I designed this birthday cake for my partner of 10 years, Casey, and I named
it after her too. I wanted to make a priceless and romantic gesture, so it contains all of her favourite flavours: banana, caramel, passionfruit. It has macarons and graffiti for an additional ‘wow’ factor.
- 100 g (3½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 100 g (3½ oz) ripe bananas
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 30 ml (1 fl oz) vegetable oil
- 100 g (3½ oz/2⁄3 cup) plain (all purpose) flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F). Set an 18 cm (7 inch) cake ring with a removable base and a 6 x 9 x 4 cm (2½ x 3½ x 1½ inch) mini loaf (bar) tin on a baking tray. Spray both very well with baking spray and set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the sugar and banana on medium speed for a few minutes until the bananas are broken down.
Reduce to low speed and add the egg, milk and oil, bit by bit, making sure the liquids have combined completely before adding the next amount.
Sift the dry ingredients twice and slowly add to the banana mixture, while still whisking.
Pour the banana bread mixture into the round cake tin to a depth of about 1 cm (3/8 inch), then pour the remaining mix into the mini loaf tin.
Bake for 30–35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and the bread springs back when pressed.
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the tin. Carefully turn out of the tins onto a wire rack to cool completely.
MILK CHOCOLATE CRUNCH
- 100 g (3½ oz) milk chocolate, chopped or buttons
- 50 g (1¾ oz) pailetté feuilletine (see glossary)
In a microwave-proof bowl, melt the milk chocolate in 30-second bursts, stirring between each burst until smooth. Fold the pailleté feuilletine through.
Evenly spread the crunch mixture onto the cooled banana bread disc. Transfer to a baking tray and put it in the refrigerator to set.
When the chocolate crunch has set, trim the cake to a 16 cm (6¼ inch) disc and cut out the centre using a 7 cm (2¾ inch) round cutter, forming a ring. Transfer to a tray in the refrigerator and reserve until needed.
- 80 ml (2½ fl oz/1⁄3 cup) passionfruit purée (see glossary)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 eggs
- 110 g (3¾ oz/½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 sheets titanium-strength gelatine, softened in cold water
- 150 g (5½ oz) unsalted butter
Combine the passionfruit purée and lemon juice in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl until well combined.
Pour the boiling juice mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk together, then pour back into the saucepan and return to the stovetop over medium heat. Continue whisking as you heat the curd to 84°C (183°F) using a thermometer.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatine. Strain into a deep tray and allow to cool to 40°C (104°F).
Blend in the butter, then measure 200 g (7 oz) into a piping (icing) bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
Pipe the curd into a 16 cm (6¼ inch) donut ring mould. Carefully transfer to a flat tray and then into the freezer to set.
When frozen, remove the curd from the mould and return it to the freezer until needed.
- 150 ml (5 fl oz) pure (pouring) cream (35% fat)
- 1/4 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 190 g (6¾ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1½ tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
- 35 g (1¼ oz) white chocolate, chopped or buttons
- 2½ sheets titanium-strength gelatine, softened in cold water
Put the cream and vanilla bean and seeds into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, put 175 g (6 oz) of the sugar in a saucepan with 140 ml (43/4 fl oz) of water over medium heat, stirring until the sugar just dissolves. Use a thermometer to measure when the mixture reaches 204°C (405°F) and turns caramel in colour. Whisking constantly, pour the boiled cream over the caramel.
Combine the remaining caster sugar and cornflour in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of water, stirring to make a paste. Add the paste to the caramel mixture.
Bring the caramel mixture back to the boil and continue cooking, whisking constantly, for a few more minutes, until thickened.
Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl, pour the caramel mixture over and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the softened gelatine and stir until dissolved.
Strain into a jug and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Set aside until ready to glaze the dessert.
MILK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) pure (pouring) cream (35% fat), plus 150 ml (5 fl oz) extra
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) milk
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 sheet titanium-strength gelatine, softened in cold water
- 200 g (7 oz) milk chocolate, chopped or buttons
Bring the milk and cream to the boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Pour a small amount of the boiling milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk together, then pour back into the saucepan.
Continue to stir with a spatula until the mixture reaches 85°C (185°F) or until it coats the back of a spoon. This will form an anglaise (see glossary). Remove from the heat and stir in the softened gelatine, squeezed gently to remove excess water.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour the anglaise over, whisking until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool to 30°C (86°F).
Meanwhile, whisk the extra cream to soft peaks and fold into the cooled anglaise. Transfer the mousse to a piping (icing) bag fitted with a size 13–15 plain nozzle.
Set an 18 cm (7 inch) donut ring mould on a flat tray and fill the mould halfway with the chocolate mousse.
Remove the passionfruit curd ring from the freezer and set it into the mould on the top of the mousse, making sure the curd is level with the top of the mousse.
Pipe in a layer of mousse on top of the curd until the mould is three-quarters full, then place the banana bread ring with the chocolate crunch side down. Press down so that the banana bread is level with the top of the mould.
Use a palette knife to level off the mousse and then transfer to the freezer until frozen.
WHITE CHOCOLATE SPATTER
- 50 g (1¾ oz) cocoa butter
- 2 teaspoons titanium white food colouring powder
Put the cocoa butter in a microwave-proof bowl and heat in 40-second bursts, stirring between each burst, until completely melted.
