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Category Archives: Sweet Things

Reviews of sweet treats and desserts

Granola Bars

Hello??  Hello?? Yes, it is me.  I’ve been busy – so I’ve been extremely neglectful of my blog and my readers.  So much has happened over the last few months, including the arrival of my new baby – yep, I lashed out and got the new TM5.  Not that I didn’t love my TM31, but the marketing spin got the better of me and I ordered the day they were announced amongst the tumult and the shouting.

I must admit I think I still love my TM31 better than my TM5. Why?  Lots of reasons, which I will detail on a later post.  But if I only had a TM31 I would still be the happiest person on the block.  They are both truly super appliances, but my gut feel is that the TM31 is more for ‘real’ cooks – the TM5 seems to be focussed on idiot proof cooking.

Anyway, I digress.

As Master 5 only has a month left of kinder, my mind has turned to Christmas presents for his teachers.  Last year I concocted a hamper with a bottle of champagne, some barbecue spices, some sea salt scrubs, sugar scrubs, vanilla sugar, bath salts, and quince paste.  This year I want to do something similar, with some different components – I’m contemplating pastilla, dukkah, chilli cherry ripe, vanilla essence (already brewing in the cupboard) and a few other bits and pieces.  So as I was searching through In The Mix 2, I came across this recipe for Granola Bars.  I had a few minutes spare, and everything I needed in the cupboard, so decided to give them a crack.

As it turns out, even if I hadn’t had all the ingredients on hand, this is one of those recipes you can adapt to use what you have on hand.  Great for emptying the pantry out!  And I love that this is nut free, so it’s perfect for Master 5 to bring to kinder or school. In it’s original form it’s also gluten free.

The original recipe calls for: butter, honey, brown sugar, pitted dates, rolled oats, poppy seeds, white chia seeds, ground cinnamon and salt flakes.

Essentially you caramelise the butter, honey and sugar, then add the dates, blitz, then add everything else.  You roll it out to fit a baking tray (mine is about 20 x 25 cm) and bake it for 20 minutes in a 140 degree oven.  Cool and cut into pieces.

The mix on this one is extremely sticky, so I turned it out onto baking paper, put another piece of baking paper on top, and rolled it out to the approximate shape of my tray before dropping it back in and filling in the gaps.

Seriously, this is one of those – this is quicker than going to the supermarket to buy a pack of biscuits – recipes, definitely will be on high rotation at our house.

And the taste?  Think sophisticated honey joy with lots of hidden goodness!

Enjoy!

 

 

Enjoy!

All ready to cut into pieces Dani Valent's Granola Bars

The mixture is really sticky so put another piece of baking paper on top before rolling it out

The mixture is really sticky so put another piece of baking paper on top before rolling it out

Nut free - perfect for lunch boxes!

Nut free – perfect for lunch boxes!

Granola bars - lots of goodness in these babies!

Granola bars – lots of goodness in these babies!

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Sweet Things

 

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White Chocolate Crisps, Cumin and Cream

White Chocolate Crisps, Cumin and Cream

So, I’ve finally got some time on my hands.

Not that I needed much to whip up these little lovelies.  I’ve stared admiringly at the picture of these in the book and finally got organised enough to make them to go with coffee last night.  Well, I thought I’d got myself organised.

You see, I’d bought some white chocolate.  I know that technically white chocolate isn’t chocolate at all, and I hadn’t seen any really GOOD white chocolate that I wanted to use in this recipe, so I bought a few blocks of the Lindt White Chocolate at the supermarket.  All good.  Except when I went to open it last night and I discovered that in my semi exhausted state I had mistaken milk chocolate for white chocolate… doofus!  I was so intent in getting this recipe made and off my list that I bent to the circumstances and made it – but only used the White Chocolate Melts, which aren’t all that great for recipes like this.

Because I wasn’t working with premium chocolate I must admit I didn’t go the whole hog and make pretty shapes with the chocolate, but the result was actually pretty reasonable even with the dodgy chocolate used. The upside of using the melts was that the chocolate wasn’t quick to melt after the dessert had been assembled, so that was a bonus.

