Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers

Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers

At Christmas time, I tend to get pretty adventurous around dessert. Not sure why I make an intricate dessert – I guess because if not at Christmas, then when? Last year, I made Gingerbread terrariums which I realise now never made it on to the blog. Gingerbread cake bottom, lime cheesecake “snow”, tiny Piparkoogid (Christmas biscuit) houses and marzipan trees. Time consuming and fiddly to make, but nothing terribly revolutionary in the elements. This year…this year I was genuinely worried about my dessert turning out. Because this year I had gone to the Yelp Elite Event at the new State Building and watched Sue Lewis do a little presentation on tempering chocolate that demystified the whole thing and made it seem really simple. And then I stumbled upon an Adriano Zumbo recipe for Chocolate Christmas Crackers and with this both happening a few weeks before a Christmas party, it seemed like it was something I needed to attempt.  The basic idea is a chocolate cylinder, with chocolate ends designed to look like a Christmas cracker. It’s filled with chocolate mousse and a pop-rocks truffle as the “pop” of the cracker. Cute, right?

Cute but terrifying! I was so worried about actually working with the chocolate, I actually did a trial run. And I never do trial runs for things like this because I’m lazy! In re-reading over the original recipe with Lance, I discovered a few things, 1. The picture from the Adriano Zumbo recipe is inaccurate. I don’t think it’s just styling and camera angles, I think his dimensions of a 5cm x 10cm tube is way too fat for the pictured Christmas Cracker look. And 2, as Lance pointed out to me – they aren’t even real. If you look carefully, they are just “bridges” of chocolate with chocolate ends balanced up against them. The chocolate doesn’t curl around to make a cylinder, so it’s not even the real thing. Tricksy stylists! That scared me even more. But…it’s actually not that difficult – given you can get a few simple items. I had a fairly infuriating trip to Spotlight trying to find sheets and/or rolls of acetate – which is listed as a product they stock on their website. I was sent to various corners of Spotlight by various staff members. I had one try to sell me PVC table cloth material instead. Described as “readily available in craft stores” by every chocolate and cake making resource, it was so hard to get, that I didn’t. In the end, I found a thicker acetate sheet that was designed for quilting templates. It’s less flexible than you ideally want it to be for chocolate, so it was pretty hard to make the chocolate coating – but with no time to search for an alternative (and not trusting posting times this time of year), I had to make do. You can buy 10cm high cardboard tubing for making your own cardboard crackers at Riot Art and Craft (but not acetate). You can prep ahead by making the mold elements (roll, acetate rectangles, baking paper rectangles) way ahead of time.

 The rest I simplified somewhat to make it a bit easier on myself. Not to mention cheaper by removing the gianduja chocolate. Instead of making a truffle centre, I made a long ‘string’ of pop-rock chocolate to simulate the cardboard ‘popper’ in a real cracker. Like the original, it uses toasted rice bubbles to enhance the pop quality, and I added chocolate crumb from the Milk Bar cookbook for extra chocolate-y texture. Feel free to just use rice bubbles and pop rocks if you can’t be bothered with the crumb. The mousse I flavoured with Chambord to play with the berry flavour of the pop rocks I used, and because I was intending on adding freeze-dried raspberries - but I couldn’t find any so used freeze-dried strawberries instead. The tartness of the berries adding to the 'pop' sensation - Lance's idea and it worked brilliantly. I used white chocolate instead of dark for the coating; both so I could paint the outside in a Christmassy fashion, and to lighten up the dessert from a fairly heavy dark-chocolate mousse with dark chocolate truffle with dark chocolate coating. 

The chocolate coating is really the only hard part of this recipe, and it is heat/humidity sensitive - so I was extremely lucky to have a cooler day to temper the chocolate in. This would be easier to make for a Northern Christmas or Southern Christmas in July. They are so cool though, so it's worth giving a go. It does take a little time to do all the steps, but it can be done in stages ahead of time, and they’ll keep in the freezer for a few days – but any longer than that and the pop rocks will lose a little of their ‘pop’. The mousse makes more than you will need. Any extra can be spooned into pretty glasses/bowls and refrigerated a few hours until set.

