Tag Archives: whipped cream

Raspberry Tart

28 Nov

With purple pansiesThis raspberry tart is dramatic, beautiful, romantic and outrageously delicious. Its such a perfect combination of flavours and textures, and its so pretty that people smile when they see it. I love this tart, and I must give credit where it is due – it was inspired by Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio’s amazing raspberry tart, but enlivened with a few of my own happy pleasures. Specifically, dark bittersweet chocolate – and instead of a cookie crust, a pistachio crust inspired by her pistachio ice cream.

This tart is easily made (in its various components) ahead of time, and put together a few hours before serving. The combination of pistachio biscuit crust, dark bittersweet chocolate cream, light vanilla whipped cream and tart fresh raspberries is just outstanding. Crunchy, slightly bitter and nutty, creamy, chocolatey, tart, fresh, cool, bright – decadent, sumptuous, and totally sensual. Can you tell by all the superlatives how much I loved this tart? 😉

The element which brought drama and a really natural beauty to the tart were the flutters of sweet purple flowers adorning the top. My local supermarket sells edible flowers in a little packet – all different colours and they are beautiful. I picked out the purple ones – pansies I think – and together, they made for a stunningly lovely presentation. You can find information on edible flowers at the Cook’s Thesaurus and also some very pretty photographs here and here. Flowers are a wonderful way to make food look visually appealing and beautiful, and after this result, I definitely need to start using them more often!

This tart will serve 10 – 12 people. Its very rich, so you dont need huge slices.

Pistachio Crust

  • 1 cup whole pistachios
  • 2 tbsp powdered/icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp flour (plus additional if needed)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp cold butter
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Using a coffee grinder, processor, your immersion blender – or even a plastic back and a rolling pin to smack them into submission! – grind and pulverise the pistachios with the powdered sugar. The sugar will ensure that the nuts dont go over into a paste – but watch them carefully. I usually grind the pistachios in two batches of 1/2 cup each plus 1 tbsp of powdered sugar.

Put the ground pistachios and sugar into a bowl. Add the flour and salt and toss to combine. Grate the cold butter over the pistachio mixture, and using the tips of your fingers, combine very gently. You could even use a fork left in the fridge to mix everything up. This mixture can be exceedingly delicate so be careful!

Beat the 1 egg and vanilla together, and add to the pistachio-butter mixture. Combine gently and quickly until the mixture comes together into a dough. If its really sticky, add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time until it comes together, but be gentle and work quickly.

Shape the dough into a ball, and refrigerate, covered for at least half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 175 C (350F). I used a 11″ tart pan with a detachable base and non stick surface for this tart. If your tart pan is not non-stick (and really, it should be if it has a detachable base), butter the pan well. Remove the dough from the fridge, and centre it on a the tart pan. Using your fingers, quickly spread and knead and push and prod the dough so it completely covers the pan. Line the tart with parchment/baking paper, and pour in some pie weights. I use dried beans – theyre much cheaper, and they work just as well!

Bake your tart for about 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the baking paper and pie weights/beans, and place the tart crust back into the oven for a further 5 minutes or so, or until the shell has lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 3 minutes or so. Whisk the egg white with a fork in a small cup or bowl. Brush the interior of the shell with the egg white. This is a great trick to ensure that the tart crust is “water proof” and does not become soggy when you add the pastry cream!

Set aside to cool completely before assembly.

You can make the tart crust up to 1 day in advance, and store in the fridge, covered until needed.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups cream
  • About 150 grams (1 1/2 small slab bars) best quality bittersweet chocolate – I used Lindt, broken into pieces
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt until well combined. Whisk together the egg yolks and cream in a small bowl, and whisk into the sugar-flour mixture until you get a smooth paste.

Place the saucepan over medium low heat, and bring slowly to the boil, whisking all the while. This will take you about 10 minutes – about 5 minutes into this time, stick your thumb in the mixture. It should be like quite hot bathwater. Add the chocolate now, and continue whisking for a further 5 minutes or so. The mixture will start to steam, and bubble, and will have become noticeably thicker.

Check that the mixture will hold a line when it coats the back of a spoon and you run your finger through it. If not, continue to cook for a few minutes further, whisking all the while. It should not take that long to get there, so be vigilant! And remember, the pastry cream will thicken as it cools, so the consistency at which you take it off the stove is not the consistency it will be when you finally assemble the tart!

Remove the saucepan from the heat, and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Strain the pastry cream through a fine sieve, and allow to cool to room temperature.

The pastry cream can be made up to 2 days in advance, and stored, covered (with parchment paper spread over the surface for preference), in the refrigerator until needed.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream – 2 tbsp of cream removed from this amount
  • 1 1/2 tsp agar agar
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split, and beans scraped – or 1 tbsp vanilla essence/paste

Measure out 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. From this amount, measure out 2 tbsp, and remove to a small bowl. Sprinkle agar agar over the 2 tbsp of cream, and set aside for a few minutes to allow the agar agar to dissolve into the cream.

Whisk the remaining cream (by hand if youre macho – with a stand mixer or handheld electric beaters if youre me!) until it just begins to hold soft peaks. Add the reserved cream and agar agar mixture, the icing sugar and the vanilla, and whisk until the cream holds stiff peaks.

The agar agar will ensure that the cream holds its shape for about six hours.

I would prepare the whipped cream just before assembly.


