Hey hey! Can you believe it’s like, December in two days?
I honestly don’t know where this year went. I shot a few videos for you in March, and each week was like “yeah I’ll get that video up next week”… and now it’s almost December.
But yes, today, we have a recipe VIDEO!!
One of my all time fave recipes from the blog is this one, for Nigella’s Nutella Cheesecake. In real life it’s a recipe that I make and re-make, and my mum makes it and I steal the leftovers to take it home, where Mr Man and I fight over the last slice, and I recommend it to friends to make and then I get jealous someone else is eating it so I make it again, and you get the idea.
IT. IS. SO. GOOD.
You blitz and mix the base. Then combine everything for the filling. And the whole thing gets thrown in the fridge to cold set itself. And that’s it! Seriously.
So I decided to re jig the recipe, to play with it to make it EVEN better (if that’s even possible). It’s in tart form this time, for easy dinner party transport and prettier looks. There’s a bigger base-to-filling ratio, because yo, everyone loves the base best. And there’s a Nutella ganache (yes yes yes) on top, because yum. Hazelnuts add crunch. So do Ferreros if you’re feeling them. And it still cold sets itself in the fridge.
How delicious and easy does that look?! I promise you’ll fight over it. And maybe it’s not a bad thing that it took me ten months to post it, because it’s kind of perfect to make for a holiday party. Enjoy!
Hello! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and ate far, far too much, as we did.
We spent the three days ferrying back and forth between our families, eating, swapping gifts, eating more, drinking champagne, and then eating some more again.
I made my Christmas fruit cake with eggnog cream for dessert and really enjoyed spending time with family, giving gifts, listening to carols, enjoying the sunshine in the garden and just chilling out.
The holiday doesn’t last long though, as it’s already time to be thinking about New Year’s celebrations! It’s amazing how fast time truly flies, and I can’t believe we’re at the end of another year already.
With so many big milestones to celebrate, the year deserves to go out with a bang, and a super special dessert.
This meringue cake involves two layers of lightly chocolatey almond meringue that has a crisp exterior and perfectly chewy centre. It’s layered with a coffee creme (I spiked mine with a bit of booze too, feel free to do the same!) and fresh blackberries and cherries. Feel free to use whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand, or to simply decorate with chocolate and nuts!
I filmed a little assembly video for you. If you’re subscribed and reading this in your email, or can’t see the video below, click here to watch on YouTube.
Mocha Blackberry Meringue Cake - YouTube
Wishing you all a wonderful New Year’s celebration. I truly hope you’ve all had a wonderful year, and here’s to an even better 2017! X
Preheat the oven to 220 C (470 F) and line two sheet trays with baking paper. Trace a 7" circle on each sheet of baking paper, then flip the sheets over.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt until stiff then slowly rain in your sugar, followed by the vanilla.
Whip on high until the meringue is very stiff and the sugar is dissolved.
Fold the almond meal into the meringue gently with a rubber spatula, followed by the cocoa.
Divide the meringue between the two baking trays and spread out into two even discs, using the trace as a guide.
Place in the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 120 C (250 F) and bake for 90 minutes. Then turn off the oven (without opening the door) and leave the meringues in there overnight to cool completely.
COFFEE CREME DIPLOMAT
To make the coffee buttercream, bring the milk and vanilla to a simmer in a medium pot.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and egg yolks.
Pour the milk in a steady stream into the egg mixture, while continuously whisking.
Transfer the mixture back into the pot, and still whisking, bring to the boil and cook for a further minute. Take off the heat and whisk in the instant coffee.
Pour the custard back into a bowl, and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Refrigerate till cool.
Once the custard is cool, whip the cream till medium peaks form and fold through.
Place one meringue layer on your serving plate.
Top with half the cream, and spread out to the edges. Scatter over the chopped fruit.
Place the other meringue layer on top. Spread the remaining cream over the top layer.
Scatter with ferreros, hazelnuts, remaining cherries and half the blackberries. Use a mortar and pestle (or stick blender) to turn the remaining blackberries into a syrup, and drizzle over. To finish, dust with icing sugar.
Keep refrigerated. Easily serves 12 - 15.
Custard recipe adapted from Justin Gellately.
Meringue recipe adapted from Tanya Zourev via this recipe.
Mocha Blackberry Meringue Cake was last modified: December 28th, 2016 by Natasha
Hello! I’m so sorry for the radio silence over here on the blog.