The recipe comes from the amazing Sat Bains.  I’ve been watching him on Great British Menu and I love the way he thinks about food.  Next time I’m in England, I’m going to try and get to his restaurant in Nottingham.  This last trip I managed to get into Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and it was spectacular – everything I hoped for and much, much more.  Such fabulous memories, I can’t wait to try my luck and see if I can manage a sitting at his Melbourne Pop Up later this year.

Really the recipe couldn’t be easier.  Bung in your cumin seed, and the chocolate.  Melt it and whiz it around a but, and then scrape it down a bit.  Pour in onto a silicon sheet or baking paper – I used baking paper on a baking sheet.  Smooth it out with your spatula – as it cools down it gets easier to put nicer patterns on it.

The tricky part comes next – you refrigerate it until it’s just set enough to make an indentation with a cookie cutter that will actually stay – so timing is crucial.  I attempted to fridge a few times before I gave up in disgust at my lack of success and then reverted to just leaving it on the bench so I could keep an eye on how set it was becoming.  Because I was running out of time and figuring I hadn’t used great chocolate for it, I decided to give the fancy shapes the flick and just ran a knife through it to create some rectangles and a few triangles.  Then I refrigerated it to make sure it was set, and because I heeded the warning that it melted rather quickly in the recipe!

I had some great cream in the fridge – it’s the Gippsland Dairy Double Cream.  It’s so thick and luscious I didn’t see the need to whip it – I just used a butter knife and slathered it in between two discs of chocolate and arranged them (very hurriedly) on a plate.

Well, these were quite a delightful little treat.  Certainly something I’d serve again with coffee.  Here’s the thing – I was trying to be good and thought I’d put the merest hint of cream between some of the discs, but I’ve got to say the more cream, the more the flavour of the cumin comes through.  So now you have that on my good authority – go for your life!

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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Sweet Things

 

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Cucumber, Mint and Lime Sorbet

The cucumber discs really add to the flavour

The cucumber discs really add to the flavour

I’ve been intrigued by this recipe forever – well, since first seeing the recipe in the book and then watching it being made by Dani at a Cooking Class a couple of years ago.  It’s amazing to watch being made – think witches cauldron with smoke everywhere and a brilliant emerald green sorbet.  Stunning, both visually and taste wise.

The dry ice component of this recipe was always going to be the bugbear for me.  It’s not that hard to source, but the fact that you have to buy it, store it and use it within 24 hours was a little too organised for me.

This recipe comes from Pierre Roelofs (see his website at http://www.pierreroelofs.com)  He’s the man behind the weekly Desert Evenings at Cafe Rosamond in Fitzroy.  I’ve just read about them – and I want to go!  Pierre has worked or studied at an impressive array of restaurants all over the world – including doing an internship with my food crush Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck.  I adore the way he thinks about food.  And guess what – I’m going to The Fat Duck in less than a month!  I’m sure Heston won’t be there, but I am so excited about tasting the dishes I have heard so much about for so many years.

Dani mentions in the book that you need to collect and use your dry ice on the same day.  Unfortunately the good folk at BOC Preston (where I got my supply) aren’t open on Sunday and in fact close at midday on Saturday.  That wasn’t going to work for me as we have our family dinners on Sunday night. So, I took a gamble and rolled up at about 11.30 Saturday morning with my little polystyrene box under my arm.  If you are planning on making this, then make sure you have an adequately sized container for your dry ice.  I used the polystyrene box that the Bambino Cone ice creams come in – and it was ideal.  The recipe only calls for a few hundred grams of the dry ice, but with the time factor between buying the ice and using it, I erred on the side of caution and bought 2 kilos of the pellets. The container held 2 kilos really well.  More than 24 hours later I still had more than enough for the recipe, even after a reasonably warm Melbourne day.  Rather stoically, I resisted temptation and didn’t even open the box once to take a peek, and then I put the box in another esky and left it in the laundry.

I was given an information sheet when I bought the dry ice, which tells you that in ideal conditions a 5 kilo block of dry ice will last 48 hours.  My advice would be to speak to the experts at the shop and tll them how long it will be before you’re going to use the ice, and they should be able to tell you how much to buy.  Although it seems a little counter intuitive, you don’t store it in the fridge or freezer, just in the esky you have it in.

