If there was ever a time to stuff your face with every type of chocolate and in every form possible, this is it.
Today is World Chocolate Day and although there's a day for pretty much everything, this day really counts. If this isn't reason enough, dark chocolate can help boost your mood and even has cardiovascular health benefits thanks to its antioxidant properties. So, swap out those skinny jeans for elasticised pants because it's time to induce a chocolate coma.
These recipes by Kirsten Tibballs -- one of Australia's most talented chocolate and pastry chefs -- from her cookbook Chocolate are a chocoholic's dream. From chocolate bites and cake to souffle and honeycomb, your World Chocolate Day (and every other subsequent day) is covered.
Decadent chocolate cake
It doesn't get much more decadent than this. With a rich chocolate base and a creamy ganache, this cake is utter chocolate perfection. It's the type of cake you secretly want for yourself, the type of cake that will bring out your inner Bruce Bogtrotter from Matilda.
"Simple and luscious, this rich cake is perfect served as an afternoon tea or as a dessert with some fresh berries and drizzled cream," Tibballs said.
Serves: 12–14 | Difficulty: Easy | Gluten free
- 260g almond meal
- 115g icing sugar
- 120g caster sugar
- 120g (about 2) whole eggs
- 320g (about 16) egg yolks
- 100ml vegetable oil
- Pinch of salt
- 80g (¾ cup) Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
- pinch of baking powder, sifted
- 140g unsalted butter
- 180g good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 110g good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 80ml (⅓ cup) cream (35% fat)
- 10ml (2 teaspoons orange liqueur), optional
- Small block of milk chocolate
- Lavender flowers
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F). Prepare a 22cm cake ring or tin. 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.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler or in a bowl in the microwave. 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 1cm 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.
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.
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 five days.
The crunchy, sweet and spongy honeycomb is made from scratch and quickly dipped in silky, melted milk chocolate. See ya later, Crunchies.
"Honeycomb is simple to make but there are a few tips to ensure you create a perfect result every time," Tibballs said. "When adding in the bicarbonate of soda, just whisk it until combined or else you'll knock out all the air. The honeycomb needs to be coated in chocolate shortly after it has cooled to avoid it absorbing moisture and going soft."
Serves: 6–8 | Difficulty: Easy | Gluten free
- 225g caster sugar
- 55g honey
- 85g liquid glucose
- 10g (2 teaspoons) bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), sifted
- 480g good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1. Place a large sheet of baking paper on a heatproof surface. Put the sugar, honey, glucose and 40ml (two tablespoons) water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until it starts to boil. Once boiling, stop stirring the mixture. When the temperature reaches 157°C (315°F) -- if you don't have a thermometer the bubbles on the surface should reach a light golden colour -- add the sifted bicarbonate of soda and whisk just a few times to incorporate. Pour the honeycomb mixture onto the baking paper and don't move it until it is cold.
2. Temper the milk chocolate. Break the honeycomb up into small pieces and mix it through the tempered chocolate until well coated. Spread the honeycomb on a tray lined with baking paper and leave at room temperature to set. If your room temperature is too warm, place in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Break the honeycomb sheet up in large chunks and serve or wrap in cellophane or sealed packaging to present as a gift.
Note: this has a four-week shelf life if left in a single sheet. Once broken up, it will need to be eaten within a few days.
Famous for being a dessert difficult to perfect, this chocolate souffle recipe is easier to make than most while not sacrificing the light, fluffy and chocolate flavour we expect.
"Creating the perfect soufflé can be a challenge. For me, this soufflé is the ultimate in flavour and texture and isn't too difficult to create," Tibballs said. "It needs to be served immediately after baking and I like it best with a scoop of chocolate ice cream in the centre."