I was super busy planning my engagement party and making my cake and dessert table! And I’m so excited to be finally sharing all the photos with you.
I made a two tier coffee caramel praline layer cake. It had 6 layers of white chocolate coffee caramel mud cake, was filled with macadamia praline coffee buttercream and got coated in vanilla bean buttercream before being finished with some fresh blooms!
Back left were my favourite, the chocolate hazelnut choux. Think Nutella. Think ferrero rocher. YUM.
I’m super grateful to my beautiful MOH and gorgeous Mum for helping me set up! We were down to the wire and they were so amazing, drying and arranging ivy, perfectly laying out each tiny dessert canapé and placing every individual edible flower amongst the sweets. THANK YOU! I could not have done it with out you.
To the left of this photo we have blueberry friands (made my Mr Man’s mum – thank you!!) and tiny, snow white Greek almond shortbread cookies, which my grandmother so kindly made.
Bottom right is a sea of my raspberry and ricotta pavlovas!
Each little pavlova was made with a raspberry meringue, soft on the inside and crisp on the outside, filled with whipped ricotta cream and raspberry coulis, then topped with one and a half raspberries and an edible flower.
I needed something fresh and refreshing in the dessert table mix so I made these little lemon meringue tarts.
Each tart is made up of a disc of lemon polenta shortbreadtopped with torched swiss meringue, lemon curd, lemon balm and an edible flower petal.
It was so super satisfying to plan each individual dessert, bring them to life and then to see the final table come together. It was stressful too, but once it was assembled I could relax, have some champagne and watch all our guests enjoy the desserts.
I promise that I will never make my own wedding cake though. If I become deranged enough over the next 18 months to change my mind, someone please slap me. X
P.S. If you’d like me to create a table like this for you, email me firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my enquiry page!
My Engagement Dessert Table was last modified: November 14th, 2016 by Natasha
I wasn’t sure if I was going to share this easy lemon meringue tart on the blog but so many of you asked for the recipe after seeing it on Instagram, that I just had to post it!
I’m still loving my open tarts, and like the Berry and Cream version, this one is easy in that you can just pipe everything on top of the base and you’re good to go.
One of my gorgeous friends is getting married this weekend, and I am in her bridal party! It’s my first time as a bridesmaid and I’m super excited. We had her hens a few weeks ago, and this was one of the desserts I made for it.
I have to say I really enjoy the lemon meringue flavours combined with the buttery, salty, melt-in-your-mouth cheesecake base. So much so that it could possibly be the best lemon meringue tart I’ve ever had. And it’s the perfect, easy way to impress your friends!
200g digestive biscuits or graham crackers, blitzed (7 oz)
70g unsalted butter, melted (2½ oz)
FOR THE LEMON CURD
70g caster (superfine) sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 egg yolk
65ml lemon juice
100g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
FOR THE MERINGUE
50g egg white
75g caster (superfine) sugar
Pinch sea salt
1g vanilla bean paste
1 punnet raspberries
Edible flowers, optional
Gold dust, optional
To make the base, place the ring from a 9 inch spring form tin on a tray lined with baking paper.
Combine the biscuits, salt and butter, and press evenly into the base of the tin.
Chill in the fridge till firm. Once set, remove from the tin and place on a serving plate. Return to the fridge until needed.
To make the lemon curd, place the sugar and lemon zest in a heatproof bowl and rub together with your fingertips. Whisk in the egg, egg yolk and then the lemon juice.
Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and heat slowly, whisking constantly, until the temperature of the curd reaches 80 C (180 F) on a thermometer or coats the back of a spoon.
Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk vigorously to cool slightly.
Add the butter to the curd and blend with a stick blender until completely combined and smooth. You can also do this in a food processor.
Transfer the curd to a clean bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface. Allow to chill in the fridge overnight.
Once the curd is chilled, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle and pipe around the base. Place in the fridge.
To make the swiss meringue, put the egg whites, sugar, salt and vanilla bean in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and while constantly whisking slowly, heat to 60 C (140 F).
Put the bowl on the stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whip until the mixture is cool.
Transfer to a piping bag fitted with star nozzle and pipe this around the curd. Blowtorch if you wish!
To finish the tart, scatter over the raspberries, edible flowers, and if you're using, gold dust.
When I meet people, and I tell them I’m a pastry chef, more often that not, people’s reactions are always, always, “That’s so cool! That must be so much fun!” (then 99 per cent of the time they go on to ask me what my favourite thing to bake is, but that’s another story for another day).