Stir in the titanium food colouring powder and blend until combined. Strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl.Cool the mixture to 34°C (93°F) or just below body temperature.
SALTED CARAMEL GANACHE
- 80 g (2¾ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 110 ml (33/4 fl oz) pure (pouring) cream (35% fat)
- 150 g (5½ oz) white chocolate, chopped or buttons
- sea salt
Heat a medium saucepan over high heat and then reduce the heat to medium. Carefully put a third of the sugar into the hot saucepan and make a dry caramel. Continue adding the sugar until all is incorporated and a golden brown colour is achieved.
Meanwhile, bring the cream to the boil in a small saucepan. When the caramel has become golden brown, remove it from the heat and carefully pour in the boiling cream, stirring until all of the caramel has dissolved.
Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour the caramel liquid over, stirring until completely combined. Blend with a handheld blender until the ganache is shiny. Lay a piece of freezer film on the surface and set aside in a cool area for 24 hours, ideally.
SALTED CARAMEL MACARONS
- 125 g (4½ oz/11/4 cups) almond meal
- 125 g (4½ oz/1 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature, divided in half
- 125 g (4½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- brown food colouring
- 50 g (1¾ oz) pailleté fueilletine (see glossary)
Preheat the oven to 120°C (248°F). Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
Sift the almond meal and icing sugar together and set aside in a bowl with half the egg whites.
Put the remaining egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Combine the sugar with 2 tablespoons of water in a saucepan and heat to 121°C (250°F). When the mixture reaches 115°C (239°F), turn on the electric mixer and start to whisk the egg whites. Slowly add the hot syrup and whisk until just warm. Add the brown food colouring.
Mix the almond meal, icing sugar and egg whites into a paste. Fold the meringue into the paste and stir until combined. Continue stirring, or massaging, the mixture, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl. The mixture needs to be of a dropping consistency.
Transfer the mixture to a piping (icing) bag with a large plain nozzle and pipe 50 round dollops onto the baking trays. Tap the trays to encourage the mixture to level itself out.
Set aside for 45–60 minutes, until the macarons have formed a skin. Bake for 12 minutes, then turn the trays and bake for a further 12 minutes until crisp.
Cool on the tray. Put the salted caramel ganache in a piping (icing) bag and pipe the ganache onto the flat side of half the macarons. Top each one with the remaining macarons. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- 50 ml (1¾ fl oz) mango purée (see glossary)
- 25 g (1 oz/1/4 cup) pure icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
In a small saucepan, bring the mango purée just to the boil over medium heat. Make sure not to let it boil, or it will lose the fresh flavour.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the icing sugar. Return to medium heat. Whisk constantly until the icing sugar has completely dissolved.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the coulis into a small stainless steel bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator.
Fill 8 pipettes (see glossary) with the coulis and set aside in the refrigerator until needed for garnishing.
WHITE CHOCOLATE DECORATIONS
- 150 g (5½ oz) white chocolate (28% cocoa butter), tempered (see page 232)
- 2 teaspoons titanium white colour powder
Line a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inch) tray with an acetate sheet and reserve until needed.
Pour the tempered chocolate onto the tray and use a palette knife to spread it out evenly and thin. Cool until firm but not hard.
Cut out shapes: three 4 cm (1½ inch) circles, three 4 x 2 cm (1½ x ¾ inch) rectangles, three 3 cm (1¼ inch) squares and three 4 cm (1½ inch) triangles.
Lay a piece of baking paper on top and then place another flat tray on top and transfer to the refrigerator to set completely.
- 40 g (1½ oz) popcorn kernels
- vegetable oil, for popping
- 110 g (3¾ oz/½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 40 g (1½ oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 10 g (⅜ oz) trimoline (see glossary)
Put the popcorn kernels in a medium saucepan with just enough vegetable oil to lightly coat the kernels. Cover the saucepan with foil and set over medium heat.
When the popping starts, shake the saucepan constantly until the popping stops. Transfer popcorn to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
Line a large baking tray with baking paper and spray with baking spray. Set aside. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and trimoline and stir. Clean down the side of the saucepan with water and a pastry brush.
Set the saucepan over high heat and bring the mixture to a golden caramel colour.
Remove from the heat and add the warm popcorn. Quickly stir the caramel around the popcorn to ensure an even coverage.
Carefully pour the popcorn out onto the prepared tray and spread out. Cool slightly and then pull the popcorn into small clumps. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container until needed.
Cut the loaf of banana bread into small cubes. Reheat the caramel glaze to 40°C (104°F) and the white chocolate graffiti mixture to 34°C (93°F).
Remove the cake from the freezer and set on a wire rack over a tray to catch drips. Pour over the warmed glaze until the cake is completely covered.
Using a clean dry pastry brush, spatter the chocolate graffiti mixture on one side of the cake.
Carefully transfer the cake to a presentation platter and decorate the non-graffiti side with the salted caramel macarons, white chocolate shapes, caramel popcorn, banana bread cubes and mango coulis pipettes.
I can’t give any better tips than to make all of the elements in stages and have them all ready when you start to assemble the desserts in this chapter. Use a sugar thermometer to ensure that the glaze and chocolate graffiti mixture are at the correct temperature.
Images and recipes from Sweet Street by Anna Polyviou, Murdoch Books, RRP$39.99