Tag Archives: chocolate

Starry Starry Nights

4 Nov

NightsAnd after the phenomenal Savoury Polenta Tart Tatin… we are back to sweet again! I have been wanting to bake these little chocolate cookies for ages now. The recipe is in the wonderful book, Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado. Say the name of that book, out loud, three times fast, and have a good giggle! It sets the tone for the entire read – funny, intelligent and immersed in the pleasures of baking. I really resonated to the story in this book because Bullock-Prado had the bravery to changer her life mid-stream, to acknowledge who she was, and what her true calling was – baking. Its kind of what I am doing now, and its terrifying, but its also so incredibly joyous.

I love the stories in the book, because they are so intensely personal – memories of her father, and their shared passion for good food, loving memories of her mother, her elegance, her charm, and her ability to bake the most gorgeous cakes, memories of her grandmother and aunts in Europe, and learning what afternoon coffee was all about. This book is a series of stories that enables us to look into Bullock-Prado’s life and understand who made her who she is today – and who gave her her passion for baking.

Starry Starry Nights are a gluten-free chocolate cookie, made with almond meal, sugar, honey, chocolate, eggs and cocoa powder. They are incredibly easy to put together – but its the waiting that drives me crazy. In order for these perfect, dark chocolate, baked truffle morsels to bake up properly, you first need to refrigerate the dough so it can set up, and then you need to freeze the little cookies for about 2 hours so that they are rock hard when they go into the hot oven. Dipped twice in sugar, they have a crackly nubbly exterior, glistening with sugar stars. The interior is like nothing I have ever tasted before – deep dark chocolate, beautiful and delectable.

I think I am going to try and have a bag of these in the freezer at all times – ten minutes to baking so I should never be caught wanting! Try them… and buy the book. Its wonderful, smart and funny and the recipes will make you drool. And if you want to check out a demo of how to bake Starry Starry Nights (complete with mimosas!) check here!

Gesine Bullock-Prado’s Starry Starry Nights

Makes about 80 small cookies or 50 slightly larger ones

  • 8.2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (2 bars + 2 strips of Lindt extra dark – 85%)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar plus more for rolling
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 5/8 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp non-Dutch processed cocoa powder

Chop the chocolate and put in a metal bowl with the butter.

Fill a saucepan about 1/3 full of boiling water, and put over medium heat. Place the bowl over the saucepan and gently mix the chocolate and butter together, mixing gently to incorporate the butter into the chocolate. Set aside to cool for a moment.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, sugar and honey. Whisk for at least five minutes, or until the eggs have turned creamy and golden, and have quite a bit of air incorporated into them.

In a small bowl, combine the ground almonds, salt and cocoa powder.

Using a silicone spatula, fold the almond mixture into the melted chocolate. Make sure everything is incorporated well.

Once the eggs have been whisked to a creamy, ribbony, golden consistency, fold about 1/4th into the almond-chocolate mixture to lighten everything up a bit. Fold in the rest of the eggs, and refrigerate the batter to let it firm up. You need to let it sit for at least an hour, preferably 2.

Once the mixture has firmed, prepare a cookie tin by lining it with parchment paper. Put a couple of tablespoons of sugar in a bowl. Remove the batter from the fridge, and use a very small cookie scoop or a melon baller to scoop out small balls of dough. Roll the cookies in the sugar, and place neatly on the parchment paper in the cookie tin. Continue doing this until you have completely used up all the dough.

Freeze the mini cookies for at least two hours.

If you have 40 – 80 cookies, you will need to bake in batches. I prefer doing a few at a time – about 20 – 25.

Once the cookies have frozen through, remove them from the freezer. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Line a second cookie pan with parchment paper, and put a couple more tablespoons of sugar in a little bowl.

Working quickly, roll the cookies in sugar for a second time, and place them on the second prepared cookie pan. Put the rest of the (unrolled) cookies back in the freezer.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, turning the pan after 5 minutes to ensure even baking. The cookies will begin to crack on the top – you want this! Dont let the sugar burn though…

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan, on a rack, for a few minutes before transferring to a plate, or your waiting hungry mouth.

Enjoy these unique and beautiful cookies with someone you love 🙂

Decadent French Toast

27 Oct

This has got to be one of the single most outrageous things I have ever dreamed up. It is completely, utterly, shamelessly decadent. It needs to come with its own health warning, and it certainly should not be consumed more than once a year. Its a full on aria of melted chocolate, hot eggy cream and crisp croissant. Every person I have made it for has stopped in their tracks and said “Oh I shouldnt!” … and then has proceeded to devour it with sybaritic delight.

Dont try and make this for more than two people – its too immediate and sensual. This is the joyful celebration morning after breakfast of the most sublime night before. You need to make it, and then eat it almost immediately, hot from the pan. Preferably in bed. With your fingers. Sharing one would probably be a good idea, but if you are terribly greedy, you could I suppose double the recipe and make two. Though to be honest, I dont think I could (or would want to) get through one whole one alone.

I have always always adored french toast. I love the slight custardy wobble of the eggs, the melting centre of the crisp bread, the salty sweet contrast. It used to be our holiday breakfast – something special and delightful. Im not sure what dark part of my true wanton self this recipe came from, but I bring it out now and then when I want to scare the neighbours 😉 I hope you enjoy it … and that it brings out the joyful sensualist in you!

Serves 2 happy people

  • 1 croissant (day old is best, but fresh is acceptable)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract (though preferably, you would scrape the vanilla seeds from a single bean instead)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp (really a smear) butter
  • 1 – 2 squares high quality dark chocolate

Split the croissant in half lengthways. I usually do this with a kitchen scissors to try and keep it as intact as possible. If the croissant is still quite fresh, toast it in a toaster very briefly. You want it to crisp up, not burn. I usually put it on the lowest setting, and pop the toaster before its time – when I smell that unmistakable warm croissant smell.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, egg, light brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Taste and adjust the vanilla. You want it as heavily perfumed with vanilla as possible.