What the pamphlet doesn’t say, but on the advice of one of my neighbours who deals with dry ice regularly, was that some people can feel a little light headed around dry ice – it’s something to do with the concentrated carbon dioxide.  So take car while it’s in your car, or near you.

So, onto the recipe!

Thankfully, my mint has been rather prolific this year, and I thought I’d have oodles left over, but after about 7 trips out to the herb garden, I finally had the requisite 140 grams of mint leaves, and boy – that’s a lot of mint!!  Just look at the size of the bag that is holding them!

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Luckily, I did the mint leaf part on Saturday afternoon and stored them in a zip lock bag in the fridge.  If you were buying mint from the greengrocers, my bet is that you’d need at least 5 or 6 bunches of it to get the 140g of leaves.  I was pretty fussy and used only leaves, I’m not sure if this impacts on the flavour or not, but it wouldn’t impact on the consistency of the sorbet as you strain it and discard the pul, so you could possibly try adding some stem for the weight.  If you are preparing it in front of guests, then have the mint leaves picked and ready as it takes a long time to pluck them all.

Making the sorbet is really easy.  First you grind down your sugar, the add the cucumber, mint leaves, yoghurt, lime juice and water.  If I had my time again, I would probably add the mint leaves with the sugar and blitz them together as the mint takes up a serious amount of space in the bowl.  I managed to get everything in the thermo bowl – just – but I had put the cucumber in first, and if you put the mint leaves in first and the cucumber on top the you might get away with it.  You don’t have to peel the cucumber at all – just roughly chop it into chunks.

Once that’s blitzed you need to strain it quickly.  I was able to strain mine straight into my indulgent second bowl, but otherwise you’d need to rinse it first.  I used a spatula to stir the liquid through the sieve and it took about ten minutes.  If you take too long, apparently the liquid can discolour.  I wish my sieve was a little finer, but the one I used did the job – just not as thoroughly as I would have liked.  You end up with lots of green that you discard, but the upside is that it smells lovely!

So…the moment of truth came.  The time to add the dry ice and to watch the magic happen!

To be honest, I had scrawled some notes when I watched Dani prepare this dish, and I’d written down “350g dry ice, all at once, higher speed” but I couldn’t remember what I really meant, so I texted Dani,  Her wisdom was, either do it as detailed in the book or try this way – add 350g dry ice all at once and churn on a higher speed.  I decided to do it the way it was detailed in the recipe, and this is what happened:

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Whooooo!  It reminded me somewhat of Heston’s Ejaculating Pudding from his Roman Feast show 😉  It made a hell of a mess, but it was worth it!  My trusty photographer snapped away while I spent about a minute precariously balanced between thrill and mortification.

If you’re doing it the way the recipe says, my recommendation is to get a chilled bowl and weigh your dry ice into that, so you know roughly what quantities you are dealing with.  Make sure you use a spoon, ladle or tongs to sccop it into the bowl or you will burning the living daylights out of your hand.  I found it easier to use a ladle with the pellets (they were roughly the size of the old one cent piece) as the tongs were a little too tricky.

So, in less than a minute, while my kitchen resembled something from Macbeth, the green juice and the dry ice combined to create the most magnificent sorbet.

Dani says you can freeze it up to an hour, which is what I did.  I certainly wouldn’t leave it any longer than that, even though I put mine in a freezing cold bowl, covered it and put it back in the freezer.  Because the freezer is warmer than the dry ice, it went a little mushy for mine. Next time I’ll try the 350g of dy ice all at once, and will make it when I want to serve it. I’ll do it in front of our guests so they can enjoy the theatre of creation, and issue them with aprons just in case it overflows again!

The resulting sorbet is just divine.  The lime really cuts through the mint, and if you eat one of the little cucumber discs that you serve it on, you really enhance the flavour of the cucumber as well.  It’s deliciously smooth – I think from freezing so quickly – and sightly effervescent in your mouth.  Even Master 5 was incredibly impressed – and it’s green!

