chocolate tarte

the (mis)adventures of an aussie girl in a kitchen somewhere in europe

24 Dezember 2006

still dreaming of a white christmas...

no snow (damn) but plenty of amazing pressies from the wizards of Oz and good cheer. Here are some snaps of Xmas 2006 and some of the yummy things we had to eat, where I was able to show off my new French cooking technique known as mise en place. Aka being a bit better organized. More of this to come no doubt in 2007!

Fresh Bread Rolls, Salmon and Sekt
all 4 candles roaring because finally it is Christmas Eve. And just the one glass of Sekt each because the day is but young.
Melon and Mozzarella Salad
(from German tv chef Tim Mälzer)
serves 4
1 melon
salt and pepper
250g buffalo mozzarella
100g creme fraiche
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
olive oil
100g parma ham, thinly sliced

Peel skin from melon, remove seeds, slice and place on a serving platter. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the mozzarella into small pieces, also season with salt and pepper and place over the top. Mix the creme fraich with the lemon juice until smooth and pour over the top, then drizzle with olive oil. Place over the thinly sliced ham and scatter with chopped chives.
Christmas Pudding with Apricots and Chocolate (adapted from Baker's Secret Pudding tin instruction booklet)
serves 8
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup packed stale breadcrumbs
125g caster sugar
125g margarine
600g mixed dried fruit
100g diced dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
3 eggs, beaten
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons brandy
2 Tablespoons treacle
1 Tablespoon brandy

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl then add all the remaining ingredients (but not those for the syrup) and mix. Spoon into a (Baker's Secret!) pudding tin, cover tightly with lid. Then place in a big saucepan, pouring in enough boiling water so that the water comes up to the halfway point of the pudding tin. Cover with a lid and gently boil for about 3 to 3 and half hours, not forgetting to add more water as required. Pudding is finished when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Turn pudding out onto a plate. Heat the syrup ingredients in the microwave or in a small saucepan and brush over the top and sides. Serve warm with vanilla icecream

14 Dezember 2006

musical cookies

Just because they are cute....


85g butter, softened
100g brown sugar
1 egg
2 drops vanilla essence
175g flour (plus extra)
25g almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
for the glaze:
150g icing sugar, a little water, food colouring

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C (gas 4). Cream the butter with the sugar then add the egg and vanilla and beat until the mixture is smooth. In another bowl combine the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter, stirring constantly. Correct the amount of flour should the dough look too sticky. Wrap the dough in a sheet of plastic and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
Flour a work bench, place the cooled dough on top, and then flour the top of the dough. Roll out with a rolling pin adding more flour if necessary until about a half centimeter thick. Using a cute mold (or liquer glass top) cut out shapes and place on a lined baking tray and bake for between 8 and 12 minutes (depending on the size of the cookies). Cool on a wire rack.
Mix the icing sugar and a touch of water (and any food colouring) in a small bowl and glaze the cookies to your heart's desire. Should make about 30 biccies.

10 Dezember 2006


Although it gets dark ludicrously early, Christmas is a really special time of year over here. There's the Christmas market with all of the Glühwein stalls, hopefully some snow, little cookies called Plätzchen and people seriously go to town decorating their apartments. One must-have home accessory is the advent wreath, four red candles set amidst a ring of Christmas tree foliage and each Advent Sunday in December the candles get lit one by one until all are burning on Christmas Eve. Having overworked myself on the advent wreath last year and being a bit strapped for time this year, I have stuck four cheap red candles in an old candelabra and yesterday got out the plastic baubles. The best that can be said for our advent wreath 2006 is that it makes for atmospheric background for any Christmas baking snaps.

This loaf is a first cousin to Bill Granger's coconut bread and I think it is just as moist and delicious. It can be served as is or toasted. And looks good on a plate with or without any makeshift Christmas deco.

Cherry and Coconut Loaf
1 and 3/4 cups dessicated coconut
1 and 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 and 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup frozen cherries

In a large bowl, combine the coconut and coconut milk and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Heat the oven to gas 3 (170 degreesC) and grease and line a loaf tin (approx. 10.5 x20.5 cm).
Stir sugar, egg and vanilla into the coconut mix, then sift in the flour and baking powder until just combined. Fold in the frozen cherries, then spoon into the loaf tin.
Bake for about an hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out relatively clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then lift onto a wire rack.

02 Dezember 2006

holy moly

Tomorrow is the 1st Advent Sunday. And to accompany the extremely humble advent candelabra we've got going on here, I thought I'd finally bake the prune cake I've been meaning to make for ages, the one with loads of Christmassy spices to really season things up. Googling away though, I found a recipe from Ursula Ferrigno, no cinnamon or cloves to speak of, but dried fruit that has been marinated in brandy and well, it suddenly occurred to me that there is probably no better way to get into the holiday spirit than with a Italian cake with a touch of holy water.

Torta di Prugne e Cioccolato
(adapted from a recipe by Ursula Ferrigno)
200g soft prunes, stoned and halved
4 tablespoons brandy
200g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
25g cocoa powder
175g soft brown sugar
4 large egg whites
75g plain flour, sifted

Place the prunes in a bowl and soak in the brandy for at least 2 hours, overnight is better. Heat the oven to 190 degrees C. Line and grease a 20cm springform cake tin.
Put the chocolate, 150g sugar, 150ml boiling water into a large bowl, stir until smooth and set aside. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form then gradually add the remaining sugar. Add the sifted flour and stir until just combined.
Spoon in a quarter of the egg mixture into the chocolate and stir well, then fold in the rest. Pour into the cake tin and scatter the brandied prunes over the top. Bake for 3o-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out relatively cleanly (don't overcook though). Cool in the tin over a wire rack and enjoy as is or inverted and sprinkled with cocoa powder.

(Alternatively serve with a glaze of 1 tspn ground coffee, 25g caster sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice and 150 ml water. Boil for 5 minutes until the glaze becomes syrupy, then spoon over cooled cake)