Category Archives: Chocolate

Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies

Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies | Gather and Graze

My obsession with cookbooks extends also to food magazines… the usual suspects being the Australian publications of ‘Gourmet Traveller’, ‘Donna Hay’ and ‘Delicious’. During our 2 year New Zealand sojourn, ‘Cuisine’ and ‘Dish’ became the new favourites and then later on while living in the USA, I spent many a pleasant hour reading ‘Cook’s Illustrated’, cover to cover. Cook’s Illustrated was like nothing else I’d seen before. Continue reading

No Bake Apricot Coconut Slice

Apricot Coconut Slice | Gather and Graze

For a fast and easy no-bake slice (‘bars’ for my American friends), this apricot and coconut version is truly wonderful. Featuring sweetened condensed milk, this style of slice takes me immediately back to my childhood… and strangely enough also to Florida in the USA, where another Australian (who has become a dear friend), re-introduced it into my life… I’ve been making it regularly ever since! It’s citrusy cousin, which also gets made on a regular basis in my home, was featured here over a year ago. Continue reading

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Nutella Cream

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Nutella Cream | Recipe | Gather and Graze

How does one get to my age without having made a Swiss Roll? It’s such a classic cake! Rest assured that I’ve already begun making amends for this shameful oversight… I’ve made two in the past week and with the flattering comments flying from the mouths of my boys, you can be sure I’ll be making these regularly in future. Continue reading

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies | Recipe | Gather and Graze

A few weeks ago, I shared with you a recipe for Afghan Biscuits, which I mentioned at the time, ticked all the boxes for biscuit perfection. Now I’d prefer not to retract that statement, as I really did mean it at the time… however, this little delight, the Sarah Bernhardt Cookie has to be the most celebratory, luscious and decadent of all the biscuits/cookies I’ve ever tasted. Continue reading

Afghan Biscuits / Cookies

Afghan Biscuits / Cookies | Gather and Graze

The Afghan Biscuit is an iconic and adored New Zealand biscuit/cookie, which in my opinion, ticks every single box of biscuit perfection. Not only do they look stunning, they have a taste and texture all of their own. Continue reading

Layered Chocolate Pavlova

Layered Chocolate Pavlova | Gather and Graze

So it’s Australia Day tomorrow… and Australia Day simply wouldn’t be Australia Day without a pavlova making it’s way onto the table at some point during the day! A couple of weeks ago… in fact it was on New Years Eve, I decided to make a trial pavlova. It was my first ever layered pavlova and what could be better than chocolate meringue to give a lovely contrast in colours with the whipped cream and red berries! I’ll be making a similar version of this tomorrow to have after our dinner… barbeque’d something it will certainly be… though I’m not too sure what. Come to think of it, prawns might be nice!

You may notice that photos of this cake cut into slices, plated with dainty cake forks by their side, are quietly absent. How wonderful it would be to show you a perfectly sliced cross-section of all those beautiful layers of meringue, cream and berries… stacked up so nice and high! Well… a food bloggers photo shoot doesn’t always work out the way she plans it, does it!? It was all good, ’til I went and stuck the knife in! Hmm… to put it politely… what a DELICIOUS MESS! The family didn’t mind at all, but for the sake of keeping this blog on the prettier side, no further photos were taken. Oh and I’ve decided to keep all future layered pavlovas to the double-decker variety only!

Happy Australia Day!

Layered Chocolate Pavlova | Gather and Graze

  • 4 Free-Range Egg Whites
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 220g/1 Cup Caster Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Cornflour (Sifted)
  • 1 Teaspoon White Vinegar (or Verjuice)
  • 30g/4 Tablespoons (Good Quality) Cocoa Powder (Sifted)
  • 350ml Cream
  • Fresh Red Berries (I used a mixture of Raspberries and sliced Strawberries)

Pre-heat the oven to 150°C and prepare 2 baking trays by lining them with baking paper. You may also wish to draw some circle templates on the paper, to better guarantee that your meringue discs will be the same size.