So, in short – it’s definitely worth tracking down a dry ice supplier, and searching our an insulated container that is just the right size for your stash.  For the record, the box I used was 30cm wide, 20cm long and about 9cm deep.  The BOC man said it would fit about 2 kilos of dry ice.  The dry ice was about $10 a kilo.

Enjoy!

(PS – If you’re the gentleman that I was chatting to in BOC Preston on Saturday – and I’m sorry I forgot to ask your name – I hope this has caught your interest.  Let me know if you’d like a demo!)

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Sweet Things

 

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Anzac Crack

I’m a cheater.

I had promised to get through every recipe in “In The Mix” before I embarked on my pristine copy of “In The Mix 2”, but a family birthday and continuing hot weather in Melbourne meant I couldn’t make the Cucumber, Mint and Lime Sorbet that I have been wanting to attempt for so long.  I was prepared to risk keeping the dry ice for 24 hours, but with the temperatures we’ve been having here, I just wasn’t that game, so I took a peek into In the Mix 2 and the Anzac Crack grabbed my fancy.

Julia Taylor (think tall, be-spectacled, slender blonde that was a legal secretary…possibly from Brisbane?) from  Australian Masterchef Series in 2012 it to thank for this recipe and – –

Oh. My. God.  This is the bomb!  It’s amazing!The three layers…. base, crack and jelly The best Chocolate Mousse! Julia Taylor's Anzac Crack Absolutely sensational desert!

I made this on the Saturday for a dinner on Sunday night.  I needed something that would keep reasonably as we had my Dad’s party on the Sunday afternoon which meant I would have no prep time on the Sunday for anything.  It kept beautifully and there are still a couple of slices in the fridge which I am working my way through… thank God I’m doing Boot Camp at the moment or I’d be a goner!

The Anzac Base of this cake is beautiful.  The macadamia nuts give it a lovely boost, and it’s great even by itself – the leftover bits didn’t last long at all between the three of us.  I’d be tempted to use this recipe as my Anzac recipe in future.  I have the worst set of springform tins and I was planning on getting some new ones, but I decided with the volume of liquid that this recipe uses, that I’d use my amazing Profiline Push Pan.  I love this tin… definitely worth looking at them if you use springform tins on a regular basis or do things with crusts.  I’m going to lash out and buy a couple of other sizes of them too.  They are completely leak proof and perfect for cheesecakes, or things that need to set.

In an ideal world, I would have already bought a larger push pan, but the one I used was the 22 cm one, and it was fine.

I made the Anzac Base – easy as.  I used raw macadamia nuts and toasted them with the coconut in my new oven (which I also love) until they were a lovely pale gold colour.  I greased and lined with baking parchment my pushpan, even though they are non-stick, I was leaving nothing to chance!  I rolled the Anzac base out between my thermomat and another piece of baking parchment until it was the required 2mm thick, and then stuck it in the freezer for 10 minutes.  It gets pretty stiff pretty quickly, but if you are chilling yours on the thermomat, don’t use a sharp knife to cut your circle – I stole one of Master 5’s Play Doh knives and it worked perfectly and doesn’t damage your thermomat. I baked the leftovers straight afterwards while the oven was still warm.

Next to make was the Crack, which is best described as a cross between butterscotch and caramel.  I was a little weirded out to read that there were breadcrumbs in there, and the only ones I had were some I had blitzed up a few months ago from some leftover wholegrain bread – but surprisingly enough they seemed to work ok.  I did have some egg yolks in the freezer but opted to use fresh egg yolks instead for this component and used my frozen ones for the Chocolate Mousse later on.  This process makes the most gooey, rich, butterscotchy sauce which you pour over the cooked Anzac Base, and then put it in the freezer straight away for at least an hour or until it’s really quite firm.  I took a little break here as I wanted to make sure it was well set before I made the Passionfruit Jelly, as I’ve ruined too many layering deserts in the past by being impatient!  Dani says to put it on a tea towel in the freezer to protect your shelf, which is what I did. I guess you could also put it on a  cold baking sheet in your freezer if you’re worried about it cooling off-balance.