Place the croissant halves in the bowl, and using a fork, lightly poke holes in the croissant to encourage it to absorb all the cream-egg mixture. Allow to sit for about 5 – 10 minutes.

Place a non stick pan over extremely low heat, and melt a tiny smear of butter into it.

Place the croissant halves, cut sides up, into the pan, and pour over any remaining liquid. Saute very gently. You will start smelling the most incredible scents… be patient, it only gets better!

After about five minutes or so at low heat, flip the croissants over, cut sides down, and saute again for a few minutes or until you are confident that most of the cream-egg mixture has been cooked through.

While the croissant is slowly cooking, chop the chocolate into thin shards.

Flip the croissant again, and scatter the chocolate shards over the two halves. Give it about a minute (the heat will start melting the chocolate), and then very gently, flip one half of a croissant directly over the other so that you have reassembled the croissant. Let cook for a little while longer until you are sure that most of the chocolate has melted, and then gently slide onto a plate to serve.

Enjoy!

White Chocolate Raspberry Tart

10 Sep

Raspberry TartToday is a day of celebration – it is the end of the Ramadan and the Rosh Hashanah. Two very intertwined religions, and their holidays. Well, on a day like today, you just have to celebrate. So I came up with this vegetarian (but unfortunately not vegan) white chocolate raspberry tart. The pastry cream was imbued with the rich lusciousness of white chocolate, such a perfect match for tart sweet bright raspberries. I dont usually do fruit with chocolate, but this is the exception that proves the rule.

This is a phenomenal tart. And I can say that because I have made some pretty damn brilliant tarts in my day…. but this one. It was so very good. The pastry crust was like a sugar cookie – dense, buttery, flaky and scented with vanilla. The pastry cream was literally stuffed full of Callebaut white chocolate. It was so creamy, it was sinful … but the great thing about it for me was that it looked like any garden variety vanilla pastry cream. It was only upon tasting that the ambrosial flavour of white chocolate made itself known. I adore good surprises like that! And the organic raspberries were the perfect counterpoint – tart and bursting with last of the summer sunshine, they made the white chocolate cream even more chocolate-y. This was one of my best tarts by far.  And the best part was seeing family eat it so happily on this most family of celebration nights… BSA’s son was surprised I made it from scratch 😉 It takes quite something to impress a 13 year old, so I was happy. Heh.

I put this tart together in literally half an hour (not including the wait times for baking and cooling off). Baking the pastry took very little time – but you need to make sure its baked through, because once it comes out of the oven, there is no more baking to do. I didnt bake it blind – I just made sure I poked tons of holes in it with my fork. It shrunk a bit, but I baked it in a 9 3/4″ spring form pan, so a little shrinkage was okay. The pastry cream took minutes to make, and about 20 minutes to cool in the fridge. Putting raspberries on top wasnt really work … but it was fun! I was actually a little shocked at how easy it was to make this tart – the return was so big, that I should have slaved for hours on it. It was a joy to present something so decadent and yet so easy to make.

Start at least 2 – 3 hours before you plan to serve this tart (or the day before) as you do want it to set up in the fridge.

Serves 8 people

Sweet pastry

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (all purpose is fine, but if you have pastry flour, use that)
  • 1/4 cup sugar – I used powdered sugar, which I find gives a finer result
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 egg
  • 1 – 2 tbsp vanilla essence

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Use a fork and make sure it is all combined.

Grate the butter over the flour mixture, and using your fingers, toss to combine well. You should have oatmeal flakes of butter within the flour mixture.

In another small bowl, or cup, beat together the egg and the vanilla essence. Use more vanilla essence if you think your essence isnt very strong or flavourful.

Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture, and using your hands, knead to combine. You should have quite a soft dough.

Tip the dough out onto a clean surface, and knead two or three times to get it soft and pliable. Using the heel of your palm, smear the dough away from you. This will spread the frozen butter in thin layers throughout the dough. Do this two or three times.

Roll the dough into a ball, put it back in the bowl, and refrigerate for ten minutes or so to let it all just come together.

Preheat the oven to 175C (350F). Have a pie tin, or a spring form cake pan (I used a 9 3/4″ pan) ready.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator, and tip it out onto a clean surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thick, or to fit your pan.

The dough should be malleable enough, and yet cold enough, so it wont stick to the surface, or to your rolling pin. If it sticks, it has not sat in the fridge long enough, so put it back for a few minutes.

Once you have rolled out the dough to your liking, roll it onto your rolling pin, and centre it over your pan. Place it gently in the pan, and using your fingers, make sure all the edges are even. My spring form pan had very high edges, so I just folded the dough over and crimped it to come up about half way up the pan. It worked out fine!

Put the dough back into the fridge for five minutes or so to get over being rolled and prodded! This is an important step so dont forget it!

Once you take the unbaked crust out of the fridge, poke multiple holes in it with the tines of a fork. Dont forget to go up the sides!

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or so, or until completely baked through and very lightly tan in the centre. You will know if its baked fully or not by the texture of the crust. If its soft, malleable, it has not baked long enough. If its firm, and solid feeling, its fully cooked. Decide on how brown you want it – for this delicate tart, I decided to let it barely get a blush of bronze.

Set aside to cool.

White Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used lowfat)
  • 1 + 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup best quality white chocolate
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 egg yolks

In a small saucepan, heat the milk, 1 tbsp vanilla and white chocolate over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the white chocolate melts.

