You’ll find your friends clinging to these little cuties just as tightly as a koala clings to a gum tree. The crunching and munching will be joyful, and you can make believe you’re in a eucalypt forest filled with cuddly marsupials absentmindedly chewing their bodyweight in gum leaves. Puffed rice cereal gives these pops their crunch and variations on the recipe are easy – try a white choc version, or add peanut butter to the mix, and freeze-dried fruit pieces for a pop of extra flavour.
300 g (10½ oz) good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
2½ tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups (80 g) puffed rice cereal
½ cup (45 g) desiccated coconut
16 ice cream sticks
1. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil using either the microwave or double-boiler method (see page 245). Stir until combined. Remove from the heat and mix in the puffed rice and coconut.
2. Spoon the filling into 16 mini silicone popsicle moulds, about 4 x 7 cm (1½ x 2¾ inches) each. Gently tap on the bench to remove air pockets. Insert an ice cream stick into each mould and use the back of a spoon to further compact the filling into the mould. Place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or until very firm.
Assembly and decoration
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) good-quality white chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Black oil-based or powdered chocolate colouring
32 white chocolate melts
32 natural almonds
32 sugar flower decorations
8 gummy spearmint leaves, halved
Black food colouring pen or black food paint
1. Melt the white chocolate and coconut oil using either the microwave or double-boiler method. Tint with black chocolate colouring until a grey colour is achieved. Transfer into a deep jug or glass for ease of dipping.
2. Unmould the crunch pops. Use the melted chocolate to attach two white chocolate melts to the top of each crunch pop to make ears, and also add an almond ‘nose’ and ‘arm’.
3. One by one, dip the crunch pops into the melted chocolate until covered. Gently tap off the excess chocolate and place on a sheet of baking paper. Before the chocolate hardens, decorate the ears with sugar flowers and attach the spearmint gummy halves just below the nose. Allow to set completely at room temperature (at least 1 hour).
4. Once the chocolate has completely set, use a black food pen or black food paint and a thin brush to draw each koala’s eyes. Next, colour in the nose and draw in a tiny smile, as well as some claws.
I used Cadbury White Chocolate Melts for the ears. You can buy sugar flowers from supermarkets or cake decorating stores. You could also use pink marshmallows, cut to size. I used Edible Art Paint and a thin brush to add the final details to the koalas. To make nut-free crunch pops, replace the natural almonds with jellybeans that have been cut in half lengthways.
Store the crunch pops in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature
for 1 week or in the fridge for 2 weeks, and can be frozen for 2 months. Serve straight from the refrigerator or at room temperature.
Curious Aussie fact: one of the wombat’s primary defences is its super-tough backside, which it uses to defend its burrow. While they might look cute and cuddly, these brave marsupials are strong enough to protect themselves against intruders on their home soil, and have been known to bowl people over with… their bum. Be afraid. Be very afraid. This is an animal trained for combat. A combat wombat, if you will. Another curious fact about the wombat bottom: its poo is cube shaped. If you’re looking for a more peace-keeping wombat, feel free to leave off the accessories. Wombats are a unique Aussie icon, whatever they wear.
400 g (14 oz) unsalted butter, chopped
400 g (14 oz) good-quality white chocolate, chopped
2 cups (500 ml) hot water
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups (320 g) dark brown sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
4 cups (640 g) self-raising flour
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F) fan forced. Grease two 20 cm (8 inch) ovenproof glass bowls.
2. Combine the butter, chocolate, hot water, golden syrup and vanilla in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until smooth and well combined. Remove from the heat and set aside until lukewarm.
3. Meanwhile, use electric beaters to whisk the brown sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl until pale and creamy. Whisk in the chocolate mixture until well combined. Add the flour and whisk until combined.
4. Pour the batter into the bowls. Bake the cakes for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out almost clean. (The centre of the mudcakes will still be quite sticky – almost gooey – but will come together once cooled.) Leave the cakes to cool in the bowls for at least 1 hour. Do not turn out the cakes until they have completely cooled, otherwise they may fall apart. Cover the cooled cakes with plastic wrap or a clean, damp tea towel and set aside until needed.
Whipped chocolate ganache
400 ml (14 fl oz) single (pure) cream
800 g (1 lb 12 oz) good-quality milk chocolate, chopped
1. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and bring to a rolling boil (there should be bubbles all over the surface, not just around the edge). Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until there are no lumps. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
2. Use an electric mixer to beat the ganache on high speed until it lightens in colour and becomes thick and spoonable.
Assembly and decoration
1 store-bought mini sponge roll
2 pink Honey Jumbles biscuits
1 TeeVee Snacks biscuit
18 red liquorice twists
Black liquorice rope
100 g (3½ oz) green fondant
100 g (3½ oz) brown fondant
Cornflour, for rolling
16 slivered almonds
Sunglasses or protective goggles (see tips)
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) desiccated coconut
Green food colouring
1. Cut a concave section out of one of the cakes as shown. Reserve the offcut.
2. Secure the uncut cake onto a large board with a dollop of the chocolate ganache. Spread some more ganache on the cut side of the other cake and secure it in place on the board. Cut the cake offcut into two pieces to make the front legs. Cut the sponge roll to size to make the back legs. Secure the legs in place with ganache.
