Tag Archives: Chocolate

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

The Auckland Food Show 2018 experience


The biggest foodie event of the year in Auckland – the Food Show – is here again. I look forward to it every year and start planning the day once the first list of exhibitors is out.

It’s a time to see my favourite brands, discover new products and be inspired by all the design work in the food industry. Thanks to the good people at the PR Shop, I went along as media this year, on the first day of the four-day event, which is the preview day with less crowds.

Here are some of the highlights of my day.

Fresh As – They are renowned for their freeze dried fruit powders, used by bakers and executive chefs worldwide. I’ve come back for their ready to make Panna Cotta mixes – Just add milk and follow the recipe. Each packet makes 2-4 servings. There are two flavours – Doris Plum and Raspberry. $10 for 3 packs. Don’t forget to stock up on your freeze dried fruit for your desserts. (I’ll soon be running a giveaway on my Instagram for these goodies!)

Proper Crisps

I discovered these new popcorn that is unlike any other – it is first soaked with water and then partially popped – perfect crunch!

Ghiotti

Gelato 800ml, 2 for $5 (yes that is correct!!) We picked Vanilla and Chocolate flavours.

They also have delicious cheese bites, mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano wedges.

The Apple Press

Beautiful apples from Hawke’s Bay – they are hand-picked at their peak ripeness, cold pressed and bottled. The juice are variety-specific – meaning you get the singular flavour from varieties like Braeburn, Jazz and Royal Gala in the one bottle.

Home Grown Farm Fresh

Dion and Ali’s Wairarapa farm produces amazing lamb and beef. They offer half and full lamb boxes, tomahawk packs and also 13kg Angus beef packs.

I learnt that the lambs in the boxes are always female, and that the breed is Charollais ram. As fat’s laid down intramuscularly, the lamb tastes more tender and juicy than other breeds.

Last year J and I stood at their stand for a long time, listening to their stories and eating the juiciest lamb. It was just like we were hanging out at a neighbour’s barbecue!

Living Goodness

I like their sauerkraut – our favourites have been the Naked kraut (I’ve been adding them to my breakfast, on top of toast even!) and beet kraut.

They’ve now released two new products – freeze dried beetroot and kimchi – they add the perfect texture and crunch to dishes. I couldn’t hand over money fast enough for these LOL. Think sprinkling over poke bowls…yum!

The Fresh Grower

The Fong family have been growing vegetables since 1948 in Pukekohe. They have long become part of the local landscape. I like their quality produce and will soon be sharing with you tips on how to cook kailaan (Chinese broccoli), choy sum and wong bok properly. Watch this space!

Mitchells Bone Broth

I’ve been looking into increasing J’s nutrition intake through broths lately. When I saw them from half a show-hall away, I walked straight over to sample their broth. Turns out it’s quite easy to make: simply add 2 teaspoons of Bone Broth powder to a cup of hot water, mix and add fresh ingredients to make your version of broth: a pinch of salt and a slice of fresh ginger for a warming, spicy drink.

The powder is made from New Zealand grass fed beef bones and onions, carrots, celery, parsley, apple cider vinegar, black pepper corns, bay leaf and rosemary.

Full of amino acids, these are indeed good for you.

Farmland Foods

Premium European streaky bacon – they are thinly sliced and there is no extra liquid in the packs. This means it crisps up beautifully and quickly.

I learnt some tips from chef Mark Southon in preparing a bacon butty: Toast the bread with the bacon oil straight in your griddle pan!

Serve it with your own Brown Sauce (ie. HP sauce) by cooking: dates (giving a fruity tang); Tomato sauce; Tamarind; Molasses; Chilli; Garlic; Apple juice and Orange juice. Simmer for an hour. Cool and blend.

Keas cookies

If you are in need of great tasting gluten, wheat, dairy and egg free baking, look no further than these. Their range includes Chocolate Chip; Double Choc Chip; Macadamia; Vanilla; Hokey Pokey; Gingernut; Almond; Peanut Brownies, Lemon Coconut and Coconut. They also have an organic chocolate cookie.

Simon Gault

I always stock up on their beef and chicken stock and Morrocan and Indian spice seasonings. 5 for $30. Simon’s new Chipotle Ketchup ($7) launched at the foodshow. Sweetened 100% with vegetables just like their tomato sauce, Gault’s Chipotle Ketchup has the perfect balance of sweet and heat – just a tiniest kick of smoked chipotle chilli. Gault’s Deli is their online shop where you can buy all sorts of goodies including my favourite Fruit Puree by Ponthier (I made chocolate mousse domes with these puree – you can see the photos of them on my Instagram feed).

They are also running a special with Turks chicken, $20 for 2 whole chickens with a seasoning or $20 for 4 bags of drums, nibbles, skinless boneless chicken thighs or breasts. They come with a chill bag too. They also have a new product – stuffed chicken in an oven ready roast bag. These 1.5kg birds come in two flavours.