Several hours (and crack cooling time) later, I made the Passionfruit Jelly.  I couldn’t find good fresh passionfruit so I (eek!) used a small tin of the passionfruit pulp from the supermarket.  Sorry, folks.  One day I will grow a passionfruit vine…

The recipe calls for white sugar, which I don’t have any more – we are just a raw sugar household these days – and it was fine.  There was a tiny bit of bloom on the end result, but I’m not sure if that was from the raw sugar or something else, I’ll try this again and see how it goes with white sugar one of these days.  I used the required amount of peel and sliced ginger, I did about 10 – 15 slices with the 2cm, and believe it or not this really infused quite a strong ginger flavour in the jelly, almost overpowering the passionfruit.  Next time I might reduce the amount of ginger that I use to infuse, and see if that is more to my liking.  Don’t get me wrong – it was still awesome, just quite gingery!

I was quite game and took a chance on some frozen egg yolks that I had in the freezer and used them to make the Chocolate Mousse.  They were fine – and this is a wonderfully smooth chocolate mousse.  I poured it into one of Master 5’s tupperware lunch boxes as everything else I had was already in commission, and popped it, lid on, into the crisper (the only place I had room in the fridge) for a few hours… perfect!!

There were a few slices left over – only because we had all eaten too much – and they have been eaten over the last few days.  Master 5 has developed a serious Chocolate Mousse addiction and there has been enough for him to have a little scoop after his dinner the last few days as well, without possibly running me short.

So – get to it!  This is one of the most decadent deserts I’ve had in ages!

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Sweet Things

 

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Chocolate Risotto

Chocolate Risotto

Hmmm, let me start by saying I have NEVER been a fan of goat cheese.  For me, it smells like goat, tastes like goat and frankly is about the only thing in my adult life that I haven’t been able, for appearances sake at least, to swallow.

Although the goat cheese component of this recipe left me somewhat dubious, I decided to make it for the man of the house’s birthday dinner this week.  Poor thing, he actually requested an orange cake – so this is somewhat of a deviation from what he had planned for himself. And even though he ate three – yes – three servings, I think he was actually just being polite.

This recipe comes from Ramon Morato, who, amongst other things, runs a culinary school in Barcelona.  I was a little puzzled as the blurb before the recipe talks about black rice and truffle flavours, whereas the actual recipe calls for arborio rice.  I used arborio rice but I’m now wondering if I should have used black rice instead, and now my mind is working overtime wondering if there is such a thing as black arborio rice…. google will be getting a workout before I get to sleep tonight!!

The actual recipe is a doddle.  I made both the vanilla broth and the vanilla oil a day and a half before. The vanilla oil could probably just stay in its jar for a while, as you don’t actually use all of it in the recipe.  I would imagine the flavour would intensify over time.  The vanilla broth is dead easy, and don’t worry about ‘wasting’ your precious vanilla beans as you dry them out and can use them again – mind you, I will be using mine pretty quickly as I’m not a hundred percent confident that I’ve dried them out again sufficiently, and I hate to think of my precious vanilla beans going mouldy and yuck.  But, there are worse things in life to have to use up in a hurry – I love vanilla both flavourwise and the aroma – yum!

So, with my vanilla broth and oil both done and dusted, I headed to our local fromagerie and hunted down the goat cheese that was recommended in the recipe.  I think the poor cheese man thought I was a complete nut – I was SO specific about what cheese I wanted, and what would do as a substitute – when he offered me a sample I just about ran a million miles.  “Sorry”, I said.  “I don’t actually want to TASTE it – it’s for a recipe”.  So clearly he thinks, maybe correctly, that I am a card carrying nut case. Just so you know, the recipe calls for  a Spanish goat cheese called Nevat, which our local cheese man advises is no longer imported to Australia.  Maybe if I had have been able to get it, my verdict on this recipe would have been kinder 😉

I wasn’t sure if the first component of the recipe, where you saute the arborio rice with the oil, actually called for the vanilla oil – of which there is certainly enough – or just plain old olive oil.  I erred on the side of caution and used the vanilla oil, but to be honest I’m not sure if it made a difference or not in the end result.  The next few steps are simply just adding the warm broth and letting the thermomix stir it for you for about 15 minutes.  The mixture looked a little watery to me on the way through, so I took off the measuring cup and let it evaporate a little and the end result was ok – still a little runny for me, but I’m sure that it would be ok for most people.

