Easter Feature March 2013

(Click here to print recipe card)

This is an adaptation of one of my favourite childhood sweet treats that was made for us on very special occasions.

Puffs (makes 12):
1 cup water, room temperature
125g butter, softened
1 tsp caster sugar
1 cup plain flour, sifted
4 lge eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 190 °C. Place the water, butter and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Add flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a thick paste that leaves the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition until the paste is shiny and smooth. The paste will separate as you add each egg but will come back together as you continue to beat. Drop rounded dessert spoonfuls of the paste onto an ungreased baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden in colour. 

Remove from the oven and gently transfer each puff to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Custard Filling:
2.5 cups milk
114g caster sugar
56g plain flour
14g cornflour
2 lge eggs
56g butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g dark chocolate

Heat the milk in a saucepan on a low heat until it comes to a gentle rolling boil. Mix together the sugar, flour, cornflour, eggs and stir in a little of the hot milk. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. Add the mixture to the remaining milk in the saucepan and continue to stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens and nearly boils. 

Remove from the heat, add the butter and chocolate beating well. Allow to cool. Once the custard has cooled cut a small slit in the side of each puff casing and gently spoon in the custard. Dust the puffs with icing sugar just prior to serving.

*These are best eaten on the day they are prepared.

(Click here to print recipe card)

Perfect for those who like a slightly “less-sweet” chocolate treat. Serve alongside a steaming cup of your favourite tea.

(makes approximately 30)
260g plain flour, sifted
65g unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
128g caster sugar
90g unsalted butter, softened
1tsp of orange flavouring/liqueur
2 lge eggs, room temperature
65g candied orange peel, chopped
128g hazelnuts, toasted & chopped
65g of dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 °C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Mix together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and set aside. Cream the sugar, butter and orange flavour until light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides as required. Add the flour mixture, orange peel, hazelnuts, chocolate and mix gently to combine. 

Divide the mixture into two and form two flat logs on one of the baking trays. Bake for 25-30 minutes until slightly firm. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 150 °C. Transfer the logs to a cutting board and using a serrated knife carefully cut the logs into 
3/4-inch slices. 

Transfer the slices, cut side down, onto the baking trays (this time you will need two trays).Bake for 15 minutes until crisp, turning the slices halfway through. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

(Click here to print recipe card)

Why buy gifts this Easter when you can treat family and friends to a home-made treat as easy as these delicious chocolate morsels!

300g good quality dark chocolate, melted
2 tsp orange flavour/liqueur
100g pistachios, toasted & chopped
100g candied orange peel, chopped

Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Add the chocolate and orange flavour to a heavy based saucepan over a low heat and thoroughly melt the chocolate stirring continuously using a  silicon spatula. Pour the melted chocolate onto the  baking tray and spread until it is 0.5cm thick.

Sprinkle the pistachios and orange peel over the top of the chocolate and then refrigerate for 6 hours until completely set. Once set, crack the chocolate into shards and serve or wrap decoratively as Easter gifts.

(Click here to print recipe card)

This tart has the perfect mix of salty and sweet flavours appealing to all taste buds and goes perfectly with a strong espresso coffee.

Dulche de leche (caramel):
1 x 395g of sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 220 °C. Pour the contents of the tin into a small, glass, oven proof baking dish. Sprinkle with some sea salt and tightly cover with foil. Place the covered dish in a larger oven proof dish filled with boiling water until it reaches 3/4 of the way up the smaller covered dish. Bake for 90 minutes checking every 30 minutes to ensure the water level is maintained in the larger dish, topping it up as required. Set aside to cool. Can be refrigerated for up to a week.

120g digestive biscuits (granita)     
120g mini pretzels, salted
60g dark chocolate
20 whole coffee beans, roasted
160g salted butter, melted
2 tsps ground coffee beans

Place the biscuits, pretzels, chocolate and coffee beans into a food processor and pulse a few times until they are crumbled, although not too fine. Turn the food processor onto it’s lowest setting and pour the melted butter into the biscuits as it is going. Stop as soon as the butter has been incorporated into the biscuits as you don’t want the crumb to be too fine, but rather retaining some crunch. 

Stir through the ground coffee and press into the base and sides of a 14 inch, rectangular, loose bottom flan tin. Refrigerate for at least one hour before filling.

Chocolate ganache:
375g good quality dark cooking 
chocolate, chopped
310ml single (pouring) cream
2 tsps vanilla bean paste

Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and place over a low heat stirring constantly with a silicon spatula until the chocolate has melted and all ingredients have incorporated. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Add 4 heaped tablespoons of Dulche de leche to the tart base and smooth over evenly. Poor over the chocolate ganache, shaking the tin gently to create a smooth finish and refrigerate for at least 6 hours until set.

Serve with double or clotted cream for the ultimate in indulgence!

(Click here to print recipe card)

A moist chocolate cake topped with rum poached pears. Perfect served warm from the oven or at room temperature. A favourite coming into the cooler Autumn weather.

Poached pears:
2 pears, peeled and sliced (1cm width)
3/4 cup rum
128g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract

Combine the above in a medium saucepan, ensuring the pears are completely submerged in the water. Gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the pears have softened slightly, approximately 15 minutes. Drain the pears and set them aside to cool. 
Reserve the liquid for serving.

Chocolate cake:
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
170g light brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
300g plain flour, sifted
1.5 tsps baking powder
35g unsweetened cocoa, sifted
128g sour cream
250g dark chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 160 °C and lightly grease a round, 23cm spring form cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition to give the cake a solid structure. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa over the butter mixture and add the sour cream and melted chocolate. Gently mix until just combined.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and gently push the pear slices into the top of the cake. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or when tested with a skewer it comes out clean. 

Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Delicious when served with a tablespoon of the warmed rum poaching liquid and whipped vanilla cream - to a 300ml carton of whipping cream add 1tsp of vanilla extract and whip until soft peaks form.