A couple of weeks ago, my sister, my nephew and I went traipsing around the city on a cake and pastry adventure.
Our first stop was a happy accident. I may or may not have navigated incorrectly… My utter lack of a sense of direction did lead us to this great little Spanish deli I had been meaning to go to, so hey, we rolled with it.
When we finally did reach our first intended stop, a little bakery showcase of sorts, we were quickly met with a ‘sold out’ sign. Not a single loaf of bread, croissant or any of the other delectable treats we were expecting could be seen. There was also no smell. As in, none. I’m not sure what was here, but I’m pretty sure it was not freshly baked.
After lunch and a quick, side shopping treat, we were back in the car driving to the other side of the city. Our next stop was Darren Purchese’s Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio, where my sister wanted to order a cake for my niece’s 21st birthday gathering. As my nephew and I hadn’t had the chance to visit this store yet, we ran off, exploring the treats on offer as well as the edible artwork that adorned each surface and some of the walls.
Our final stop was Adriano Zumbo’s café. I’m not a fan of macarons, so I didn’t try any of his insane flavour creations, but they did look absolutely incredible. However, I was a very happy girl as I walked out of there with a spectacular lemon tart and two kouign amann pastries clutched in my hand.
Both my nephew and I absolutely loved the chocolate popcorn rumble we got from Burch & Purchese, and as it was my nephew’s birthday the other day, I thought I would see if I could recreate it for him. It worked perfectly and tasted great. However, I would not have been able to do it without Chef Janet Rörschåch’s know-how, David Lebovitz’s tempering skills and Nigella Lawson’s beautiful hokey-pokey recipe.
Popcorn and Honeycomb Milk Chocolate Bark
You will need a chocolate or an instant read thermometer to properly temper the chocolate.
- 500g milk chocolates (chopped into small pieces or chocolate buttons that will melt and not keep their shape)
- ¼ cup popcorn kernels
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 100g caster sugar
- 4 tablespoons golden syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- First, make the honeycomb. Place the caster sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and stir to combine. It is important to note that this mixture should not be stirred at all while it’s on the heat, so mix it now.
- Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and allow the mixture to melt and eventually come to a bubble, which will take approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
- Cover a baking tray with baking paper and have it at the ready.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately whisk in the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will turn pale gold in colour.
- Immediately turn the honeycomb out onto the baking paper covered tray. Set aside until set and then bash or pull it into small pieces.
- Next, make the popcorn. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sea salt. When the oil is hot, add the popcorn kernels, cover the saucepan with a lid and continually shake and agitate the saucepan until the popcorn has popped. Immediately pour the popped corn out into a bowl and set aside to cool.
- Cover a deep, square baking pan (or individual small moulds) with baking paper and set aside.
- Now it’s time to temper the chocolate. Create a double boiler by setting a clean, dry bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure that the bowl on top does not come into contact with the simmering water in the saucepan below.
- Add ¾ of the chocolate pieces to the top bowl, stirring with a silicone spatula, until melted. The melted chocolate must reach a temperature of 45°C.
- Carefully remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the heat and wipe away the moisture at the bottom of the bowl. Add in the remaining chocolate pieces to bring the temperature of the chocolate down to 30°C – this is called ‘seeding’. Stir frequently, but gently as to not create too many air bubbles.
- Once the chocolate has reached 30°C, remove any remaining chunks of chocolate. They can be wrapped and stored for another use.
- In order to not have to reheat and maintain the temperature of the chocolate, immediately pour it out into the prepared baking pan or moulds. Tap the pan a couple of times to release any air bubbles.
- Working quickly, gently but firmly top the chocolate with pieces of honeycomb and the popcorn.
- Place the completed chocolate bark into the fridge to set, which should only take about five to ten minutes if correctly tempered.
- When it is firm enough to handle, break it into pieces and serve, store or wrap up into pretty little parcels.