3. Using an offset spatula and a cake scraper, gently crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of ganache (see page 240), reheating the ganache if needed. Carefully smooth the ganache until the desired finish is achieved. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
4. Apply another layer of ganache to the chilled cake (a rustic finish is just fine!) and use a fork to create ‘fur’.
5. Cut off the bottom third of each Honey Jumbles biscuit and insert them into the top of the wombat’s head to make ears. Press the Maltesers and the TeeVee Snacks biscuit in place for the wombat’s eyes and nose.
6. To make the wombat’s stash of fire cracker sticks, lay the red liquorice twists across the wombat’s back. Cut the black liquorice rope into a thin strap and lay it across the red liquorice, securing the ends into the cake. Use a little ganache on the underside of the black liquorice to help it stick.
7. Shape the brown and green fondant into several lumps and roll out on a board dusted with cornflour, until a blended effect is achieved. Using a sharp knife, cut the fondant into a bandana shape and drape it over the wombat’s body.
8. Insert the slivered almonds into the wombat’s paws to make claws. Position the wombat’s sunglasses above the eyes.
9. Put the coconut in a resealable plastic bag and add several drops of green colouring. Seal the bag, then shake the bag and massage the coconut until it reaches the desired shade. Spread the coconut around the cake. Arrange the Fantales ‘droppings’ near the wombat’s rear area.
- You can prepare the ganache using the microwave. Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on High in 1-minute intervals, stirring for 2 minutes in between, until there are no lumps. I use a stick blender to stir the cream and melted chocolate together as it’s much quicker and easier to ensure an even consistency.
- You can use sliced chocolate buttons instead of the slivered almonds for the claws.
- I purchased the sunglasses from a discount store and unscrewed the arms.
The cake is best served at room temperature. It can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Decorations can soften once chilled, so you may want to decorate the cake just before serving.
Leave the mudcakes in the bowls until they have completely cooled – the centres will be quite sticky and the hot cakes may fall apart. Use the cake offcut and a sponge roll to make the wombat’s legs, and attach them with some of the ganache. The ganache doesn’t need to be completely smooth – use a fork to rough it up so it looks like fur. Make the wombat’s camo bandana by rolling lumps of brown and green fondant together.
The Sydney Opera House, with its distinctive white sails, is one of the 20th century’s most famous buildings. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, it opened in 1973 and is among the most popular visitor attractions in Australia. In 2007 the Sydney Opera House was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In this dessert, I’ve combined the iconic silhouette of the Opera House sails (don’t they look smashing in pink?) with our beloved pavlova, which at times can be a structural feat in its own right. So, a bit of architectural elegance meets edible engineering.
Serves 18 - 20
6 egg whites
1½ cups (330 g) caster sugar
3 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F) fan forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and draw a 20 cm (8 inch) circle on the paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites and sugar on high speed for 15 minutes or until thick and glossy and the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the cornflour and vinegar until combined.
3. Spoon the meringue mixture onto the tray in the centre of the circle and smooth the surface. Using an offset spatula, drag the meringue upwards from the bottom into peaks.
4. Place in the oven and reduce the temperature to 100°C (200°F). Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until the outside of the pavlova is crisp and dry. Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova to cool in the oven with the door ajar for at least 6 hours or until cooled completely, preferably overnight.
½ cup (125 ml) water
⅓ cup (75 g) caster sugar
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
4 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
4 peaches, stones removed, thinly sliced
1. Combine the water, sugar, allspice, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick in a saucepan. Stir over medium–low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for 8–10 minutes or until slightly thickened.
2. Place the peach slices in a heatproof bowl and pour in the syrup. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Raspberry Swirl White Chocolate
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) good-quality white chocolate, chopped (see tips)
Pink oil-based or powdered chocolate colouring
½ cup (20 g) freeze-dried raspberries
1. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
2. Melt the white chocolate using either the microwave or double-boiler methoD.
3. Place ⅓ cup of the melted chocolate in a smaller heatproof bowl and mix in a small amount of pink colouring until the desired shade is reached.
4. Pour the white chocolate onto the baking tray. Use an offset metal spatula or a metal spoon to spread the chocolate in an even layer over the tray.
5. Dollop the pink chocolate onto the white chocolate in various places. Working quickly, use a skewer to swirl the chocolate to create a marbled pattern. As soon as you are happy with the pattern, press the freeze-dried raspberries into the chocolate. Give the tray a little shake to help embed the raspberries. Place in the freezer for 1 hour or until completely set.
6. Carefully snap the set chocolate into sail-like shapes. If the chocolate has set firm enough, it should snap quite easily.
Assembly and Decoration
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
300 ml (10½ fl oz) single (pure) cream, whipped
1 handful fresh raspberries
1. Carefully place the pavlova on a cake stand or serving plate.
2. Combine the mascarpone and vanilla in a bowl, then gently spoon into the centre of the pavlova.
3. Top the pavlova with the whipped cream and the drained peaches. Adorn with the chocolate ‘sails’ to emulate the sails of the Sydney Opera House. Add a handful of fresh raspberries. Serve immediately.
The pavlova is best served as soon as it is decorated. It can be refrigerated for 4 days, but will soften once it absorbs the moisture from the peaches.
If you are using any type of couverture chocolate (my personal favourite), which has a high cocoa butter content, you will need to temper (also known as ‘crystallise’) the chocolate in order to obtain the best taste, texture and overall results. See page 245 for tips on working with chocolate. You will find freeze-dried raspberries in most health food stores and specialty grocers, or you can buy them online. You could also top the pavlova with some fresh passionfruit pulp.