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    Entries in Masterchef (5)


    Planet Cake on MasterChef

    my first ever fondant covered cupcake thanks to the Planet Cake book

    Last nights episode of the reality cooking competition MasterChef was fun as we saw the contestants split into two teams to cater for a nine year olds birthday party. An extra ten points was awarded by the birthday girl for the "best birthday cake". The cakes were whipped up at Planet Cake.

    the winning team rushing their cupcakes and cutting cake to the table

    I took the plunge and bought the Planet Cake book late last year & went on to produce my first ever fondant covered cupcakes. Have you ever had one of those moments where you have stood back and looked at your work and been surprised that it looked soooo good? Yep, that was me grinning like a fool as I admired my pink & black bowed cupcakes. 

    For that reason, I highly recommended the Planet Cake book for beginner cake decorators. The book is split into sections including; equipment you will need, glossary, cake recipes, icing recipes, techniques, "how to" for cupcakes, round cakes, square cakes, shaped cakes, three-dimensional cakes plus templates to help you produce cakes such as the handbag cake on the front cover.

    Clear step by step diagrams guide you through the processes, beautiful photographs of the 28 designs show you what you are aiming for. Elegant to whimsical & always vibrant, I just love Planet Cake!!

    If you live in Australia or are planning a trip here, consider taking in a cake decorating lesson at Planet Cake. Planet Cake offer an excellent range of cake decorating courses to suit all levels, classes are held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, they also offer private lessons. Enrol in classes here.

    Do browse Planet Cakes website to see the gallery of their cake designs or sign up for their newsletter and gain access to video demonstrations of cake decorating.  

    Planet Cakes book available from Booktopia.

    Happy Baking :)


    Matt Makes Cookies

                            choc-chip peanut mini morsel cookies

    Last night larger than life MasterChef food critic Matt Preston sporting his trade mark cravat won the Graham Kennedy award for outstanding new talent at the 52nd annual Logies (Australian TV awards). Congrats to Matt!! 

    Matt Preston with his Logie award

    Maybe your a long time follower of Matt Preston's restaurant & cafe reviews in print or radio, maybe you were first introduced to Matt in 2009 in the blockbuster reality cooking show hit MasterChef or maybe, just maybe you are asking "who in hell is Matt?"

    I could bio Matt Preston now, but there is wikipedia for that so lets get straight down to baking because Matt Preston over the years has also shared his favourite recipes, one of which I'm adapting today to make mini choc peanut chip cookies.

    Matt Preston's 'The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie' was first published in Epicure The Age Newspaper in June 2003, re-tweaked by Matt the recipe appears again as 'My Ultimate Choc-Chip Cookie'  in 2006 in the cookbook 'Epicure Chocolate'. Today is the 2006 recipe, where I have added my own tweaks by reducing the chocolate (sacrilegious, I know) and nut varieties/amounts plus I've made them into tiny "mini morsel cookies". 

    Choc-Chip Peanut Cookie Mini Morsels makes 4 to 5 dozen

    2 cups dark eating chocolate chopped into small chunks
    2 cups plain flour
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking powder
    250g well-softened unsalted butter (1 cup)
    2/3 cup light brown sugar
    1/4 cup dark brown sugar
    2/3 cup granulated white sugar
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract or essence
    2 tbsp water
    1 egg
    1 1/2 cups unsalted peanuts
    ·  Preheat the oven to 180C (360F). Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
    ·  In a mixer, cream the butter and mix in the three types of sugar. Add the vanilla extract, water and egg. Beat together. Beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Drop small teaspoons of the mixture, well spaced, on to non-stick baking parchment.
    Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until golden.
    original Matt Preston 2003 recipe The Age Newspaper
    Epicure Chocolate cookbook 2006 has the updated recipe
    Retro style nut bags from Bake It Pretty

    Pavlova Cupcakes

    lychee, raspberry & rose syrup pavlova cupcake

    Not much in the way of dessert making on MasterChef as yet, but there was a pavlova courtesy of guest judge Donna Hay. Sooo, to mark the return of MasterChef I thought I'd make mini pavlova's for cupcake toppers.


    12 baked cupcakes in flavour of choice (I used vanilla buttermilk cupcakes)

    3 egg whites (room temperature)

    165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar (superfine)

    2 tsps cornflour (cornstarch)

    1/2 tsp white vinegar

    1 tsp pure vanilla essence/extract

    Decoration Ingredients

    300ml (0.63 pint) of cream, whipped. Flavour the cream with liqueur if desired

    Topping can be anything you like, I used lychees, raspberries & a drizzle of rose syrup.

