How-to step up your dessert game

Hi, you made it! Welcome to my first how-to.

I originally intended to release this post in light of the conditions here in Australia and the planning of celebratory get togethers in mind. Yet again, we find ourselves stuck in the same never-ending lockdown circle.

So, instead of putting this trick straight to work, you can practice at home and wow all your guests with the many, many dinner parties I know you’re already planning.

Here’s how to up your dessert game:

1. Start with your base

In this instance, I have used a basic vanilla cake

2. Add another element

When you choose another element you should first think about

a) what flavours compliment or work well with your base (i.e. cake) and

b) what textures you already possess within your dessert

For example, my vanilla cake is light, soft and fluffy (almost sponge like), giving it a vanilla and subtle egg flavour. So to add depth, I have topped the cake with vanilla buttercream. The buttercream is quite rich and creamy in comparison to the cake. I also add salt to my buttercream, cutting the sweetness of the cake. The vanilla component of the buttercream similarly ties in with the cake.

Therefore we now have two elements different in richness and texture but sharing similar flavours.

3. Add one more element

This cake + buttercream is already sounding and looking great but we’re not playing around here! In step 2 we looked at contrasting textures and complementing flavours and that’s great for taste and mouthfeel but now we’re left with a white looking dessert.

So, I’ve gone ahead and chosen to make a quick and simple ginger and macadamia brittle. It’s honestly so simple and yet it looks like you’ve been hard at work all day creating this tasty garnish! The recipe is listed below if you would like to recreate this dessert for yourself.

The brittle is contrasting in colour to the two previous elements, helping to capture your attention and create more depth.

Again, it also provides a new and interesting texture…CRUNCH!

And let’s be honest…vanilla works with almost any flavour so macadamia and ginger is a no brainer.

Now that we’ve thought about

  1. Flavours
  2. Textures
  3. Colour

We’ve got one more detail to think about an that is shape/eye appeal.

Although most combinations will work, sometimes thinking outside of the box makes ALL the difference.

To me, the vanilla cake topped with the two elements is really visually appealing because of all of the above steps and because of the way it presents itself with its different shapes. The perfect squareness of the cake, soft round buttercream shape and sharp triangular brittle. They are all very different but because of this, work in a cohesive manner.

It makes each element hard to ignore don’t you think?

The end effect is an edgy but beautiful looking dessert.

If I wanted this dessert to feel softer and a little more bubbly, then I could have easily made all elements rounded and smoother. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Now that we’ve looked at the factors, let’s go over the components one more time, all together.

  1. Flavour
  2. Textures
  3. Colour
  4. Shape

So, there you have it. The easiest way to shake up your next dessert!

You’re officially a master at taking your desserts to the next level. Congrats!

Ginger and Macadamia Brittle

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack

Equipment

  • Large pan
  • Lined baking tray

Ingredients

  • 400 g White sugar (castor works best)
  • 6 cm Fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 150 g Toasted macadamias

Instructions

  • Place large fry pan on the stove and turn on element to medium/high. Place sugar in an even layer over the surface of the pan. The sugar will begin to melt and caramelise. Turn the heat to low
  • Continue to cook sugar until it turns a golden brown and all of the sugar has meted. Quickly add remaining ingredients and give a rough stir
  • Pour mixture onto lined baking tray and let set
  • Once cooled and sugar is hard, break into shards to eat.
  • Brittle can be kept in an airtight container for 3 days. Do not expose to moisture or leave in the fridge as this will cause the sugar to melt.

Notes

Try not to stir the sugar when it is melting as this can promote crystallisation. 
If some of sugar crystals that have not melted end up on the side of the pan, use a pastry brush and water to dissolve it. Doing so well help reduce the risk of crystallisation in your end product.  

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