Skamp's Chocolate Christmas CrackersSkamp's Chocolate Christmas CrackersSkamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers



Skamps' Chocolate Christmas Crackers


For the “poppers”

1 cup rice bubbles
1/2 cup “chocolate crumb” (100g plain flour, 100g white sugar, 65g cocoa powder (the best quality you can find), 1 tsp corn flour, 85g melted butter)
70 gm popping lollies, such as Pop Rocks
200g 70% dark chocolate (I used Lindt raspberry intense)
15g freeze dried raspberries, chopped

Chocolate Raspberry mousse

660mL whipping cream (1x 600mL carton, plus ¼ cup)
150mL whipping cream
8 egg yolks
100g white sugar
30mL shot Chambord
200g 48% dark chocolate, broken
100g 70% dark chocolate, broken

For the casing

500g white chocolate
Decorator pens (optional)

To start, make the ‘poppers’. To start making the ‘poppers’, you need to toast the rice bubbles and make the chocolate crumb, then set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 180C. Spread rice bubbles on a tray and bake for only 2-3 minutes until golden. Watch them, as they toast quickly. Reduce oven to 150C. In a mixer, blend together the flour, sugar, salt and cocoa powder. Add the melted butter and mix until it all comes together into a clumpy mess. Break the clumpy bits onto a lined baking tray, then place in the oven to cook for around 20 minutes. Half-way through, gently toss. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool and harden. Measure out 1 cup of the crumb (breaking up any very large pieces), and freeze the remainder for another use – such as ice cream topper!) When the rice bubbles and crumb are completely cool, mix together in a bowl.

Set a glass bowl over a pot with about 5cm of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add 2/3 of the chocolate and leave to melt, stirring here and there. Once it’s melted, remove from the heat and add the remaining 1/3 of the chocolate. Leave to sit for 1 minute, then stir through to completely melt and make smooth. Mix the pop rocks through the rice and crumb, then pour the melted now slightly cooled chocolate over the whole mess. Mix quickly to coat everything. You will hear a few of the pop rocks go off as they get wet then hit the air, but if you work quickly, the popping will be minimised as they’re coated. On a baking paper lined tray, use a spoon to create thin lines of ‘pop’ mix around 10cm long (the length of your tubes).  You want them to be around 1cm thick. Pop in the fridge to set hard.

Before you can make your mousse, make sure you have your molds ready. Cut out 12 rectangles of acetate, 10cm by 12.5cm. Roll into tubes, placing them inside cardboard tube (such as the inserts for paper towel rolls cut to 10cm tall). Cut out 12 rectangles of baking paper, roll into tubes and place inside the acetate. Place them standing upright on a piece of baking paper inside a tray and set aside.

Now you’re ready to make your mousse! Whip the 660mL measure of cream to soft peaks, set aside. Place the whisk attachment in your standmixer and place a bowl ready. Combine the 150mL cream, yolks, chambord and sugar in a small saucepan and whisk to combine. Place over low heat and keep whisking until it thickens, much like a lemon curd would – around 5-7 minutes. Scrape it into the standmixer bowl and leave it whisking on low until it cools to room temperature, around 10 minutes. While that whisks, add the 48% dark chocolate and leave to melt, stirring here and there. Once it’s melted, remove from the heat and add the 70% dark chocolate. Leave to sit for 1 minute, then stir through to completely melt and make smooth. Stir for 2-3 minutes to cool down to around 40C. Fold the chocolate through the whipped cream, then fold in cooled yolk mixture.

Gather your mousse, ‘pops’ and prepared mold tray. Spoon the mousse around 2/3 of the way into the molds. Holding the mold hard against the tray, gently slide a ‘pop’ into the centre of the mold. Tidy the top and/or top up with extra mousse if required. Cover with cling wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours until set.