And it is fun. Apart from the long hours, the super early starts and standing on my feet all day often without a break, being a pastry chef is fun.
There are many things that I love about my job. I love the fast pace. I love that I get to feed people, that I get to make people happy with food. I love seeing people’s reactions when they see something or taste something that I’ve baked. That part is always awesome. I love making things look pretty, and trying out different decorating techniques. But most of all, I love the creative side of my job, that I get to test out ideas and come up with new desserts.
I actually get excited when I’m coming up with a dessert in my head. Especially when it’s something I’m making for my family, because what can be better than feeding the people you love.
I made this gateau for my family over the summer break. They love this sort of frozen-custard dessert, and I spent days thinking about how I would best incorporate all their favourite flavours and make this texturally exciting and beautiful.
It was a success, with a buttery biscuit base that crunches and melts in your mouth and a smooth, silky, coffee and chocolate cremeaux filling. The hazelnut praline adds lots of crunch while the whipped cream takes the edge off the richness of all the chocolate.
Line a 9 inch pastry ring or springform tin with a strip of acetate and place on a flat tray lined with baking paper.
To make the graham base, blitz the cookies in a food processor to make a fine crumb. Combine with the sugar, milk powder and salt in a medium bowl.
Whisk the cream into the melted butter and add to the dry ingredients, mixing to combine. Stir in the Nutella.
Press the graham crumb evenly into the base of the ring. Freeze.
To make the chocolate cremeux, heat the cream and milk in a medium saucepan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, cocoa and salt until combined and a little lighter.
When the cream mixture is beginning to boil, pour it into the egg mixture in a slow and steady stream, while constantly whisking, until it is entirely combined.
Return the crémeux to the pot and whisk in the coffee. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture reaches 82 C (180 F).
Pour the cooked crémeux through a fine mesh strainer back into the bowl. Add the melted chocolate and use a stick blender to emulsify the mixture.
Place a piece of cling wrap on the surface of the crémeux and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Once the crémeux is cool, pour it onto the graham base and level with a small offset spatula. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
Meanwhile, make the hazelnut praline topping. Line a tray with baking paper and scatter the hazelnuts over in an even layer.
Put the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan and put over a medium heat. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar melts, begins to colour and turns to a deep amber.
Turn off the heat and carefully pour the caramel over the hazelnuts. Set the praline aside to cool.
Remove the cake from the freezer and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours before you want to eat it.
When you're ready to serve, chop the praline and scatter it in an even layer over the cake, reserving just a little for the top.
Whip the cream and icing sugar until just stiff. Use a St Honore nozzle (optional) to pipe around the top of the entire cake. Sprinkle the remaining praline in the centre of the cake and optionally, finish with a Ferrero Rocher.
Keep refrigerated. Serves 12.
Coffee, Chocolate and Hazelnut Gateau was last modified: February 17th, 2016 by Natasha
Over the past weeks in our new house, Mr Man and I have really watched our house become a home.
With the addition of a row of benches on our balcony, a new barbecue, the perfect copper lamp and a few strategically placed pot plants (one of which is a lemon tree on the balcony. Not joking, a friend actually bought us a huge pot with a lemon tree), our house seems complete.
Until next weekend that is, when I decide we need another plant/cushion/throw rug/candle holder and Mr Man will probably want to kill me as I drag him to yet another home wares/hardware/department store and spend an hour deliberating over said pot plant/cushion colour/throw fabric/candle holder size.
The whole thing makes me feel like I’m playing house, and pretending to be super adult. Because really I’m still about 20, and don’t own a lemon tree, or a fridge. I don’t buy my own dishwasher tablets and potting mix. I don’t sort out internet connections and extortionate hot water bills either, because those are adult things that adults do. And I can’t remember the point where I suddenly became an adult.
We even potted plants on the weekend.
Like, I took a fern (well, I thought it was a fern. But apparently it’s a palm. I actually own a palm) out of it’s rubbish little plastic pot, ruffled it’s roots and placed it all up in a bed of potting mix in a huge pot. Because apparently plants can’t just be left in the pots they come in. Like, you can’t just place the plastic pot inside a pretty pot. You have to actually re pot them. Who knew? These are the things you learn when you become a pretend adult.
And entertaining. Entertaining really makes me feel like I’m playing house. Like, buying groceries and cooking for other people and stuff. We’ve had lots of friends around for dinner and barbecues and evenings of cheese, and last week when we had my gorgeous girlfriend and her partner over for an afternoon of food, this is what I made for dessert.
