On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


Room for dessert?

Hello hello. I’m back from Auckland and thinking about what I have to pack tomorrow for my week-long trip to Sydney. Phew. Talk about a quick turn around at home.

Despite that I still found time today to make dessert. A dessert that involved white chocolate AND caramel. Two of my weaknesses.

White Chocolate Caramel Mousse Tart anyone?

White Chocolate Caramel Mousse Tart anyone?

During the week I’d made the Salted Caramel Sauce primarily for our Australian Practice Manager. I’d met Donna a few weeks ago when I was working out of the Melbourne office. This time it was her turn to visit us. Donna had mentioned her plans to make an apple pie this coming week and I immediately followed that up by saying it needed to be served with salted caramel sauce (and send her this link as suggestion for Apple Pie. The caramel sauce recipe is in there too). Making a dry caramel isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and my first two times were a flop. So I decided to make the caramel sauce making the full recipe and keeping half for us. Well Mr Fussy was keen that we have some too, so a full recipe it was.

Donna has two smaller jars of salted caramel sauce tucked under her arm, and we put our lot to use in a White Chocolate Caramel Mousse individual tarts. That’s a long title.

I had 3 individual tart cases left over from when I made another carmel tart recipe. The pasty is my favourite and the recipe is here. The caramel sauce is the one I always use, but I change the method somewhat.

Ready to make something wonderful happen

Ready to make something wonderful happen

Heat the cream so it’s just warm. Add the cream in 3 batches whisking between additions and making sure any clumps have re-melted. Return the caramel/cream mix to the heat and add in the butter and sea salt.  And Bob’s your uncle. In actual fact I whisk the castor sugar while it’s clumping and melting and yes I get some splashed up the side of the pot. But it all seems to melt back in once the cream is added. The cream makes the mix bubble up and at this point it seems to collect the little bits of melted sugar. At least for me it makes caramel a less fussy task and it doesn’t seem to make an ounce of difference to the caramel.

So the tart cases and the caramel had been pre-prepared. I just had to make the white chocolate mousse. I used this recipe again. It’s the same I used when making this year’s Valentine’s Dessert.



I added 3 egg yolks instead of the 2 in the recipe. I added an extra only because our eggs are smaller in New Zealand than in America. Three is a little more than 2 in America, but I don’t mind extra richness. To the white chocolate mousse (yet to have the whipped cream added) I spooned two very generous dessert spoons of caramel sauce. Once this had been mixed through, and loosened the white chocolate mix, I then added the whipped cream in two batches.

A slathering of Whittaker's 70% dark chocolate

A slathering of Whittaker’s 70% dark chocolate. Which made it impossible to cut into and necessary to pick up and eat by hand.

Then to up the ante, I added a layer of dark chocolate to the base of the tart cases before spooning in the mousse. It didn’t take much to fill up the 3 cases, especially when I had a generous layer of chocolate. I ended up filling 4, almost 5 ramekins with White Chocolate Caramel Mousse. Two of those went to Dad and Ruth (it was Dad’s birthday yesterday. No time to make anything for a nice afternoon tea this year), two for Mr Fussy and my MIL during my absence, and Natalie has the “almost” enough to call it dessert. I don’t think she has any plans to share the salted caramel sauce. I think that’s being snuck home without the inhabitants being any the wiser.

Mr Fussy's little tart. And proof cutting into the tart was an impossible task (notice the cut mark?)

Mr Fussy’s little tart. And proof cutting into the tart was an impossible task (notice the cut mark?)

There was a bit of chocolate left over so I put that into a piping bag while it was still melted. Then I warmed it back up tonight to flick around the plate (along with a little more caramel sauce). Then decided I’d be creative, or silly, depending on how you look at it, and pipe little messages on the plates.

Love the collection of colours and aromas from these spices and ingredients.

Love the collection of colours and aromas from these spices and ingredients.

Before dessert came a Moroccan casserole. Thanks for Alison providing me the recipe many months ago. I think this was the 3rd time I’ve made this. Each time it’s with beef. Tonight I decided to use white pepper, which is what the recipe calls for, but I’ve never had it, instead using cracked pepper. Boy oh boy. What a massive difference that one change in ingredients made. I liked it, but it sure added more heat to the meal.

