Friday, May 27, 2011

May Daring Bakers: Chocolate Marquise and Suisse Meringue

This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt They challenged everyone to make a chocolate marquise with a Suisse meringue. Other elements that they suggested were a caramel sauce and spiced nuts.

The original recipe they provided was absolutely huge, so I quartered it, because well... a) I didn’t have a pan big enough to fit it all in....or three regular sized pans, and b) let’s face it, I have the will power of a four year old. There’s no way I could hold back if I had that much chocolate around me!


Chocolate Marquise
3 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 large egg
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (40 ml) (40 grams/ 1½ oz) sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (2/3 fluid oz/ 20 ml.) water
Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
½ cup (4 fluid oz./ 120 ml.) heavy cream
½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling)
Torched meringue (recipe follows)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks and whole eggs. Whip on high speed until very thick and pale, about 10 - 15 minutes.
2. When the eggs are getting close to finished, make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook to softball stage (235F/115C).
3. With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the sugar syrup into the fluffy eggs, trying to hit that magic spot between the mixing bowl and the whisk.
4. When all of the syrup has been added (do it fairly quickly), turn the mixer back on high and whip until the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take at least 10 minutes.
5. In a separate mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.
6. When the egg mixture has cooled, add the chocolate base to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Try to get it as consistent as possible without losing all of the air you've whipped into the eggs.
7. Fold 1/3 of the reserved whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.
8. Pour into the prepared pans and cover with plastic wrap (directly touching the mixture so it doesn't allow in any air).
9. Freeze until very firm, at least 2 - 4 hours (preferably 6 – 8 hours).
10. When you're ready to plate, remove the marquise from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving. While it's still hard, remove it from the pan by pulling on the parchment 'handles' or by flipping it over onto another piece of parchment.
11. Cut it into cubes and roll the cubes in cocoa powder. These will start to melt almost immediately, so don't do this step until all of your other plating components are ready. The cubes need to sit in the fridge to slowly thaw so plating components can be done during that time. They don’t need to be ready before the cubes are rolled in the cocoa powder.

Chocolate Base
3 oz (85 grams/ 6 tablespoons) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa)
1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons (90 ml/3 fluid oz.) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/16 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon (15 ml/ 1/2 fluid oz.) tequila
1 tablespoon (15 ml/ 1/2 fluid oz.) light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon/(less than 1/4 ounce) cocoa powder (we used extra brut, like Hershey's Special Dark, but any Dutch-processed cocoa would be fine. Do not substitute natural cocoa powder.)
dash freshly ground black pepper
1/4 oz unsalted butter (1/2 tablespoon/8 grams), softened

1. Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl.
2. In a double-boiler, warm the cream until it is hot to the touch (but is not boiling). Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
3. Allow it to sit for a minute or two before stirring. Stir until the chocolate is melted completely and is smooth throughout.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
5. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Do not refrigerate, as the base needs to be soft when added to the marquise mixture. If you make it the day before, you may need to warm it slightly. Whisk it until it is smooth again before using it in the marquise recipe.

Torched Meringue
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) (3½ oz or 100 gms) sugar
Splash of apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

1. Combine the egg whites, sugar and vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your (clean, washed) hand, reach in the bowl and stir the three together, making sure the sugar is moistened evenly by the egg whites and they make a homogeneous liquid.
2. Over a saucepan of simmering water, warm the egg white mixture. Use one hand to stir the mixture continuously, feeling for grains of sugar in the egg whites. As the liquid heats up, the sugar will slowly dissolve and the egg whites will thicken. This step is complete when you don't feel any more sugar crystals in the liquid and it is uniformly warm, nearly hot.
3. Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and return it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until you reach soft peaks. In the last 10 seconds of mixing, add the vanilla to the meringue and mix thoroughly.
4. When you're ready to plate the dessert, spoon the meringue onto a plate (or use a piping bag) and use a blowtorch to broil.


I decided to make a coffee cardamom marquis, so I substituted the cayenne and pepper with them, and simply left out the tequila. Jenny and Emma also provided a recipe for tequila caramel and spiced nuts, however I instead made an orange caramel (simply with orange juice and sugar), and caramelised some orange segments.

I made it as a birthday cake for my boyfriend and boy was it a hit! After the initial, nicely plated piece, he progressed to eat the rest straight from the pan and polished off the lot in two days. This is impressive considering the only times I saw him in those two days was just before work and after work (we travel together).

Although I barely got any (*ahem*), I really enjoyed this dessert. It was so soft, and delicious and I loved the contrast of flavours. I also adored the Suisse meringue. I’d never made one before, and it was INCREDIBLE. I actually sat the bowl down next to me while I did an assignment and ate it straight out of the bowl. Torching each bite as I went. Deeeeelicious!


Monday, May 23, 2011


One of my favourite memories as a child is eating fresh baked (and still deliciously hot) pretzels with butter in Freiburg, Germany. One of my mum’s best friends lived there, and when we went on a family trip to Europe, we stayed with her for a week. And every morning, we ate delicious, hot, buttery pretzels. I was in heaven.


Unfortunately, it wasn’t until five years later that I was able to eat another pretzel. This time, we bought them from an Austrian lady who had a stall at the local markets. They were good, but not as good as I remembered, and I quickly forgot about them.

