Chocolate - one of life's greatest pleasures. It's been proven as beneficial to your health, it's been argued that it improves your mood, and some claim it can even help you lose weight*. Regardless of whether your preference is dark, white, or milk; morning, afternoon, or evening, there are few occasions that aren't made better with chocolate.
Whether you're catering for a broken heart or a new romance, cooking up a chocolate storm is likely to tick the boxes you need – and when it comes to working with chocolate, there's no better expert than the queen of the cocoa bean herself: Kirsten Tibballs. As owner, Director and Head Pastry Chef of the world renowned Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School in Melbourne, Kirsten has made a name for herself creating desserts that look as good as they taste. She's represented Australia internationally at Pastry Championships and Olympics, and has judged at the World Chocolate Masters in Paris and the Patisserie Grand Prix in Japan. Through sharing her expertise on MasterChef Australia, she earned the title of 'queen of chocolate' and counts George Calombaris as a fan – so it's fair to say that when it comes to chocolate, Kirsten knows best.
It's this passion for sweet perfection that inspired Kirsten's second book, aptly titled Chocolate. After years of road testing recipes around the world through classes and sessions, Kirsten has collated an array of chocolate delights that cater to even the most kitchen-shy chocoholics.
More than just a recipe book, Chocolate is a compendium for pudding perfection. Written especially for at-home sweet-tooths at all levels of expertise, it's full of easy to understand recipes designed to get your chocolate treats on the table as quickly as possible. Even if you'd consider yourself more adept at eating icing than layering it, Kirsten's explanations and easy to understand steps will set you up for sweet success. Whipping up wonderful creations like an expert pastry chef will be your new favourite party trick, and we're quite sure your guests won't be complaining either!
Kirsten Tibballs opened Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School in 2002. She has represented Australia at the World Pastry Championships in Las Vegas, as well as winning gold in the Pastry Olympics in Germany. She has also been a judge at the World Chocolate Masters in Paris, The Patisserie Grand Prix in Japan and The World Chocolate Masters National selections in London. Kirsten has been a host chef on MasterChef and appears regularly on Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield. Kirsten inspires students, home cooks and chefs alike.
Author: Kirsten Tibballs
Simple and luscious, this rich cake is perfect served as an afternoon tea or as a dessert with some fresh berries and drizzled cream.
260 g (91/4 oz) almond meal
115 g (4 oz) icing (confectioners') sugar
120 g (41/4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
120 g (41/4 oz/about 2) whole eggs
320 g (111/4 oz/about 16) egg yolks
100 ml (31/2 fl oz) vegetable oil
pinch of salt
80 g (23/4 oz/3/4 cup) Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of baking powder, sifted
140 g (5 oz) unsalted butter
180 g (61/2 oz) good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F). Prepare a 22 cm (81/2 inch) cake ring or tin (see page 16). Put the almond meal and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat well on low speed to combine. Gradually add the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add the vegetable oil in a constant drizzle, followed by the salt, regularly scraping down the side of the bowl. Using a spatula, gently fold in the sifted cocoa powder and baking powder until just combined.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler or in a bowl in the microwave (see page 12). Add the butter and chocolate mixture to the cake batter and mix together by hand until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and hollow out the centre slightly (about 1 cm/1/2 inch deep) with a spoon. Bake for 50–55 minutes. To test if it is ready, insert a metal skewer or small knife in the centre of the cake – it should come out a little bit sticky just in the centre.
110 g (33/4 oz) good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1⁄3 cup) cream (35% fat)
10 ml (1/4 fl oz/2 teaspoons orange liqueur (optional)
Chocolate Ganache Topping
To make the chocolate ganache topping, put the chocolate in a bowl. Put the cream in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, whisking by hand until combined and the chocolate has melted. Add the orange liqueur and continue whisking until combined.
small block of milk chocolate
To prepare the garnish, using a large knife or vegetable peeler, scrape chocolate shavings from the chocolate block and set aside. Pick the very centre of the lavender flower for decorating.
To assemble the cake, unmould the chocolate cake once cool and remove the baking paper. Spread the chocolate ganache on top with a palette knife. Place the individual chocolate shavings around the edge of the top of the cake and place the lavender flowers on top of the shavings. This cake is best stored covered in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Question: What inspired you to release Chocolate?