  • Pistachio Crust
  • Bittersweet Chocolate Pastry Cream
  • Vanilla Whipped Cream
  • Raspberries – About 1 1/2 pints (1 1/2 small packets)
  • Pretty edible flowers for additional decoration (optional)

Place the tart crust/shell on a good working surface. For the kind of pretty decoration that I created here, I actually centered the crust (in pan) on a small lazy susan that I had from Ikea – this helped move the tart as I was placing raspberries and piping cream.

Pour in the bittersweet chocolate pastry cream, and using a palette knife or even a spoon, ensure that the pastry cream is evenly covering the tart shell, and is smoothed on top.

For this tart, I placed half the vanilla whipped cream into a piping bag with a small round tip (and topped it up when needed). If you want to get extra fancy, you could use a star tip, but that for me would be gilding the lily!

GorgeousPipe a border of whipped cream around the edge of the tart. Now take the raspberries, one at a time, and using the small tip, fill the raspberry with whipped cream, and pipe a small circle of cream at the opening of the raspberry. Place the raspberries onto the pastry cream in circles – working your way from outside in.

Once the tart has been covered with raspberries, begin placing the flowers. Pipe small circles of cream between the raspberries, working from inside out, and on each small circle of cream, place a single flower. You could cover the entire tart with raspberries and flowers, or, as I preferred to do, leave the outer edges with the decadent chocolate cream peeking out.

Refrigerate the tart until ready to serve. Assemble no more than 6 hours before consuming!

When you are ready to serve, remove the tart from the pan, leaving the bottom intact.

Enjoy the pleasures of this most lovely of desserts.

Paul’s Black Forest Birthday Cake

24 Jun

Since I posted the best cookie recipe ever, I thought I would stick to that sweet theme today, and post my dear friend, Paul’s birthday cake. Paul liberated me as a cook many years ago when I presented him with his first Black Forest Birthday Cake. I was shy because the cake was a bit wobbly, and listed to the side. When I told him this, he laughed and said to me that that was the perfection in my cakes – he could tell they were home made and created with plenty of love and sayang BECAUSE they were a little imperfect, and they were full of my energy and my love. I realised that people taste and see and feel and smell the love that you put into food, and it doesnt have to be visually perfect for it to be satisfyingly lovingly perfect. He made me a braver and more confident cook, and when he was here for his birthday, I couldnt resist making him another Black Forest Cake – this one even MORE wobbly than the last!

This cake is a bit of a major undertaking, BUT its easy peasy if you make it in stages. I made the alcoholic version, but you could easily substitute cherry juice in place of cherry brandy, and have a delicious non-alcoholic cake as well. Make the cherry filling, and cherry sauce the day before. You can bake the cake up to two days ahead as well. The whipped cream should be prepared on the day of serving, though if you really need to, you can make it up to a day ahead, given that its stabilized with agar agar.

Cherry filling + Cherry sauce

  • About 5 – 6 cups cherries, pitted (I used fresh frozen because we had none in the shops)
  • 1 bottle cherry brandy (or 1 bottle cherry juice or other dark berry juice)
  • Sugar (to taste)
  • Water
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon

In a large bowl, drain and defrost the cherries. Pour off any juice into a measuring cup. You should have about 2 cups. If you don’t, make it up with water (or cherry brandy!).

Pour the juice into a small saucepan, add about 3 tablespoons of sugar and about 1 cup of cherry brandy. Boil until syrupy. Cool and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, put the cherries in a large saucepan and add:

  • 1 – 2 cups cherry brandy
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Boil until cherries release their juice, and the entire beautiful heap becomes soft and jammy. Cool. Pour about 1/2 cup of brandy over and refrigerate.

Chocolate sauce

  • 3 bars of extra dark, bittersweet chocolate,
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3 tbsp butter

Break the bars into small chunks, and put all in a small saucepan, over very very low heat. Stir until melted.

Keep aside until ready to assemble cake

Chocolate buttermilk cake

Prepare 3 baking pans, lining the bottom with parchment paper, and buttering bottoms and sides. Preheat oven to 170 C

Beat together:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cup sugar

until fluffy, creamy and light yellow.

Beat in

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • About 1/2 cup of melted chocolate (which you have put aside)

To this mix, beat in

  • 3 cups flour mixed with 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt and 1 cup cocoa powder

alternately with

  • 2 cups buttermilk

Taste. If its not chocolately enough for you, add up to 1/2 c cocoa or melted chocolate.

Divide equally between 3 cake tins, and bake for approximately 10 – 15 minutes each tin, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool, in the tin and if you are not using the same day, refrigerate, wrapped tightly in grease proof paper.

Whipped cream

Beat together

  • 4 – 5 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla

As the mixture just reaches stiffness, add

  • 1 tsp agar agar to every cup of cream

Whip until very stiff peaks hold. The agar agar acts as a vegetarian gelatin – it ensures the whipped cream holds its stiffness and does not leak or become watery. It can stay this way for hours and hours and there is no added taste or influence from the agar agar.


Turn 1 cake onto serving platter, and with a fork, poke holes in the cake … everywhere! Brush the reduced cherry (brandy) sauce on to cake, and if you like sprinkled with a little more neat cherry brandy.

Cover with a thin layer of chocolate sauce, then spread the cake with a layer of whipped cream. Heap cherries on top, and sprinkle with crumbled chocolate (I use Flakes).

Repeat for remaining layers of cake, finishing with whipped cream along top and sides, sprinkles of chocolate and maraschino cherries if you like.

Refrigerate for at least two hours (and up to 12) to let the cake set well before serving.