Monthly Archives: June 2016

Il Diplomatico Chocolate Cake


This coffee-soaked dessert is often made with shop-bought Madeira cake, so feel free to take the short cut if time’s tight. To intensify the coffee hit you may add espresso to the chocolate mousse filling and the cream topping too – it’s not strictly traditional, but it’s delicious. You’ll need to begin this recipe 2 days ahead.



250 ml espresso-strength coffee
50 ml golden rum
100 gm caster sugar
450 gm dark chocolate (60-65% cocoa solids), finely chopped
700 ml thickened cream
3 cups thickened cream
4 eggs
To serve:chocolate-coated coffee beans, coarsely crushed (optional)

Madeira Cake

175 gm softened butter
155 gm caster sugar
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
3 eggs
250 gm (1 2/3 cups)plain flour, sieved
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk


1. For Madeira cake, preheat oven to 160 C. Beat butter, sugar and lemon rind in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Scrape down sides of bowl and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour, cinnamon and baking powder to combine, then add milk and lemon juice and stir until smooth. Spoon into a greased 8 cm x 22 cm loaf tin lined with baking paper, smooth top and bake until cake is light golden and a skewer inserted withdraws clean (45-50 minutes). Cool completely, then turn out and stand, uncovered, for 24 hours to dry out.

2. Stir 150 ml espresso, rum, 1½ tbsp sugar and 50 ml water in a bowl until sugar dissolves and set aside.

3. Slice Madeira cake width-ways into 5 mm- thick slices and line base and sides of an 8 cm x 22 cm loaf tin lined with plastic wrap (let plastic wrap hang over sides of tin), trimming cake to fit and filling all gaps (set aside remaining cake). Brush generously with espresso mixture and set aside.

4. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (3-4 minutes), then set aside. Whisk 400 ml cream in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (4-5 minutes), then refrigerate until required. Whisk eggs, remaining sugar and 50 ml espresso in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until thick and pale (3-4 minutes), remove from heat and fold in melted chocolate, then whipped cream. Spoon into cake-lined tin, smooth top, then cover mousse with remaining cake slices, trimming to fit. Brush with espresso mixture, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours or up to a week. Whisk remaining cream and remaining espresso to soft peaks. Invert cake onto a platter, top with whipped cream, scatter crushed coffee beans over and serve.


Sunday Refections


Wishing all the fathers a happy Father’s Day!! Have an amazing Sunday and a blessed week.


Introducing Muffin Bath & Body Basics


I am thrilled to introduce my friend’s new bath and body line, Muffin Bath & Body Basics. The products are a variety of bath and body elixirs with natural scents, 100% certified organic and hypoallergenic. Feel free to visit her website:




Chocolate & Caramelized Banana Tart


A cocoa crust, chocolate-cream filling and shards of dark chocolate play off the bananas’ creamy sweetness. For best results, chill the filled tart before topping it with the bananas; otherwise, the filling may be too soft to hold the fruit up well.



For the crust

8-1/4 oz. (1-3/4 cups) all-purpose flour; more for dusting
3-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.) confectioners’ sugar
1-3/4 oz. (7 Tbs.) sifted cocoa, preferably Dutch process
6 oz. (12 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs, 1 separated
Cooking spray
1 oz. melted dark (70%) chocolate

This recipe makes enough dough for two tart crusts; use one now and freeze the other for a delicious tart in your future.

For the filling

1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract or paste
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1-1/2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 oz. warm melted dark chocolate
1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream
For topping and finishing the tart

4 medium bananas
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
Dark chocolate shards, for garnish (video: How to Make Chocolate Shards)


Make the dough

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, butter, and salt. Mix on low speed until the butter begins to break up, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to just below medium and continue beating until the mixture looks sandy with butter pieces the size of tiny pebbles, about 2 minutes more.

2. Turn the mixer off and add the whole egg and egg yolk (reserve the remaining white). Mix on low speed until the eggs are fully incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and mix just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 30 seconds. Do not overmix.

3. Divide the dough in half, press each half into a disk about 4 inches across, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 disk for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. (Freeze the other disk for up to a month; thaw in the refrigerator before using.)

Shape and bake the crust

1. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Spray a 9-1/2- to 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray.

2. Working quickly, roll the dough disk into a 1/8-inch-thick round. Transfer the dough to the tart pan and gently coax it into the pan, allowing the excess dough to hang over the sides. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut off the excess dough. Patch any tears or cracks with the scraps. Refrigerate the crust for at least 20 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

3. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill it to the very top with beans or pie weights. Bake until the edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and paper. Bake until the center of the crust looks dry and is just beginning to color, about 5 minutes.

4. Beat the reserved egg white. Brush the inside of the crust with some of the egg white (you won’t need it all) and return the crust to the oven until the egg white has dried, about 2 minutes. (This prevents the crust from getting soggy once you add the filling.) Cool completely on a rack.

5. Brush the interior of the cooled crust with the melted chocolate. Let it set for a few minutes in the fridge before proceeding.

Make the pastry cream

1. Combine the milk and 2 Tbs. of the sugar in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. If using a vanilla bean, split it and scrape the seeds into the milk, then add the pod. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod, if using.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the remaining 2 Tbs. sugar with the egg, egg yolk, and cornstarch until smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk half of the hot milk into the egg mixture until combined. Off the heat, whisk the contents of the bowl back into the remaining milk in the saucepan.

3. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches a boil; it will thicken. Continue to cook for another minute past the boil, whisking constantly. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla paste or extract, if using. Stir a little pastry cream into the melted chocolate to temper it. Fold this back into the rest of the pastry cream. Strain the pastry cream through a medium-mesh sieve into a medium heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Fill and top the tart

1. In a medium bowl, beat the cream to stiff peaks with an electric hand mixer or a whisk.

2. Beat the pastry cream to soften and smooth it. With a large spatula, fold the whipped cream into the softened pastry cream until thoroughly combined. Fill the crust with the crème légère, evening it out with the spatula. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before topping with the bananas.

3. Cut the bananas into 1/2-inch slices (you can either cut them lengthwise as shown, or crosswise into rounds or ovals). Arrange the slices on a large foil-lined baking sheet. Working in batches, sprinkle the top of each slice completely with sugar. With a kitchen torch, heat the sugared top until caramelized. Repeat with the remaining slices. Arrange the caramelized bananas on top of the filling. Note that because the filling is soft, you’ll need to work quickly while the filling is cold and more firm. Because it’s hard to move the bananas once they’re on the filling, you may want to practice your pattern on an empty sheet pan before placing it on the tart.

4. Garnish the tart with the chocolate shards. Refrigerate the tart until ready to serve. Serve the tart cold, within 6 hours of topping.


You can make four 4-1/2-inch tarts (shown here) from one batch of filling and one dough disk. Reduce the baking time for the crusts, and fill the crusts two-thirds full.

Sunday Reflections


Happy Sunday! Wishing you peace and joy in your corner of the world.


Honoring The CHAMP!


Today I awoke to the news that a legend, Muhammad Ali, had died at the age of 74. To me his legacy is one of strength and conviction. I was also fortunate to be in Atlanta in 1996 when Muhammad Ali surprised the world and lit the Olympic torch to start the summer games. I thank him for reminding us of the power in each of us to make a difference in the world.


Work Trip to New Mexico… And That’s a Wrap


I know that I am fortunate to call one of my work offices New Mexico. We accomplished so much this week getting ready for open enrollment 2016 for the health plans. I enjoy working with my team, and not a bad backdrop for work either.