When set hard, remove the cardboard and acetate, leaving the baking paper casings and popping back into the freezer until needed. Wash the acetate and dry thoroughly. Absolutely no water can remain. Temper the white chocolate by melting 2/3 of the chocolate over heat, then take off the heat and stir through the remaining 1/3. Continue stirring to cool down to where it is a little cooler than body temperature (dip a spoon in the melted chocolate, and place it on your lip. It should be a little cooler than your lip). Place it back over the heat for around 30 seconds, and check the temp again. It should now be a little warmer than body temperature and shiny. Working with one piece of acetate at a time, spread a thin layer (around 2mm) of melted chocolate with a palette knife, set aside until starting to set, 3 minutes. Wrap around a chocolate mousse cylinder, chocolate-side inward. Tape the acetate closed. Refrigerate until chocolate is well set, remove acetate and refrigerate until required.

Brush insides of 24 mini patty cases or the flower ice molds from IKEA with most of remaining chocolate, freeze until set, peel away the cases/pop out the molds and refrigerate chocolate cases until required. Brush underside of chocolate cases with a little more melted chocolate, attach to each end of chocolate-coated cylinders, decorate with edible decorator pens, refrigerate until required.


Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers

Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers
Skamp's Chocolate Christmas Crackers


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

You Only Get One...Slice - Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodle Chocolate Tart



You Only Get One...Slice - MHCS Chocolate Tart

This is another recipe I created with my brother for his work’s Cake Club. It is a fairly simple baked chocolate custard, baked into a Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodle base. We made two tarts that day, but I’ve scaled it down to make just one tart for this recipe. To make the most of this tart, I’d suggest using the best quality cocoa you can get your hands on, as well as the best milk and eggs. I’ve swapped out some of the sugar from the original recipe with coconut blossom sugar. It was actually on a whim after Mike bought some ‘to try’, but the flavour profile was so fabulous and I thought it would enhance the chocolatey-ness. I’ve then put it through some mascarpone cheese to continue the flavours. If you haven’t tried it, it has slightly floral tones, but it’s also a touch savoury and almost yeasty. I don’t think I’m describing it very well, but I don’t know how else to do it. It is fabulous in black coffee, if that helps!
 
The recipe for the baked custard is based on this recipe, but I found that their cooking time was off for me. Like, way off. I’d checked my tart a bit before the halfway mark and my tarts were already overcooked, so I’ve adjusted the times accordingly below. I’m assuming it’s because theirs made a much taller slice, rather than a pie. The texture goes rubbery if you over cook it. It’s not inedible that way, just not as good as it could’ve been. So make sure you keep an eye on the time. 

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodle Chocolate Tart

Makes 1x 23cm tarts

MHCS Base

1/4 batch Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles (other chocolate cookies can be used, it just won’t be as delicious! – seriously though, just bake the whole batch and eat the rest)
50g Butter, melted

Chocolate Custard

50g butter
1 ¼ cups whole milk
½ cup plain flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 large eggs, separated
Pinch cream of tartar
½ cup icing sugar
½ cup coconut blossom sugar
1 tbsp strong brewed coffee
1 tbsp dark rum
To serve
Cocoa powder for dusting
Crushed cacao nibs
Flakey sea salt
200g mascarpone whipped with 3 tbsp coconut flower sugar
 
You Only Get One...Slice - MHCS Chocolate Tart


You Only Get One...Slice - MHCS Chocolate Tart


You Only Get One...Slice - MHCS Chocolate Tart
You Only Get One...Slice - MHCS Chocolate Tart


Cook the Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles and set aside to cool. Grease a pie plate. Taste one snickerdoodle to make sure they’re still good. Place the snickerdoodles in a food processor and pulse to crush to a chunky crumb. Add the melted butter and pulse to combine. Pour into the pie dish and press firmly into the base to create a solid foundation. Make sure there are no holes. Refrigerate until ready. Beat together mascarpone with 3 tbsp coconut flour sugar until light and fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 


Preheat the oven to 160C (or turn down to 160C if you’ve just made snickerdoodles).


Melt the butter and set aside. Warm the milk to blood temperature and stir in the coffee and rum. 


Blend together the flour and cocoa powder in a bowl. In a new, clean and dry bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. When foamy, add the cream of tartar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.


 In a third bowl, beat the egg yolks and two sugars until light and fluffy with a balloon whisk. Add the butter and whisk to combine. Then whisk in the flour mix. Finally, whisk in the milk mixture, stirring gently first to encourage it to blend in, then whisking to make it smooth. 