Meanwhile, mix the sugar, flour and cornflour together very well with a whisk. Add the further 1 tbsp vanilla and the egg yolks, and whisk extremely well until everything is thoroughly combined.

When the milk is quite hot, take about 1/4 cup of milk, and add it to the egg mixture. Whisk very well. Turn the heat up on the milk mixture, and allow to just come to the boil. Add all the egg mixture at once, and turn the heat down. Stir until very thick.

If you are worried that the pastry cream is lumpy, you can sieve it, but its usually unnecessary as long as you have whisked the ingredients together very well at each stage.

Put aside to cool, about 10 – 15 minutes.

Assembly

  • Cooled crust
  • White Chocolate Pastry Cream
  • About 2 cups fresh raspberries, lightly rinsed if needed

CelebrationPour the pastry cream into the crust. Arrange the raspberries on top in a pretty pattern (I usually just make rings but do as your heart desires). Refrigerate for at least 1 – 2 hours.

If you are making this tart the night before, prepare all the elements separately, and assemble them together a few hours before serving.

Serve and Celebrate!

Vegan Chocolate Cake

6 Sep

Chocolate Vegan CakeSo keeping on with the vegan theme this weekend, I decided to try my hand at a vegan chocolate cake. I know, right. Vegan and chocolate just dont seem to go together, but if you stop to think for a moment, cocoa powder, which is the most intense chocolate taste you can find, is vegan. Get all the other bits right, and you have one superb cake. Its delicious, tasty, moist, velvety, and very chocolaty … and yet at the same time, its not heavy as most cakes are. May be because there are no eggs, milk or butter to weigh it down, but honestly, this was the most decadent light chocolate cake I have ever sampled.

The recipe for this cake, in one version or another, has been floating around the internet for ages. Its called Depression Cake because it was created during the Great Depression in America. It uses simple, easy to access ingredients. I bet you have just about everything to make this cake in your larder! The vinegar is the surprise ingredient. When it interacts with the baking soda, it not only leavens the cake, but also ensures a deep moistness. Most vegan cakes are either really dry, or really heavy. The vinegar changes this completely by taking the place of eggs which serve to moisten and leaven cakes usually. Once its baked, you cannot taste the vinegar, but you can experience the effects of it on the cake – heaven!

I used light brown sugar in this recipe. Of course some vegans dont take sugar or honey. If you are one, then substitute agave or liquid cane syrup to give the same sweetness as 1 cup of sugar. I also upped the amount of cocoa powder (because I really like chocolate) and added a dash of cinnamon. I find that cinnamon or coffee really deepens and develops the taste of cocoa powder – it ripens it and allows the cocoa scent to flower. I wouldnt add coffee to this cake simply because we were eating it in the evening, and I didnt want everyone to be up until all hours. However, if you like coffee better than cinnamon (or another spice – like nutmeg or even more vanilla), go ahead and substitute.

This cake is immensely forgiving. And very easy to make because literally, you can do it in the cake pan, though I used a bowl. And please, try and make it with the chocolate frosting. While the cake by itself is great, the frosting just brings it right over the top! The frosting is the icing on top 😉 Its creamy, light and yet very chocolate. I cant believe its made with so few ingredients, but again, the interaction of the different ingredients (salt is key here – dont leave it out!) created a creamy frosting that really worked well. Try this cake, and serve it to carnivores you know and love. They will not believe that there are no animal products!

Serves 8 – 10 (depending on greed). I used a 9 3/4″ spring form pan for this cake.

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (if you have it – all purpose flour is absolutely fine too – the whole wheat flour just gives a little nuttiness to the cake which is nice)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (you can add up to 1 tbsp more if you feel the need but it will become very cinnamon-y)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 cup soy milk

Preheat your oven to 175 C (350 F)

Lightly oil a 9″ or larger cake pan. I did not oil mine – I lined it with greasproof paper, and it was fine. Oil if you wish. You can also mix all the dry ingredients straight into the cake pan, and then pour the wet ingredients over, but I preferred to do this in a bowl.

In a large bowl, measure out the flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt. Using a fork or small whisk, mix together until completely combined.

In a 1 cup measuring cup, measure out 2/3 cup canola oil. Measure the vanilla, and vinegar into the cup, and beat together well. Pour over the dry ingredients, and then measure and pour over the soy milk. Mix everything together very well with a fork or whisk, and immediately pour into cake pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs attached.

Let cool for at least 20 minutes before icing.

With Vegan Chocolate IcingCreamy Chocolate Icing

  • 3/4 cup icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup soy milk or soy creamer
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Mix everything in a small bowl. Whisk together for a few minutes, until the mixture is completely combined, and has become slightly fluffy, creamy, light and glossy. Pour straight over the cake, and refrigerate for a few minutes. The icing will be soft, but will not run.

The Best Blondies

31 Aug

utter perfectionThis is my 100th post! Hooray! I never thought I had the discipline or the strength of purpose to actually commit to sit down and write a recipe a day, no matter what is happening or where I am. I have to say, I am impressed with myself 😉 Long may it continue 🙂 Today, in celebration of this personal milestone, I decided to try a new recipe. I love blondies. I am not so hot on brownies to be honest. They are too overwhelming – that mix between fudgy and crusty, and intense intense chocolate. I dont know what it is, but I like chocolate in almost all ways, but brownies are probably 100th on the list (keeping with the 100th theme!)

