Signature Espresso

Kiwi fruit

Ever wondered how you can turn your insatiable need for caffeine into an all day affair ? Sure you’ve got your morning latte covered, and the midday piccolo and afternoon ristretto is a done deal. But there’s still that lingering need to fill the void between after dinner and bedtime with as much coffee as possible (doctors advice may differ).

Enter the Epic Espresso Signature Drink Workshop ! Not only can you fill your head with all sorts of interesting coffee related facts, but you can also learn a few tips and tricks on how to make some stunning coffee based dessert drinks, meaning you’ll never have to take too long a break from your caffeinated lifestyle.

Tonight’s signature drink workshop was the brainchild of Epic Espresso barista Jeremy Hulsdunk. Jeremy should know a few things about creating espresso based drinks… His creation of a pancake themed signature drink helped take him to first place in the 2006 W.A Barista Championships.

The pour Dubious

The format for the night was straightforward. A group of coffee lovers of varying levels of experience, gathered around to sample excellent quality coffees and learn a little more about how to work with flavours to create new and interesting combinations. We started with a double ristretto of the Ugandan Bugisu Sippy Falls AA, an excellent single origin coffee. Not everyone was used to drinking ristrettos, but after some dubious initial reactions due to the intensity of flavour in that tiny little cup… the consensus was resoundingly good. Flavour descriptors ranging from floral, citrusy, sweet, and smokey were thrown around, with none necessarily being wrong.

Then it was onto another fantastic single origin, the Bali Gunung Batur. This time in the traditional cupping method used by coffee tasters to determine varietal qualities and defects in coffee. The process is basically grinding a set amount of coffee relatively coarsely, adding water at a specific temperature (a little below boiling), and then breaking the “crust” of coffee grounds to inhale the aroma, before slurping the coffee down, aspirating it as much as possible in order to spread it out over your palate. Somewhat like a wine taster would when judging wine, and with probably as many (if not more) different ways of describing the flavours.

Jeremy gave tasting notes and points of interest on each coffee, and a fielded questions with consummate ease while explaining his choices for the evenings selection.

Then it was onto the signature drinks. We made two different styles, one called Strawberries and Cream, and the other called Espresso Fondue Martini.

A certain someone has promised a write up of the Strawberries and Cream, so I’ll cover the Fondue Martini. It was a rich and luscious concoction. Melted chocolate, espresso, and vanilla infused cream, with roasted hazelnuts on top and fresh fruit pieces for dunking. Take a minute to check out the photos of the night below before scrolling down for the full recipe straight from the horses mouth.

Espresso Fondue Martini

  • Pouring cream
  • Melted chocolate (we used Belgian couverture chocolate)
  • Fresh fruit (we used pineapple and kiwifruit, but there’s lots of options that would work)
  • Frozen Raspberries (to put into the cream)
  • 1 Vanilla pod (or 1 tsp Vanilla bean paste)
  • Crushed roasted hazelnuts
  • A shot of espresso (we used the Bali Gunug Batur)
  • Toothpicks / fingers (for dunking the fruit)

Methode ala Jeremy

1) Before you begin, infuse the cream with raspberries and vanilla by placing the cut vanilla pod and raspberries into the cream and stirring with vigour ! Let them stand together for a while so the flavours infuse nicely.

2) Place the melted chocolate (melted in a double boiler / microwave ) into a martini glass to fill just below half way (or more or less depending on how much of a chocolate fiend you are).

3) Pour a shot of espresso over the top of the chocolate.

4) Now add about 50 ml of the infused cream. Which should sink into the espresso / chocolate mixture with a layered effect.

5) Next sprinkle the top with the crushed roasted hazelnuts (an ingredient that compliments espresso and chocolate fantastically).

6) In true fondue style, go for the healthy option and dip fresh fruit into the dessert… making sure to stir up the chocolate and combine all the wonderful flavours for maximum effect.

It was a great night and a lot of fun for everyone. Check out the Epic Espresso website for details of when the next one might be. Thanks again to Jeremy and Corey for being excellent hosts. Here’s looking forward to plenty more great events, and more excuses to drink great coffee at all hours of the day ! :)

P.S – Apologies to anyone who has been trying to comment… I’ve moved to a new host and had inadvertently turned them off

We’re back online now :)

A dinner worth waiting for…


So I’ve been friends with someone for a very long time. Well a long time in my book. I’m not the best at keeping in touch and staying in regular contact, and so I’ve never been the best at maintaining a close group of friends. Couple that with the fact that my family moved around a lot when I was younger means that I’m lucky to still be in touch with anyone I’ve known longer than a few years.