Place the egg whites and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high until they come to soft peaks. Continue whisking as you slowly pour in the caster sugar and the mixture will soon come to stiff peaks. With the mixer set to low, now fold through the cornflour, vinegar and cocoa powder. Whisk slowly until completely incorporated.

Scoop out the meringue onto the baking paper into 2 (or 3 if you’re going for the tripe tier!) equal portions and shape into flattish discs of equal diameter. My 3 tiers were about 15cm across each… for a 2 tier cake, I would make them approximately 20cm across.

Place into the oven, reduce the temperature to 120°C immediately and bake for 1 hour. When the hour is up, keep the oven door shut and turn off the oven… leaving the meringue discs inside to completely cool.

Assemble the pavlova (not too far in advance from serving it), by placing a meringue disc on your serving plate, slather on a layer of freshly whipped cream and a scattering of fruit, then sit the other meringue disc on top, more cream and then decorate with an abundance of beautiful fresh berries.

Layered Chocolate Pavlova | Gather and Graze

Chocolate Eclairs (Éclairs au Chocolat)

Chocolate Eclairs | gatherandgraze.com

For almost a year, I indulged in French patisserie like there was going to be no tomorrow. Picture… my 20 year old self… living far from home and family… working in a high school (lycée) in the South of France… feeling homesick at times… often frustrated by the antics of my puberty-stricken students… but thankfully, more often than not, delighting in the company that I kept, along with the food, wine and lifestyle of my beautiful adopted country. I really must confess that I must have been in complete denial that so many ‘tartes aux framboises’, ‘croques-monsieurs’, ‘poulet-frites’ and ‘ficelles’ slathered with Nutella could possibly cause a transformation of my general body shape. Oh dear… the wine and beer as well! My wage while working as an English ‘Assistante’ was certainly not a grand one, so I hate to now think how much of it I invested in the local patisserie/boulangerie and inevitably in that burgeoning waist-line.

Alas, the days of over-indulging in the richest of French food are over. Moderation is most certainly the key my friends! So despite my story of weight-gain through patisserie, I ask you to ignore all that I’ve said above and please join me in partaking of this absolutely delicious afternoon treat… just be sure not to eat them all in one sitting! Eclairs are fun and easy (yes… EASY!) to make. Give them a go!

Chocolate Eclairs (Éclairs au Chocolat) | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: About 10-12 Eclairs
  • Print

  • ½ Quantity Choux Pastry (Recipe Here)
  • 300ml/1¼ Cups Heavy Cream
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 115g/½ Cup (Raw) Caster Sugar
  • 125ml/½ Cup Water
  • 60g/⅓ Cup (70% Cocoa) Dark Chocolate (Chopped)
  • 30g/2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Chopped)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking/parchment paper.

Prepare the Choux pastry dough as per the recipe for Profitéroles (in the link above), but instead of piping round puffs onto the baking trays, pipe long sausage shapes instead.

Choux Pastry for Chocolate Eclairs | gatherandgraze.com

Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crisp all over. As soon as they are out of the oven, move them onto a cooling rack and place a little slit in the side of each one to allow any steam to escape from the middle. Allow to cool completely.

Choux Pastry for Chocolate Eclairs | Gather and Graze

Whip the cream and vanilla extract to medium peaks, then set aside in the fridge until the chocolate glaze is ready to go.

Whipped Cream for Chocolate Eclairs | gatherandgraze.com

To make the chocolate glaze, combine the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Bring to a boil and allow to boil rapidly for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down a little, before adding in the chocolate and butter. Stir again until completely melted and combined. As it cools a little more it will start to thicken.

Using a piping bag, pipe the whipped cream into the middle of the eclairs through the same slit that was cut to allow any steam out.

Now spoon over the still slightly warm chocolate glaze. Place back on the cooling rack and allow the glaze to set for a minutes, before serving.

Chocolate Eclairs | gatherandgraze.com

  • The method for making the chocolate glaze was adapted from that of a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe.

Lavender White Chocolate Shortbread

Lavender White Chocolate Shortbread | Gather and Graze

To celebrate the first day of Spring here in the Southern Hemisphere… I’ve created a little floral-infused shortbread recipe to get the season off to a happy start.

