find it easier to start with a smallish piece of dough, place the chocolate on top and then cover with more dough. Just make sure the chocolate is fully enclosed. Place on the baking sheet well spaced apart.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove and leave it to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool slightly.

Enjoy warm (best!) and with a glass of milk.

Espresso Tim Tam Cheesecake with Valrhona chocolate


Sometimes, the craving to bake or make something is so bad, that I just need a recipe that is quick, fool-proof and simple. By simple I mean one or two pans, minimal utensils (i.e minimal washing as our dishwasher is still out of action) and ingredients I readily have in the house. If this isn’t your first time on my blog, you would know I use Valrhona chocolate and always have a good stash of it in the house. If you don’t have access to this beautiful chocolate, please use the best you can find. Trust me, it makes all the difference to your desserts.

This is my go-to no bake cheesecake recipe, which combines all the things I like – Valrhona chocolate, Westgold butter, Tim Tams and cold desserts.

There aren’t many seperate elements to prepare in this recipe, which qualifies it as simple. I don’t even need the oven, just some fridge and freezer space. Tick.

I have been practising my chocolate tempering techniques and love how the cut chocolate shapes can keep for a while in a cool place, so I can use it on my desserts whenever I need them. i.e. readily available.

The beautiful dome shapes are made using Silikomart molds, and the design is inspired by the stunning work of Maja Vase, one of my favourite foodies on Instagram. These molds can be purchased online and through Savour, a Melbourne patisserie school by none other than Kirsten Tibballs. I dream of the day I fly over for their many cooking classes.

I’ve just taken delivery of some new molds and am so excited with the new cake designs that I am going to do soon. (People walking past me must wonder what good news I have, with the big grin on my face 😅). But for now, I give to you this velvety chocolate goodie.

P.s. by ‘quick’, I am referring to the making time, not how long before I can eat it. That part I don’t worry so much as I am more of a maker than eater, which I leave for my tasters.

Ingredients

  • 350g Tim Tam Biscuits, Iced Coffee flavour (2 packets)
  • 120g butter, melted (I use Westgold)
  • 3 teaspoon gelatine powder
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) boiling water
  • 500g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 150g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 400ml thickened cream
  • 120g milk chocolate, melted (I use Valrhona Jivara 40%, notes of caramel and vanilla enhanced with a touch of malt)
  • 120g dark chocolate, melted (I use Valrhona Manjari 64%, heavenly acidulous red fruit and dried-fruit hints. Single Origin Madagascar)

Directions

  1. Release the base of an 8cm-deep, 22cm (base measurement) springform pan and invert. (This is so that you get a straight edge.)
  2. Grease the base and line with baking paper, then secure back in the pan, allowing the edges to overhang. Grease the side and line with baking paper.
  3. Process the Tim Tams in a food processor until finely crushed. Add the butter and process until well combined. Transfer the biscuit mixture to the prepared pan. Use a straight-sided glass to spread and press the mixture over the base of the pan. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
  4. Place the boiling water in a small heatproof glass. Sprinkle over the gelatine. Stir until gelatine dissolves. Set aside.
  5. Use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Add cream and beat until smooth. Add the gelatine mixture and beat to combine.
  6. Divide mixture between 2 bowls. Add the melted milk chocolate to one of the bowls and stir to combine.
  7. Fill 12 half spheres of the silikomart micro dome molds with the milk chocolate cheesecake. Place in freezer to set overnight. For the rest of the milk chocolate cheesecake, pour over the biscuit base and smooth the surface. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  8. Fold the dark chocolate into the remaining cream cheese mixture until combined. Fill 6 of the silikomart quenelle molds with the dark chocolate cheesecake. Place in freezer to set overnight. For the rest of the dark chocolate cheesecake, pour over the milk chocolate layer and smooth the surface. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or until set.

Assembly

Remove cream cheese micro domes and quenelles from freezer and place strategically on the cheesecake. Sprinkle over Valrhona crunchy pearls and decorate with tempered chocolate discs.


Chocolate Pâte Sablée letter tart cake


With countless pictures of this beautiful dessert seen from every corner of the world, it’s hard not to want one right away. It’s really super fun and easy to make too. All you need is a great Chocolate Pâte Sablée recipe, a meringue or buttercream and a whole host of little sweets nibbles you want to decorate (and eat) with.

This became my birthday tart cake for 2018. Loved it!

This dough is buttery, rich and most decadent. It’s different to your normal sugar dough: while the sugar dough (Pâte sucrée) is cookie-like, this has a higher proportion of butter and less egg, making it richer and more “sandy”. Almond meal is often added. Higher egg yolks ratio in the overall egg quantity also maintains that richness. You can opt to use icing sugar instead of caster sugar as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup best dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 125g unsalted butter (I use Westgold), softened
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg & yolk one at a time. Mix until completely combined. Scrape the bowl several times.
  4. Turn the mixer to low, beat in the flour mixture until the dough just comes together and you can’t see any flour. Do not overmix. (The dough should hold when pressed together between your fingertips. If not, lightly mix in up to 1 tablespoon cream or 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 shape you wish to cut out (I just scaled up a letter M with pencil and ruler) and make sure the dough is big enough.
  6. Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
  7. Chill in the fridge for an hour or overnight.
  8. Using your paper template, cut out a shape from each of the dough sheets with a sharp knife.
  9. Carefully transfer baking paper with your shape to a cookie sheet and bake at 165 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes.
  10. Cool completely before assembling tart.

