(Hazelnut meringue with chocolate cream and cherries)
Well, it’s been a bit of a mixed year, hasn’t it? If the Mayan apocalypse doesn’t ruin all our plans for the 25th, I’d like to wish everyone reading this, Merry Christmas!
We had friends over for dinner the other day as part of a pre-Christmas catch up. Put two teetotallers and two vinous aficionados at a table and you would think it’d be a recipe for disaster, but it was so much fun. If it takes an occasion like the holiday season for people to finally get together, then so be it. In light of recent bad news happening around the World, I’m reminded of how lucky some of us are to live happy, (relatively) uncomplicated lives and to be surrounded by loved ones, or at least be connected to friends near and far away.
At the end of the evening, dessert was brought out with a bit of a disclaimer. This recipe was new to me and I didn’t know if it would turn out well. What is it meant to be like, they asked? I’d hoped it would be chewy, gooey, crispy and crunchy.
And it was.
The recipe for the meringue comes by way of the brilliant Ottolenghi cookbook. A sweet way to end a meal, Christmas or otherwise.
Hazelnut meringues :
100g egg whites
generous pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 110′C.
In a bowl, whisk the egg whites, sugar and salt together just to combine. Warm the mixture in the bowl over a bain marie until it feels warm to touch, stirring at all times. Transfer the contents of the bowl to an electric mixer and whisk on high until the mixture has cooled down and you have a firm, shiny meringue. Swirl in the chopped hazelnuts and cocoa powder.
Place large spoonfuls of the meringue onto lined baking trays. Bake for about 2 hours or until the bottoms of the meringues feel dry.
Tags: cherries, chocolate, gluten free, hazelnut
(Cracking fresh Yarra Valley hazelnuts)
After our recent trip to Shanghai, I feel the need to slow down again. Shanghai was a blur of crowded streets and brightly lit concrete towers by night. By day, the streets remained crowded, while sunshine sifted valiantly through pale dusty skies. I remember the sounds – of street karaoke, car horns and bicycle bells, of people having animated discussions on park benches, and the shout of street sellers hawking their wares. All overwhelming and exciting at the same time.
My favourite moments were visiting Fuxing Park for a bit of people-watching, and strolling through Dong Tai Road, admiring the collections of objects on display at the antiques market. Quiet little moments you would not expect to experience in such a bustling city.
And now I’m back, incidentally also armed with a few new baking tins that I bought at a massive kitchen warehouse in Shanghai. They’ll be put to use eventually.
This Nutella cake comes via Nigella Lawson’s “How to be a Domestic Goddess” and was made after something moist and very chocolate-y was requested for dessert. It reminded me of the chocolate orange cake from one of the House of Flour stores in Shanghai. I had not intended to seek out cake during that trip (why would you, when there are so many dumplings and crispy duck bits to be eaten?) but after spending the whole afternoon negotiating the perils of being a pedestrian and getting intermittently lost, it was somewhat comforting to spend just half an hour contemplating nothing more than a piece rich chocolate cake and a cup of tea.
As luck would have it, we bought fresh hazelnuts from a farmers market in Melbourne recently, so these were shelled and ground into meal for the cake. In hindsight, we should’ve bought a bigger bag of nuts and then I could have made my own Nutella too. Maybe next time. Melbourne’s not that far away afterall.
If you don’t have the book, her recipe is also online here. Now I’m off to enjoy another quiet cake-filled moment.
Tags: cake, chocolate, flourless, ganache, hazelnut, Nigella Lawson
(Chocolate cake truffles)
For the past week I’ve been busy planning and preparing for a wedding cake I’ll be making for a friend. My relative inexperience with most things pertaining to weddings means I’m nervous yet very excited at the prospect of this new challenge. As our little kitchen isn’t geared towards the production of large items, I’ve had to be a bit more strategic with stacking all the cartons of cream in our modestly priced, modestly sized fridge. Our pantry is currently somehow also managing to absorb an extra 2.5kg of bitter chocolate, 4kg of flour, 1kg of cocoa powder and sugar, lots of sugar.
A small test cake was constructed a few days ago and the scrapheap of leftovers resulted in a bowl of cake truffles. Cake truffles are a great way to use cake trimmings or give new life to dry cake. The truffles pictured here were made from devil’s food cake scraps mixed with chocolate ganache and chocolate hazelnut sauce, then scooped and rolled in melted chocolate and cocoa powder. You can also return extra cake trimmings back into the oven to bake until they are crisp, then blitz in the food processor and use as a crunchy alternative to cocoa powder.
Once the construction of the final cake is well under way, I have a feeling there will be a few more trimmings crying out to be converted into truffles. The perfect thing to snack on, in case I don’t already feel completely surrounded by mountains of chocolate by that stage.
Tags: cake, chocolate, hazelnut, petit fours