The addition of lavender to these buttery, yet light little biscuits may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for me… you could always omit the flowers if you’d prefer, or substitute for perhaps some chopped nuts, some citrus zest or another flavour of your choice.

Here’s to a warm and wonderful Spring and a farewell to winter for another year.

Lavender White Chocolate Shortbread | Gather and Graze

Lavender White Chocolate Shortbread | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 30 Biscuits/Cookies
  • Print

  • 125g/½ Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 60g/½ Cup Pure Icing Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste (or 1 Teapoon Vanilla Extract)
  • 45g/⅓ Cup Cornflour
  • 120g/¾ Cup Plain Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons edible Dried Lavender Flowers
  • 75g Chopped White Chocolate

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In an electric mixer, cream together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla bean paste for a minute or two until smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together the cornflour, plain flour, baking powder and salt.  Pour in half of this mixture to the creamed butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Now stir in the lavender and white chocolate, before adding the rest of the flour and mixing until all combined.

Roll mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place on the baking sheets. Flatten slightly on top. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes (removing while they are still quite pale in colour).

Allow to cool for a few minutes on the trays, before placing on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Lavender White Chocolate Shortbread | Gather and Graze

Layered Chocolate Cheesecake – Fiesta Friday #27!

Layered Chocolate Cheesecake | Gather and Graze

It wasn’t easy, but I’ve removed my full-length Ugg Boots that have been firmly entrenched on my feet for the past two months and they’ve been replaced by a rather stylish set of heels. My Dame Edna frock has been donned, hair coiffed and coloured to the most beautiful lilac you’ve ever seen and my face made glamorous by a set of fancy, bejewelled glasses! I look a little something like this…

Dame Edna Everage – “Hello Possums!”

I suspect I’m not the only one going through this (rather absurd) transformation right now… as it’s Fiesta Friday #27 and the wonderful Saucy Gander and I are coming together this week (in fancy dress) to co-host the big party! Yes, Angie, from The Novice Gardener has bravely allowed not one, but TWO Australian girls in to look after her guests and ensure that everyone has a fantastic time.

Now, as you all well know, Australians are generally renowned for their quiet natures and their reluctance to imbibe anything involving alcohol… 😉 However just this once, I’ll partake in a glass (or two) of bubbly with you all and stay up late dancing and chatting until the party-goers get tired and head home!

If you’re a regular at Fiesta Friday, you’ll already know what to do (for the guidelines click here), but for those who’ve not joined the party before, you can easily click on the colourful link just below to add your post (sharing food, photos, experiences… anything at all that has inspired you this week!) Please be sure to link your post to The Novice Gardener (and to Saucy and myself) so that we know when you’ve arrived… then head on over to Fiesta Friday #27 to mix and mingle with all the other friendly folk who have also joined the party!

This really is a great way to gain exposure for your blog and all the hard work that you do. It’s also wonderful how friendships are formed and strengthened with other bloggers through this Fiesta… something truly lovely about getting to know others around the world who share a similar passion for both food and life!

Saucy and I will be around to say hi and to top up your drinks very soon. Cheers, everyone!

This week I’ve decided to bring a little something sweet for dessert… so please grab a plate and a fork and dig in to a slice of my Chocolate on Chocolate Cheesecake. A word of warning – it’s not at all for the faint hearted! 🙂

Layered Chocolate Cheesecake | Gather and Graze

  • 250g Plain Chocolate Biscuits (I used Arnotts Chocolate Ripple)
  • 100g Finely Chopped Almonds (or nuts of your choice)
  • 125g/½ Cup Unsalted Butter (Melted)
  • 200g/1 Cup Milk Chocolate (Chopped)
  • 200g/1 Cup White Chocolate (Chopped)
  • 2 Gelatine Leaves (I used ‘Gold Strength’ which are 2g each)*
  • 300ml Heavy Cream
  • 500g Cream Cheese (Softened)
  • 80g/⅓ Cup Caster Sugar

Grease a 23cm Springform Cake Tin and line the base with parchment paper.

