Not Quite Nigella’s Zebra Cheesecake

When I saw this cake as baked by the gorgeous Not Quite Nigella I thought “it can’t be done”. Even though the proof was staring me in the face. Yes, I am quite adept in the art of disbelieving certain indisputable facts. I think thats why I was never much good at maths.

Despite my irrational doubts, I knew it was something I needed to try. After reading the instructions once, twice, three times I thought I might be ready to attempt this recipe. And for once, I took progress shots! Savour it now because we all know that it wont last.

Ok so not quite progress shots, but look how great that springform tin looks! Aint no water getting into that baby!

Cake tin avec cake mix!

I like to think of the above picture as my “ta dah!” moment. A sort of “now you see it now you don’t” in reverse. Im starting to wonder whether my inability to document the actual construction of the cake might bear testament to my inability to believe it could be done. Did I mention that I very much subscribe to the belief of “out of sight, out of mind”? Still, it was only a tin of raw cake mix, all a manner of things could go wrong before the cake was finished…

I don’t think you can really see it in the picture but the roasting pan is full of water. Pretty nifty water bath hey!

It seems that all a manner of inexplicable forces are wrapped up in this cake. Note the mystery of the shrinking edges! I think there are a good few centimeters between the cake and the edge of the tin. Where did they go? Nobody knows!

But boy, it sure looks good!!

And look at those stripes! Success!

While this cake was unbelievably light, it was a little too delicate in flavour. The Mother Ship demanded the addition of chocolate. So I obliged.

Do you think there’s enough ganache there?

So, my lovelies, I urge you to try this cake yourself. If you are into the more subtle flavours then this is absolutely for you. If you like your cakes to pack a little more punch, then add some of your favourite ganache and rub your little hands with glee! Whatever your tastes are, you can be sure that you will be the proudest person ever when you successfully complete this recipe!

Zebra Cheesecake Recipe found HERE

M&M Meringues

So im on a bit of a meringue roll now! Thanks Daring Bakers! My head has just been filled with all sorts of different meringue combinations. Well, by different combinations, I really mean what different ways can I put chocolate into this recipe. I think I may have a problem.

First of all, I thought I should perfect the art of piping my meringues. I used ring moulds to make my pavs in the June Baking Challenge, but I love the look of twisty piped meringues. They remind me of the ones I used to always want from the bakery when I was little. You know the impossibly white ones with the technicolour sprinkles on top?

So I had the bright Idea to pipe them into a mini muffin pan. So far so good!


Grease the pan? Huh?

I wasn’t sure if greasing would work so I decided to pipe them into patty pans

Hold on! Rewind! I said I was trying to add some more chocolate right? I thought that a sprinkling of M&Ms inside the middle of the meringues might give it a little bit of a chocolatey surprise

Then pipe some more meringue on top in a pretty spiral, and into the oven they go!

Hooray! Twisty meringue goodness. And thanks to The Saint, there was no weeping of these meringues!

Did I mention I was proud that they didn’t weep?

They were light, and they were tasty. Now, im not sure if its the Australian in me, but I was waiting for that little inside bite of marshmallowy goodness. Yes the chocolate was a good substitute, but I think im starting to get over the novelty of the pain meringue. However, if its a nice, crispy meringue you’re after with a little chocolate surprise in the centre, then this is absolutely for you!

Meringue Surprise Recipe – adapted from ‘Delia’s How to Cook: Book One’


2 large egg whites

110g caster sugar

a handful of mini M&Ms


1. Place the egg whites in a large clean bowl and whisk on a low speed until whites are foamy (approx 2 mins)

2. Switch the speed to medium and carry on whisking for another minute

3. Turn the speed to high and keep whisking until the whites are at the stiff peak stage

4. Add the sugar a little at a time (I like to count to 30 before adding another spoonful to make sure its all being incorporated properly). The whites should be stiff and glossy at this stage

5. Pipe the meringue mix into your patty pans until they are half full

6. Sprinkle a few M&Ms onto the meringue mix

7. Pipe over the M&Ms until the patty pans are full

8. Bake in an oven at 140 degrees celsius for 30 mins (keep a close eye on them because you dont want them to get too brown or to overcook them

9. When you judge that the meringues are done, turn the oven off and leave the meringues to dry inside the oven overnight or until the oven is completely cold

10. Eat them!! Hooray!

Can you fail at cupcakes? Yes.

So i’ve trumpeted the amazingness of the Donna Hay Buttermilk Chocolate Cake far and wide. “It’s the best chocolate cake ever! It never fails!” I said. Well, we all know what happens when you get too cocky.

This happens.