I was going to lash out for real truffle but had some difficulty locating it, so I used black truffle oil instead.

This is one of those recipes where a little goes a long way.  I used barely a ladleful for each serve, and in fact served them up on saucers. For presentation a side plate would probably be better so you could be a bit more creative with your grated chocolate dusting, but I also thought it might be harder to scoop it out of a plate with no definitive bottom if you get my drift. The plating was easy, and even though the recipe suggests it would serve 6, I would have been able to make at least 8 serves from what I prepared.

So – the verdict you ask?  Well, out of the five dinner eaters, only one asked for seconds (and thirds).  Personally, I found the goat cheese too overpowering from the first (and only) mouthful.  I imagine that without the goat cheese this would be a lovely dish, and I definitely will try it without it and see what I think.  If you’re a goat cheese agnostic like I am, and you think that an amazing goat cheese dish might just push you to the other side – then I’m afraid this is probably not the dish to do it.

Still, I’ll press on!  I knew this dish probably wasn’t ever going to be one of my best ever faves, but only one teaspoonful before I was hit with the goat flavour is a little less than I thought I’d be able to tolerate.  I’ll let you know what the goat cheese free version is like – and I’m even contemplating doing it with some philadelphia cream cheese instead –  if that’s not considered wrong??

I’d love to hear if anyone else has made this and what you thought of it – – be honest!!

If you don’t have the book, I did notice that this recipe was on the Thermomix Recipe Community when I was googling about black arborio rice (which doesn’t exist!)… good luck!

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Sweet Things

 

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Earl Grey Truffles

Earl Grey Truffles
So rich and delicious

So rich and delicious

Oh my, I can’t believe it’s been twelve months since I last made these beautiful truffles. Last year I made the classic Honey Truffles instead of giving traditional Easter Eggs, and they were a huge hit.

Inspired by last year’s success, I decided to make the Earl Grey Truffles AND the Honey Truffles this year. I’ll use them for gifts for neighbours, family, kinder teachers and various other people. I’ve also change the presentation slightly, and although I wish the bags I bought were just a smidgeon larger, I’ve still managed to fit 6 truffles into each bag, and I’ve put a bag of each variety in the gorgeous little Easter Bags I found at the local bargain shop. I also managed to find some lovely little patty pans with an Easter theme, so I have put each individual truffle in one of them. I think I’d be happy receiving something like this!

This recipe is from Kirsten Tibballs – who you might have seen on Australian Masterchef.  She runs Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School right here in Melbourne.  I might have to see if there are any classes for home cooks like me that I wouldn’t feel hopelessly inadequate in!

Logic would tell you that I had re-read my original blog on the Honey Truffles before I embarked upon the Earl Grey Truffles, but in typical fashion I did not. I did use the same chocolate, the Yarra Valley one, but I have got to say I wasn’t as impressed with it as I was last time. It did look a little cloudy in the box, and had a bit of a white bloom on it, but I thought it was just a bit battle scarred. I think somehow that it had been heated up a little and cooled down, resulting in the tell-tale white bits – perfectly possible in this recent weather here in Melbourne – or maybe there was something wrong with the sugar balance – I’m not sure. Regardless, they still taste absolutely divine, although I’m a little disappointed in the whitey bloom on some of them.

For my second lot of the standard Honey Truffles, I decided not to risk it and bought the Lindt Callebaut Couverture Milk Callettes for both the ganache and the coating, and I am pleased to say they look and taste beautiful, with no bloom in sight. They come in plastic jars of 500 grams at my local supermarket, and although they are a little pricey ($18 I think) you do value for money in terms of the number of truffles you can coat with one quantity of the melted chocolate. When you think about how much individual chocolates are at the high end chocolatiers, these actually work out quite reasonably.

