Recipes from Chocolate All Day by Dessert Masters' Kirsten Tibballs

Karen Hardy
Updated November 15 2023 - 1:48pm, first published 5:00am
Watch: MasterChef spin-off Dessert Masters.

If you need me for the next few weeks I'll be on the couch indulging in Network 10's Dessert Masters. It's the creme de la creme, if you'll excuse the bad pun, of Australia's best dessert and pastry chefs, a spin-off of the fan favourite MasterChef. There's some MasterChef contestant alumni in Reynold Poernomo and Jess Liemantara as well as regular judges Adriano Zumbo, Anna Polyviou, Morgan Hipworth and Gareth Whitton.

Chocolate Queen Kirsten Tibballs is no stranger to the MasterChef kitchen either. As one of Australia's most celebrated and internationally acclaimed pastry chefs and chocolatiers, there's no doubt she knows her stuff. But it's sharing what she knows that really drives her.

Her Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School offers a wide range of online and hands-on classes.

She was happy to share a few of her chocolate secrets and recipes from her latest book Chocolate All Day.

Do you have what it takes to be a dessert master?

Learn all the secrets of dessert queen Kirsten Tibballs. Picture by Armelle Habib
Learn all the secrets of dessert queen Kirsten Tibballs. Picture by Armelle Habib

Which chocolate?

I work with Callebaut brand chocolate and I use it in all the recipes in this book. If you can't get Callebaut, try to work with another good-quality chocolate, which can be referred to as couverture. I use chocolate in the form of buttons. You can use a block of chocolate, but you will need to chop it. To determine the quality, take a look at the ingredients. You want to ensure that the chocolate is made with cocoa butter and not vegetable fat. Chocolate made with vegetable fat is often referred to as compound chocolate. In compound chocolate the cocoa butter is replaced with a modified vegetable fat that has a higher melting point than cocoa butter, and both our palates and bodies find it difficult to process. Using compound chocolate will give you an inferior eating experience.

Dessert Masters judges Melissa Leong and Amaury Guichon. Picture courtesy of Network 10
Dessert Masters judges Melissa Leong and Amaury Guichon. Picture courtesy of Network 10

How and why we temper chocolate

Chocolate only needs to be tempered if it is used as a coating or garnish. I have given instructions throughout the book in the relevant recipes on how to temper. I use the simple microwave method. However, if you don't have a microwave you can temper chocolate on the stovetop. (Refer to our Savour School YouTube channel, where you will find technique videos.) The reason why we temper chocolate is to avoid fat bloom. This is caused when the chocolate is melted without tempering. When the chocolate sets, some of the cocoa butter sets in larger particles, which can cause white dots or streaks throughout the chocolate. If your chocolate sets and it has fat bloom, it can be re-tempered as per my original tempering instructions, as long as nothing other than colour has been added to it.

Chocolate All Day, by Kirsten Tibballs. Photography by Armelle Habib. Murdoch Books. $49.99.
Chocolate All Day, by Kirsten Tibballs. Photography by Armelle Habib. Murdoch Books. $49.99.

Handling and working with chocolate

A small slab of stone is a great investment for working with chocolate. It will give you a flat surface that will pull the heat away from the chocolate. When working with chocolate, your room temperature should be no more than 24C. You will sometimes need to use the fridge for setting chocolate. As a guide, a thin layer of chocolate shouldn't need more than five minutes in the fridge, and a thicker piece of chocolate up to 20 minutes. If you store chocolate in the fridge for longer periods of time, when you bring it to room temperature you will get condensation on the surface. The condensation will dissolve the sugar in the chocolate and it will set in larger particles, which you can see as well as feel on the palate.

How to store chocolate

Chocolate should be well sealed in opaque packaging at all times as it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere very quickly, especially in humid climates. If the chocolate has absorbed moisture, its texture will be noticeably thicker when melted. Use fresh chocolate for finishing and garnishing. If chocolate is exposed to light in clear packaging, it will fade slightly in colour.

Dessert Masters or a DIY building show? Kirsten Tibballs gets cooking. Picture courtesy Network 10
Dessert Masters or a DIY building show? Kirsten Tibballs gets cooking. Picture courtesy Network 10

A note on eggs

The recipes use 58g eggs with the shells (50g without). The "whole egg" weight refers to just the egg yolk and white without the shell. If the weight needed is more or less than a whole egg, lightly beat the egg before weighing it to reach the required quantity.

  • This is an edited extract from Chocolate All Day, by Kirsten Tibballs. Photography by Armelle Habib. Murdoch Books. $49.99.
  • MasterChef Dessert Masters screens Sunday to Wednesday on Network Ten and 10Play.

The following recipes are the keys to the chocolate kingdom. The simplest route to chocolate happiness by the doyenne of chocolate, Kirsten Tibballs.

It's always the right time for chocolate.

Rocky road chocolate cake

Rocky road chocolate cake. Picture by Armelle Habib
Rocky road chocolate cake. Picture by Armelle Habib

Simply irresistible. This beauty is covered in luscious chocolate ganache and crowned with a halo of fresh raspberries, peanuts, marshmallows and milk chocolate. The inside of the cake is also studded with rocky road surprises. It's so much more than just another chocolate cake.

