These totally take the cake

Nadine Ingram's chocolate hazelnut torte.
Nadine Ingram's chocolate hazelnut torte. Photo: Supplied

Chocolate, hazelnut torte

Nadine Ingram from Flour and Stone
53 Riley Street, Woolloomooloo, Sydney, 8068 8818, flourandstone.com.au

The towering soft, flourless cake topped with shiny chocolate ganache is a homespun recipe by nature, says master baker Nadine Ingram. Not a fan of "the fancy stuff out there with glazes and things all over it" sold in many patisseries, Ingram says she often wonders, "How many hands have touched that cake to make it?" People are always going to come back to the simple things, Ingram says. "People will return to what they always loved and trust." This chocolate, hazelnut torte is built on a pound cake principle, with the percentages of hazelnut and chocolate increased. It is gluten-free, but Ingram says this is "by default". "We often make cakes with no flour in them because flour can dry them out," she says. "Gluten-free cakes are more forgiving." But this cake has an "old-fashioned and nostalgic quality" that appeals to people, gluten-free or not.

225g butter

Pierrick Boyer's almond, coffee and chocolate tart.
Pierrick Boyer's almond, coffee and chocolate tart. Photo: Supplied

200g castor sugar

250g hazelnuts, toasted and skins removed, plus 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts for topping

250g chocolate (at least 60 per cent cocoa)

6 eggs, separated

Chocolate ganache

200g chocolate (at least 60 per cent cocoa), roughly chopped

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200ml thickened cream

1. Preheat oven to 150C (no fan). In an electric mixer, cream the butter with 150g of the castor sugar till pale and fluffy. In a food processor, finely chop the hazelnuts and chocolate separately. They should be as fine as possible (like powder).

2. Add the egg yolks to the butter and sugar one at a time, beating between each addition, then add the chocolate and hazelnuts into the bowl and fold in until combined.

3. Grease and line a 21cm-diameter springform cake tin with baking paper. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with the remaining sugar until soft peaks form. Fold through the chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared tin and bake for one hour, until the centre of the cake bounces back.

4. To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a medium mixing bowl. Set the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Slowly pour the cream into the chocolate and stir well until chocolate is melted and ganache is silky. Allow to reach room temperature, then pour over cooled cake. Top with whole toasted hazelnuts to serve.

Serves 10

Almond, coffee and chocolate tart

Pierrick Boyer at Le Petit Gateau
458 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, (03) 9944 8893, lepetitgateau.com.au

When Pierrick Boyer, head pastry chef at Le Petit Gateau, arrived in Melbourne from the US nine years ago, he resolved to come up with a Melbourne dessert. The city, he says, is resolutely the home of good coffee: "We're very particular and very demanding about coffee." His Melbourne-inspired chocolate tart was born out of the South Melbourne markets, where he discovered coffee. "Nine years ago, it was an old warehouse, but I loved that coffee smell there," he says. This tart has a buttery, crispy base, a layer of almond cream, and a coffee-chocolate ganache. Boyer tops his tart with curls of tempered chocolate, but he says plain is fine. "If you make something a bit rustic-looking, that's fine. Topped with a mascarpone quenelle, it will be light, with that wintry coffee and chocolate flavour."

For the pastry base

260g butter

4g salt

110g castor sugar

110g almond meal

240g plain flour

5 egg yolks

For the almond cream

40g butter, room temperature

40g castor sugar

40g almond meal

2 eggs

40g thickened cream

For the coffee-chocolate ganache

150ml milk

20g roasted coffee beans

240g milk chocolate (chopped)

50g dark chocolate (chopped)

For the mascarpone cream

150g thickened cream

150g mascarpone cheese

1 tsp vanilla bean, seeds scraped

1. Grease and line a round 22-centimetre tart tin. To make the pastry base, combine butter, salt and sugar in a mixer with a paddle, or use your hands. Mix in almond meal, sift in the flour and mix to combine. Add the egg yolks last, combine well to form a pastry, then flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for one hour. Roll out pastry and press into tart mould.