Blitz the chocolate biscuits in a food processor until fine crumbs, then add the chopped nuts and melted butter and stir until the crumbs are well moistened. Tip the mixture into the cake tin and spread evenly to cover the base and half-way up the sides. Set aside in the fridge until required.

Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl with cold water and allow to soften for about 5 minutes.

While the gelatine is softening, place the cream into a small saucepan and heat until it almost reaches the boil. Remove from the heat and stir through the softened gelatine leaves until they have completely dissolved. Set to one side to cool a little.

In two separate small mixing bowls, place the milk chocolate and white chocolate and melt each carefully in the microwave (or over a double-boiler if you prefer – being careful not to allow any water to mix with the chocolate).

In the food processor (or electric mixer) place the softened cream cheese and process/beat until smooth. Add in the sugar and process once again until well combined, before finally adding the cream/gelatine mixture and giving a quick whizz/beat to incorporate.

Stir in half of the cream cheese mixture into the melted milk chocolate and the other half into the melted white chocolate. Stir to combine.

Spread the white chocolate mixture to create an even layer on top of the chocolate biscuit base and place into the freezer for about 10 minutes. Then add the milk chocolate mixture, spreading evenly to create the top layer. Refrigerate the cake for at least 4-6 hours before removing from the tin and serving.

Fresh berries (particularly raspberries) go perfectly with this luxurious chocolate cheesecake

Layered Chocolate Cheesecake | Gather and Graze

 Cooking Notes

  • Feel free to use powdered gelatine in place of the gelatine leaves. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of gelatine over ¼ Cup of cold water and then stir into the cream, before adding to the cream cheese mixture.

* Adapted from a cake seen on ‘My Kitchen Rules’

Viennese Biscuits / Cookies

Viennese Biscuits / Cookies | Recipe | Gather and Graze

Sometimes life throws a little curve ball at you and knocks you down for a week or two. It was the flu that knocked me down just recently and as much as I’m finally back to at least feeling human again, the lingering cough is still proving hard to shake.

So after a lengthy period of completely healthful hot soups, tisanes and the like, I was ready yesterday to treat myself… with some Viennese Biscuits that not only taste lovely, but are pretty to the eye as well. The recipe found while rustling through an old ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ Biscuit Cookbook. Forgive me for not posting recipes for soups and flu-kicking hot honey and lemon drinks, but to be honest, I’m a little over them all right now… perhaps some other time!

Viennese Biscuits / Cookies | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 35-40 Small Biscuits
  • Print

  • 120g/½ Cup Unsalted Butter (Softened)
  • 50g/Scant ½ Cup Icing (Powdered) Sugar
  • ¼ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Finely Grated Lemon Zest
  • 1 Free-Range Egg (Lightly Beaten)
  • 150g/1 Cup Plain Flour (Sifted)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 100g Dark Chocolate (Melted)
  • Glacé Cherries (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

In an electric mixer, beat together the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the lightly beaten egg, being sure to mix well after each addition. Stir in the flour and salt, mixing until combined.

Scoop the mixture into a piping bag, fitted with a 1cm star tip nozzle. Pipe 6-8cm lengths onto the baking trays, allowing space between each for spreading. I also piped a number of small rosettes onto the 2nd tray, topping each with half a glacé cherry. Bake for about 7-10 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool completely before dipping one end of the biscuit fingers into melted chocolate. Place onto a piece of parchment paper, until the chocolate has set. Enjoy!

Viennese Biscuits / Cookies | Recipe | Gather and Graze

* Recipe from a ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ Biscuit Cookbook

Lemon White Chocolate Cookies

Lemon White Chocolate Cookies | Gather and Graze

For those who I’ve managed to catch (just in the nick of time!) with their hand reaching out… hovering in guilty indecision… I ask you very kindly to leave that packet of cookies/biscuits on the supermarket shelf… step away from the cookie aisle… and gather up the ingredients listed below instead.  Continue reading

Profiteroles (Fit for a Fiesta!)