Aoraki Salmon

Freshwater King Salmon from the ice-cold waters around Mt Cook.

The salmon is gently smoked with oak wood chips following a Scottish inspired method, which uses a mixture of salt, golden syrup and black rum. This enhances the taste experience with a sweet smoky layer. The softer notes of oak, never distract from the original qualities of the salmon.

Appleby Farm Icecream

Their award winning ice cream is made in Nelson, with milk straight from their farms 15 minutes down the road. Cow to cone! What’s special about these ice creams? It’s made with A2 protein milk, so it’s better for those who are lactose intolerant.

I love the Bedford Vanilla Bean, made with Madagasgan vanilla beans, the Brown Eyed Girl (which is the coolest name for chocolate brownie ice cream) and Doubleshot Ipanema. They also have Bad Boys & Berries (Boysenberry) and Tangled Passion (Passionfruit) which both won awards at the 2018 New Zealand Ice Cream Awards.

Good Chow NZ
NZ Blackfoot Paua XO Sauce – traditional chinese XO sauce with a kiwi twist: dried scallop, chillis prepared with NZ paua (that’s abalone). XO sauce 2.0 and so good with stirfrys. This is good with traditional chinese turnip cake (law bak gao) and rice rolls (cheung fun).

They also have in their line up: Sambal Fish Roe Sauce, Kiwi Moo Beef Jerky, Fluffy Fried NZ Cod Flakes and Aromatic Chili Oil. Made in Napier, Hawke’s Bay, none of their products have any preservatives or artificial additives.

First light

Grass-fed Wagyu scotch fillet just off the pan – so tasty! They have meat packs on special too.

Jersey Girl Organics – Their milk is full of Omega 3 and A2 Protein, is fully certified organic that comes direct from their farm in Matamata. When tasting, the milk is full-bodied and creamy. Pure deliciousness. You can now bring your own jar to fill up with at the farmers markets – just $3 a litre. Make sure the jars are clean and of known volume.

WaHiki
Wahiki does coconut icecream that is vegan, gluten free, dairy free and made in NZ. The new flavour, turmeric latte is pretty special.

Wild Fennel Co’s range of gourmet seasonings is naturally addictive. Dan, the creator behind the seasonings, was formerly a fine dining chef and naturally is inspired by traditional flavour pairings from different cuisines around the world. The flavours are slightly unusual but surprisingly good. They have collabed with the likes of Silver Fern Farms to create spices specific to the cut of meat.

Silver Fern Farms

Good from Scratch soup – chef Michael Van De Elzen. Loved these!

Hellers have some interesting soup flavours: Pumpkin & Smokey bacon, Sweet corn & bacon chowder, Chicken & Smokey bacon and Spicy tomato & Chorizo soup.

We also picked up some Hot & Spicy pork ribs – these have been slow cooked for 4 hours, and only needs 20 mins in a 180C oven. $8 each.

Cooking demos

Here are some of my suggested must see demos:

Annabelle White – Thursday 10.30am, Friday 11am

Jess’ Underground Kitchen – Thursday 1:45pm

Simon Gault – Friday 12:15pm, Saturday 2:45pm, Sunday 11am

Nadia Lim – Friday 2:45pm, Sunday 2:30pm

Monique Fiso – Saturday 12:45pm, Sunday 12:15pm

Brandhouse Drinks Masterclass

This is where you’ll learn the differences between your prosecco and champagne, take a brewery master class and taste Cognac! Classes are timed through the weekend. I’ll be at the brewery master class to learn about craft beer.

With over 300 stalls at the show, I know I’ve potentially missed mentioning some goodies here. However the following are my last minute dash stalls that I will have to remember to pick up goodies from on Sunday, when I return with Miss 8:

  • Amplify Kombucha – fizzy fermented tea which J also likes! I love the fact that there’s hardly any sugar in it, which makes it a healthier drink.
  • I Love Food giant cookies – 4 for $5, and sour cream pastry for home cooking
  • Top shelf – dips!
  • Perfect Pork – 3 for $25 – their range of grain-fed New Zealand pork includes sirloin and pork belly.
  • House of Dumplings – we love the Nepalese Spiced Lamb and Korean Sesame Beef dumplings. J misses them as they are no longer at the La Cigale French Market.
  • Dish magazine – I love their stories and food styling! I renewed my subscription and received a gigantic goody bag.

Top tips:

  • Register your ticket if you haven’t already done so, and have it within easy reach like in your pocket. Scan them at the stalls you visit and gain entry in the respective competitions and giveaways.
  • Get there early if you can. 11am to 2pm is the busiest at the show.
  • Keep hydrated (plenty of water coolers inside but bring a cup or bottle) and wear light layers as it’s warm in the showgrounds.
  • Keep track of time if you have a particular cooking theatre session you want to see. It can be a bit chaotic when you realise you are in Hall 3 when the cooking session in Hall 1 is about to start in 5 minutes.
  • Mazda chauffeured shuttles will pick up and drop off at designated stops around the showgrounds, making it easier to buy more. Gold coin donation for the Auckland City Mission.
  • The show is on till Sunday 5pm.
  • Here are some more photos from the show:

Honest Chocolat – I always go for their Pure Water Ganache.