I put blueberries in my creme brûlée. And then scattered more on top of the crackly caramel crust. They burst and add a lovely freshness. I made my favourite brown sugar shortbread(minus the christmas spices) and crumbled that over the brûlées too, which added buttery crunch. When our friends were here, I might have even added a scoop of hazelnut ice cream onto each creme brûlée. And we may have even licked our bowls clean, while pretending to be all grown up. X
BLUEBERRY CREME BRULEE WITH BROWN SUGAR SHORTBREAD
100g caster (superfine) sugar (4 oz), plus extra, for sprinkling
5 egg yolks
2 punnets blueberries (250g)
Brown sugar shortbread, to serve (recipe link below)
Preheat the oven to 115 C (250 F).
Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Add the sugar. Split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds into the cream. Throw in the pod, too.
Bring the cream to a boil, turn off the heat and put the lid on. Allow this to infuse for 10 minutes.
Crack the eggs into a large heatproof bowl and beat well.
Bring the cream back to the boil. Turn off the heat and pour the cream over the eggs in a slow and steady stream, while continuously whisking the eggs vigorously.
Strain the mixture into a jug.
Place 6 ramekins in a roasting tray. Divide one punnet of blueberries between the ramekins. Fill each one about three quarters full of custard mixture.
Pour hot water into the roasting tray around the ramekins until it comes halfway up their sides.
Place the brûlées in the oven and bake for 40 - 60 minutes, until they are just set but still slightly wobbly in the center.
Take the ramekins out of the water bath and allow them to cool to room temperature.
Just before serving, sprinkle a thin layer of caster (superfine) sugar, about one teaspoon, evenly over the top of each custard. Caramelise with a blowtorch or under a grill – but be sure to watch them like a hawk so they don’t burn.
Allow to cool for a few minutes, then top with the other punnet of blueberries and some crumbled shortbread. Serves 6.
It was such a crazy, busy and fun event and it was amazing to be a part of it!
They had Buddy the Cake Boss down as a special guests and some of Australia’s best pastry chefs were doing some great demonstrations and sharing some lovely recipes.
Lots of Melbourne’s bakeries, bakers, pastry chefs and small businesses had stands at the event selling yummy cakes, pastries and other desserts. It was pretty much a sweet-lovers dream!
Apart from the Saturday morning, when the place was so full of people that they couldn’t let anyone in. That’s pretty crazy. And it shows how much of a sweet tooth we all really have!
I was lucky enough to be running three different demos throughout the weekend. I ran a daily class about the secrets to perfecting pies, using this apple pie recipe as an example. Pastry was made, lattices were woven and lots of questions were asked, so that class was a pleasure.
I also worked with Sugar Australia to present a daily Science of Sugar in Baking class, which talked people through the huge variety of sugars on the market, how they are made, what they are best used for and the role they each play in your baking. It was great learning, even for me!
My absolute favourite demonstration was of this yummy strawberry, pistachio and white chocolate gateau. It was up on stage, with all the prep done for me, and I just had a lot of fun making the layers while chatting to the lovely MC and the audience.
I was shaky and nervous going into the show but it was such a brilliant experience.
Thank you to all those who came to a class and said hello! For those of you who requested this recipe, this is for you. X
I am a bad blogger who completely missed the date that marked three years of blogging.
June 15th came and went without me even realising that I have been crazily baking at home, styling sweets to make them look appealing to you, taking photos of baked goods, and writing silly stories about my desserts for three whole years.
How could I.
To make up for such a terrible thing, today I’m sharing with you this delicious salted caramel, pear and pecan chocolate tart. We can call it Butter’s birthday tart. Or anniversary tart. Or something…
Anyway. When a girlfriend saw this gateau I made for Mr Man’s birthday on the blog, she requested that I make one for a get together she was having.
Now I’m not silly enough to make that same cake twice (firstly, because it has a million processes, and secondly, because I need something different to share on the blog), so I played with it and turned some of its components into this tart.
The tart goes like this, from the bottom up:
1. Chocolate pastry case
2. Salted caramel with pecans
3. Poached pear
4. Chocolate praline crunch
5. Salted caramel mousse
6. Chocolate ganache glaze
7. Pretty little leftover bits and bobs
And I made two of these tarts! One for my girlfriend’s get together, and one for ze blog.