2. Preheat oven to 180C. To make the almond cream, combine butter and castor sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the almond meal, then the eggs and cream. Pour the almond cream on the raw tart case, bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

3. Make the ganache. Combine milk and coffee beans in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then let infuse over a very low heat for 30 minutes. Strain, return milk to saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the chopped chocolate then stir with a spatula until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When the ganache has cooled but is still liquid, pour onto the almond tart casing. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. For the mascarpone cream, whisk cream to a soft peak, fold in the mascarpone and vanilla, and reserve in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before use. To serve, use two spoons to form quenelle and serve with slices of tart.

Serves 8-10

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Jaffa fudge lamingtons

Kirin Tipping of Luscious Kiki
16 Sydenham Road, Brookvale, Sydney, 0417 499 022

"It seems like a waste to use some flavour essence made in a lab. I use Mother Nature's lab instead," says Kirin Tipping, whose lamingtons are among the biggest draws of the northern beaches, never mind the surf. This is Australia's favourite cake, made using seasonal ingredients, with a nod to childhood memories of that choc-orange jaffa-cake flavour combination. The baker tends to choose seasonal flavours for her lamingtons, and she includes basil and chocolate in her assortment. "There's no fake stuff; for example, basil oils are infused in the chocolate," she says. At the moment navel oranges are "juicy and outstanding". "And chocolate and orange together? You can't go wrong." As a baker starting out in a small Sydney shop, Tipping did a roaring trade on jaffa cakes because she would tell her customers to smell them. "The orange and chocolate would be irresistible." It's a trick she still uses at Luscious Kiki. "The zest of the oranges is so intense, that initial smell just hooks you, and then you're gone." Start this recipe a day ahead.

280g castor sugar

160g butter, diced

125g dark chocolate (75 per cent cocoa), chopped or grated

1 orange, juice and zest, plus extra zest to serve if liked (120ml juice)

175g self-raising flour, sifted

35g cocoa powder (100 per cent dark European cocoa)

3 eggs, lightly whisked

100ml pouring cream, whipped (to serve, optional)

For dipping

250g icing sugar

35g cocoa powder

200ml boiling water

150g-200g long-thread shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 170C. Prepare a 19.5cm x 30cm lamington tin, grease and line with baking paper, ensuring the paper comes up the sides of the tin.

2. In a medium-size saucepan combine sugar, butter, chocolate, orange zest and juice. Heat gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow the chocolate mix to cool slightly.

3. Using a balloon whisk, add 1/4 of the flour and whisk well to combine, then add remaining flour and cocoa powder, whisk to combine. Then whisk in eggs until just combined.

4. Pour mixture into tin and bake on the centre rack of the oven for 30-35 minutes. Test with a metal skewer to determine if ready. Allow to cool. Wrap in cling film and store in a cool place overnight.

5. To make chocolate icing, place icing sugar, cocoa and boiling water in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Allow to reach room temperature.

6. Prepare a large chopping board on your work surface. Place a wire rack next to it. Place the chocolate icing next to the board. Take a deep baking tray and fill with shredded coconut. Place the cake on the board and cut to desired size (4.5cm x 7cm), trimming edges. Once cut, dip one piece of cake in the chocolate mixture, allowing the cake to be submerged briefly. Place on wire rack to drain. Repeat until all pieces have been dipped.

7. Take the individual pieces of dipped cake and roll in the shredded coconut, patting lightly to ensure coconut clings to the cake. Place on a service plate and repeat process until all cake has been rolled. Top with more zest and whipped cream if using.

Makes 16

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Chocolate eclairs

Darren Purchese from Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio
647 Chapel Street, South Yarra, Melbourne; (03) 9827 7060, burchandpurchese.com

Forget cupcakes, macarons and cake pops, says pastry chef Darren Purchese — eclairs are going to be the next big thing. The chef is turning out options such as raspberry marshmallow eclairs rolled in coconut at his South Yarra store. But Purchese is known for his chocolate and says “it's in virtually everything we make”. He loves chocolate's versatility: “We pair it with other flavours, spray it, make caramelised white chocolate.” There are fashions with pastries, Purchese says, and a lot of good pastry chefs are getting excited about eclairs. Purchese does his chocolate eclairs with a tempered chocolate sheet on top. You need to start this recipe at least six hours ahead.