Profiteroles | Gather and Graze

As some of you may well know, I’m a little on the quiet side. On occasions I require varying degrees of gentle coercion to prise me from the house, to be social. I always have a fabulous time when I get there, but given the choice I would almost certainly opt for a calming cup of tea and a good book.

My friend Angie, over at The Novice Gardener must have sensed this when she sent out the invitations to come along to ‘Fiesta Friday’ (an online party!) which she holds each week with inimitable style. Her somewhat subtle reminders to join in have recently been playing on my mind… so here I am, ready (with bells on!) for my first Fiesta Friday!

Funnily enough though, due to the time-zone difference between Australia and the USA, it looks like I might be partying on my own for about 16 hours, until midnight ticks over in America! Hmmm, perhaps I’ll make myself a cuppa and sit down with a good book while I wait. 😉

My sweet offering for Fiesta Friday is a rather indulgent French dessert, that needs little by way of introduction. Classic Profiteroles! The recipe I use and adore comes from the cookbook of a stunning French restaurant in New York City called Balthazar. A few years ago a friend and I had breakfast there while on a girl’s weekend in NYC and I’ve been dreaming of going back for dinner ever since!

Wishing you all a fun Fiesta Friday, a Happy Valentine’s Day and a very relaxing weekend!

Profitéroles | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 40 Choux Puffs
  • Print

  • 125ml/½ Cup Whole Milk
  • 125ml/½ Cup Water
  • 130g/½ Cup Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • 150g/1 Cup Plain Flour (sifted)
  • 5 Large Free-Range Eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, water, butter and salt until it just comes to the boil. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it all comes together into a dough. Continue to stir over medium heat for about 3 minutes (being careful that nothing starts burning on the base of the saucepan).

Place the hot dough into an electric mixer and mix at low speed for a few minutes to allow the dough to cool down a little. Then one at a time, add the eggs, mixing on medium speed between each addition to ensure they’ve been incorporated well. After the last egg goes in, mix for about 4 more minutes until a smooth dough forms.

Use either a piping bag, or a soup spoon to form small puffs on the baking trays. Each should be approximately 5 cm in diameter.

Place the trays into the oven and bake for about 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown. If you are placing 2 trays in at once, remember to swap them around at the halfway mark.

Allow the choux puffs to cool on a wire rack.

When you are ready to serve, slice each profiterole in half with a serrated knife (like a hamburger bun), place a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream on each base and place the tops back on. Drizzle with chocolate sauce (recipe to be found here…), decorate with berries/fruit if you wish and serve without delay.

Profiteroles | Gather and Graze

Cooking Notes:

  • If you make the choux pastry without an electric mixer, be sure to allow the hot dough from the saucepan to cool down enough in a mixing bowl before you begin to beat in the eggs. This will avoid a nasty case of scrambled egg choux puffs…
  • The choux puffs can be made in advance and kept for a day or two in an airtight container. Re-crisp them a little before serving, in a 180°C oven for approx 5 minutes.
  • I’ve decided to try freezing a batch to see how they fare… I’ll let you know in the next week or two if they still taste great.

* Recipe from “Balthazar” cookbook

Honey-choco-misu

Honey-choco-misu, Gather and Graze

About a week ago my husband and I celebrated our 15th Wedding Anniversary (the crystal glasses seen in my previous post were our gift to one another to remember this rather special milestone). We also decided to take our two boys out for dinner that evening to a local Italian restaurant to delight in some really wonderful food. After a relaxing meal and a glass or two of wine, it finally came time for dessert… tiramisu was spotted on the menu and my choice was made (all rather swiftly). It arrived at the table and naturally the children were keen to have a taste, but with the infusion of coffee and liqueur, a small spoonful was more than enough and they were straight back to their gelato. Phew… all the more for me! 😉

Following that evening, an idea has been rattling around in my head to create a version of this iconic, marvellous dessert that could be equally tempting for both adults AND children. So, despite not having posted a savoury recipe in well over a month, I am hoping that you will indulge me just one more time, so that I can put my head down to rest tonight and get a full night’s sleep! It really has been bothering me to the point of distraction.