Ingredients

Rocky road chocolate cake:

  • 200g whole eggs
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthways and seeds scraped
  • 95g plain flour
  • 20g Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20g unsalted butter, melted
  • 30g marshmallows, chopped
  • 45g good-quality milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 35g roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 60g fresh raspberries

Chocolate ganache:

  • 200ml thickened cream
  • 250g good-quality milk chocolate

To finish:

  • 45g good-quality milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 30g marshmallows, chopped
  • 25g roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 60g fresh raspberries

Method

1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 170C fan-forced.

2. Grease an 18cm round cake tin.

3. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment on high speed for approximately five minutes, until light and fluffy.

4. To check whether the mixture is ready, lift the whisk and drizzle the mixture back onto itself. If it sits on top without immediately sinking back into the rest of the mixture, it is ready.

5. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt, then gradually add to the whisked egg mixture.

6. Mix a small amount of the batter into the melted butter, then fold all the butter into the batter to incorporate.

7. Add the marshmallows, chocolate, peanuts and raspberries and gently fold them through until evenly distributed.

8. Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

9. Leave to cool completely at room temperature.

10. For the chocolate ganache, heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.

11. Put the chocolate in a bowl.

12. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated.

13. Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the ganache and leave to cool at room temperature for two hours, until it thickens to a spreadable consistency.

14. Spread the chocolate ganache on top of the cake.

15. Arrange the chopped chocolate, marshmallows, peanuts and raspberries to form a halo around the top of the ganache.

16. The cake is best eaten within a few days of baking and served at room temperature. Store the undecorated cake in the fridge for up to four days. The cake can be made up to four weeks in advance and frozen. After the ganache and decoration are added, the cake can be stored for up to three days.

For best results: Place the eggs in a bowl of body temperature water and leave for 10 minutes to warm them before making the cake. Gently move the eggs around as they warm. This will create better volume when whisking.

Next level: For added glamour, replace the marshmallows on top with edible flowers.

Serves 10.

Caramel slice topped with milk chocolate ganache

Caramel slice topped with milk chocolate ganache. Picture by Armelle Habib
Caramel slice topped with milk chocolate ganache. Picture by Armelle Habib

Just when you think caramel slice (sometimes known as millionaire's shortbread) can't get any better, I bring you this new level of decadence. What makes this caramel slice so good? Chocolate, of course. Here you'll find it nestled in the biscuit base, humming in the caramel filling and crowning this slice in the form of a glossy ganache.

Ingredients

Biscuit base:

  • 125g unsalted butter, melted
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 120g plain flour
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 50g good-quality milk chocolate, roughly chopped

Caramel filling:

  • 80g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 395ml sweetened condensed milk
  • 90g good-quality dark chocolate

Ganache topping:

  • 250g good-quality milk chocolate
  • 100ml thickened cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30g liquid glucose
  • pinch of sea salt

Method

1. To make the biscuit base, preheat the oven to 160C fan-forced. Grease a slice tin, 27.5 x 17.5cm and 3.5cm high. Line the base and sides of the tin with baking paper and set aside until required.

2. Put the melted butter and brown sugar in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Add the flour, coconut and cinnamon. Continue to mix until the ingredients come together. Add the milk chocolate and mix to combine.

3. Press the mixture into the base of the prepared baking tin to create an even layer.

4. Bake for 15 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven and set aside at room temperature.

6. Reduce the oven temperature to 140C fan-forced.

7. For the caramel filling, combine the butter, brown sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat.

8. Once the butter has melted and the sugar has completely dissolved, reduce the heat to low, add the condensed milk and whisk continuously until the mixture begins to simmer. Continuing to whisk, cook for a further 3 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken slightly.

9. Remove from the heat and add the dark chocolate. Mix until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the caramel.

10. Pour the caramel filling over the biscuit base and spread to create an even layer.

11. Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

12. Remove from the oven and leave the slice to cool completely at room temperature.

13. For the ganache topping, place the chocolate in a bowl.

14. Combine the cream, vanilla, glucose and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then pour the mixture over the chocolate. Gently whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the other ingredients.

15. Pour the ganache over the cooled caramel layer and spread evenly. (For a less rich version, make the slice without the ganache topping.)

16. Place the slice in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

17. Remove the caramel slice from the tin and cut it into 18 rectangles, approximately 9 x 2.8cm.

18. Store the slice in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Next level: To add a little dazzle, rub some edible gold lustre dust into shaved or shredded coconut and sprinkle it on top of each bar.

Makes 18 pieces.

Chocolate-chip cookie sandwiches with orange ganache

Chocolate-chip cookie sandwiches with orange ganache. Picture by Armelle Habib
Chocolate-chip cookie sandwiches with orange ganache. Picture by Armelle Habib

Make way for your new obsession. I'm talking chewy cookies with a lusciously smooth, melt-in-the-mouth filling with hints of crunch. A little bit fancy, and a whole lot of fun, these choc-chip cornflake cookies get a flavour boost thanks to a swirl of orange-infused chocolate ganache. They are a tantalising eating experience and an instant crowd pleaser.