Lately however, with the warm weather at an end, and chilly, blustery days replacing it, I started craving delicious homemade breads and pastries.

I was sitting in a Constitutional law lecture (not paying any attention at all), when I remembered pretzels and two days later, here they are, fresh and delicious, sitting in my kitchen calling to me. I’m trying to resist, because I know they’re bad for me. I know my tummy won’t be happy with me if I don’t but...well, they smell so good and fresh and amazing!

I’ve already had one, and now I’m addicted (again!)


1½ cups warm water ( about 45˚C)
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2¼ tsp instant yeast
4 ½ cups plain flour
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
egg wash (1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp water)
sea salt

1. To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl and whisk until yeast is dissolved.
2. Add the flour and butter, and mix until the dough comes together and leaves the side of the bowl.
3. Turn out from bowl and knead for five to ten minutes, until smooth.
4. Transfer to another bowl, greased with vegetable oil, turn over to coat and let it rise for an hour or until it has doubled in size (I actually left mine over night as I wanted them for breakfast, and I didn’t want to get up really early to make them...)
5. Preheat the oven to 230˚C, and prepare baking sheets with baking paper.
6. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, and, one piece at a time, roll them into 60cm ropes.
7. Make a ‘U’ shape, then cross the ends over and fold them onto the bottom of the U to make a pretzel shape.
7. Bring the water and baking soda to the boil in a large stockpot.
8. Put the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time for 30 seconds or so, remove from the pot with a slotted skimmer, and place on the baking sheet.
9. When all the pretzels have been boiled, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt.
10. Bake for around 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown, then transfer to cooling rack before serving.

I really enjoyed making these. I love making bread. I love kneading the dough, the smell of the yeast, and watching it rise. Most of all, I love the smell of freshly baked bread. Yum!

I enjoyed eating them even more, as did my boyfriend who gobbled down two in the space of about thirty seconds! I’m definitely adding them to the list of ‘Awesome Breakfast Ideas’!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sweet Corn and Zucchini Ratatouille

Happy Monday everybody! Hope you all had wonderful weekends!

Mine was pretty enjoyable, actually. On Saturday I had my first opportunity to work while my boyfriend was in the kitchen! I was actually kind of nervous. Every time I said ‘order in’ or asked for something I blushed just a little bit. Hahaha. (By the way, I’m a waitress working at one of Brisbane’s best restaurants – Moda (if you’re ever in this part of the world, you should DEFINITELY dine there for some really amazing and inspiring Spanish and French influenced food. There’s not too many options for vegetarians on the menu, but the chefs are ALWAYS happy to make up something special for anyone with any dietary requirements), and my boyfriend just started work there as an apprentice chef). On Sunday I went to uni for a group study session, which resulted in a group gossip session, which is always preferable.

And I made sweet corn and zucchini ratatouille. Delicious!


It’s also soooooo simple to make!

Here’s the recipe:
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red capsicum
1 green capsicum
½ eggplant
3 zuchinni, diced
1 can corn
¼ cup freshly chopped parsly
2 tsp freshly chopped thyme
¼ cp freshly chopped basil leaves
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion and sauté for around 4 minutes, or until softened.
3. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds)
4. Add the capsicum and sauté for another for minutes, and then add the eggplant, and continue to cook until soft.
5. Finally, add the zucchini and corn and sauté for a further five minutes or until they are crisp-tender.
6. Stir in the herbs and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

See? How easy is that? Not a traditional ratatouille, sure, but tasty nonetheless!

I unfortunately didn’t have any fresh herbs on hand, and was much too lazy to run to the shops, so I used dried. I definitely recommend fresh though, because although dried wasn’t bad, they didn’t impart as much flavour as I would have liked, and they were hard to chew!


Plus, they don’t look anywhere near as good as fresh herbs, don’t you think?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Date and Walnut POWERBALLS!

Wowee! It’s been a while!

How’s everyone been? How was Mother’s Day? I unfortunately had to work on Mother’s day, but that night I went home and made dinner for my family, which was nicely finished off with a raw, vegan cheesecake (which didn’t look nearly as impressive as I had hoped, hence the lack of post and/or recipe). It was a nice evening, very laid back which is my family’s style. Most importantly though, mum enjoyed herself!


After making her cake, I had a lot of spare walnuts, dates and coconut meal so I decided to combine it all into one SUPERSNACK!!! to keep me satisfied (and attentive) during the long lectures at uni. This plan worked...kind of. Well over half of them were eaten at home while procrastinating. And then six of them were eaten...wait for the car on the way to my mother’s house yesterday! I know! I had been meaning to give them to my family but...I know, I know, I’m a monster! :(

Anyway, it’s a very simple formula, so here it is:

1 cup dates, soaked for an hour or so (or figs, or any other dried fruit)
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (or any other nuts)
1 cup coconut meal, plus extra for coating.

Blend ingredients until they come together and there are no big chunks.
Shape into balls
Roll in coconut

Hey presto! All done! How easy was that? :P

Too easy.

Not to mention, healthy, gluten free, packed full of food stuff, vegan, no refined sugar...the list goe son and on!

So go make ‘em!