Amanda is lucky (?) enough to be one of the old guard… which means I’ve known her for a good few years now. But surprisingly in all that time, haven’t been around to her place for dinner. Curious as to whether she actually ate at all, I’ve been trying for a while now to wrangle my way into her kitchen, and finally got the chance a couple of weeks ago when at long last, an invitation was sent out, with all necessary pomp and ceremony.

I think there was a sense of making up for lost time involved… although I know once she sets herself to do something, Amanda is not one for half measures. There were wine and oysters on arrival, a plate full of entrees including smoked salmon, capers, cheeses, fruits, and nuts… probably a meal in itself, but just a primer tonight.

Next was course one… chilli mussels… a giant bowl of fresh mussels heaped in a precariously arranged tower with a hearty tomato chilli sauce that warmed us from the insides. Not wanting to seem impolite… I made sure every last one of them got eaten after a considerable number of “seconds”.

Onto the mains and a lovely piece of swordfish steak, on top of mash, with some steamed veges… hearty and delicious, and more than meaty enough for my rampant carnivorous tendencies that don’t quite mesh with Amanda’s vegetarian sensibilities.

Finally, after a couple of bottles of wine, including a Gran Reserva Rioja, and a fantastic Ashbrook Estate Cabernet Merlot Franc, it was time for dessert. Chocolate mouse to start with, with shavings of cognac truffled chocolate on top, decadent enough in itself. Followed later by Tiramisu, a rich spongey delight of flavours and textures, smothered lovingly in cream and chocolate.

If my pants were a little tighter around the waist before this meal, they were doubly so after. We left satisfied and slightly giddy at the gastronomic onslaught, and have vowed to make sure the next dinner doesn’t have to wait for quite so long.

So here from the woman herself is Amanda’s wonderful Tiramisu:

Amanda’s Tiramisu

  • 375ml espresso coffee
  • 500g marscarpone
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 185ml Kahlua or Tia Maria
  • 125ml cream, lightly whipped
  • 250g thin sponge fingers
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder

How She Made Hers
Pour the coffee into a shallow dish (do cool it down otherwise the biscuits go soggy too quickly). Mix the marscapone, sugar and liquor in a large bowl until you have a thick mass, then gently fold in the cream. Cover with plastic then put in the fridge. Dip half the biscuits into the coffee then lay them out in a thin layer on the bottom of a 2 litre ceramic dish. Spread half the marscapone mixture over the biscuits and dust liberally with half of the cocoa (use a fine sieve to make it easy).

Dunk the rest of the biscuits in the coffee and add a layer of them before spreading with the remaining marscapone mixture. Dust with the remaining cocoa, then cover and keep in the fridge overnight to allow the flavours to develop before serving.

Bitter Chocolate Tarts

tart stack

Just a quickie thats been kicking around in my head for a while now. I liked the idea of bitter chocolate tarts ever since having one at Divido in Mt Hawthorn a while back. I’m not a huge fan of really sweet desserts, so the idea of the bitter chocolate appealed to my savoury sensibilities quite strongly.

I’d been sitting on a block of dark (80%) Spanish cooking chocolate for a while, waiting for the next outbreak of the war on terror to hit and send my stocks through the roof. Fortunately that hasn’t happened yet (although the current one is bad enough), and so my resource speculation will have to take a back seat to my baking.

I picked the chocolate up while visiting the lovely lady at Spanish Flavours in Wembley (who i’ll call Maria for the sake of cultural stereotypes), it’s a great store full of all sorts of Spanish and Latin flavoured products. Anyone familiar with “Steve Don’t Eat It” (go there, its good) will be glad to know there is a place where you can find your very own can of Cuitlacoche to play with.

So Maria pointed me in the direction of this chocolate and said it was just the stuff for baking all kinds of delicious desserts “But not for drinking !” She said… “I got a nice one for you to try for drinking”. So after being softened up by a mug of free hot chocolate, that looked more like chocolate yoghurt in consistency, I made the purchase and was on my merry way.