For the chocolate choux pastry

210g water

95g butter, unsalted

4g salt

4g castor sugar

90g plain flour, sieved

20g cocoa powder, sieved into the flour

200g eggs (4 eggs), room temperature

1. Place water, butter, salt and sugar into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over a medium heat. Stir until butter melts, then turn heat to high to bring the mix to a rapid boil.

2. Remove pan from the heat and add flour to the pan, stirring with a rubber spatula. Place pan back onto heat and reduce heat to medium. Cook mixture two to four minutes, stirring constantly until the dough starts to form a ball and leaves the side of the pan and a thin film of dough starts to stick to the base of the pan. Transfer the dough to the mixing bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Turn the machine to a medium-high setting for 45 seconds to cool dough.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Batter should be thick and glossy. Transfer mixture to a shallow tray and cover with cling film. Refrigerate for two hours, then bring to room temperature for 30 minutes.

4. Transfer choux pastry into a large piping bag and fit with a large fluted piping nozzle. Take a flat 30cm x 40cm baking tray and lightly spray with canola oil. Line the tray with baking parchment and start to pipe the batter from the short side (30cm) of the tray to another creating a 29cm-30cm long eclair. Repeat with remaining mixture to make about five long eclairs.

5. Place the tray into a freezer and leave to harden for a minimum of four hours. Remove the tray from the freezer and place the piped strips of choux onto a chopping board. Cut the strips to lengths of 14cm, making two eclairs out of each strip. Use a sharp knife for this job and work quickly and handle gently to prevent damaging the choux.

6. Place eclairs onto a flat baking tray lined with baking parchment. Space them evenly apart and allow them to defrost in the fridge completely before baking.

7. Preheat a static oven to 160C and once thawed, place the choux into the oven. Bake the choux for 35 minutes before turning the oven down to 150C and continue to bake/dry for a further 45 minutes.

8. Remove eclairs from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature completely before filling.

For the chocolate pastry cream

400g whole milk

4 egg yolks

1 egg

50g castor sugar

15g cornflour

10g cocoa powder

20g plain flour

85g dark chocolate buttons

1. Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, place egg yolks, egg, sugar, cornflour, cocoa powder and flour into the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat on high until thick and pale.

2. When milk has reached scalding point, remove from the heat and pour half of the milk onto the mixture in the machine bowl, continue to beat for 10 seconds.

3. Pour remaining milk into a large, clean, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Transfer egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk. Place pan over a low-medium heat and stir custard constantly with a whisk. Be careful not to let the bottom catch on the heat, bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook custard for one to two minutes to ensure the flour cooks.

4. Remove pan from heat and transfer the custard from the pan to a clean bowl of an electric mixer. Fit the paddle attachment and beat the mixture to cool it down. Add the chocolate buttons and beat to melt, five minutes. Transfer pastry cream to a plastic container and place a sheet of cling film on top, ensuring it touches the surface of the cream.

5. Store the pastry cream in the fridge and when you need to use it, beat the pastry cream smooth using a rubber spatula.

6. To assemble eclairs, take a plastic skewer or similar and insert into the bottom of one eclair at both ends. Move skewer around to ensure the cavities are clear inside so the choux can be filled with the maximum amount of filling. Transfer the chocolate pastry cream to a piping bag and cut a small hole, insert about 65 grams in each end of all of the eclairs. Dust with snow sugar or top with tempered chocolate, as liked.