While the biscuit is baking, make the filling. Remember to leave the butter out on your work surface before you start, so that it will have softened by the time you need it.

I used my Chocolate Swiss Meringue and a star tip to pipe big stripey blobs of meringue on the bottom layer. I love the lines created by this tip!

Crushed chocolate was sprinkled on before the second layer biscuit was placed carefully on top.

I also chose this meringue recipe for its body – it can withstand the weight of the biscuit and all the yummy things I piled on top!

Less is more when it comes to the goodies – for example you only need 2-3 macarons for the whole cake. Think about what you would like to eat; the colours and texture.

Here I have macarons (no brainer as you can see how much I love macarons), Valrhona chocolate from Easter, mini chocolate eggs, tempered chocolate discs (made by yours truly), wafer flowers, heart and mini marshmallows, Fresh As freeze dried raspberries and Gavottes feuilletine flakes.

Thank you Westgold for the butter 😊

Tiered Baileys Chocolate Coffee Cake with swiss meringue buttercream frosting


I adore this recipe as it makes the whole house smell of Baileys 🙄. The cake itself isn’t too rich and sweet, with the subtle coffee aroma punctuating the smooth irish creme liqueur. The swiss meringue has a buttery, full bodied sweetness which goes very well with the cake.

In making a tall three-tiered cake, I opted to make 6″ sized layers (my prefered size for non-wedding cakes). I transported it on an 8″ cake disc placed in two cake boxes – upturning one of them as the lid of the other. (Miss 9’s casual comment was the solution to my problem!)

Please do serve them in smaller portions – you can always go back for seconds. Cut rectangular 1.5cm thick slices and drop it onto a cutting board. Further cut into fingers of 1.5cm width. Baileys cake with a hint of coffee, tastes exceptional with tea.

Ingredients for 3 x 6″ layers, for a three-tiered Cake:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Equagold)
  • 1 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 3 Tbsp instant coffee granules (Moccona)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup oil (rice bran)
  • 1 cup Baileys Coffee Irish Cream liqueur
  • 1/2 cup Baileys, extra for imbibing
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (Equagold)

Ingredients for the ganache filling:

  • 120g chocolate drops (I used Equagold 70% Ghana dark chocolate)
  • 150ml cream
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate pieces, for sprinkling over the icing (I used Solomon’s gold Smooth Dark kibble)

Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. Prepare three 6″ cake pans by oiling and lining with baking paper.
    2. In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer on low to break up any lumps and then slowly add in the wet ingredients. Mix until smooth, about 2 minutes.
    3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
    4. Prepare the Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing while the cake is cooking.
    5. Allow the cake to rest and cool for at least 10 minutes before flipping onto a wire cooling rack and cool to room temperature.
    6. While the cake is cooling, warm the cream till it barely comes to a boil on the stove. Remove from heat and pour over the bowl of chocolate. Let it sit in the cream for 5 minutes then stir to combine. Once combined, leave it to cool for 30 minutes before drizzling.
    7. Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake decorating turntable.
    8. Imbibe the top of the bottom cake layer with Baileys and then spread on ganache icing.
    9. Layer on the second cake and repeat with Baileys and ganache.
    10. Place the top layer on and ice the cake with swiss meringue buttercream. You can achieve the ‘naked cake effect’ by putting just enough icing to cover, without covering every little bit of cake.
    11. Holding a metal ruler or rectangular scraper at 45 degrees to the cake, turn the turntable so that your icing spreads cleanly around the cake.
    12. Pipe blobs of icing using a large round (wilton 1M) or jagged tip on top.
    13. Decorate with freeze dried berries, chocolate pieces etc.
    14. Refrigerate so that the icing hardens – the cake tastes absolutely better the next day.

Taste of Auckland 2017


On a beautifully warm November evening, I attended my third Taste of Auckland, in partnership with Electrolux, at Western Springs. Held over four days (16-19 November), this festival is a must for foodies for a weekend full of good food (and wine). The festival showcases some of Auckland’s best and newest restaurants. Dotted around an enormous outdoor arena, spacious marquees are set up for these restaurants in pop-up fashion. Each restaurant offers 3-4 dishes, costing between 6 and 19 crowns (the festival’s currency), and an ‘Icon dish’ (between 12 and 35 crowns).  More about the way paying works here but 1 crown equals $1.

This year’s restaurant line up includes: Artwok, Baduzzi, Saan, Eat NZ Kitchen with The Cult ProjectEuro, Miss Moonshines, Paris Butter, Tok Tok, 1947 Eatery, and Vodka Room. Check out the restaurant menus here. From contemporary fusion to traditional, you’ll find something you love. Perfect way to try out new restaurants you haven’t had a chance to visit, I would say.