Fold the egg whites in 1/3 at a time, this will have a curdled look, rather than incorporate fully. Gently pour the mixture over the snickerdoodle base and even more gently, place it in the oven.






You Only Get One...Slice - MHCS Chocolate Tart


You Only Get One...Slice - MHCS Chocolate Tart


You Only Get One...Slice - MHCS Chocolate Tart


You Only Get One...Slice - MHCS Chocolate Tart


You Only Get One...Slice - MHCS Chocolate Tart


You Only Get One...Slice - MHCS Chocolate Tart







Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing


Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing

Lance and I both enjoy watching the tv show Bob’s Burgers. And one of Lance’s favourite episodes is the first Thanksgiving episode. In it, Bob gets excited picking out the turkey ready for the feast and he names the turkey “Lance”. So for his birthday this year, Lance was bought a Bob’s Burgers’ themed present – complete with a Lance. Yep. A whole frozen turkey. You may also recall that Lance loves smoking meats, so we knew it was going to be part of his turkey’s future. Lance named his turkey Boblance and he was popped into the freezer until such time as we could spend a whole day smoking a turkey. Lancegiving, as it came to be known, was last weekend. And it was So. Much. Fun.

We invited a few friends and family around to hang out for the day. There was a tv set up outside playing thanksgiving episodes of some of our favourite shows, Brooklyn Nine Nine, How I Met Your Mother, and, of course, Bob’s Burgers. We played beer pong (minus the beer!), we hung out in the spa, we played board games, and we watched the turkey rotisserate in the smoking shed Lance had set up. It smoked for 6 hours, then we moved it into the oven for a further hour and a half of roasting before carving it up and serving it with roast veges and the stuffing.

Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing


Given that neither of us had ever cooked a turkey before, we weren’t optimistic about how it was going to turn out. There was lots of gravy on hand, just in case it was tough as old boots. But, it wasn’t really required. The turkey was incredibly succulent, with a fabulous smokey flavour. The only issue with smoking it the way Lance does is that the skin doesn’t crisp up, even with the finishing time in the oven. It tends to stay a slightly unappetising chewiness. But that is a small price to pay for such delicious meat. And as good as the meat was…it was the stuffing that really stole the show. Neither of us are the biggest fan of bread based stuffings, so I did a bit of a google for other recommended fillings. Chestnuts sounded right up my alley, but too much effort to prepare. And tinned chestnuts are hard (not to mention expensive) to come by. There were various sausage ones and mince meat ones, and rice ones. Lance had the idea of throwing some sweet potato into the mix and although he claims it was his idea, we both independently came upon the same answer to easily flavouring the stuffing – Mexican Chorizo. In the absence of some lurking in your freezer (seriously though, you should make it and have some lurking in your freezer), use a few of your favourite spicy sausages, skin removed.You will need to add a diced brown onion to the vegetables you sweat off with the sausage.
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing

Lancegiving Smoked Turkey and Stuffing

1 cup black rice
2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 sweet red paprika, diced
100g cold butter, diced
1/4 cup porcini mushrooms
1/3 cup dried cranberries
4kg turkey

Cook the rice to al dente and set aside to cool. It needs to be cooked, but retain some bite as it will be cooked more in the turkey. Cook the sweet potatoes until just barely tender using your favourite method. As I was short on time, I steamed them. Set aside to cool. The rice and sweet potatoes can be cooked ahead of time if needs be.

Place the porcini and cranberries into a mug and just cover with recently boiled water. Cover loosely and set aside to cool.

Heat a frypan to medium high-heat. Add the Mexican chorizo and break up with a wooden spoon. As it starts to brown, add the celery and paprika. Cook until softened, around 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Once everything is cool, mix together in a bowl. Mix in about half of the diced butter.

Spoon as much of the stuffing into the turkey cavity as possible, then sew shut the cavity. Spoon the rest into a casserole container, cover with foil and set aside. Smoosh the remaining butter cubes between the skin and the breast meat of the turkey.