Ingredients

Orange ganache:

  • 195ml thickened cream
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 430g good-quality milk chocolate

Cookies:

  • 100g raw sugar
  • 165g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 50g whole egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 155g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 110g good-quality milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 110g good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 90g cornflakes, crushed

Method

1. To make the orange ganache, heat the cream, orange zest and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.

2. Place the milk chocolate in a bowl.

3. Once the cream is boiling, strain it over the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the cream.

4. Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the ganache.

5. Leave to cool at room temperature for two to three hours before transferring to a piping bag or snaplock bag.

6. For the cookies, preheat the oven to 170C fan-forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

7. Place the raw sugar, brown sugar, salt and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth.

8. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine.

9. Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and mix until incorporated.

10. Remove the bowl from the mixer, add the chocolate and crushed cornflakes and stir them through.

11. Place the cookie dough in the fridge for one hour.

12. Roll teaspoonfuls of the dough into balls. Place them on the baking tray approximately 4cm apart and gently press down on them to flatten slightly.

13. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

14. Remove from the oven and leave to cool at room temperature. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.

15. To assemble, cut the tip off the prepared piping bag of orange-infused ganache.

16. Pipe the ganache onto every second cookie and sandwich them together with the plain cookies.

17. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

18. The cookie dough can be prepared in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Allow the dough to come back to room temperature before baking.

For best results: If your room temperature is warm, place the ganache in the fridge to firm it up to piping consistency.

Fix it: If the ganache looks grainy after you add the cream to the chocolate, add a tiny bit more cream and continue whisking.

Makes 30.

Lamington ice-creams with raspberry and coconut

Lamington ice-creams with raspberry and coconut. Picture by Armelle Habib
Lamington ice-creams with raspberry and coconut. Picture by Armelle Habib

Seductively creamy, cool and sweet. Home-made ice cream is given a lamington spin with hints of fresh raspberry, a chocolate shell and loads of coconut. Don't have ice-cream moulds? This frozen treat is just as wickedly delicious made in a tray. Simply slather the luscious ganache coating over the ice-cream and add a satisfying sprinkling of coconut.

Ingredients

White chocolate no-churn ice cream:

  • 285ml thickened cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 75g good-quality white chocolate
  • 200ml sweetened condensed milk
  • 125g fresh raspberries

Ganache coating:

  • 100g desiccated coconut
  • 300g good-quality dark chocolate
  • 420ml thickened cream

To assemble:

  • 16 popsicle sticks

Method

1. To make the ice-cream, combine 100ml of the cream and the vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.

2. Place the white chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.

3. Pour the boiled cream over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated.

4. Add the remaining cream and whisk to combine.

5. Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the mixture, then place in the fridge for a minimum of five hours.

6. Once the cream base mixture has chilled, place the condensed milk in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.

7. Pour the chilled chocolate cream mixture over the condensed milk, add the raspberries and whip on high speed until it forms soft peaks.

8. Divide the mixture among 16 mini ice-cream silicone moulds, then insert a popsicle stick into each ice cream.

9. Place the ice creams in the freezer to set for at least six hours, preferably overnight.

10. For the ganache coating, tip the coconut into a bowl and set aside until required.

11. Once the ice-creams are completely frozen, place the chocolate in a microwave-safe plastic bowl and melt in the microwave on high in 30-second increments until 50% melted.

12. Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.

13. Pour the boiled cream over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated.

14. Transfer the ganache to a tall jug or vase that is just wide enough to dip an ice-cream into.

15. Dip each ice-cream, one at a time, in the jug of ganache, then hold over the bowl of coconut. Scoop up the coconut and sprinkle it over the ice-cream until all the ganache is coated. Alternatively, place the ganache-coated ice-cream on top of the coconut and use a dessert spoon to scoop up the coconut and sprinkle it over the ice-cream. Try not to move the ice-cream too much while coating with coconut, as it can make the surface of the ice-cream lumpy. Place the ice-cream on a tray lined with baking paper and return to the freezer for a minimum of one hour before serving.

17. Store in the freezer for up to four weeks. Any left-over ganache coating can be frozen for up to eight weeks.

For best results: These are best left in the freezer overnight before removing from the moulds. I used Silikomart Mini Classic Ice-Cream Moulds. Leftover ganache coating can be frozen, then reheated and poured over ice-cream or a dessert for an extra chocolate hit whenever you desire.

Fix it: The ice-cream base whips very quickly so don't walk away from the mixer. If you do happen to overmix it slightly, gently fold through some chilled cream.

Makes 16.

Karen Hardy

Karen Hardy

Canberra Times lifestyle reporter

I've covered a few things here at The Canberra Times over the years, from sport to education. But now I get to write about the fun stuff - where to eat, what to do, places to go, people to see. Let me know about your favourite things. Email: karen.hardy@canberratimes.com.au

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