In an interview with Michael Williams on ABC RN's Blueprint for Living program, Kirsten Tibballs, renowned Australian chocolatier, pastry chef, and author of a new book titled Chocolate, spoke about the versatility of chocolate and how 'it always brings everyone so much pleasure'.
She said her preference is to use chocolate for 'sweet pleasure, rather than savoury', but pointed out that a low sugar chocolate sits well with something like a dish of game meat, such as venison.
Known as the 'queen of chocolate', Kirsten is the owner, director and head pastry chef at Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School, which opened in Brunswick in 2002. She is passionate about her craft and started her apprenticeship at the age of 15 in a patisserie in Mornington. Since then, she has devoted her life to the pursuit of desserts, and perfecting her techniques - as well as sharing her skills with others.
Kirsten has plenty of feathers in her chef's cap. She represented Australia at the World Pastry Championships in Las Vegas, and won gold at 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.
Subtitled 'Luscious recipes and expert know-how for biscuits, cakes, sweet treats & desserts', Chocolate is her first book with Murdoch Books. She says that the philosophy behind the book is: 'If we are going to indulge in sneaky guilty pleasures, why not make them sensational?' Good point.
The book comprises a variety of recipes - simple as well as complex. There are instructions on a range of techniques for working with chocolate and pastry - including melting, tempering, and dipping, among others. And plenty of information about recipes, ingredients, and equipment needed.
Chapters are divided between biscuits and cookies; chocolates; baked goods; tarts; afternoon tea; mousse cakes and cups; and desserts. The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow, some with accompanying step-by-step images.
Standouts for me? There are plenty, so it's really quite difficult to chose. That said, I am somewhat in love with the Florentines (pp 36-37); (white chocolate) Almond Bon Bons (pp 56-57); Rhubarb & Chocolate Bake with Crumble Top (pp 100-101); Orange Chocolate Caramel Tart (pp 138-141); Chocolate Meringue Kisses (pp 161-3); and Chocolate Soufflés (pp 228-229), of which a photograph and recipe appears below.
Kirsten's recipe for chocolate soufflés...
'Creating the perfect soufflé can be a challenge,' writes Kirsten. 'For me, this soufflé is the ultimate in flavour and texture and isn't too difficult to create. It needs to be served immediately after baking and I like it best with a scoop of chocolate ice cream in the centre,' she added.
Peter and I are on a low chocolate eating plan at present, so I halved the recipe and made four little soufflés. I was going to take two over to my neighbour, but must confess, they were so light and yet full of flavour, we ate all four!
Tell me, is your mouth watering already?
melted butter for greasing
icing (confectioners') sugar (a), for coating the moulds
35g unsalted butter
40g plain (all-purpose) flour
pinch of salt
35g caster (superfine) sugar (a)
135g good quality chocolate, coarsely chopped (70% cocoa solids)
80g (about 4) egg yolks
125g (about 5) egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
50g caster (superfine) sugar (b)
icing (confectioners') sugar (b), for dusting
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (325 deg F). Prepare eight x 6.5 cm ramekins or soufflé moulds by brushing melted butter inside the ramekins until evenly coated. Dust the inside of the ramekins with icing sugar (a) and tap out the excess. Place the prepared ramekins on a baking tray.
Mix the butter, flour and salt with your hands until they form a paste, leaving no dry flour. Put the milk and caster sugar (a) in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the flour and butter paste to the hot milk and whisk for 3 minutes, or until the paste dissolves and the mixture has a thick, gummy texture. Add the chocolate and egg yolks and stir until melted and combined.
Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed to medium peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar (b) and continue whisking to stiff, glossy peaks. Add one-third of the meringue at a time to the chocolate mixture and gently fold it through by hand with a spatula before adding and incorporating the remainder in two batches.
Once combined, divide the mixture between the eight ramekins by spooning it in to just below the top. Bake the soufflés immediately for 9-10 minutes - the baking time may vary if you use different sized ramekins. Serve the soufflés as soon as they come out of the oven, dusted with icing sugar (b).
This recipe and the images are from Chocolate by Kirsten Tibballs (Murdoch Books).
Chocolate by Kirsten Tibballs, $49.99, Murdoch Books. Thank you to Kirsten Tibballs and the publicity team at Murdoch Books for giving me the opportunity to showcase this delicious title.
Tell me dear readers, is chocolate one of your favourite things? What is the best chocolate treat you have ever eaten or created? And, have you ever tried to make a chocolate soufflé?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.