But blondies are another story entirely. Studded with chocolate, but not overwhelmed by fudge dough, blondies are chic brownies – brownies with an edge. I used Callebut white and milk chocolate here. Chopped it into chunks and mixed it with a caramelised vanilla batter. It baked shiny and crispy, with edges that were brown and crunchy, but with interiors that were the best of melted chocolate and soft vanilla cookies. Sooo good. Delicious, delectable, and amazingly easy. It took me about 20 minutes to put everything together, and another 20 – 25 to bake. Do not overbake these! They need to be cooked (and when you stick a knife in, they can be squishy, but not liquid), but if you overbake, they will get stone hard and yucky.

I adapted these blondies from a recipe on the Cook’s Illustrated website. I dont do nuts with my sweet baked goods (well on very rare occasions, but thats the exception rather than the rule). I dont know by, but its true. By the by, I also dislike chocolate and orange or lemon. Just does not do it for me. We each have our own tastes, and especially in brownies or blondies, I am a no nuts kind of person. Oh and in carrot cake, but thats another story. Anyway! The Cook’s Illustrated recipe required 1 cup of toasted pecans for these blondies. If you like nuts, toast some pecans (or walnuts or cashews, go crazy with it) and substitute the nuts for 1 cup of chocolate. Otherwise, do as I do, and revel in both milk and white chocolate 🙂

The other major thing I did was I let the butter burn a little as I melted it. I remembered the recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies ever, and how the butter, burnt to a dark brown, added a depth of flavour to the cookies. Well, I didnt burn the butter to that extent, but I let it get a little toasty. Just a hint of light brown colour. It worked really well in the finished product – the blondies had a deep caramelised flavour that came from the union of slightly burnt butter, light brown sugar, vanilla and eggs. Sublime.

This recipe will fit into a 14″ x 8″ pan. Make sure that you double line the pan with aluminum foil, and allow some foil overhang. This lets you lift out the cooled blondies easily. Also, butter that foil to within an inch of its life! With all that caramelisation going on, you want to be able to lift the blondies out easily, and buttering well really does help.

For 1 pan of totally delectable blondies, you will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted, slightly burnt, and then cooled + 1 tbsp for buttering
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 – 6 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 cups best quality chocolate, chopped, chunks or if you have to, chips (I used 1 cup Callebaut white + 1 cup milk chocolate, chopped)

Preheat your oven to 175C. Prepare your baking pan. Line a 14″ x 8 ” pan (at least 2 – 3″ deep), with double layer of aluminum foil. Allow some overhang, and push it well into the corners. Use 1 tbsp of butter and butter the foil extremely well. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Use a fork to mix well together. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan, and allow to burn just a little bit. You want it to foam, subside, and then just start turning light brown. Take off heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in another small bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and 4 – 6 tsp of vanilla. You will know how much vanilla to use, depending on the quality of the vanilla you have. Your judgement is important here, but remember you want a strong vanilla taste. Its the main flavour of the blondie, and you want it to come out well. Set aside the eggs and vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar. Add the egg mixture and whisk well. You will have a glossy, shiny, almost caramel like batter. Taste for vanilla and adjust if need be.

Fold the flour in gently, in three parts. Dont overmix. Fold in the chocolate (or the chocolate and pecans if you are so inclined). Using a spatula or wooden spoon, coax the batter into the baking pan. Spread it around to make sure that the entire pan is filled. It may not look like much, but heat is magic – it will puff up the batter and create a phenomenal blondie.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, checking a few minutes before hand to make sure they have not overbaked. The top will be shiny, slightly cracked, and light brown. A toothpick stuck into the blondie will come out with crumbs sticking to it – but if it comes out covered in batter, it needs more time.

yummmOnce done, take out of oven and allow to cool in pan for at least 20 minutes or so. Use the aluminum foil to remove the blondies from the pan, and cut into squares. The tops will be crisp and crackly, the bottoms will be golden and the centres will be squishy and vanilla-y and bursting with melted chocolate. Serve with vanilla ice cream if you want to be overly decadent.

Molly O’Neill’s Blackout Cake

8 Aug

Molly O'Neill's blackout cakeI am on a mission – to find the blackout cake of my childhood. My sister and I had this amazing cake when we were little – it was served in the embassy where we grew up. We used to watch like hawks when it was served, to see if we could shave infinitesimal amounts off the cake to share. We always got a slice, but we always wanted more. Our mother used to order it in these large logs – and we had at least 2 or 3 as “back up” desserts in the freezer room downstairs. My sister and I used to dream of that cake … and when I realised that it was a form of blackout cake, I decided to test a few.

Last week, I made the blackout cake from The Week, by Jeremy Sauer from Cook’s Country. It was delicious but it lacked a certain something. It was too sweet, and I think too milky. The pudding was made with a cream/milk mixture, and while it was phenomenal, it wasnt the cake of my childhood and my memory. This week, I decided to try Molly O’Neill’s blackout cake from her book, The New York Cookbook: From Pelham Bay to Park Avenue, Firehouses to Four Star Restaurants.

If last week’s cake was a chocolate extravaganza, this week’s cake was a chocolate obliteration. No milk, save for a little in the cake, and dark as a blacked out night. Seriously. The cake is so dark, that you can only tell its been cut if you look at it from the top. Its dark dark dark. It was overwhelming favoured by my taste testers – they loved the deep dark chocolate layers, the balance between chocolate and sweetness, and the textures of the cake, pudding, topping and crumbs. It is truly a phenomenal cake. It comes much closer to the cake of my memory, but I think it might need more of a touch of bittersweet – next time I make it I think I will adapt it with a bit of coffee.