So happy three years of blogging! Thank you for following along, reading my ramblings, looking at my photos, leaving me gorgeous comments and for (sometimes? maybe?) even baking along.
To many more years of baking and blogging and taking pretty pictures of delicious things. X
To make the pastry, cream the butter, icing sugar and salt until free of lumps.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
Sift in the flour and cocoa and beat on a low speed until just incorporated.
Gather the pastry together and form into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Once the pastry had chilled, remove it from the fridge and grease a 9 inch round tart tin.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until it is about ½ cm thick, or 2 inches larger than the base of your tin.
Lift the pastry and place it into the tart tin, pressing it into the base, corners, and sides. Refrigerate for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and prepare your tart shell to be blind baked. Line it with baking paper and fill with rice.
Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the pastry is cooked through (it will no longer look wet). You may need to uncover it for the last few minutes.
Remove the tart shell from the oven, take out the rice and paper, and set aside to cool.
Once cool, remove from the tart tin and place on your serving plate, ready for it to be filled.
Grease and line the base and sides of an 8.5 inch round tin with cling film and set aside.
Heat the cream, glucose, honey and vanilla in a small pot until melted and combined. Set aside but keep warm.
Make a dry caramel by putting the sugar in a medium pot and heating until it melts. Cook until it is a dark amber colour.
Turn off the heat and pour the warm cream mixture into the caramel, stirring constantly until smooth.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a stand mixer until they are thick and pale.
Pour in caramel slowly, while constantly whipping on a high speed.
Soak gelatin in cold water to soften. Squeeze out the excess water and put it in a small metal bowl. Place the small bowl over a larger bowl of hot water, stirring the gelatine until it dissolves into a liquid.
Add it to the caramel mix and stir to combine.
Cool to room temperature.
Fold through the semi whipped cream.
Add sea salt to taste.
Pour into the prepared tin and freeze (reserve a little in a small bowl if you wish to pipe it on top of your cake).
Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat until warm. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat the caster sugar until it melts. Continue to cook until it is a dark amber colour. Do not stir!
Remove the caramel from the heat and pour in the cream, stirring constantly. It will bubble, spit and rise up, so be careful. Stir over heat to melt any lumps that may have formed.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and pecans.
Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until cool, then pour into the base of the tart shell.
Put the water, sugar, vanilla pod and seeds, cinnamon sticks and star anise in a medium saucepan over a high heat. Use a vegetable peeler to peel strips of orange zest into the poaching liquid, then add the juice from the orange. Cover and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, peed your pear.
Once the liquid is boiling, add the pear. Cut a circle out of baking paper (a cartouche) to fit your pot and place it directly on the surface of the liquid. You can add a plate too, if you need help keeping the pear submerged. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the pear is tender when it's base is pierced with a knife.
Allow to cool completely in the poaching liquid.
Once cool, slice the pear into even slices, 3 - 4mm thick. Arrange this in an even layer over the caramel in the tart shell (you can reserve a few pieces of pear to garnish your tart later).
Line a tray with baking paper.
Put the sugar in a medium saucepan and add ½ tbsp water. Stir to combine.
Place on the heat and brush down the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush.
Cook until a deep amber colour. Do not stir.
Turn off the heat and add the hazelnuts. Swirl the pan to coat them in caramel and pour onto the prepared tray.
Spread into an even layer and allow to cool and harden.
Chop the praline into small chunks and blend with the oil in a food processor to make a smooth paste. Set aside.
Grease and line the base and sides of an 8 inch round tin with baking paper and set aside.
Melt both chocolates and praline together over a bain marie until smooth.
Stir in salt and feuilletine.
Spread in a thin layer in the base of the tin and freeze until set (reserve a few crumbs on a lined baking tray if you'd like to put them on top of your cake).
Once firm, remove from the tin and place it in your tart shell on top of the poached pears.
Place the chocolate and glucose in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
Pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat.
Remove from the stove and pour over the chocolate.
Allow to stand for 2 minutes, then stir, starting in the centre and working outwards, until the mixture is smooth, silky, and free from any lumps.
Remove the salted caramel mousse from the tin and plastic and place on a cooling rack over a baking tray.
Transfer your glaze to a jug and working quickly, pour it over the top of the salted caramel mousse.
Using a couple of offset spatulas or egg flips, lift the mousse layer off the rack and place it in the tart on top of the praline crunch.
Allow the glaze to set a little, then decorate as desired.