So just to set the scene, it was a weekday evening. I was trying to do a million things at once, and one of those things was bake cupcakes for a staff morning tea. Where I worked before my faculty always did the best morning tea so I was determined to produce something good for my new workplace! I normally take all the ingredients out of the fridge and the cupboard before cooking just to be sure I actually have all the ingredients. That night, I didn’t.

Can you tell what is wrong with these cupcakes?

I knew something was amiss ten minutes into cooking time. There was no rising action going on in that oven. No action at all! I knew I had put the bi-carb in. I know that sometimes I go out and cant remember if i’ve left my hair straightener on, or even if i’ve locked the door, but I had a crystal clear memory of adding bi-carb.

The cupcakes were dense and sticky and just doughy. Awful. Turns out that clever clogs here had forgotten to add the buttermilk (as in one of the key ingredients) AND the eggs. Go me. Word to the wise my lovelies, always get your ingredients out before you begin baking!!

Of course, I couldn’t leave it there. So I rallied, and made another batch. Avec buttermilk and eggs this time!

Ta da! Keep it simple stupid.

Enough for everyone!

So my lovelies, what crucial element have you left out of a dish before?

Daring Bakers’ Chocolate Pavlovas Challenge (June 2009)

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

Ok. So you had me at “Chocolate”. Then you had me drooling at “Pavlova”. By “Mascarpone Mousse” I was on the floor in raptures! The Chocolate Gods are certainly smiling down on me.

As it needed time to chill, I thought I would make the Chocolate Mousse first. I did attempt to make my own mascarpone a day or two after the challenge was posted. While it went ok, I just didn’t have enough time to make enough for this recipe. Definitely something I’m going to do now that the holidays have started though!

Folding the chocolate into the mascarpone and cream mixture.

(I was so happy during this process I almost fainted!)

Next step was the Chocolate Pavlova. Now Pavs are a bit of an Australian specialty. Particularly after Donna Hay’s Pavlova was featured in one of the first episodes of Master Chef. While I have been experimenting with pavlova and meringue lately, I have to say that i’ve never tried a chocolate pav! Absolutely something that needed to be rectified!

Mmmm look at all that lovely cocoa, ready to be folded into the meringue mixture

It was all looking good. I shaped the mini pavs on a baking tray and it seemed as though I was traveling well until something knocked the wind out of my sails.

Horror! Pancake pavs 🙁

I’m not sure what went wrong with these but they just lost their shape. They tasted ok but were not what I was trying to do. So what do we do when something like this happens? Try, try again!

This time I tried shaping my pavs so that they would hopefully hold their shapes better

I’m finding it harder and harder to stop myself from eating the raw mixture. its just so damn tasty and don’t these just look so yummy? I was a little bit naughty and added some cornflour and vinegar on the advice of Womens Weekly. But hey, it worked!

Not only did they look yummy, but they were extremely successful! Yay!

Puffed pillows of pure pleasure.

Now, i’ve been a bit lame this month and somehow forgotten to take progress shots of my creme anglaise and mascarpone cream. Sorry! The process wasn’t particularly difficult or exciting, just a bit of stirring, a bit of sifting and a bit of folding. When I put it all together, I had something that looked like this…

and far out… it tasted gooood. With an emphasis on the “ooo”!

The best part was cracking the shell to get to all that chocolaty, marshmallowy goodness.

Yes, Chocolate Gods, I must have done something right. Word to the wise: you need a fork and a spoon for this one! I have so many different ideas of what to do with the chocolate pav, chocolate mousse and mascarpone cream. Expect some good things with these components in the next few weeks. Thank you Dawn, this recipe was both doable and delicious, not to mention inspiring! You are a star!

Now in conclusion, I want everyone to say with me:

Hooray for chocolate!

Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse and Mascarpone Cream Recipe

* I did have a few small substitutions (using orange juice instead of grand marnier and omitting the sambuca)

Chocolate Meringue


3 large egg whites

½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar

¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar

1/3 cup (30 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder


1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees.  Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.

2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form.  Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form.  (The whites should be firm but moist.)

3. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white.  (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)

4. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue.  Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. (Class made rounds, hearts, diamonds and an attempt at a clover was made!)

5. Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp.  Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse


1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)

grated zest of 1 average sized lemon

9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped

1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone

pinch of nutmeg

2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)


1. Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.

2. Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl.  Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose.  Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks.  (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)

3. Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten.  Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated.  Fill a pastry bag with the mousse.  Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

Mascarpone Cream


1 recipe crème anglaise

½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone

2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)

½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream


1. Prepare the crème anglaise.  Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Creme Anglaise


1 cup (235 mls) whole milk

1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

6 large egg yolks

6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar


1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.

2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.

3. Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs.  Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon.  DO NOT OVERCOOK.

4. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.