As Ezril said, “Eating this cake is an intense experience!” Making it was pretty intense as well. I love baking, but this cake… so many different processes involved in creating all the layers, the custard/pudding and the topping. The cake itself not only creamed the sugar, and bloomed the chocolate and chocolate powder, but also needed whipped egg whites folded in. By the end, I was covered head to toe in flour, chocolate and butter. I could have baked myself! I learned an important lesson. Even though I read the recipe many times over, and I knew what I was in for, I think I would have been better served if I laid out my ingredients, measured them out, and then started to cook. As it was, there was a fair bit of chaos, and a fair bit of mess. Given all of that, it was worth it. Delicious, deep, dark chocolate cake, layers of pudding, a bittersweet glaze, and the rubbly texture of the crumbs on top. Wonderful and very very satisfying!

Molly O’Neill’s Blackout Cake

Cake

  • ½ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened slightly
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 190C degrees. Butter and lightly flour two (8-inch) round cake pans. Place cocoa in a small bowl and whisk in boiling water to form a paste.

Combine the chopped chocolate and milk in saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the chocolate melts, about three minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk a small amount of the hot chocolate milk into the cocoa paste to warm it. Whisk the cocoa mixture into the milk mixture. Return the pan to medium heat and stir for one minute. Remove and set aside to cool until tepid.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, and the vanilla. Slowly stir in the chocolate mixture. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, slowly add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. Fold in until just mixed.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans on rack for 15 minutes.

Gently remove the cakes from the pans and continue to cool.

Note: in my oven the cakes only took 30 minutes to bake. Check after half an hour as timing and heat can vary widely.

Filling

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 ¾ teaspoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • ¾ cup plus ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water (use 2 tablespoons cornstarch for a runnier filling*)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

While the cake is baking, combine the cocoa and boiling water in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in the sugar and chocolate. Add the dissolved cornstarch paste and salt to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and butter. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cool.

Note: I added 100 g chopped bittersweet chocolate to this filling as I felt it was not chocolatey enough. I added it just before adding the cornstarch paste. I used the maximum 4 tbsp cornstarch, and it was just fine. I also sieved the pudding to make sure there were no lumps.

Frosting

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water, stirring until smooth. Remove the top of the double boiler from the heat and whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Return the top to the heat, if necessary, to melt the butter.

Whisk in the hot water all at once and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the corn syrup and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for up to 15 minutes before using.

Assembly

Black Out Cake SlicedUse a sharp serrated knife to slice each cake layer horizontally in half to form four layers. Set one layer aside. Place one layer on a cake round or plate. Generously swath the layer with one-third of the filling. Add the second layer and repeat. Set the third layer on top. Quickly apply a layer of frosting to the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, crumble the remaining cake layer. Apply the remaining frosting to the cake. Sprinkle it liberally with the cake crumbs. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Blackout Cake

1 Aug

blackout cake version 1What is blackout cake? Simply put, very dark, almost bitter sweet, very soft cake, layered and iced with dark chocolate pudding. Cake crumbs adorn the outside of the cake. Its a study in chocolate, with no distractions. Not too sweet, rich but not overbearing, so dark that light will never penetrate. Cream is a good accompaniment, but you dont really need anything at all … Just a deep respect for all things chocolate.

If you say the words Ebinger’s Blackout Cake to people who lived on the eastern seaboard of America during the 1970’s, from New York to DC, but particularly those who lived in Brooklyn, you will be greeted by moans of delight and loss. Blackout cake is a cake from a very specific time, but oh my good goddess, it is perfection in chocolate. Ebinger’s was a bakery in Brooklyn that unfortunately closed down in the mid 1970’s — and the recipe for the original blackout cake went with them. There is a huge amount of online debate about the true recipe for blackout cake, and I have often wondered which one tastes the closest to my own memory.

I grew up in Washington DC during the 1970’s and 80’s, living in an Embassy. We hosted fancy dinners for dignitaries and my mother’s go-to dessert was a version of blackout cake. It was served in long rectangular logs, each serving 20 people. My sister and I used to hover in the kitchen, making sure that any scraps were summarily dealt with. We looked at each full slice of blackout cake, floating in cream, with longing and hope… May be when we were grown up, we would have blackout cake at our dinner parties too!

I have done a lot of research about blackout cake, and I have finally decided to try the recipe posted in The Week in 2008, from Jeremy Sauer in Cook’s Country. I had hoped this cake would come close to my memory … but unfortunately, it didnt. Dont get me wrong, it was superb. Dark, chocolaty, very moist… but there was something missing. It was just a little too not-blackout. Not sure why, or where, or how, but it wasnt the cake of my memory. I have one more recipe which I will try next weekend… but for now, this blackout cake version has made us all very happy.

Pudding

  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt, half-and-half, and milk in large saucepan. Set pan over medium heat. Add chocolate and whisk constantly until chocolate melts and mixture begins to bubble, 2 to 4 minutes. It will thicken like a pudding. Make sure that you mix it well enough so that the pudding does not burn at the bottom.

Stir in vanilla and transfer pudding to large bowl. Lightly butter the top of the pudding, and butter one side of sheet of greasproof paper. Place the greaseproof paper over the top of the pudding so that a skin doesnt form, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

Cake

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick), plus extra for greasing pans
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting pans
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 165 C. Butter two 8-inch cake pans, line the bottom with greaseproof paper, and shift a bit of cocoa powder over the buttered cake pan. This will help in removing the cake from the pan after baking.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Set aside.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. You will smell the perfect smell of cooking chocolate.

Off heat, whisk in coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in eggs and vanilla, then slowly whisk in flour mixture.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool layers in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour.

Assembly

Cut each cake in half horizontally. Crumble one cake layer into medium crumbs and set aside.

Place one cake layer on serving platter or cardboard round. Spread 1 cup pudding over cake layer and top with another layer.

