Daring Bakers Challenge : Cannoli


(Vegemite ganache cannoli with avocado ice-cream and coffee)

I should first confess that I baked my cannoli. I’ve made plenty of cannoli before, but never at home due to my no-deep-frying-at-home policy (partly because I dread having to do the requisite post-fry clean up).

So, baked cannoli. Despite this, they actually turned out pretty well. The shells may have lacked that wonderful bit of blistering you get from frying, but they were slightly puffy and acceptably crunchy. A step up from the vast difference between oven chips and fried chips, if you will.

The resulting cannoli formed part of a dessert that played on the flavours of avocado, vegemite and toast; three ingredients which are one of my favourite ways to start the morning. How I came about the idea of incorporating them into a dessert, is a bit long winded and would probably require a flowchart to accurately re-tell. So I’m not going to.

Instead, I thought I would distract you with a recollection of my first avocado experience. Growing up, avocados were considered pretty exotic, so it was only when I was at least 10 that I tried my first avocado. It being the 80’s (that was the excuse anyway), mom served it to us sliced, with scoops of store-bought vanilla ice-cream. It was so horrible, I think I tried to hide the slices underneath the pool of melted ice-cream, and it was many years later before I finally realised how delicious avocados were.

Meanwhile, back at the cannoli factory…

I filled the cannoli shells with a vegemite chocolate ganache and paired them with a scoop of avocado ice-cream and some twisty chocolate tuiles for extra crunch. The avocado ice-cream recipe comes from The Perfect Scoop, by David Leibovitz. Following David’s recommendation to pour espresso over the ice-cream, I decided to incorporate coffee into the dessert, in the form of a crumble.

As with most first attempts, this is a tasty dish that would require a few changes if I were to make it again. And you know what, I just might make it again!


The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Thanks Lisa Michele, for picking such a versatile and interesting challenge this month!

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(‘Donuts’, hazelnut, and coffee)

There are things I know about myself that I cannot say out loud. I tell them to friends who I know will not blink or judge me. Or, like Tony Leung in In The Mood For Love whispering into the hollow of a tree, I cup my hands to my mouth and whisper into my blog.

I love..

I want..

I’m afraid…


Shhh..I’m afraid this is not actually a dessert I am entirely happy with. As soon as I plated up, it immediately looked ungainly and unrefined. Somewhat ugly. However, I wanted to share the pictures, to document how the ideas in my head develop from one dish to the next (and the next will be better, I hope).

This dish stems from my my current obsession with the idea of puddles of sauce or pudding, and edible skipping stones. Such images from nature, like natural works of art inspire me because of the positive emotions they create. That sense of happiness when you see blue skies and perfect clouds, or vast expanses of tall green grass. Poppies in a field. Watching the endless waves rolling towards a shore.

I love a dish with a story, even if it’s not likely that the people you feed will detect it. But if they get as much enjoyment from eating something that I am happy to make, then what more can you really wish for?

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Sweet weekendings

(Gingerbread ice-cream sandwich, espresso pudding, leatherwood milk)

My adorable five year old niece was once spotted demolishing the icing off a cupcake, leaving most of the cake behind. When it was pointed out to her by her disapproving mother, she exclaimed, “But I love cream!”. Uttered in her small, high-pitched voice, we found this quote so priceless, that B and I have since adopted it as our catchphrase. So now when I admonish B about his butter : toast ratio, he replies in a mock squeaky tone, “But I love butter!”

As for the dessert above, it started out as a slab of Guinness stout ginger cake. The recipe is by Claudia Fleming and is an absolute stunner. Assisted by the Guinness and molasses, this cake is unbelievably moist and has great depth of flavour with the perfect amount of spice.

In the mood for something a little different, I dried slices of the cake in the oven until crisp and sandwiched them between vanilla ice-cream (because I love ice-cream sandwiches). The sandwich was paired with accents of dry caramel and chocolate, dollops of espresso pudding (a recipe from the Alinea cookbook) and a frothy leatherwood honey milk which tasted malty and earthy : just like the gingerbread. There was also a small amount of smoked orange syrup drizzled on the plate, though not quite visible from the pictures.

Guinness stout ginger cake? I love it, and think you will too!

Guinness Stout Ginger Cake :
(serves 8; recipe from The Last Course by Claudia Fleming)

1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup molasses
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon grated, peeled fresh gingerroot

Preheat the oven to 175’C. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, line the bottom and sides with parchment, and grease the parchment. Alternatively, butter and flour a 6-cup Bundt pan.

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the stout and molasses and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the baking soda. Allow to sit until the foam dissipates.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs and both sugars. Whisk in the oil.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom.

Combine the stout mixture with the egg mixture, then whisk this liquid into the flour mixture, half at a time. Add the fresh ginger and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the top springs back when gently pressed. Do not open the oven until the gingerbread is almost done or the center may fall slightly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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