chocolate mint tarts

27 Oct 2014

Do you ever have an idea that rattles around in your head for a very long time? I have a chalk board in my kitchen on which I write a list of things I'd like to bake. I wrote chocolate mint tarts on that chalk board about 12 months ago and at last I found the time to make them. I don't have an excuse, life just got in the way.

 I didn't have a recipe as such and decided to just wing it.

I knew I had some of my favourite
 chocolate pastry lurking in the freezer, made from the Popina Book of Baking. I used that to make the tart shells. The chocolate filling I adapted from this Valli Little recipe and I used some chocolate mints I've been hoarding in my pantry since last Christmas. I wasn't sure the chocolate mints would make the filling minty enough so I infused the milk with a peppermint teabag I found in the cupboard.

Here's the finished product. The recipe made eight 7 cm tarts and two 10 cm tarts. I took the tarts into work and they were pronounced a success by the team. The tarts are very rich and chocolately with a subtle but not over powering mint flavour.

Here's the recipe for you.

Chocolate Mint Tarts - makes eight 8 cm tarts or six 10 cm tarts

Chocolate Shortcrust Pastry 
(or you can use shop bought dark chocolate shortcrust pastry) 
225 g (8 oz) plain flour
25 gm (¼ cup) cocoa 
125 g (4½ oz) unsalted butter chilled and cubed 
85 g (3 oz) caster sugar
1 egg, beaten

Place the flour, cocoa, butter and sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 

Gradually adthe beaten egg until the dough starts to gather around the blade of the processor. Remove the dough and bring together into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface until 3-4 mm thick. Line eight 8 cm or six 10 cm tart tins with the chocolate short crust pastry and trim the excess dough neatly around the edges. You won’t need all the pastry so freeze the leftovers for later use. Refrigerate the lined tins for another 20 minutes.

Preheat a conventional oven to 180˚C (350˚F) then prick the pastry with a fork to prevent rising. I line the tins with squares of baking paper before filling each tin with baking weights.  Place the tart tins onto a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the pastry are browned. Carefully remove the lining paper and baking weights and allow the tart shells to cool before filling.

100ml milk
1 peppermint tea bag
225g good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 eggs
1 tbl caster sugar
150ml thickened cream, plus extra whipped cream to serve (optional)
8-12 thin chocolate coated mints
Cocoa powder for dusting (optional)

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until just below boiling point. Steep the tea bag in the warm milk for 20 minutes to allow the flavour to infuse. Remove the tea bag from the milk, thoroughly squeezing the tea bag before discarding it but retain the milk.

Heat the oven to 160°C. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, not letting the bowl touch the water. Allow the chocolate to melt and then stir until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.

Gently whisk eggs and sugar in a separate bowl to just combine (don't allow the eggs to froth). Heat the cream and the infused milk in a saucepan over a medium heat until just below boiling point and then pour over the eggs, stirring. Return the egg mixture to the pan and stir for about 5 minutes over a low heat until thickened. Pour the mixture through a sieve over the bowl of chocolate, stirring gently until smooth.

Coarsely chop the mints and scatter 1 - 2 mints over the base of one of the cooled tart shells. Gently pour the chocolate mixture over the mints until the shell is almost full and level the surface, then bake the tarts in the pre-heated oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until just set. Leave the tarts in the switched-off oven for 30 minutes with the door closed. Remove and cool completely.

If desired, dust the tarts with cocoa powder and decorate with some mint flavoured chocolate cut outs and whipped cream before serving.

I had a busy weekend. Apart from baking, I collected the new side table you can see in the photos and did some more furniture shopping, this time looking for a lamp. I went out for dinner at the new bill's at Bondi. It was a gorgeous day on Sunday and the first weekend of Sculpture by the Sea so Bondi was buzzing.

I hope you all had lovely weekends. 

See you all again next week,



plate 2 plate - mushroom quiche

20 Oct 2014

Hi Every-one,

Do you remember I visited Zurich a few months ago? While I was there, I met up with my blog friend Juliana and we chatted about food photography and travel. Juliana was just about to take a food styling workshop so when I returned home to Sydney I suggested we participate in a styling challenge. We select a recipe to style and photograph which we then share on our respective blogs. Today is the first Plate 2 Plate column and we're hoping to make this a regular feature. Our next column will be in December, in time for the holiday season.

Juliana lives in the Northern hemisphere whilst I live in Sydney so trying to find ingredients which are in season in both hemispheres was quite a challenge. 

For this month we chose mushrooms and after some discussion, we decided to bake and photograph a mushroom quiche from a tried and tested Margaret Fulton recipe. We didn't set any boundaries and changed up the recipe just a little to suit what was both in season and in our cupboards. 

My images have my regular logo and Juliana's have the Plate 2 Plate logo. Here's Juliana's take.

Here's mine. Like Juliana, I used a combination of mushrooms in the quiche - button mushrooms, field mushrooms and swiss browns.

I made my quiche in my old faithful rectangular tin and flavoured it with some fresh thyme as my little thyme bush is flourishing on the bathroom window ledge.

Great minds think alike, because Juliana flavoured her quiche with some fresh herbs as well, though she used rosemary.

As it's spring in Sydney and everything is nice and green, I wanted to reflect that in my images. 

I had the quiche for my lunch and served it with a nice leafy green salad.

Juliana's images were just so autumnal.