Makes: 8 | Difficulty: Easy
- Melted butter, for greasing
- Icing sugar, for coating the moulds
- 35g unsalted butter
- 40g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 190ml milk
- 35g caster sugar (a)
- 135g good-quality chocolate, coarsely chopped (70% cocoa solids)
- 80g (about 4) egg yolks
- 125g (about 5) egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 50g caster sugar (b)
- Icing sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Prepare eight 8 x 6.5cm ramekins or soufflé moulds by brushing melted butter inside the ramekins until evenly coated. Dust the inside of the ramekins with sugar and tap out the excess. Place the prepared ramekins on a baking tray.
2. 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 three 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.
3. 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 to the chocolate mixture at a time and gently fold it through by hand with a spatula before adding the remainder.
4. Once combined, divide the mixture between the eight soufflé moulds 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 they come out of the oven, dusted with icing sugar.
Keen to master the art of chocolate making? Impress your loved ones (or yourself) with these soft caramel chocolates. Warning: things are about to get messy and very delicious.
"The chocolate filling in this recipe is a little different than others as it has a custard base," Tibballs said. "If you prefer, you can leave out the alcohol or interchange it for another type. If you're looking for a more intense flavour, dip the squares into dark chocolate."
Makes: 75 | Difficulty: Medium | Gluten free
- 690g good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 40g (about 2) egg yolks
- 75g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
- 250ml (1 cup) cream (35% fat)
- 15ml (3 teaspoons) butterscotch schnapps
- 800g good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- Dutch-process cocoa powder, for dusting
- Acetate, cut into 75 x 4cm squares (optional)
1. Line a 33 x 23cm, or similar sized, slab tin with baking paper so it goes up the sides. Spray a small amount of vegetable oil underneath the paper if needed. Put the chocolate in a bowl.
2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together by hand in a medium bowl. Put the cream in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Pour the hot cream over the egg mixture, whisking by hand to combine. Return the mixture to the pan over low heat, stirring gently with a heatproof flexible spatula or wooden spoon until the temperature reaches 82°C (180°F) to create an anglaise. (If you don't have a thermometer dip a wooden spoon in the mixture, lift it out and draw a line through the mixture on the spoon with your finger. If the anglaise runs straight over the line, it's not ready. If the line holds without any drips, it's ready. Do this process quickly, before the anglaise runs off the spoon.)
3. Once the anglaise reaches temperature, immediately strain it over the chocolate, whisking by hand until all the chocolate is melted. Whisk in the butterscotch schnapps.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and leave at room temperature for a minimum of 24 hours. If your room is too warm (above 23°C/73°F), place the ganache in the refrigerator for a short period of time just until it firms up. Remove your ganache from the tin and mark it with a ruler into individual 3cm squares. Using a large, straight-bladed knife, cut out the squares, cleaning the knife in between each cut. Separate the squares ready for dipping.
1. Temper the milk chocolate. Line a flat tray with baking paper. Pick up one chocolate square at a time, so it's balanced on the end of a dipping fork (use a bamboo skewer if needed to help you balance), and dip it into the chocolate to coat the square with a thin layer of chocolate. Tap the fork a few times on the surface of the chocolate to remove the excess chocolate from the square. Wipe the base of the dipping fork on the side of the bowl and place the chocolate square on your lined tray. Sprinkle the surface with cocoa powder and gently press a square of acetate on top (the plastic square is optional) until it is in direct contact with the chocolate. Keep the plastic square in place for as long as possible to obtain a gloss on the surface of the chocolate.
2. After every three or four times you use the dipping fork, gently wipe it with paper towel to avoid a build-up of chocolate. Reheat the chocolate as needed with a hair dryer and repeat the process until all the chocolate squares are dipped. Place the squares in the refrigerator for 5–8 minutes, then remove the plastic squares (which can be reused). The remaining chocolate can be well wrapped and stored in an opaque container until required. These chocolates have a one-week shelf life. They should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator if your room is too warm.
Recipes and images from Chocolate by Kirsten Tibballs (Murdoch Books). Photographer: Greg Elms $49.99