Repeat with 1 cup pudding and last cake layer.

Spread remaining pudding evenly over top and sides of cake.

Sprinkle cake crumbs evenly over top and sides of cake, pressing lightly so crumbs adhere. Serve. (Cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.) Serves 10 to 12.

Dinner @ Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio

20 Jul

I know, I have already written about Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio, but we got an email saying they were slowly opening for dinner on selected nights, so we had to go! We had dinner there tonight, and it was just tooooo delectable not to share. The food here is really phenomenal – and with a new menu out every month, the exploration of flavour and taste and texture and delight can just go on and on and on! I wont go into detail about the ambiance or the chairs, the drinks or the table settings … I did that in my first review. I will just highlight some of the scrumptious food we had this evening, and leave you to drool!

And just to let you know, yes, there were six of us, and yes, we ordered every dessert (5 in total) on the menu, and yes, amazingly, we finished them ALL. Unabashedly licking the plates were we.

Starters

There were 6 of us for dinner, and we shared 3 starters. As a vegetarian, they had several options, including a vegetarian quiche. However, we tried these three:

with hidden artichoke heart!

Pingaling ordered the Norwegian poached egg. The egg was wrapped in a gossamer thin, silky layer of smoked salmon with an extraordinary chive sauce. It sat atop a simple, delicious artichoke heart, and since Pingaling doesnt “do” vegetables, I had the pleasure of eating that whole artichoke heart myself! I swizzled it in the yolky bits and was in heaven.

No, its mushroom cream

The mushroom soup was beyond heavenly. As Nana said, “Most of these soups are cream of mushroom, this one is mushroom cream!” and it was dreamy. Thick, unctuous, tasting of the essence of mushroom. A light foam on top, and porcini dust in the centre. It covered a huge (and apparently very delectable) scallop, but I only tried the soup. It was the perfect mushroom soup. I cannot find the words to describe it, though I am trying. It was as if your every memory of mushroom had been condensed, refined, and re-defined. Silky smooth, sensational on the tongue. Perfect.

beautiful

This salad was so elegant, so refined, and yet retained the essence of tomato and mozzarella with basil salad. From the top – toasted pine nuts, a beautiful, clean, clear tasting basil cream, slightly bitter fresh greens, and lightly poached tomatoes, layered with the creamiest mozzarella. Drizzled with old balsamico. Such incredible textures. Such a perfect rendition of a salad we all know and love. Thoughtful, creative, delicious.

Main courses

Pingaling and Ezril had the children’s portion of bolognese with fresh buttered noodles. Small portions, delicious (they said) and a fine buffer between the superb starters and the stunning desserts. I had a bit of the noodles, without the sauce, buttered and fresh, and dreamed of a bowlful of that pasta, naked but for a slick of butter and a shaving of parmesan…

And a divine ratatouille

AngelKitten had wanted to try the reinvention of chicken nuggets the last time, but they had run out. She managed to get some tonight, and finished her plate like a very good girl!

White breast of chicken, breaded and fried. AngelKitten said it was scrummyyummy. She was literally savouring every bite. Served with a beautiful pile of ratatouille – perfection. I tasted the ratatouille, and loved it. Deep bold flavour, delicious and rich, and yet simple. Served with a parmesan dip.

buttered noodles

Ezril’s Abang had the beef cheeks bourguignon over fresh pasta. Oh that pasta again. Sublime. He said the beef was bright, rich, delicious and winey. Tender and beautifully cooked. I wouldnt know, but he finished the plate!

newburg sauce

Nana had the chicken breasts stuffed with king prawns, on a tangle of braised vegetables and a stunning, deeply flavoured newburg sauce. He said it was delectable. I believed him as I watched him polish it all off.

ricotta and herb ravioli

I had the vegetarian entree. Now let me say, when I eat at places that are focused on non-vegetarian food, the vegetarian entrees can often be disappointing. But this. Oh my good goddess. A carrot foam (which is all you can see in the above picture), with hints of spice and ginger, covered ravioli stuffed with creamydreamy ricotta and fresh herbs, dabbed with a carrot and ginger broth. Underneath it all, a puree of carrot and pumpkin, condensed, rich, and earthy. Sky and terre, light, and rich, so many flavours bursting through. I was going to take more photographs as I unearthed this splendid meal, but I didnt want to stop eating! The carnivores at the table tried bites of mine (small ones because that was all I would share) and one and all, they were delighted. So rich, so tasty, such a wonderful treat for a vegetarian. I was as shiny golden happy as this photograph.

Oh and before I forget…

glorious bread

The bread was out of this world wonderful. Woman can live on bread alone, if it was this bread. Fresh out of the oven, chewy, crusty, sourdoughy, tasting of bread. With sweet butter and sprinkle of sea salt. We couldnt stop eating it. We mopped everything up with it, and ordered more. It was served with a smile, and received with gratefulness. Oh that bread.

