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Aløft

There's nothing new about Nordic interiors - blond timbers, concrete surfaces, warm, mid-century charm without the twee - and thank heavens for that. It's a style that augments the beauty of everything around it, in this case, gorgeous Hobart harbour, which makes up one whole wall. What is new here, however, is the food - by veterans of Garagistes, which once dazzled diners down the road, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Gordon Ramsay worldwide. There's a strong Asian bent, but with Tasmanian ingredients. In fact, the kitchen's love of the local verges on obsessive - coconut milk in an aromatic fish curry is replaced with Tasmanian-grown fig leaf simmered in cream to mimic the flavour. Other standouts include a gutsy red-braised lamb with gai lan and chewy cassia spaetzle, pigs' ears zingy with Sichuan pepper and a fresh, springy berry dessert. While the food is sourced locally, the generous wine list spans the planet. 

Secret Tuscany

A far cry from Tuscany’s familiar gently rolling hills, Monte Argentario’s appealing mix of mountain, ocean, island and lagoon makes it one of Italy’s hidden treasures, writes Emiko Davies.

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

Discovering Macedonia

Like its oft-disputed name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia defies simple definition but its rich diversity extends from the dinner table to the welcoming locals, writes Richard Cooke.

Dark chocolate bark


You'll need

50 gm milk chocolate (optional), tempered, such as Lindt Excellence 500 gm dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), tempered, such as Lindt Excellence 150 gm almond slivers, lightly toasted 100 gm pistachios 40 gm dried cranberries 25 gm puffed rice

Method

  • 01
  • Line a 20cm x 20cm shallow square tin with baking paper. Dip a pastry brush in the tempered milk chocolate, then paint base of baking paper-lined tin with chocolate and stand until starting to set. Spread a thin layer of dark chocolate over (about 2 tbsp) and smooth with a palette knife.
  • 02
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients, then add remaining dark chocolate, stirring until well combined.
  • 03
  • Smooth chocolate mixture onto prepared pan and spread out to 1.5cm thick. Refrigerate for 5 minutes, then stand in a cool place until set. Cut into portions with a bread knife and serve. Chocolate will keep in an airtight container for a week.

Watch our chocolate tempering video with Lindt chocolatier Thomas Schnetzler.

Chocolate that hasn't been tempered can develop a mottled look on its surface, known as fat bloom. This is caused by crystals of cocoa butter rising to the surface of the melted chocolate and setting as a film. It doesn't affect the chocolate's taste, but it looks ugly and melts quickly, making it a messy eating experience.

To temper chocolate, you heat it and cool it, changing its structure. When chocolate is melted beyond 36C - even if it was an already-tempered block to begin with - the cocoa butter can form into six types of crystals. All these crystals have different melting points and variable hardness, and only one boasts all the attributes for tempering. You temper chocolate to achieve a result where only the desirable crystals form, giving you a luscious finished product. While the physics of tempering is complex, the process is quite simple. There are three basic stages: heating, cooling and crystallising, and reheating.

The first stage is to gently melt the chocolate until all cocoa butter crystals are completely melted; this happens at 48C. You can melt chocolate using a water bath or bain-marie, but you must be vigilant in ensuring absolutely no moisture gets in the bowl. The best method is to bring three centimetres of water to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly onto the saucepan but ensure the bowl doesn't touch the surface of the water. Direct contact is too hot for the chocolate. Now stir the chocolate frequently until it melts and monitor the temperature with a thermometer. You want to warm it only until it just reaches 48C, then remove the bowl from the saucepan. You can also use a microwave to melt smaller amounts of chocolate in 10- to 15-second increments, stirring well after each burst of heat. Either way, be careful not to overheat the chocolate because once it's heated over 60C it's ruined.

The next step is to cool and crystallise the chocolate. Tabling is the traditional method and a good way to temper large quantities of chocolate. It involves cooling and agitating some of the melted chocolate on a cool surface (like marble) until the desired crystals form, then introducing it back into the remaining chocolate.

An easier way to cool and crystallise chocolate is a process called seeding. You add some perfectly tempered chocolate into your melted chocolate - a quarter of the total chocolate is needed, either finely chopped or grated first. All Lindt chocolate, for instance, is tempered, so you can grate it straight from the block or you can keep some of your own already tempered chocolate on hand for the next time you temper.

After cooling and crystallising, you need to carefully reheat the chocolate to bring it to working temperature. This will melt away some of the unstable cocoa butter crystals that make chocolate set without a gloss. To reheat the chocolate, you have to be exact with the temperature. A hot-air gun - available from hardware stores - is a good way to reheat chocolate, but believe it or not, a hair dryer does the trick just as well.

Warm the chocolate with your hot-air gun or hair dryer, stirring continuously, monitoring with a digital thermometer until it reaches the desired temperature. For dark chocolate, the perfect working temperature is 32C, for milk chocolate it's 30C, and for white it's 29C.

It's a good idea to check a small sample to see if the chocolate is tempered correctly as you go. The easiest way to do this is to dip a small piece of baking paper into the chocolate. If it sets quickly and without streaks, you have perfectly tempered chocolate.


At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Featured in

Apr 2009

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