One other thing that’s been causing a little lack of sleep lately is the fact that we were given a wonderful big pot of honey just before Christmas from our very kind bee-keeping neighbour. Those of you who follow G&G on Facebook may remember seeing photos of the Honey Bee Swarm in our backyard last October and our fabulous bee-keeping neighbour who came to save the day and remove them for us. I have to say that this pot of honey is very well loved, but I really didn’t want to see it all disappear, slathered onto slices of toast (never mind how delicious that is…)! So, developing this dessert has also allowed me to celebrate the amazing honey bees that visit our garden, along with the incredible-tasting honey that my neighbour and his hives  have produced. Thanks very much D!

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Honey-choco-misu | Gather and Graze

  • 12 Savoiardi Biscuits
  • Chocolate (for grating over the top)

Chocolate Dipping Sauce

  • 60ml/¼ Cup Heavy Cream
  • 60ml/¼ Cup Full-Cream Milk
  • 25g Milk (or Dark) Chocolate (chopped into chunks)

Honey Mascarpone Cream

  • 300ml Heavy Cream
  • 100g/½ Cup Mascarpone Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey

For the dipping sauce, heat the cream and milk in a small saucepan over low heat, until just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Leave for a couple of minutes, then stir until completely melted and combined. Allow to cool to room temperature.

To make the Honey Mascarpone Cream, whip the cream in a large mixing bowl until frothy on top. Add the mascarpone and honey and continue to whip until you have soft peaks.

To assemble the dessert, dip the savoiardi biscuits into the dipping sauce, turning them a couple of times in the sauce to ensure completely coated. Place a single layer of the soaked biscuits in the base of a serving bowl (see photos below if unsure), then add a layer of the honey mascarpone cream. Continue layering biscuits and cream, finishing with a layer of cream. Grate some chocolate over the top and refrigerate for about 6 hours (or overnight), for the biscuits to soften and the flavours to infuse. Serve chilled!

Cooking Notes:

Option of adding a little fresh fruit between the layers… berries, sliced banana or mango would all work really well in my opinion.

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Bringing in the New Year!

Gin and Tonic, Gather and Graze

A refreshing aperitif – Gin & Tonic – perfect on this summery afternoon!

Gather and Graze

Cooking al fresco on the BBQ – Linguine in the pot and Buttery Persillade Prawns in the pan.

Inspiration thanks to the lovely Stéphane, creative genius of My French Heaven!

PersilladePrawns

Last, but not least, a fabulous finish with decadent Dark Chocolate Sauce, ideal for smothering fresh Raspberries and Vanilla Bean Ice-cream.

Dark Chocolate Sauce, Gather and Graze

Dark Chocolate Sauce (for Ice Cream)

  • 250ml/1 Cup Cream
  • 100g (70%) Dark Chocolate (Chopped)
  • 45g/3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (diced and softened)
  • 2 Tablespoons Icing Sugar (Sifted)

In a small saucepan, bring the cream just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and add the dark chocolate – allow to sit for a couple of minutes before stirring gently to combine. Add the butter and icing sugar and continue stirring until smooth and glossy.

Enjoy drizzled over ice-cream and berries.

Dark Chocolate Sauce, Gather and Graze

Fireworks, Gather and Graze

Happy New Year everyone! May 2014 bring you all much happiness and good health!

Margot.xx

Chocolate-Chip Pavlova and Pointe Shoes

Chocolate Chip Pavlova, Gather and Graze

From the tender age of three, up until about eighteen, I took part in Classical Ballet lessons. No doubt there were days when I didn’t want to attend, but for the most part I danced along quite happily, grand-jetéing and pirouetting all the way to class… Ballet books lined the shelves, tutus filled the dress-up tub and oh so much oohing and aahing was had over the national and international ballet dancers who came to perform in our local theatre. My mother bought season tickets each year for us both to attend. Mikhail Baryshnikov was my pin-up boy… until the likes of INXS, Wham and Michael J Fox took over. Ahh yes, I’m an 80’s girl after all…

So unsurprisingly, in my younger years, a pavlova would be my number one request each year for my Birthday Cake. A dessert created for the beautiful, touring Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova – what could be finer? I thank my Mum dearly for making such delicious cakes over the years and for always making whatever our hearts desired. I’ve continued that tradition with my own children and love the challenge of finding a way to make their requests come to fruition, not to mention the priceless looks of wonder and appreciation at the finished cakes.