Beautiful Parma Ham.

Whaiora smoothie blends – I recommend the berry flavour.

Check out Emma’s food bag – menu is viewable online before ordering and ingredients are sourced as local as possible.

Trade Aid chocolate – the dark raspberry is new!

Nata is the only Portuguese Bakery in New Zealand, and their traidtional Portuguese custard tarts are baked fresh every day. Delish!

Not that you’ll be hungry, but if you want a rest over a decent meal, there are plenty of food in the Street Food Alley. Dumplings from Akemi’s Gyoza, Clevedon Coast Oysters, juice from I Press, Vietnamese from Indochine Kitchen, fried chicken from Peach’s Hot Chicken (must check out!) and Mexican from Taco Loco.

Chocolate Brownie Crinkle Cookies


I turned one of my earlier Brownie recipes into a cookie! To be honest, these were inspired by the many versions of the same on Instagram lately, and for fear of missing out, I followed suit. Henceforth known as #fomocookies.

These are quick to make too!

Makes 20 – 22 cookies

Ingredients

  • 300g dark chocolate (70% best chocolate, I used Valrhona), chopped
  • 160g unsalted butter, cubed (I use Westgold)
  • 145g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground instant coffee powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs (about 55g each)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Salt flakes, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Place the dark chocolate and butter into a medium sized heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water.
  2. Heat on a medium-low heat, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, coffee powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the brown sugar, caster sugar and eggs on medium speed, until thick, doubled in volume, and light caramel in color (about 4 minutes). Add in the melted and slightly cooled dark chocolate. Continue to whisk until well incorporated. You may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Set the mixer speed to medium and add in the dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined, then, add in the water. Continue to whisk until homogenise. The dough should be fluid, and form a thick flowing trail when the whisk is lifted. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and set it in the fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes, or up to an hour. (Not any longer or it will be too hard to scoop.)
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius. Line three large baking trays with baking paper.
  7. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the dough evenly onto the prepared cookie sheets. The dough should be soft but will hold its shape when being scooped. If not, leave in the fridge for a further 15 minutes. Place 6-8 scoops on each cookie sheet with plenty of room to spread. Drop the sheets against the kitchen bench to slightly flatten the cookies. Sprinkle over a little of the flaked sea salt.
  8. Bake the cookies for a total of 11 minutes. To make crinkles (method is according to Sarah Kieffer), you’ll have to do the following steps:
  • Set a timer for 11 minutes of baking. Place sheets in.
  • After 5 minutes, rotate the cookie sheet half-way around. Lift and drop the sheet against the oven rack to deflate the cookies. A small circle of crinkles should be visible on the outer edge of the cookies. Close the oven door and allow the cookies to rise again.
  • 2 minutes later, again lift and drop the tray against the oven rack to deflate and further crinkle the cookies. They will be very visible (I was so excited when I saw these!) Bake for another 2 minutes.
  • Repeat one more time of lift and drop, and bake one last 2 minutes.
  • The cookies should be flat with plenty of crinkles. They should be just firm around the edges and set in the middle.

Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on their trays for 10 minutes, then to a wire rack to cool further.

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
  • 110g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (I used Westgold), softened
  • 90g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 45g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 egg, medium sized, about 50g
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) vanilla paste
  • 120g (1 cup) plain flour
  • 40g (1/3 cup) your best cocoa powder
  • 3g (1/2 tsp) baking soda
  • 3g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 1g (1/2 tsp) instant coffee powder

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 180C. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  3. Cream butter and sugars in a medium sized bowl, until pale and slightly fluffy. Add egg and vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl mix flour with cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and instant coffee powder.
  5. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix to combine into a soft dough.
  6. Divide dough into 20 portions.
  7. Take one portion of the dough and roughly half it into 2 pieces. Flatten the centre of one piece with your thumb slightly, add a piece of the hazelnut chocolate log and cover with the other piece of dough around to seal it in. Make sure the chocolate is fully enclosed. Place on the baking sheet, well spaced apart. Repeat with the rest of the dough to make 20 cookies.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove and leave it to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes.
  9. 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 cream (35% fat minimum)
  • 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 sharp 90 degree bottom edge.)
  2. Grease the base disc and line with a large piece of baking paper, then secure the ring over the base disc, allowing the baking paper edges to overhang. The baking paper is now held in place by the pan. Grease the side of the pan 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 powder. Stir until gelatine dissolves and set aside.
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in the 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 mixture. 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 melted dark chocolate into the remaining bowl of 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.