Makes 10 x 14-centimetre eclairs

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It Mayo Shock You, chocolate mayo cake

Adriano Zumbo from Adriano, Zumbo Patissier
296 Darling Street, Balmain, Sydney, 9810 7318, adrianozumbo.com

It may shock you that mayonnaise works in a chocolate cake, suggests Adriano Zumbo with this recipe. The star chef says he craves chocolate, and its simplicity begs another bite. Chocolate takes us back to our childhood, he says. "I could eat four or five chocolate macarons, for example, in a row," he says. Zumbo uses the French brand Cacao Barry in the It Mayo Shock You cake, and others. Zumbo loves chocolate's versatility. "You can temper it and it becomes crunchy and thin, you can put it in a cake and make goo, you can put it in a fondant and it oozes out the middle, you can make a silky ganache," he says. "It goes with almost every flavour and comes in so many different percentages." This cake is "full of mayonnaise", the chef says. "Mayonnaise is pretty much eggs and oil, which is in many cakes anyway. So by adding mayonnaise you're adding a little acidity but it's really the base of the cake," he says. The mayonnaise adds moisture and "a little twang", as do the raspberries. "A lot of my cakes are eggs and oil driven, so I played around with that and added chocolate. The cake worked well and became a good seller in the shop."

290g Japanese mayonnaise

210g castor (superfine) sugar

6g natural vanilla extract

300g plain flour, sifted

6g baking powder

5g bicarbonate of soda

65g unsweetened cocoa powder

285g water

165g fresh raspberries

400g your favourite chocolate glaze or icing

12 fresh raspberries, to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Lightly spray two 7.5cm x 7.5cm x 20cm loaf tins with cooking oil. Line with non-stick baking paper, extending over the two long sides.

2. Put the mayonnaise, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer with a whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed for three to five minutes, until the sugar starts to dissolve.

3. Sift together all the dry ingredients, add to the mixer bowl and mix on low speed to combine. With the motor running, pour in the water and mix until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and carefully fold through the 165g of raspberries.

4. Divide the cake batter between the two tins. Place the tins on a baking tray and cook for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a cake comes out just a little moist. Cool the cakes in the tins. Turn out onto a wire rack, then turn right way up.

5. Warm the icing or glaze in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until slightly warm, then pour it evenly over the cooled cakes. Tap the wire rack lightly at the sides to help the glaze settle and allow any excess to drip off. Transfer to a serving plate and scatter over raspberries. Note: This cake will keep for up to five days in an airtight container at room temperature. Undecorated cakes can be stored in the freezer for up to two weeks.

Makes two bar cakes

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Lorraine's chocolate brownies

Lorraine Godsmark at Lorraine's Patisserie
Shop 5, Palings Lane, 320 George Street, Sydney, 9254 8009

Converts have followed Lorraine Godsmark all over Sydney to get their hands on these chocolate brownies. She started making them at her Cafe Six Seven Ate, then carried the recipe to her Potts Point patisserie Yellow. Now, at Merivale's Lorraine's Patisserie, the master baker has them piled in the shopfront, stopping passers-by in their tracks. "I've been making these since the year 2000," Godsmark says, "so you'd hope I have it right by now." She recommends following the recipe as it is for the first time, then halving the recipe if it's liked. Then, according to taste, experiment with all dark-chocolate, hazelnuts instead of macadamias, and cooking brownies a little less for a softer consistency. "The joy of eating them is when they're not overcooked," she says. "They're fudgy because of the rations, but they will go cakey if you overcook them." This recipe makes a good horde of 30 brownies, but they keep well in the fridge. Serve them just plain, but "some people need the security blanket of some cocoa or a bit of icing sugar," Godsmark says. The patisserie makes hundreds of these morsels a week, and now the home cook can too.

700g dark chocolate (60 per cent to 65 per cent cocoa)

200g milk chocolate

400g macadamia nuts, roasted

700g castor sugar

80g cocoa

500g butter, melted

10 eggs

200g plain flour, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Roughly chop chocolate and roasted macadamia nuts, set aside.

2. In a large bowl, add sugar and then sift over cocoa. Stir in butter thoroughly.

3. In a large bowl whisk eggs and add to cocoa mixture, working until smooth and shiny. Gently fold in flour, then chocolate and nuts.

4. Grease and line a 40cm x 30cm tray with silicon paper or baking paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the centre is still a little soft and the outside has a slight crust. Cool and cut into 30 portions.

Makes 30