These days pavlova makes an appearance in our house more often at Christmas and always on Australia Day (January 26th). A summer dessert, perfect for when berries and passionfruit are in season and the sun is sitting high in the sky. This year, it was a Chocolate-Chip Pavlova that adorned our Christmas Day table and tempted us to eat just that little bit more…, deliciously topped with fresh raspberries, strawberries and chocolate curls.

Chocolate-Chip Pavlova, Gather and Graze

The recipe below is adapted slightly from a classic recipe of Stephanie Alexander‘s in her amazing tome The Cook’s Companion. I feel rather strongly that the oven temperatures she uses are too hot (for my own oven, at least…), resulting, once before, in an unfortunate-looking, browned pavlova. Never a good look… unless of course you’re making a Chocolate Pav! One of my dearest friends, Claire, made a wonderful Chocolate-Chip Pavlova a couple of years ago and ever since then, I’ve shamelessly added choc-chips to my own – thinking of her ALWAYS when I do though! xx

Chocolate-Chip Pavlova | Gather and Graze

  • 4 Free-Range Egg Whites (at room temperature)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 220g/1 Cup Caster Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Cornflour (Sifted)
  • 1 Teaspoon Verjuice (or White Wine Vinegar)
  • 100g/½ Cup Good Quality Dark Chocolate (Chopped)
  • 300ml Cream (Whipped to Soft Peaks)
  • Fresh Fruit/Berries/Shaved Chocolate to Decorate

Pre-heat the oven to 130°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add the caster sugar while continuing to whisk, until stiff peaks form. Fold in lightly the cornflour, verjuice/vinegar and the chopped chocolate.

Scoop the mixture onto the baking tray and shape into a 20cm round, flattening the top and sides.

Bake for 1½ hours and then turn the oven off, prop the door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon, leaving the pavlova shell to sit in the oven until completely cool.

When ready to serve, top the shell with whipped cream, fresh berries/seasonal fruit and a scattering of chocolate curls.

Chocolate-Chip Pavlova, Gather and Graze

* Recipe adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ Cookbook

Choc-Hazelnut Brownies

Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies, Gather and Graze

Time slips away so incredibly quickly these days. I would dearly love to have the time to play around with food, more than what I do. To find time to re-create certain dishes with a little more of this, a dash less of that, perfecting and fine-tuning. Sometimes you desire just one more shot at satisfying your own somewhat critical palate and eye.

These brownies are decadent, rich and full of flavour. I’ve adjusted the quantity of ground hazelnuts after making this batch, as I am certain that they would benefit from an even higher level of nuttiness. With my youngest child known to side-step anything with obvious chunks of nuts in them, I can thankfully get away with these (using nutella and ground nuts); though I do feel that they could really benefit from some larger pieces of hazelnut thrown in for extra texture, if you’re keen to give it a try.

I’ll be making these again in the not too distant future, though with variety being the spice of life, one batch of Choc-Hazelnut Brownies this week will do…

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Choc-Hazelnut Brownies | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 16 Squares
  • Print

  • 100g Unsalted Butter
  • 200g Dark Chocolate
  • 150g Nutella
  • 3 Free-Range Eggs
  • 175g/¾ Cup Raw (Caster) Sugar
  • 100g/½ Cup Ground Hazelnuts
  • 75g/½ Cup Plain Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • A little Icing Sugar (for dusting the tops)

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line the base of a 20cm x 20cm brownie/cake tin.

Place the butter and chocolate into a small saucepan over low heat. Stir to combine and remove from the heat as soon as they have just melted. Add the Nutella and stir gently until completely mixed in.

