Hello Summer Chocolate Sorbet

Hello beautiful Sydney beaches
and sand getting into impossible places
and the impossibility of finding a spot to park your car
before joining the thirty minute queue at the fish and chip shop
for soggy snacks scooped from an overloaded fryer.

Hello crayon yellow peaches, pineapples, blush cherries,
ruby red raspberries, black plums, zebra tomatoes
and those things in Sydney that often look like apricots
but rarely taste like one

and sock tans and brown arms
from running under the sun in your new pair of gym shorts
that replaced the ones with a big rip
right where two cheeks would meet.

Hello mango cheeks, preservative free sausages, watermelon rind pickles,
and 42′C days that make you long for breakfast ice-cream.

Hello Summer
I think I love you sometimes.

Chocolate Sorbet :

300g water
70g sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder
60g 70% dark chocolate buttons
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g milk

In a medium pot, whisk together the cocoa, water, sugar and honey. Bring to boil, cook for 1-2 minutes then remove from heat. Whisk in the chocolate buttons, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Strain. Allow to chill overnight before churning. Eat and make often.

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Chewy, gooey, crispy, crunchy..


(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
180g sugar
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.

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Nutella chocolate cake


(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.

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