Desserts

We ordered our desserts when we asked for our main courses. We couldnt decide, and so, the women at the table took an executive decision to order everything. The men just went along for the ride. And what a ride it was…

reinvented

Tarte tatin reinvented. Beautiful creamy apples on a puff pastry base. A gorgeous tuile. Caramel ice cream. Caramel toffee all around.

lime coconut sorbet

Pineapple and lime crumble with a coconut and lime sorbet. Such sharp clean Asian flavours, melded with classic baking techniques. Ezril’s Abang gravitated to this one. He adored it. He wanted to marry it 😉

chocolate chocolate chocolate

I would have married this one. All the elements I love. Tall, dark and handsome. And chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. A bitter frozen chocolate mousse, enrobed in a crisp chocolate shell, with a chocolate tuile. Though I think Ezril might have fought me for it, we managed to share (just).

teletubby ;)

This was Pingalings favourite, the one she wanted, and which she graciously shared with us. It was called a strawberry and raspberry surprise. Nana said it looked like a teletubby, but that didnt stop any of us from devouring it. A gorgeous meringue, crisp and crunchy, studded with vanilla, encasing a beautiful razzle of strawberry and raspberry chunks, topped with creme chantilly, and a raspberry sorbet. Check that colour out. It tasted as good as it looks. Such a wonderful textural combination, sharp brilliant fruits, creamy light meringue.

coffe, caramel, lemon

The dessert threesome. Coffee cream, with a lick of luscious burnt caramel at the bottom, topped with lightly whipped cream, a caramel macaron, and a perfect, miniature lemon meringue tarte. Such a clever juxtaposition of flavour and texture. Bright, dark, creamy, rich, so so so good.

Have I run out of superlatives? Here is the last picture because it encompasses how we felt about the food… a very happy, full family went home tonight to dream about Nathalie’s passionate, loving, delicious meal…

mmmmmmm

Thank you to everyone at Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio for a wonderful meal. Join their mailing list, and go when you can! So gooooooooood.

Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio Unit 4-1-5  Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Dutamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur Tel : 03.62 07.95 72

http://www.nathaliegourmetstudio.com

Frozen Chocolate Dipped Bananas

17 Jul

Little Chocolate Banana Babies Waiting for the FreezerTonight, a short recipe. I was going to make Welsh Rarebit (inspired by an article on things on toast – burnt cheese is my weakness) but I realised that Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian (it has anchovies in it – will have to do some research on that one). Also, I had the pleasure of going to see the last night of Junji Delfino’s Here I Am celebration – what a voice!

Anyway… came home a bit tired, and thought I need something simple, comforting, with shades of my childhood.

When I was little, a huge treat for my sister and I were frozen bananas dipped in chocolate. Anyone can make these, and they are DELICIOUS! The bananas seem to freeze and turn into a heavenly natural version of ice cream – the chocolate just adds a rich delicious topping to the whole thing. And bananas seem to love the freezer more than other fruits. They adapt so well to freezing, one would imagine its their natural state! A little chocolate ganache from yesterday, a few pisang mas (the tiny golden sweet bananas here in Malaysia – from my organic delivery!) and a little freezer action. Oh so good.

The chocolate becomes this crunchy shell, and the banana within is creamydreamy.

This is a wonderful recipe to make with young ones – they feel so accomplished afterwards, and its quite healthy too! In my book, chocolate is a health food 😛

Use any good chocolate – white, milk, dark. I prefer it dark because there is such a lovely contrast to the pale frozen banana. They seem to complement each other. And once youve done this once, you will want to do it again. You can experiment. Add a teaspoon of honey to your chocolate mix. Or may be a sprinkle of cinnamon. How about melting down peanut butter chips? Banana and peanut butter, mmmm. Go nuts. Its fun!

You will need:

  • Baking tin, lined with greaseproof paper
  • As many ripe bananas as you want to freeze (I would do at least 6, because once you try these, they are addictive!)
  • A few squares of chocolate for each banana
  • A teaspoon of milk or cream for each banana
  • Some plastic wrap or greaseproof paper to cover
  • A few toothpicks

In a saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate into the milk or cream. Dont let it boil over, but as soon as you see the chocolate starting to melt take off heat and stir well. The residual heat will melt the chocolate. Leave to cool a little. If the mixture becomes too stiff, just heat it up a little again.

Meanwhile, peel the bananas. Depending on the skill of your helpers, and the desired level of mess in your kitchen, either lay the bananas on the baking tin and spoon chocolate over (less messy) or dip and roll the bananas in the chocolate and transfer onto the baking tin (rather messy). I often ask my young helpers to peel the bananas and drop them in the saucepan of chocolate, and roll the bananas around with a batter spreader or other blunt cooking instrument to make sure they are covered completely in chocolate. I then go in with two toothpicks, skewer each end of a banana and reverently transfer it onto the baking tin.

You could dip or sprinkle ground nuts, coloured sprinkles, or anything else you like that adheres well to chocolate.

These dont have to be perfect – the beauty is in their imperfection. I get geram looking at all these beautiful and different little chocolate banana babies lined up in a row waiting to be eaten!

You could stick toothpicks on one end of the banana to help in the eating afterwards, but I rarely do. I quite enjoy mess, and feel safer that there is nothing sharp in the banana that could harm little mouths.

Freeze for at least half an hour or so. If youre concerned about mess, wrap half of each banana in greaseproof paper once its frozen and hand out.

Eat greedily and with joy and sharing and mutual accomplishment 😉

Strawberry Tart with Chocolate Ganache, Creme Patissiere and a Port Wine Balsamico Glaze

16 Jul

Strawberry TartIts the end of exam time for Angel Kitten and Ezril, and I wanted to make them something that would be a celebration. I have a real thing for tarts (a natural affinity, shall we say), and strawberries are on my mind. The organic strawberries are just gorgeous – lush, ripe, juicy, and that glowing red that only strawberries can glow. So a strawberry tart it was, but I wanted to make it even more of a celebration. Each and every part of this tart had to be sublime. So I went with a crumbling sweet cookie crust, that is surprisingly easy to make, and, as long as you freeze it, easy to bake too! No pie weights and all that nonsense. Then, hidden between crust and creme, a lick of dark chocolate. This actually is very useful because it waterproofs the crust from the creme that goes on top. And the creme patissiere? Sweet, but not too sweet, studded with vanilla bean, creamy and yet not overwhelmingly so. Perfection. And then the stars of the show – red, ripe strawberries, glazed with a port wine balsamico reduction that just highlights their sweet-tart-juicy-tang.