Now with my recent tart making success during the Moroccan dinner under my belt, it was time to roll onto the next tart based challenge. So here we have…

Bitter Chocolate Tarts

Pastry Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Bitter Chocolate Filling:

  • 300mL thickened or whipping cream
  • 200g dark chocolate (80 per cent)
  • 50g butter, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream
  • 2 tablespoons Butterscotch schapps
  • half a cup of sugar (if you can’t take the bitterness)

bitter chocolate

How I Made Mine

For the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor. Mix it all around and then add the butter by cutting it up into small pieces and dropped in a piece at a time until the mixture turns into a rough mixture. Add the egg and cream while the processor is still going at which point it should all come together and turn into a big ball that sticks together quite well.

Take the ball out of the processor and onto a floured surface. Knead it a little and when it seems to be a good consistency that is both soft and a little crumbly, but doesn’t completely fall apart, work it into the shape you’re after and press it into your baking dish. In this case I made a bunch of little tarts. So I broke off small balls of dough and pressed them into discs before lining them into a texas muffin tin. Then prick the bottom of the tarts all over with a fork and put them into the freezer for about 20 minutes before cooking.

When they’re mostly solid and have a good shape after being in the freezer, pop them into a preheated oven at 180C and bake for 15-20 minutes until they’re golden brown. Take them out and let them cool.

For the filling I heated the cream until just below boiling point and then transferred it into a bowl along with the chocolate that had been shaved finely so it would melt quickly. Then let that sit for a minute before stirring in the butter and bringing it all together with the baileys and butterscotch schnapps (which you can quite happily omit if you don’t like cowboys). At this point please taste the mixture… I was going along happily and then I had a taste and realised it was too bitter even for my espresso loving palate (although don’t get me started on the bitterness in espresso debate). So i added a half a cup or so of caster sugar to the mixture and stirred it through to lighten the soul destroying bitterness that was currently lurking in the bowl.

Once it’s cooled, pour it into the waiting tart shells and pop it into the freezer or fridge for a good few hours until solid.

bitter chocolate mini tart with ice cream

Take them out and serve with a good dollop of cream or ice cream to add in the digestive process. Incidentally, mine were still really bitter when I took them out of the fridge the night I made them, but after a couple of days they seem to have mellowed. Don’t ask me how… perhaps all the sugar and alcohol settled at the bottom of the bowl and all got poured into one of the tarts, but either way they tasted great.

The best thing is that if no-one else likes them you can just criticise them for having woefully unsophisticated palates and still come out looking good :) Tasty.

Chocolate Sticky Date Pudding

Sticky Date Pudding with Leatherwood Honey Caramel Sauce
Sticky Date Pudding with Leatherwood Honey Caramel Sauce

Sticky Date Pudding is one of my mum’s best desserts. She has turned it into an art form that few restaurants can come close to matching in my book. The texture of the pudding and the richness of the caramel butterscotch sauce is a combination of rare and special beauty that can be the perfect ending to a great meal.

So doing my usual trick of butchering good food with my own shoddy attempts at making them, I went off and tried to make it myself. I didn’t have time to get the recipe off mum, seeing as it was already about 9:30pm when I decided I was going to cook it, and so I went off to the net to find a recipe. I did my usual trick of combining the essence of about 15 different recipes into my own unified Jeet Kune Do (“I have developed a form of fighting with NO fixed positions!”) style sticky date pudding recipe.

As an interesting addition, I thought i’d make the sauce with honey, and funnily enough, after reading JenJen’s list of 5 things to eat before you die, I happened to come across a small tin of Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey in Fresh Provisions Mt Lawley (who incidentally also have Black Summer Truffles !), and I thought i’d give it a try.

Ingredients For pudding

  • 1 cup dates (or figs even) (stones removed unless you like a bit of bite)
  • 1/2 chocolate bits
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cups plain flour
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Ingredients For sauce

  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup tasmanian leatherwood honey
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

How I made mine

Rummage through your cupboards until you find the one baking dish you bought a few years ago with all good intentions of using to make cakes and the like. Rinse out the dust it’s been collecting and then smear the insides with butter. Sprinkle flour inside and chill in the fridge. Or alternatively, get new age fancy style silicone containers and not bother at all. Preheat your oven to 180C.