Set up your smoker (or get Lance to) on your barbecue to reach 160C, and insert the rotisserie rod. Alternatively, just set your oven to 160C. Smoke/roast the turkey for around 4 hours, or until the breast meat reaches 130F on a meat thermometer. Preheat the oven to 180C, transfer the turkey from the rotisserie to a baking tray and cook for a further hour, or until the breast meat reaches 165F.  You can keep it going on the smoker outside if time permits, but we were getting hungry! As turkey sizes and oven/BBQ temperatures can vary, keep an eye on the meat and check for doneness from around 3 hours. The times I've given here are what our turkey took.

About an hour before the turkey is ready, slide the casserole dish with the stuffing into the oven to cook the remainder of the stuffing, for the last 15 minutes take the foil off. Any additional veges can be roasted now too.

Let the turkey rest for around 15 minutes, then carve. Remove the stuffing from the turkey and mix it with the casserole stuffing. Serve.

Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo StuffingLancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing
Lancegiving - an Australian Thanksgiving (of sorts) with Smoked Turkey with Mexican Chorizo Stuffing


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Feels Like Summer - Mango Tamarind Prawn Cocktail Sorbet

Feels Like Summer - Mango Tamarind Prawn Cocktail Sorbet
Feels Like Summer - Mango Tamarind Prawn Cocktail Sorbet


Lance doesn’t like sorbet. In fact, when he saw me pouring this mango mix into the ice cream maker, we had a conversation a bit like this:



“Ooh, you’re making me ice cream! What flavour are you making?”

“Not ice cream, something different”

“What? Hang on, are you WASTING our mangoes making sorbet? You don’t love me!”



And yet, there I was, making sorbet for us as part of our date night dinner. Now, I see what you’re thinking  - maybe he’s right. Maybe if I know he doesn’t like sorbet but I’m still specifically making it for an important meal – then maybe I don’t love him. First, how dare you question my love! Secondly, remember the pie incident?
Yeah. And remember our Wills Domain Degustation? Lance loved the herby sorbet palate cleanser.

I would never serve Lance a sorbet for dessert. Nor would I serve him a nut milk ice cream, or coconut milk ice cream for dessert. This sorbet? Not a dessert. This sorbet is an entrĂ©e (or appetizer, for my American readers! Hi!) Riffing on the herby sorbet we both loved, I decided to make a more ‘savoury’ sorbet that would in essence be the sauce for a fun spicy and fruity prawn cocktail. Using some of our homegrown mangoes and jalapeno, I added some tamarind for a tart hit. Served with some cold prawns that are dusted with some smokey hot paprika and the traditional iceberg lettuce bed, it was quite the cute little dish. And a perfect date night/dinner party appetizer as everything can be made in advance. Just churn the sorbet right before you want to serve it.


Feels Like Summer - Mango Tamarind Prawn Cocktail Sorbet


Feels Like Summer - Mango Tamarind Prawn Cocktail Sorbet
Feels Like Summer - Mango Tamarind Prawn Cocktail Sorbet

Mango Tamarind Prawn Cocktail Sorbet

2 cups water
5 tsp tamarind puree
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
2 jalapenos
3 mangoes, flesh removed
1 egg white
cooked, cooled prawns (6 or so per person)
iceberg lettuce, shredded to serve
hot smoked paprika, to serve

Finely mince the jalapenos and add the mangoes, water, tamarind puree, salt, pepper, jalapenos and egg white and blend until fully homogenised. Leave for 5 minutes to allow some of the air to leave the mixture, and then give one quick stir before pouring into your ice cream maker. Churn for 30-45 minutes, depending on your machine's instructions.

Place lettuce on your serving plate/bowl. Scoop a ball of sorbet on top of the lettuce, arrange the prawns artfully and dust with smoked paprika. Serve immediately.

Leftover sorbet can be tightly wrapped in the freezer for a week. Soften in fridge 30 minutes before serving like this again. Alternatively, blend up with a little tequila for a killer cocktail!

Feels Like Summer - Mango Tamarind Prawn Cocktail Sorbet
Feels Like Summer - Mango Tamarind Prawn Cocktail Sorbet
Feels Like Summer - Mango Tamarind Prawn Cocktail Sorbet