For me, the key to this tart is there is a lot of resting and waiting. It seems like a lot of work, but it isnt really. The tart dough comes together in minutes, as do all the other components. The important thing is they all need to rest, cool, freeze, calm down and meld together before you go on with the next step. This is a tart to bake over the course of an afternoon (3 or 4 hours) when you have a good book to read, or a dvd to watch. Its fun because the sum is so much more than the parts – but the parts themselves are pretty delightful!

Crust

For a 10 inch pie plate, you will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons very cold butter
  • 1 large egg

In a large bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar and salt. Mix well and make sure there are no lumps. Take the butter out of the fridge, and grate into the flour mixture. I do this in two stages, grating about half, then putting the butter back in the fridge, then using my fingers to mix the grated butter into the flour, and then repeating. Once the butter has been mixed into the flour, it should look crumbly, almost like oatmeal. Make a well in the centre of the flour butter mixture, and in a separate small bowl, beat the egg lightly. Pour the egg into the well, and using your hands or a large spoon, lightly mix all together. As you turn the mixture upon itself, it should become a dough. Dont overmix. Dont knead. Just get it bound together as a dough. It will happen, I promise.

Centre your dough in your pie plate, and using floured fingers, gently roll out the dough to cover the entire pie plate. Make sure the dough is even, there are no bald spots, and that the dough comes up to over the edge of the plate. Prick with a fork all over, and freeze for at least half an hour or more.

While the dough is freezing, you can go on to do other things.

When youre about ready to bake the crust, preheat your oven to 190C.

Take the frozen dough out of the freezer and cover the dough with buttered tin foil, butter side down, pressing down quite strongly. Bake in the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes until lightly browned. Take out of the oven, remove the tin foil very gently. Put back into the oven to brown completely. You want a pretty dark brown crust, otherwise it will be flavourless and slightly doughy.

Once the crust has browned (about 5 minutes more), take out of the oven and leave to cool.

Chocolate Ganache

This is simple, easy and you can use it for many things – glazing a pie crust is but one life – you could drizzle it over vanilla ice cream, use it as a glaze for a cake, or even as the basis for a phenomenal hot chocolate. Im sure there are loads of other uses that you can imagine up.

  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup dark chocolate, in chunks

In a small saucepan, over low heat, combine cream and chocolate. As soon as the chocolate starts to melt, and the cream starts to bubble, take off the heat. Mix well, to ensure the chocolate melts into the cream and all is combined. Keep aside, and allow to cool.

Creme Patissiere

This is so yum. So easy, and so very subtle. I love the vanilla bean studded throughout, but if you dont have a vanilla bean, just use a couple tablespoons of vanilla extract. You can use this to for the basis of any cream fruit tart, and also to stuff eclairs. Simple and good.

  • 2 1/2 cups thick milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 – 6 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp flour

By thick milk, I really mean milk that has been cut with a bit of cream to give it richness. You dont have to do this, you can definitely use just milk, but I prefer to add about half a cup of cream to 2 cups of milk in this recipe.

Pour the milk into a medium saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean in half, and using the tip of your knife or a small spoon, coax all the seeds out of the bean. Place both bean and seeds into the milk. Put over high heat, and allow the mixture to come just to the boil. Whisk to ensure that a skin doesnt form. Set aside, covered, to steep for about 15 minutes to half an hour.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar until light yellow. By the way, the amount of caster sugar really just reflects how sweet you like your creme patissiere. If your strawberries are not that sweet, then use more sugar. Whisk in the flour. The mixture will become very thick and almost pudding-y.

Once the milk has come down to lukewarm, whisk about half a cup into the egg mixture, and then whisk this back into the remaining milk. Put saucepan over heat again, and cook until the creme just comes to the boil, about 5 minutes or so on medium heat. It must boil to become creme. It will get thicker as it cooks, just make sure you whisk constantly. Once the creme is to your consistency, pour into a bowl, and allow to cool, covered with a bit of greaseproof paper or plastic wrap. This will ensure no skin forms.

You can refrigerate the creme patissiere for up to two days. When you are ready to use it, fish out the vanilla bean stalks.

Port wine and balsamic glaze

  • 3/4 cup port wine
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp very old balsamico

In a saucepan (just a note, I used the same saucepan for all these components! Just rewashed it over and over, saved on the cleanup!) combine the port wine, caster sugar and balsamico. Stir to ensure that the sugar has dissolved into the wine mixture. Over medium heat, boil the wine until it reduces by half and becomes very syrupy. It will eventually boil up – this is usually a clue that its reduced far enough. Pour into a heat proof bowl, and allow to cool.

Assembly

  • Baked and cooled tart shell
  • Chocolate ganache
  • Creme patissiere
  • 1lb/500 gm fresh strawberries (or more if you want), hulled, and sliced if you want or kept whole

You can assemble this pie up to 1 day before serving, but honestly, I think its better the day of serving, assembled a few hours before eating.

Using an icing spreader, or the back of a spoon, spread the chocolate ganache all over the cooled tart shell, including the sides. Use as much or as little of the ganache as you like. Any leftover can be used for a variety of delicious things! Place the chocolate covered tart shell in the fridge for at least half an hour to let the ganache solidify.

Once the ganache has hardened, take the tart out of the fridge, and spread the cooled creme patissiere over. Dont fill the pie right to the edge, as the strawberries will displace a bit of the creme.

YumArrange strawberries in a pretty pattern all over the creme patissiere, and brush them gently with the port wine glaze. Refrigerate for at least half an hour and up to a day.

Celebrate 🙂