Chop up the dates and simmer in a pan with the water and orange juice for 5 minutes. Take it off the heat, stir in the baking soda, and watch a glorious volcanic eruption of foamy goodness. Sit that aside for 20 minutes or so while you prepare the rest. Resist the temptation to taste it, because this mixture is kinda nasty at this point.

While that mixture is standing, into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt (i may have even added a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon here, just because it felt right).

Meanwhile back at the ranch, in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs in one at a time. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating after each addition until just combined. Add date mixture and with a wooden spoon stir batter until just combined well.

Pour batter into your pan and put it into a bane marie (larger pan/tray filled with water) with enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of smaller pan. Slide it carefully into the oven and bake until a metal probe comes out clean, which I found was roughly 45 minutes.

Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey Sticky Date Pudding

Now for the sauce…
In a heavy saucepan melt butter over low heat and add brown sugar, then carefully pour the honey in. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a bubble, stirring occasionally, then stir in cream and vanilla. Stir it around for a few minutes until its thick and smooth.

Serve straight away by cutting a sizeable chunk of pudding and smothering it in the sauce, with a good helping of cream or ice cream on top to help assuage your stomach from the heavy onslaught of the determined forces of pudding and sauce.


Port Poached Pears

Port Poached Pears

(Or how to use up half a bottle of port you are highly unlikely to drink)

Poached Pears are a dish I’ve been meaning to make for a long time now.
A rare foray into dessert making as I generally tend to pay so much attention to the main meal that I forget about dessert entirely. Either that, or after consuming a massive portion of pasta/meat/potato etc, I have neither the desire nor the physical capacity to fit anything else into my already considerably growing girth :|

So this was a bit of a novelty and happened to turn out quite nicely. I searched the web for a recipe that both sounded nice and contained most of my available ingredients, didn’t find one, and ended up once again combining a bunch of them together into something that looked about right.

So two whole pears, peeled, and with the cores removed. I left the sticks on to make it easier to move them around while they were poaching, and because they looked kinda cute like that. Now to a poaching pan (or a regular pan/pot if you are unlucky enough not to have one solely dedicated to poaching), add half a bottle (roughly 250 ml or so) of port, a vanilla bean pod, a little lemon zest, and one clove.

Get it simmering away on a mild heat (so it’s not bubbling and boiling furiously), and drop in the pears. Let them simmer away for about 10 – 15 minutes, depending how quickly they are cooking, and how soft they were to start with. Turning every now and them to make sure the port poaching liquid is persistently pervading all possible parts of the pear (beat that Peter Piper).

Pears in Port Two Pears a Poaching

Once the pears are almost done to your desired level of softness (which you can easily test by poking them with a fork), take them out… halve them, and then put them back into the poaching liquid for a minute or so to get the inside nicely coloured.

Then out of the pan and onto a plate. Turn the heat up in the pan and start reducing the port til it turns into a nice thick syrupy sauce. Serve the pears with a scoop (or two) of icecream of your choice, perhaps a few slivered almonds, and the port reduction drizzled haphazardly (in my case) over the top.

Port Poached Pears

There you go… instant class with little to no effort at all.

White Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse

I stole this recipe from Nigella Lawson. I just happened to be flicking channels on TV one day and there she was, looking all nice and summery, out at the seaside (albeit a horribly English looking seaside), cooking up all sorts of tasty little treats.

This one appealed to me because i had previously made a chocolate mousse that went completely wrong… So i thought it about time to make amends for it.

Ingredients and Basic directions from Nigella:


* 300g white chocolate
* 6 eggs, separated
* 10 passionfruit
* 300g – 500g raspberries


Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in the microwave for about 3 minutes, or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water then set the bowl aside, and let the chocolate cool a little.
Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Mix the egg yolks into the cooled chocolate, though be gentle to ensure it doesn?t seize. Cut the passionfruit in half and scoop them, juice, pulp, seeds, into the yolk and chocolate mixture, then fold into the egg whites until completely incorporated.

Then just pop them in the freezer or fridge for a while and serve with some more fresh berries on top.

I took this dish down to T’Anne’s place for dinner last night, and despite the fact that everyone was completely stuffed, they went down a treat.

It’s with much regret that i didnt take a photo, but trust me when i saw they looked great too :)