Unlike usual, this time I served it with mashed spud. Mr Fussy often makes mashed spud but it tends to have a few lumps here and there (sometimes more than a few). I’d read a trick recently about how to make sure the mash is creamy. A quick Google and I found what I had remembered. The milk needed to be warmed up. I incorporated a few changes. I drained the potato and left the pot on the element so that the could dry out and the steam could escape. While that was happening I warmed up the milk and then added the butter to it. The warmth from the milk melted the butter. I used the stick whiz thingee with the mash attachment and mashed the potato as is and then began adding in the milk/butter mixture. The milk/butter mixture was added in 3 batches. Then the taste test and a bit more salt and cracked pepper was added. And we had the perfect creamy mash, just like that.

Ok, that’s the end of my little tid bits. And here’s hoping that all future mashed spud in this household will be just as creamy.

There’s enough spud and casserole left over that Mr Fussy and my MIL have a meal ready to go. In the meantime I’ll be making doing in an apartment and counting down until I return home. It’s another little milestone. Once I’m home it’ll be one more day of work and holiday time for 6 weeks. Excited much?!

First up is brunch at The Old Vicarage tomorrow morning. I wanted to do something nice with Mr Fussy before heading way and leaving him to manage everything at home alone. I’ll miss him.

The chocolate and white chocolate caramel mousse was just the right balance to make sure the mousse wasn't too sweet.

The hidden chocolate layer with the white chocolate caramel mousse was just the right balance.



Valentine’s Day dessert – early

Chocolate Hearts

Chocolate Transfer sheets used to fancy up the decorations

I’ll be travelling from Hamilton on Valentine’s Day. We’re going out for dinner on Saturday, but I wanted to make something nice for Mr Fussy.

Mr Fussy and his “resolution” didn’t want cake. I found a compromise. There’s cake, but it’s not covered in fondant and dressed up prim and proper. Instead this is a dessert, which has cake, and is similar to the Devils Dream Cake, Mr Fussy’s dessert of choice from Strawberry Fare (where we’re dining on Saturday).

This is my Valentine’s Day special dessert, made and served yesterday for some of my favourite people, Mum, Yvonne and my MIL, and of course, my wonderful husband, the love of my life.

For my Valentine

Layered dessert, all but the chocolate sauce.

For a few weeks now I’ve wanted to make a really really chocolate cake. And when we’d decided on a dessert rather than a cake I went to Rosie’s blog, Sweetapolita, to re-read a few of her recipes where she’d made cake for her and her husband. What I decided on was the cake from this recipe and then I went searching for recipes for a dark and white chocolate mousse.

I grabbed the dark chocolate mousse from another of my favourite blogs, David Lebovitz and picked at random another blog for the white chocolate mousse. I really didn’t want to add gelatine to the mousse, but I wanted something a bit more robust than the thickening from whipped cream. This recipe used both egg yolks (to give a more custard type consistency) and cream, but it was the only recipe I found that didn’t use gelatine.

Dark Choc Mousse

Folding the whipped up egg yolks and sugar into the melted and cooled chocolate.

I made the cake on Friday and measured the different round cookie cutters to the inside of the food rings. I had 3 good rings and wanted to get 3 more. I only managed to buy one more food ring. Sadly the kitchen warehouse place I shop had run out. My two sets of round cookie cutters are like a half size between them. I’ve used the cutter before for the Black Forest Dessert I made and it was fine, but the cake seemed to have shrunk a bit after I cut the rings out. I only realised this after having measured out the acetate and cellotaping them to size of the inside of the food rings. When I put the first round of cake into the bottom the acetate was too wide so I had to resize them all. I also had to shimmy them up the cake base so that I could get a little more height for all the mousse.

I made both the dark chocolate and white chocolate mousse Saturday morning and set them into the fridge while I fluffed about with preparing the food rings.

I wanted to make 6 desserts with 3 layers of cake with mousse between the layers, and a thin spread of raspberry puree between the middle layer of cake.

Raspberry Layer

Raspberry puree beneath and above the middle cake layer.

