Swirls of melted chocolate magic. Photo: Simon Schluter
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In the immortal words of Charles M. Schulz, ''All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.'' Amen to that, although we must take exception to ''a little''. Australians are mad about the stuff, each consuming about six kilograms of chocolate a year in support of a $2.5 billion industry.
And why not? Chocolate is addictive, comforting and utterly compelling for refined cooks and couch gluttons alike. Food magazines boost sales every time chocolate features . It's not difficult to understand why the Incas thought it was the drink of the gods.
With Easter nearly upon us, we asked five of Australia's top pastry chefs to share their best chocolate recipes.
From Sydneysiders Adriano Zumbo and Lorraine Godsmark to Melburnians Darren Purchese, Philippa Sibley and Pierre Roelofs, these recipes are aimed at the home cook, while still scratching a more sophisticated chocolate itch. Happy Easter, and happy cooking.
Since arriving in Melbourne in 2005, British pastry chef Darren Purchese has worked at Vue de Monde and Fenix and as a consultant to The Press Club. Now heading Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio in South Yarra, he says: ''A cool or hot chocolate boost can be whipped up in no time with these handy frozen chocolate milk blocks. Just boil some milk and add the prepared chocolate blocks and emulsify with a hand blender or benchtop blender.'' Inspired by a weekend treat as a child, ''my chocolate milk recipe is fast and easy, and the ability to change infusions and chocolates means the variations are endless,'' he says.
Frozen chocolate milk blocks
175g dark chocolate
50g milk chocolate
100g cream (35 per cent fat)
100ml whole milk
pinch of salt
1. Combine the dark and milk chocolates into a microwave-safe bowl and gently melt together.
2. Place the cream, milk and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
3. Pour the cream and milk mixture over the chocolate and leave to sit for 30 seconds, then stir the mixture gently from the middle of the bowl to the outside using a silicone spoon.
4. Continue to mix until you have a shiny emulsion and pour this mixture into ice-cube trays.
5. Freeze the cubes of chocolate until needed.
The cream and milk can be infused with a variety of flavours. Bring the cream-milk to a simmer with spices and/or citrus zests or tea leaves. Strain the infusions and reboil to proceed with the frozen chocolate milk blocks basic recipe.
My favourite infusions: Orange zest and star anise, coffee and fennel, green tea and kaffir lime, earl grey and lemon, chilli. (Don't infuse the tea for too long.)
200g frozen chocolate blocks
400ml whole milk
1. Place the frozen chocolate blocks into a blender.
2. Boil the milk and pour on top of the blocks, carefully blend and emulsify the two ingredients together.
3. Remove the milk from the blender and cool or reheat as required.
4. Serve immediately in mugs or small milk bottles.
Tip For safe pasteurisation, heat to above 85C.
Serves 4 x 150 millilitres
Pierre Roelofs has worked around the world and in Melbourne guided the pastry section of Interlude and Hotel Sofitel. These days you will find him every Thursday night at Fitzroy's Cafe Rosamond, where his dessert-only evenings are about to celebrate their fourth birthday. ''This cake has an incredible, rich taste and fudge-like texture, is gluten-free and quite quick,'' says Roelofs. He also promises it is simple to make.
8 eggs (400g, based on 50g eggs)
700g dark, soft-brown sugar
pinch of salt
200g good-quality (Dutch-processed) cocoa powder
1. Line a 23cm x 30cm tin with baking paper and preheat oven to 140C or 130C fan-forced.
2. Warm the eggs and brown sugar over a pot of simmering water and whisk until light and fluffy (a minimum of 10 minutes by machine). Add the salt.
3. Melt the butter and sift the cocoa powder. Gently fold them into the egg mixture, keeping the mixture as aerated as possible.
4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 45 minutes, turning the tin occasionally, until firm and evenly cooked.
Note It is important to bake the cake at a low temperature, so that it doesn't rise excessively, collapse and end up dry and crusty. The cake will sink slightly as it cools.
Adriano Zumbo began his pastry apprenticeship at age 15, opened his first patisserie at 26 and sprang to national prominence in 2009 thanks to MasterChef and his croquembouche macaron tower and V8 cake. He now has five patisseries across Sydney and Melbourne and is the author of Zumbo and Zumbarons, celebrating his take on the macaron.
Chocolate macaron shells
270g almond meal
270g icing sugar
60g unsweetened cocoa powder
300g castor sugar
220g egg whites (macarons are an exact science and eggs can differ in size)
2-3 drops red colour
1. Process almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa powder to a fine powder using a food processor, then sift into a large bowl.
2. In a saucepan, put the sugar and 75 millilitres of room-temperature water and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and add the colouring. Cook until the mixture reaches 118C (use a candy thermometer).
3. To make the meringue mixture, whisk half the egg whites (110 grams) and when they start to froth, slowly drizzle the hot sugar down the sides of the bowl. Whisk until the mixture reaches 50C.