    Other topping suggestions are; passionfruit & flaked white chocolate, strawberries & kiwi fruit, dark chocolate curls and hazelnuts, crushed peppermint candy, milk chocolate & peppermint liqueur cream, mango/paw paw/banana and coconut, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries & red currants, peaches with raspberry puree drizzle, chocolate dipped strawberries, orange and chocolate, fresh or preserved stone fruits.


    Preheat oven to 120c/250F (100c/210 fan forced)

    Line a cookie sheet with baking paper, trace 12 6.5cm (2.5in) circles onto the paper & reverse the paper on the tray so the ink won't touch the food.

    In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar is fully dissolved between additions... this will take a few minutes.

    It should be looking like this now...glossy and shiny meringue

    Fold in the cornflour, vinegar & vanilla.

    Divide the meringue between the circles drawn on your baking paper.

    Bake for 45 minutes or until cases are firm.

    Cool totally in oven with the door slightly ajar; use the handle of wooden spoon to keep the door ajar.

    Pavlova's will have a white thin crispy shell and soft marshmallow interior

    Just before serving spread a little cream or frosting on the centre of the cupcakes to attach the pavlova. Place pavlovas on the cakes and topping with cream and desired topping.

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                                Violets are blue pavlova  


    MasterChef 2010 Madness!!

    Dan & I were talking about the horror of the 'real story' on the lower third of the page juxtaposed with the brightly coloured image jolly MasterChef judge. However there is a lot of pros to the whole MasterChef insanity... including; it's weeknight show that is family friendly & that's hard to come by nowadays, it's good for the economy with not only the big guns like the supermarkets & media making money but all the small food producers/retailers too. Adults & children are learning to cook healthy homemade sustainable food. As escapism goes it could be a whole lot worse ;) Below the MasterChef Australia phenomena.....

    When in 2009 newspaper headlines screamed the final episode of MasterChef Australia makes 'MasterChef finale the highest rating non-sport program since 2001' you knew something extraordinary was going on; especially when it actually beat some sports in the ratings & for a sports loving nation like Australia that's practically sacrilegious!

    MasterChef Australia is a cooking reality show, based on the long running British show of the same name and Australia is in the grip of what could only be termed as "MasterChef Madness". Inspiring a nation to dust of that saucepan and learn to cook, a recipe featured on MasterChef causes chaos in the food stores the following day as fans buy up that essential ingredient for the dish. Step son Dan's Mum and Step Dad own a butcher shop, after a lamb shank recipe was shown on MasterChef they found themselves so inundated with customers buying lamb shanks that they had to madly rush around to find extra supplies. 

    Julie Goodwin MasterChef 2009 Winner

    In a move that would do the merchandising department of Disney proud, you can't turn on the radio or TV, pick up a magazine or a newspaper without seeing "MasterChef". You can buy MasterChef the Cookbook, Julie Goodwin's book 'Our family table', buying the Women's Weekly to read her column perhaps your pre ordering run up Poh's Kitchen DVD or asked your newsagency to keep you a copy of MasterChef the magazine at the start of May & don't forget the current and upcoming cookbooks from the judges.

    MasterChef  the Cookbook

    You'd be hard pressed to find an Australian that doesn't know that tomorrow evening Monday the 19th of April the show returns for season two at 7.30pm on Channel 10. I'll definitely be featuring desserts and baking from the show.

    Let the games begin!! 

    Official MasterChef Australia website, for recipes, video and news about MasterChef.

    In Melbourne and looking for fabulous free range, bio dynamic meat then give Daniel's Step Dad Anton a call at McAdams Meats... 

    McAdam Meats

    Shop 18, McAdam Square, Croydon, Victoria

    (03) 9723 3322

    also carrying a range of fish, free range eggs, leg hams smoked on the premises.

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    Half a MasterChef


    Half a Master Chef

    What makes a Master Chef? Perhaps it's how many elements that are put on a plate?


    Gorgeous chocolate plated dessert by chef Matt Moran from his Sydney bay side Restaurant Aria.

    For those MasterChef fan's this is dessert from the final of Masterchef Australia. 

    I set about making about half of the plated desserts elements ... the chocolate tart (miniature versions), chocolate sauce, the chocolate glacage (chocolate glaze) and quenelles of the mousse like chocolate. 

    What's missing are the chocolate macaron's, double baked macaron crumb, chocolate pipe and chocolate sorbet. 

    Valrhona Jivara Chocolate is used in the recipe, quite a small amount 60g, but it's worth seeking out if you are going to recreate the dessert. Jivara is a fine French milk chocolate (40% cocoa solids) with caramel/vanilla undertones and just a hint of malt.

    The resulting tarts were just amazing, step son Dan said he "would kill someone for this". 

    Want to give it a try? Visit the MasterChef Australia site for the full recipe and instructions. 

    MasterChef Australia: Top rating reality cooking competition based on UK's long running MasterChef.