The Earl Grey infusion works just beautifully and you get a really distinctive Earl Grey flavour with these truffles. Use good quality tea – I did toy with the idea of breaking open a couple of old Earl Grey tea bags but decided against it. I’m a self-confessed tea snob so it’s very rare that a tea bag even makes it past the threshold at my house, so I couldn’t even guesstimate how old those tea bags were, plus I think that generally tea bags use a lesser quality of tea. I was actually quite surprised as to how much 15 grams of Earl Grey was – and the amount of cream it managed to suck up during the infusing process. I was left with exactly the required 120 grams of cream, which I took to be serendipity and a sign from the Gods that I was on the right track!

I refrigerated the ganache this time as it has been unseasonably warm here in Melbourne, and I didn’t think to take it out of the fridge for a while before I put the chocolate on to melt, which was a mistake. Although the ganache was really firm, it was almost a little too firm to get into nice regular shaped balls, so my Earl Grey truffles are ugly little things 😦 If I were to do it again, I’d give the ganache half an hour or so to warm up a bit, and I’m sure the resulting truffles would be much nicer to look at.

With my second batch, I erred on the side of caution and didn’t refrigerate the ganache, but let it set overnight. It was a bit gooey to work with, but made for easier moulding. I put the prepared balls on some baking paper and put them in the fridge for fifteen minutes before I dipped them in chocolate. It makes life just a little easier as they are less inclined to stick to the fork that your dipping them in the chocolate with.

Dani recommends that if the dipping chocolate starts setting while you’re still dipping to warm it up with a hair dryer… and guess what – it works a treat!!  I must admit our cleaner looked at me like I’d completely lost it when she saw me plug the hair dryer in while I was standing at the kitchen bench though!!

Happy Easter!

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Recipes, Sweet Things

 

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Pastilla

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Once I do the list for Master 3’s birthday festivities, I know we are on the home straight to Christmas.  And so the hostess gifts are needed, the little things for kinder teachers, playgroup helpers and that kind of thing.  Since I’ve had my thermomix I have been turning into a regular Martha Stewart and making a lot of food gifts myself.  So this year I’ve made some Pastilla.

To be honest, I’d never heard of Pastilla until I saw it in “In The Mix”.  It looked pretty easy and not too time consuming, and you can make it early and it just stores in the fridge. The ingredients aren’t all that expensive, but once you wrap it up ready to give, it looks quite impressive. What’s not to love about that??

I googled traditional pastilla recipes and frankly I feel like a bit of a cheat.  There’s hardly any mess involved with the thermomix version – they way I’ve done it you barely get your hands dirty, but your thermobaby will need a jolly good clean after you’ve finished it.  It is amazingly sticky – really, really, really sticky.  So do watch out.  And you’ll definitely need a silicon mat or lots of baking paper, and if you do what I did, lots of glad wrap. (or spend ages cleaning your bench tops…)

So – it’s easy.  Grab your prunes, whiz them down for 25 seconds and then add the sugar.  I used plain raw sugar as I usually do.  A little bit of water, and then cook.  After the allocated time, you add some lemon juice and honey, and cook again.  Then, add the walnuts and cook again.  And then you’re done.

The messy part is once you’ve turned out the hot sticky stuff onto the mat.  You’ll need to scrape to get what you can out of the thermomix bowl, but even then there will be some left.  Make sure you get some water onto it quick smart and get out what you can using the water and turbo trick.  For the more stubborn stuff, I half filled the bowl with water and set it to 90 for about 10 minutes, and was able to pour out most of the stuff that was stuck.  Just make sure you do it quickly!!

Once it’s cooled a little on the thermomat, use the spatula to break it into quarters, and then each quarter into half.  Just rough is fine – I only did it this way as the recipe said you’d get about 8 logs from it.

Have on your bench a large-ish piece of glad wrap – about 30cm long.  Put the blob of mixture close to the edge of the glad wrap, and try and get it into a longish log if you can.  Now fold over the glad wrap and roll it into a cylinder, twirling or tying the ends of the glad wrap to make sure it keeps the shape.  No sticky stuff on your hands and a perfect cylinder!  Once you’ve made all your bits, and wrapped them – put them in the fridge. The batch I made yesterday are perfect.

I’m going to unwrap mine and rewrap them in some fresh glad wrap, and then wrap them in cellophane to pretty them up for gifts – as well as a batch for the Christmas Fete at kinder.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Recipes, Sweet Things