I baked the cake in a 9 x 13” cake pan and only managed 15 cake layers. Eeek, I need 18. I took some of the bigger scraps so I could piece together a middle layer for what would be my dessert and thought I would cut a few layers in half. What I found as I was layering the dessert was the cake layer was too thick. The cake baked 2.5cm which I was thrilled about. In the end I used the 2.5cm thickness for the base, then cut circles of cake through the middle for the middle and top layer of the dessert. I had plenty of cake left.

Thankfully I had left over cake (but no left over raspberry puree) because one of those desserts toppled over. I guess I shimmied the acetate sleeve a little too high and the weight of the mousse and cake caused the dessert to lean and then it was all over. I quickly noticed two others going the same way. There was a shriek and yell for more hands. Mr Fussy came to my rescue and we used the 4 food rings I had to guard some of the desserts that threatened to lean.

White Chocolate Mousse

Rich white chocolate mousse.

We ate that toppled dessert after lunch, it was very rich.

I bumped up the coolness in the spare fridge and left those desserts to firm up over the next 6 hours.

Mr Fussy cooked a lovely leg of lamb on the rotisserie BBQ, add some new spuds, spring (?) carrots and a fresh green salad and we had a really lovely dinner.

Food rings

Layered and ready for the fridge after a protective layer of Gladwrap.

Mr Fussy doesn’t know how I managed to eat my dessert minus the raspberry since he thought it would be too rich without the tartness of the raspberry puree. Yvonne even mentioned how it was a good balance with the chocolate.

The last touch I added to the dessert were the chocolate transfer hearts. I made them on Friday. It was my first time using chocolate transfer sheets and it was a bit of a learning experience. The white chocolate took forever to set enough that I could press out the hearts using my small heart cookie cutter. And when I thought it was set and went to nudge a heart out of the way, it melted. My hands aren’t that hot, but the few minutes sitting on the bench and it was enough to distort it.

Chocolate Transfer Sheets

Easy to use. Compound “chocolate” would be best for white, or be prepared to wait a loooong time for it to set up.

The dark chocolate was fine, it set up nicely and it cut nicely. And on that basis I decided to use the dark chocolate as the “glue” to hold two hearts together on a tiny straw.

I also made the chocolate sauce Rosie used in her Double Chocolate Cake recipe. It’s the first time I’ve made a chocolate sauce that didn’t include water or cream. My recommendation is to take it off the heat (sitting over a pot of simmering water) several minutes before serving, when it’s too hot the sauce is thin. I wondered if I’d need to double the recipe, expecting to completely drown the dessert, but I was the only one that was heavy-handed with the sauce and there’s plenty of sauce left. As there is of each mousse. For this dessert you would get away with halving each mousse recipe.

Add sauce

Smothered in chocolate. Now we’re talking.

We have enough that I’ve made 6 more desserts. I’m going to need to diet after all this chocolate overload.

2014-02-09 14.00.25

More chocolate mousse desserts. Mixing it up with dark then white, and white then dark mousse. Using up all the left over shards of chocolate. Nothing is wasted.

I just want to add a note about the dark chocolate mousse, the rum flavour is very prominent. I would have liked to swap rum for Cointreau but that wouldn’t go with the raspberry puree. I think you can probably omit any alcohol. I also used Bushells Coffee & Chicory essence instead of brewed coffee. I don’t drink coffee (or tea) so I have no idea on what a rich or dark coffee is. I find using the coffee & chicory to be easier to get a handle on.

Like the Double Chocolate cake that called for ¼ cup, so did the mousse. For both recipes that was 40ml of the coffee & chicory essence with the balance made of water. Mr Fussy said the coffee was what he found more obvious than the rum.

Also with the cake, I didn’t have enough dark muscovado sugar, I had 130gm and made the balance up with brown sugar.

Those are the only changes I made and I have to say that cake is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted. I love the little chocolate chips through the batter. I can’t wait to make it again!

Yvonne & Mum

Blurry photo aside, great company and a rich dessert with Mr Fussy’s Moa Pale Ale front and centre.


Long time coming–Devil’s Dream Cake

I’ve waited so long to make this cake that the Valrhona chocolate feves have past their best by date. I might have been a little intimated using such an expensive chocolate. So much so it seemed sensible to wait until it wasn’t quite at its peak.