4. Add the remaining egg whites to the almond meal mixture to make a paste. Fold through the meringue mixture until a stable, soft mixture is achieved.
5. On a baking tray lined with a Silpat baking mat or silicone paper, pipe 4 to 4.5 centimetre rounds for the head and 5.5 to 6 centimetre rounds for the body. Remove any excess air.
6. Leave tray at room temperature so the macarons form a skin (touch dry).
7. Place in oven at 150C to cook for about 15 to 18 minutes. Leave to cool.
Chocolate ganache 70 per cent
3 vanilla beans
560g dark couverture (70 per cent)
1. Heat cream, honey and vanilla
2. Melt dark couverture.
3. Combine the two and blitz to form the ganache.
4. Allow the ganache to cool and become firm enough to pipe.
white couverture chocolate feet (I've made mine from small Easter egg moulds)
dark couverture chocolate ears (see below)
chocolate or sugar flowers (or any decoration that you like!)
1. To make the chocolate ears, dip a paring knife in tempered dark couverture chocolate, then press on to baking paper and allow to set to create a perfect bunny ear.
2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a seven millimetre diameter piping tube with the ganache.
3. Pipe the ganache on the flat side of half of the macaron shells. Place the remaining macaron shells on top.
4. Roll the macarons in pop rocks to coat the ganache. Leave to set.
5. Using melted chocolate, join the mac bunny's body and head together, then add the ears, feet and flower decoration.
Queen of desserts Philippa Sibley has been there, done that: from Le Gavroche, Est, Quaglino's and Harvey's in London and the three Michelin-starred La Cote Saint Jacques in France to running her own Melbourne show at the legendary est est est and Ondine and now the recently opened Prix Fixe. ''I did a chocolate, licorice, pink grapefruit and raspberry pudding at Circa back in the day. Lisa van Haandel called it the Million Dollar Bullet. Variations ensued,'' says the author of PS Desserts. ''It's very Aussie but more sophisticated than the cherry ripe and violet crumble.''
160g dark couverture chocolate (70 per cent), finely chopped or grated
375ml thickened cream
30g soft licorice, chopped
2½ leaves of gold gelatin (5g) soaked in iced water
extra licorice for garnish
2 punnets each blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
1. Have the chocolate ready in a large bowl with a strainer over it.
2. Bring the cream and milk to a simmer with the sugar. Stir to dissolve.
3. Place the licorice and 20 millilitres of water in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on medium for 30 seconds to soften. Add to the hot cream/milk. Stir well to dissolve licorice.
4. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatin and stir into the mixture over medium heat until fully dissolved.
5. Pour the hot mixture though the strainer on to the chocolate then stir to melt the chocolate.
6. Pour the mixture into 125 millilitre dariole moulds and refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours.
7. Dip moulds into hot water and gently invert on to serving plates. Surround with berries and slivers of extra licorice.
Neil Perry's head pastry chef at Rockpool for a decade, Lorraine Godsmark then branched out on her own at cafes Six Seven Ate and Yellow. Now at the Merivale-backed retail store Lorraine's Patisserie in Sydney's CBD and in charge of desserts at the adjoining Palings Kitchen & Bar, Godsmark says these chocolate truffle cookies - so-named because they're crisp on the outside and soft in the middle - remain one of her biggest sellers.
"This recipe was given to me by my pastrychef friend Nadine. She's delighted that we still make them. As a tribute to her we call them 'Dino's Cookies'. They are so moreish people get hooked on them.''
170g dark chocolate
125g unsalted butter
55g brown sugar
100g castor sugar
¼ tsp vanilla essence
45g plain flour
6g baking powder
pinch of salt
120g toasted hazelnuts, chopped
170g dark chocolate, chopped
115g milk chocolate, chopped
115g white chocolate, chopped
1. Boil a small amount of water in a pot. Meanwhile chop the dark chocolate into large pieces. Place in a bowl with the butter and fit the bowl in the pot. Turn the heat off (it is important not to burn the chocolate) and stir the chocolate until all the butter has melted. Remove the bowl from the pot.
2. Place the eggs in an upright mixer. Using the paddle attachment beat the eggs on a medium to high speed until fluffy. Add the sugars and vanilla. Continue beating until very light and creamy. Now add half of the melted chocolate and mix slowly to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then mix in the other half of melted chocolate.
3. Take the bowl off the machine and blend in the sifted dry ingredients. Place back on the machine and mix on a low speed for one minute. Now add the chopped nuts and chocolates, pulsing gently until well combined.
4. Spoon cookies on to a nonstick mat (about 45 grams each) keeping them compact as they will spread. Note: It is better to have a thick cookie so they become crisp on the outside and remain soft in the middle.
5. Bake at 150C for 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container when cool.
What's your favourite chocolate indulgence? Do you make it yourself or is it something you order at your favourite cafe or restaurant? Share your best suggestion for a chocolate hit using the comment function below.
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