Kirsten Tibballs: I wanted to create a book that enabled people who cook at home to create delicious, decadent treats with easy step by step instructions. After releasing my first book, which was aimed at professionals in the industry, I wanted my second book to be suitable for anyone who has a passion for baking cakes and chocolate products.
Question: Which of the recipes in the book holds the most memories, for you?
Kirsten Tibballs: The Choux Puffs with Lime Coconut Filling hold a lot of memories for me. My nanna was a renowned local cake maker and cream puffs was one recipe she used to make all the time when I was growing up.
The Chocolate Chip Cookies are very special to me, too. This is a recipe that my son, Charlie, and I have always enjoyed making together at home.
Question: Which of the recipes, should we cook, this Saturday night, for dessert?
Kirsten Tibballs: The Chocolate Fondants with Chocolate Chip Ice Cream – the liquid centre chocolate puddings in this recipe are very decadent and sure to impress! They are a perfect dessert for a winter's night.
Question: How is this recipe book different to other chocolate recipe books?
Kirsten Tibballs: I wanted everyone who reads this book to be able to make all of the recipes easily at home, so the majority of ingredients used can be purchased from your local supermarket. This recipe book contains luscious recipes you want to eat and therefore will inspire you to cook. I have included a large variety of recipes so there is something for everyone to enjoy!
If you want to simplify this recipe you can replace the made raspberry jelly with a good-quality store bought raspberry or berry jam.
90 g (31/4 oz) unsalted butter
60 g (21/4 oz/1/2 cup) icing (confectioners') sugar
15 g (1/2 oz) almond meal
20 g (3/4 oz) desiccated (shredded) coconut
30 g (1 oz/about 1/2) whole egg
160 g (51/2 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Coconut Shortbread Pastry
In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it is a thick, smooth paste. Sift in the icing sugar then add the almond meal, desiccated coconut and the egg and mix to combine. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix to combine until it comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to rest for 1 hour, until firm.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F). Place eight individual 8 cm (31/4 inch) tart rings on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Roll out the dough on a lightly dusted work surface to a thickness of 3 mm (1/8 inch) then line each tart ring with the rolled pastry. Place a large paper case in each tart ring and fill with uncooked rice. Blind bake for approximately 6 minutes, then remove the rice and paper case and bake the tarts for a further 6 minutes or until light golden brown. You can freeze them, baking them as needed. Remove the tarts from the oven, allow to cool and then remove the tart rings. The baked tarts can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
180 g (61/2 oz) good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
50 ml (13/4 fl oz) cream (35% fat) (a)
70 ml (21/4 fl oz) coconut cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
160 ml (51/4 fl oz) cream (35% fat) (b)
Put the chocolate in a bowl. Put the cream (a), coconut cream and vanilla bean paste in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate, whisking by hand until the chocolate is melted and completely combined with the cream, creating a ganache. Place the cream (b) in a chilled bowl and whisk to a semi-whipped consistency. Immediately and gently fold the semi-whipped cream through the ganache by hand until combined.
4 g (1⁄8 oz) gold-strength gelatine sheets or 6 g (3⁄16 oz) powdered gelatine
110 g (33/4 oz) frozen raspberries
80 g (23/4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
Soak the gelatine sheets in a bowl of iced water and, once pliable, gently squeeze the sheets to remove any excess water. Set the sheets aside and leave at room temperature. If using the powder, sprinkle it over a bowl containing 30 ml (1 fl oz/11/2 tablespoons) cold water. Leave at room temperature until needed.
Combine the frozen raspberries with the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat and add the gelatine, stirring until it is dissolved and combined.
Dutch-process cocoa powder, for dusting
shaved coconut, for garnishing
fresh raspberries, for garnishing
Evenly divide the raspberry jelly into the base of each cooled tart. Spoon in the prepared chocolate mousse on top of the raspberry jelly to fill the tarts. Create a rough texture on the surface of the tart. Dust each tart with cocoa powder and garnish with shaved coconut and fresh raspberries. Eat immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Author: Kirsten Tibballs
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Recipes and Images from Chocolate by Kirsten Tibballs (Murdoch Books) photographer Greg Elms $49.99