Since we’ve waited so long, let’s just get straight into a photo shall we?

Devils Dream Cake

This is Mr Fussy’s dessert of choice when we go to Strawberry Fare. We’ve not been at all this year which is odd, except that we keep running away from Christchurch to spend our birthdays with just each other’s company. We went to Queenstown for Mr Fussy’s birthday, and Nelson for mine.

You can find the recipe on Strawberry Fare’s website. I took a screen shot of it just in case they decided one day to remove it from their website.

My cake doesn’t look quite the same as theirs. It’s a lot higher for one, and there’s a double layer of ganache. Which was mostly to hide the fact the ganache I first made separated and as it cooled in the fridge it of course left lovely little pools of fat. So being the master of disguise I made another ganache and poured that over the top.

Slice of DDC

I also don’t decorate a plate to any restaurants standards either. But I tried. I might have been better to have not :-/

First of all I wanted to make the raspberry filling using Sujon raspberries. We bought them back from Nelson with us.

Raspberry layers

I had some trouble making it cover the first chocolate layer. I might have been a little conservative. Going back to why I wanted Sujon brand frozen raspberries, they are much more plump, and usually whole. And that really makes no difference at all when you boil them down. I realise it really made no difference when you think of it, but it mattered to me.


And here’s a photo of my expensive chocolate that I allowed to go beyond the best by date. I used Cadbury melts and buttons for the balance of the chocolate needed for the dessert. Up until now I’ve been a big fan of Whittaker’s. I’ve used Cadbury just recently for something else, I can’t even remember. I hadn’t realised they made a 70% block of chocolate. What I’ve noticed is that it’s much more smooth when melted down, and I like that. Even the melts and buttons have real cocoa butter in them. I’m going to give it a try (the 70% stuff) for a ganache and see how that compares to Whittaker’s.

I digress.

I’ve never made a sponge before. The notes on the recipe are a bit sparse for something I’ve never done before so I used intuition and made a mistake (which was just a mistake, not my intuition) but the sponge turned out just fine. And was high enough that I was able to get 3 layers out, which of course means there’s another Devil’s Dream Cake in Mr Fussy’s future.

Making the sponge

My mistake was to add the yolks before having added the sugar. I seemed to have skipped that sentence when reading the instructions while I was making it.

My sponge started to smell like it was burning, which in hindsight I think was the pan grease I used to grease the sides of the pan rather than line it with baking paper.

The mousse, where that expensive chocolate is used, is no more than just a mousse so I’m not sure why I was getting myself all wound up about using it.


The recipe says to add the melted chocolate when the cream begins to thicken. At the point where you can just see the cream starting to pucker as you move the beaters through it is the point I added the chocolate. Then I folded the remaining chocolate with the spatula. Though the white mousse was taking too long to thicken to the same texture as the milk/dark chocolate so I got the beaters out to speed it up a bit. Then it started to set in the pan as I was spreading it. Probably because the pan had already been in the fridge and much cooler than it was than when I added the milk/dark chocolate mousse.

This really was quite a simple dessert to make. It just takes a bit of time. There’s the waiting while each layer of mousse sets up a bit before spreading the next.

And because I like to have all my ingredients measured out before I begin, I was well ahead and ready before the cake had been in the fridge for more than a few minutes.

According to Mr Fussy the Devil’s Dream Cake served at Strawberry Fare rests on a more biscuit base. I’m not really surprised to learn this is not the exact same. And I can alter the recipe to make a more biscuit base. Actually can you imagine it done with a brownie. Yum!

This is Mr Fussy’s one and only dessert he orders, and my very first sampling of it, because I also have my one and only dessert I order (hey Strawberry Fare, if ever you want to share the Caramel Hazelnut Torte recipe ……..) I did enjoy it, but since I’m not a raspberry fan I wouldn’t usually gravitate to this. A pleasant dessert but I’ll keep going back for the torte when visiting Strawberry Fare.

I just checked the website and the desserts are now $16.80. I’d say that’s a fair price given the quality of the ingredients in the recipe, and of course the skill and service you get when eating out.

Especially for Mr Fussy