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It’s not so good for the people who happen to be with me (unless they’re also fellow avid bakers) but I can spend ages in the baking aisle of any supermarket. On one particular occasion, I picked up a packet of Coles dark cooking chocolate after being sucked in by the delectable-looking tart on the front and noticed a recipe at the back, saving me from looking up a recipe. The following is essentially the same recipe (with mixed berries used instead of raspberries).
100g melted butter
1 cup plain flour
3 tablespoon baking cocoa
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoon almond meal
1 cup mixed berries
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
200g dark cooking chocolate, broken into pieces
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan forced or 180C for a conventional oven.
2. Sift the flour, followed by the baking cocoa into a mixing bowl.
3. Add the sugar and almond meal.
4. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and combine everything until a soft dough is formed.
YAY, I NOW HAVE A FLUTED PASTRY TIN :D It’s been on my to-buy list for quite some time, so I’m glad it’s finally been added to my baking supplies.
5. Press the dough into a fluted loose-bottom pastry tin, covering the base and the side (the recipe recommended a 20cm x 3cm deep tin).
6. Use a fork to prick the base of the tart.
7. Bake for 15 minutes until the pastry is cooked. Set aside and reduce the oven temperature by 20C.
8. Heat the cream until simmering and move from heat.
9. Add the vanilla and chocolate. Use a wooden spoon to combine until melted and smooth.
10. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and caster sugar at medium speed until creamy.
11. Add in the chocolate mixture to the egg yolk+sugar mix and combine.
12. Place the mixed berries onto the base of the cooked pastry.
13. Pour over the combined chocolate mixture.
14. Tap the pastry tin lightly against the counter to remove any bubbles and smooth the surface.
15. Bake the tart for 35-40 minutes until just set at the centre.
*Note. the tart will be slightly liquidy and will wobble when the tin is moved.
16. Allow the tart to cool before placing in the fridge to set.
17. Cut the pastry into wedges. Thin wedges are advisable if your palate isn’t the biggest fan of sweet things - the tart tasted as rich and decadent as it looked.
Serve with cream and berries.
The best part of baking usually comes at the end - not the cleaning part but rather the presentation and the decoration of your product. Cakes and cupcakes are the most versatile when it comes to decorating, which is why you will frequently see them under the kitchen adventures page on this blog. I recently made the following cake for a friend’s birthday and because it was received quite favourably, I ended up making it again for a lab lunch.
Prepare two chocolate cakes the night before use and on the next day, frost and add the wafer sticks. I went with a chocolate devil’s food cake recipe I had previously used (with my original post here and the original link itself here).
180g butter, at room temperature and in cubes
1 3/4 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
2/3 cup baking cocoa
3 teaspoons coffee
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon red food colouring
1/2 cup warm water
Chocolate frosting: Betty Crocker’s
400g wafer sticks (not all the sticks will be used but it is better to have more just in case)
Other decorations: ribbon and strawberries
1. Prepare the cakes as previously described in any of the above links and set aside to cool after baking.
2. Once the cakes have cooled down, place in airtight containers and refridgerate overnight.
*The cakes will be easier to frost and move around after sitting in the fridge overnight. Having said that, exercise caution when moving the cakes around, particularly when it comes to step 5.
3. Cut the wafer sticks in half or at least aim to do so. I used a butcher’s knife. There will be some casualties when the wafer sticks break at the wrong point or crumble - but I find these disappear quite quickly when there are siblings around.
4. Cover the top of one cake (cake number one) with chocolate frosting.
5. Carefully transfer cake number two onto cake number one to sandwich the two cake layers together.
6. Cover the top of cake number two with chocolate frosting before moving onto the sides.
7. Frost the sides one section at a time and press wafer sticks against the frosting for adherence. The frosting starts to dry when exposed to air and the wafer sticks won’t stick unless added whilst the frosting is still moist.
Optional: once the sides have been covered with the wafer sticks, add a ribbon for decoration.
On the first occasion that I made this cake, I left it with just the ribbon. Sometimes simple is the way to go.
There were some strawberries in the fridge when I next made the cake, so I decided to add them on top.
For the best results, consume on the day of frosting and decorating because the wafer sticks become stale after a few hours.
There’s something remotely nostalgic about the smell and taste of gingerbread houses that reminds me of once upon a time. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the actual gingerbread itself as a child, but I did enjoy picking at the icing and sugary decoration. It has been a while since my last gingerbread house encounter but I decided to revisit the Christmas treat, going a step back to learn the craft of gingerbread house preparation at Bake Boss.
According to the instructor: “the key to assembling a gingerbread house is the icing.” We used a royal icing, which held very well with minimal holding-the-pieces-in-place-until-the-icing-set.
1. First pipe out a ‘L’ shape to prop up two adjacent walls.
2. After placing the walls onto the icing, hold the corner with one hand (as shown) and pipe at the join inside to help hold the two walls together.
3. Assemble another wall by piping a line, holding the wall and piping at the join.
4. Repeat step 3 with remaining wall.
5+6. In preparation for assembling the roof, pipe along the edges.
7. Place both the roof pieces on at the same time.
8. Cover the roof joint with royal icing, using a spiral decoration.
9. Place two chimney pieces wherever desired on top of the roof. Ensure that the pieces are properly spaced from one another.
10. Pipe two strips of icing on the remaining two chimney pieces.
11. Assemble the remaining chimney pieces at the same time, applying the same amount of pressure in both directions.
Some of my walls fell down during the assembly process, resulting in a smearing of the royal icing on the bottom. We were told that this was quite okay and if anything, helped add to the snow look.
The construction of the gingerbread house itself was fun but the real fun starts with the decoration.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…
Once decorated, icing sugar was sifted onto the house.
Wrapped in clear cellophane and ready to go. Great as gifts. And the homemade versions are most definitely cheaper than the hefty price tags some of these houses carry when purchased in stores.
Some might say that this is where the real fun begins…
It’s amazing what some jaffas and leaf cut outs can do to spruce up some ordinary cupcakes and add a festive touch. Simply add the lolly decorations to any frosted cupcake. I used a devil’s food cake recipe.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
180g butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup milk
Vanilla frosting (I used Betty Crocker’s pre-made frosting due to time constraints)
Sour apple straps/mint leaf lollies