Taste of Auckland in partnership with Electrolux operates like a restaurant with a lunch and dinner service. Taste sessions lasts for 4-5 hours, enough time for you to enjoy your restaurant dishes, shop the artisan stalls and chat with the many chefs that are roaming around the festival. Tickets are sold for each session and are only valid for the time and date indicated on the ticket. Generally the sessions are from 12 to 4pm and then 5:30pm to 10pm.

Your ticket entry to Taste also includes trying new and existing food products from all over New Zealand, watching your favourite chefs cooking in action, as part of the Electrolux Taste Theatre and lounging on sun chairs while listening to live music.

Restaurants

Artwok

Miss 9’s pick as she loved these from the restaurant in Takapuna.

Rou Jia Mo

Slow braised shredded pork belly served in homemade pita pockets

Baduzzi

Icon Dish: 1/2 Karitane crayfish

grilled and smoked over Totara

These were cooked right in front of you!

Saan

Honestly could have ordered everything on this menu, but I had to save space for other things! These were my favourite dishes at the festival:

Lon Phu Nim

Crispy fried soft shell crab with pickled crab and coconut sauce, dill and coriander

Icon Dish: Ka Nom Jeen Gang Gae

Te Mana lamb rump with rice vermicelli, Asian eggplant, grilled chilli, coconut sauce and pickled cucumber

Artisans

Bostock’s Organic Free Range Chicken

Have you watched their happy chicken video? Watch it, it will make you happier.

Their chocks are on a diet of certified organic, lush, green grass and juicy organic apples as well as their home-grown feed, including corn and barley.

Cook & Nelson

Purveyors of fine food products, they source the best sauces and pickles from around the world (Think NOBLE maple syrups and Lillie’s Q barbeque sauces.)
They used Amola salts from Canada to season these beef cubes, cooked on this hot fire. Couldn’t stop eating this!.

Hogarth Chocolate

Handmade from bean to bar, Karl and Marina hand sort, roast, crush and clarify, winnow, grind and conch, age, melt, temper and mold, before hand wrapping the lovingly made chocolate bars. Love what they do and it’s people like them who inspires me to search for more, aim higher and also be curious.

Their chocolate is internationally awarded (you would have read me raving about them in an earlier post). Love the Gianduia – Dark Hazelnut so much!

Karl was recently in Seattle for another show and brought back the newly released Dandelion Chocolate book, which is on my wish list! Had to look through it.

Six Barrel Soda Co.

These syrups are used to make sodas in some of the best bars and cafes in New Zealand and Australia. The company started in 2012, where they experimented with flavours and best natural ingredients.

My favourites so far are the Creaming Soda (which I’m going to use to make a jelly for my cheesecake macarons!) and the new seasonal Grapefruit & Hops. Fresh and inspiring, set up soda stations with these at your next event, your guests will love you.

Miss J liked the experimental chocolate syrup in this Chocolate Float very much.

The next thing for me to do is probably sign up to their soda subscription for new seasonal flavours.

The Chocolate Bar

When the owner of the company that you’ve just signed up for a monthly subscription service rings to thank you (the kind of thing that My Food Bag would do), you know you are on to a really good thing. I stopped by to meet Luke and to have a peek at what the next month’s subscription might include. I may or may not have picked up another bar of Dandelion Chocolate, which I’m obsessing over.

Puhoi Valley

Award-winning cheeses and delicious milk – need I say more?

Kenwood New Zealand

Kenwood has released a very limited edition range in rose gold – so beautiful!

Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets

These are intimate cooking and dining sessions, where you have the opportunity to create mouth-watering food, up close and personal with the country’s culinary superstars, where you’ll learn how to cook one of their signature dishes. Following the hands-on session, the meal will be enjoyed together with a glass of matched wine, followed with a dessert surprise.

I must emphasize here, that to book your spot, you need to head straight to the Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets when you get into the festival, left of the entrance. Make sure your crown card is topped up as well. This popular, intimate masterclass experience is 15 crowns per person, and is restricted to guests on a first come, first served basis. We were the 9th and 10th in the queue, but with someone booking for 8 people ahead of us, we just missed out on Chef Nic Watt‘s session. Gah! (lesson learnt – use my blogger credentials!)

Electrolux Taste Theatre

This year we didn’t get to go to the Taste Theatre to watch my favourite chefs cook up a storm live on stage (mainly because I had planned on going to the Chefs’ Secrets) but the highlight for this year’s festival is George Calombaris! George will be demoing on Saturday afternoon and evening sessions. This is included in your ticket purchase and is based on a first come, first served basis. Go early and grab a seat to watch him live!

Taste of Auckland

Dates Thursday 16 to Sunday 19 November 2017
Times Saturday (12pm to 4pm & 12pm to 9.30pm) and Sunday (12pm to 5pm)
Venue 731 Great North Road, Western Springs
Tickets Online ($17 for general admission, otherwise $32 at the entrance)
Parking Limited $5 parking at Western Springs (look out for signs on on Old Mill Road), lots of free road side parking, $5 direct shuttle from downtown to Western Springs, or use the Auckland Transport Journey Planner for plenty of public transport options.

All opinions are my own and this post is not sponsored. However thanks to the generous people at Taste of Auckland and Lemongrass Productions who provided our entry.