Here's the original Mushroom Quiche recipe from the Margaret Fulton Cookbook

1 cup (150 gm) Plain Flour
Pinch each salt and baking powder
2 oz (60 gm) butter
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons iced water
Squeeze lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1 oz (30 gm) butter
8 oz (250 gm) button mushrooms, finely sliced
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Plain Flour
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
½ cup milk
½ cup cream
2 teaspoons melted butter
1 oz (30 gm) grated Swiss cheese

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Rub the butter in lightly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Combine the egg yolk, water and a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle over the flour stirring with a knife to form a dough. Add a little extra water if necessary. Knead lightly on a floured board to bring together, then wrap the pastry and chill for 30 minutes or until required.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board to fit a 8 or 9 inch flan ring standing on a baking tray. Roll the pastry into the flan tin pressing the pastry well into the flutes. Using a sharp knife cut the pastry level with the top of the flan ring. Chill the pastry while preparing the filling.


Preheat the oven to (200°C/400°F). In a medium saucepan melt the butter over a medium heat and cook the shallots in butter softened but not browned. Stir in the mushrooms, salt and lemon juice. Cover and cook over a gentle heat for about 8 minutes. Uncover the pan, raise heat and cook until the liquid evaporates.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, flour, salt, cayenne pepper, the cream and milk and the butter until well mixed. Strain the mixture through a sieve then gently stir into the mushroom mixture. Pour the mixture into the chilled flan case, sprinkle with the cheese and bake in a hot oven (200°C/400°F) for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to moderate (180°C/350°F) and bake for another 20 minutes until the filling is set.

Serves 4 - 6.

Apart from using a selection of mushrooms and the fresh thyme, I barely altered the recipe. I can't remember the last time I made this quiche but it was seriously delicious. Lovely short pastry and a very tasty filling. It was so good, I might have to put it back on the menu.

I hope you enjoyed the first Plate 2 Plate column. Check out Juliana's blog for her take on the challenge. Many thanks to my friend Mona who came up with the name for the column. 

I'll be back again next week with something sweet from the kitchen, so until then,


in the garden, dungog

13 Oct 2014

I know it's been a while since I did an 'In the Garden' post but last time I visited Dungog, there was little in bloom. I spent last weekend visiting my brother Farmer Andrew and the chicken ladies and this time spring was definitely in the air. 

The air was redolent with the fragrance of blossom and I came home with a bag of oranges, fresh from the garden. I made (and burnt) an orange poppyseed cake while I was there, from Farmer Andrew's home grown eggs and oranges and once I cut off the burnt bits, it tasted pretty good.

The garden was in full bloom so I spent a bit of time wandering around the garden with my little camera.

I found some secret places in the garden I'd not seen before.

I love wisteria and was pleased to find it was still in bloom.

Another spot of colour in the garden.

My favourite flowers in the garden - the poppies.

I've just returned from a 4 day trip to Brisbane to find the painters have been and gone. It's lovely having the place look so fresh and clean but I've just spent an hour sweeping, mopping and replacing furniture with still loads more to be done. I've not been near the kitchen except to make a cup of tea and to fill the fridge with food.

I think I might escape the paint fumes (and the ironing) for a while and head to the gym. I'm hoping to get back into the kitchen this coming weekend so see you all again next week with some baking.

Bye for now,


auntie rosina's meatball sliders

6 Oct 2014

Daylight Saving has just begun so I'm feeling ever so slightly out of synch. Today was a public holiday for Labor Day and the 3 day break was much needed. I went up to Dungog to visit Farmer Andrew and the chicken ladies (photos to follow next week) then came home in time to do some domestic chores. With the painter coming to do some work on my place I had windows to wash; lightbulbs to replace and some packing up and shifting to do in my spare room/office before he could locate the walls. Yup it really was that bad in there.

Today’s recipe is a very old Maureen Simpson recipe from Australian House and Garden. I copied this into my little recipe notebook so long ago that the writing is now faded and almost illegible. The recipe for Auntie Rosina’s meatballs is very tasty and a little bit spicy and I seem to have been making them for ever. Usually I serve the meatballs with penne pasta but I decided to put a spin on the meatballs and turn them into meatball sliders.

I made the usual meatball recipe but I added a few extra olives just to make sure there was at least one olive for every slider. I’d planned to serve the meatballs on a few salad leaves, topped with a slice of parmesan and a sprig of oregano all tucked inside a homemade soft brioche roll.

While hunting the internet to see if any-one had made meatball sliders before (and let me assure you that they have) I came across this recipe from Martha Stewart. She topped her sliders with a combination of mozzarella and parmesan cheese then heated the slider in a hot oven until the cheese melted. That sounded so much better than my idea, so I pinched it lock stock and barrel.

To make these into sliders, in addition to the meatball recipe you’ll need some buns. I used this recipe which will make 16 small rolls but of course you can just buy the rolls. I served 2 meatballs for each roll, so the meatball recipe would make about 14 filled sliders. You need about 2-3 tsp of cheese for each slider, a few salad leaves and a few sprigs of herbs. I used a combination of both oregano and basil as that’s what I had in the fridge and in the herb garden that’s growing on my bathroom window ledge.

Here’s the recipe for you -

1 tbs olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic; finely chopped
1 chilli de-seeded and chopped
700ml tomato passata
½ cup red wine
sprigs of fresh oregano
12 black olives, pitted

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil. Gently fry the onion, garlic and chilli until softened. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

500gms beef mince
2 cups of soft fresh breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped parsley
1 beaten egg
salt and pepper
1 tbs olive oil, for frying

Thoroughly combine all the meatball ingredients and form into 2.5 cm (1 in) meatballs (makes about 28 meatballs). Heat the oil in a medium sized fry pan and gently fry the meatballs on all sides until browned. Add to the sauce and simmer in the sauce for 20 minutes. Top with extra parsley and serve with pasta.

Back to work tomorrow then I'm heading to Brisbane for the weekend to see the family and to let the painter do his work. He's just painting the living room; repainting the spare room and all the windows and I can't wait to see the place freshened up a bit. 

See you all again next week,

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