Using an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy. Stir in, spoonful by spoonful, the chocolate/Nutella mixture until incorporated and smooth. Then fold in the ground hazelnuts, flour and salt.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out fudgey, not gooey.

Allow to cool, before slicing into squares and dusting with icing sugar.

Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies, Gather and Graze

Cooking Notes:

  • Consider adding 100g/½ Cup of Chopped Hazelnuts to the mixture as you add the flour, for extra texture.

 

Chocolate Crackle Cookies – Not a Rice Bubble in Sight!

chocolate crackle cookies Alice Waters

These are the cookies that almost never were…

Flicking through the pages of one of my favourite cookbooks, I almost paid off this recipe completely, by the mere title of it. You see, for Australians and New Zealanders, Chocolate Crackles are one of the mainstays of children’s Birthday parties. Rice Bubbles (the equivalent of Rice Crispies elsewhere) are congealed together using Copha (hydrogenated coconut oil), cocoa, desiccated coconut and icing sugar. No baking required – just show a little patience and that copha will re-solidify! I’m very well aware that many children (and adults) were delighted to find Chocolate Crackles adorning the party table… just NOT me! I was always more of a Honey Joy kind of girl… Continue reading

Moelleux au Chocolat | Chocolate Lava Cakes

Moelleux Chocolat | Chocolate Lava Cakes | Rachel Khoo Recipe | Gather and Graze

A life has not truly been lived, without experiencing a dessert such as the ‘Moelleux au Chocolat’. Every now and then, you hit upon something that makes your eyes light up and leaves you completely and utterly speechless… Continue reading

J-P’s White Chocolate Panna Cotta

White Chocolate Panna Cotta Gather and Graze

Quite possibly, tonight’s dessert will feature in the dreams of my children. I can almost guarantee that it will feature in mine! Continue reading

Spiced-Up Chocolate Chip Cookies

Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies Gather and Graze

The last few weeks have primarily been spent nursing children (and myself…) back to health from the coughs and colds that winter invariably brings. Days spent juicing oranges, reading books, cooking comfort food and playing the occasional quiet board game… fine for a day or two, but let’s just say I’m thankful that children are now back at school and that life can finally drift back to normality. Drafts for three different posts I’d hoped to share with you, sit half-written from this period. All seemed a little flat and lacklustre (exactly as I was feeling) in both the writing and photos, so when time permits I’ll attempt to spice them up with some new, improved photos and a touch of editing, before sending them out. A winter-warming soup and a beautifully fragrant casserole were amongst the three, so it really won’t be much of a hardship to cook them over again…

During this time, I’ve also had a little fun playing around with my favourite choc-chip cookie recipe, adding various combinations of spices, cocoa, coffee and chocolate. This was much to the delight of my super-keen taste-testers who probably couldn’t taste a thing with their blocked noses, but loved the fact that we were experimenting all the same! A home economics, food appreciation and science lesson packed into one… Some batches were a little over the top in my enthusiasm for packing a punch of flavour, so when the following cookies came out of the oven, I was very relieved that the flavours I wanted were there, but with a touch more grace and subtlety.

Spiced-Up Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: Makes about 30 Cookies
  • Print

  • 100g Unsalted Butter
  • 150g/2/3 Cup Raw Sugar
  • 1 Free-Range Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 150g/1 Cup Plain Flour
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
  • ½ Teaspoon Instant Coffee (crushed to a fine powder)
  • Pinch Salt
  • 100g Chopped Milk (or Dark) Chocolate

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with parchment/baking paper.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, over gentle heat. Once melted, remove from the heat and tip into a large mixing bowl, along with the sugar and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the egg and vanilla extract and once again, mix well.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, Chinese Five Spice, coffee and salt and stir until combined. Add in the chopped chocolate and mix gently.

Onto the baking trays, scoop teaspoonfuls of the mixture, leaving a little space around each. Bake for about 10 minutes for a crispy texture, or a minute or two less if you prefer soft.

Remove to a cooling rack for at least a couple of minutes, before tasting…

Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies Gather and Graze