The Great Sweet Debate

As indicated elsewhere, our contributors, a talented and varied lot, do have one thing in common — a liking, no, an absolute passion, for the sweeter things in life.

Join them in the search for Tasmania's finest dessert. The conversation starts here, and you can have your say at our contact page. We will add your tastiest contributions to this page.

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Lemon, vanilla,
the spark of rhubarb

Meadowbank Estate, 699 Richmond Road, Cambridge

Head chef at Meadowbank, Simon West, presents a sweet and piquant trio — lemon tart and rhubarb compote with vanilla clotted cream.

Peter Whyte photograph

Lemon tart
(Makes one large (30cm) tart, or up to 16 smaller tarts

Sweetcrust pastry

190g icing sugar
375g unsalted butter
750g plain flour
1 egg yolk
1 whole egg
100ml cold water

Combine sugar, butter and flour and mix to make a “crumble” texture. Wrap in cling film and leave in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight (the longer the pastry rests the better).

Add egg and egg yolk and water, and mix to a dough. Roll out to fit tart dish (or small dishes), line with greaseproof, parchment or baking paper. Cover paper with rice or dried beans. (Note that specialty houseware shops often sell baking beads, referred to as “ballast”.) Place into preheated 170°C oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. This will be sufficient to seal the pastry. Remove ballast, and pour in lemon curd.

Lemon curd (makes 1 litre)

9 eggs
600ml double cream
300ml lemon juice
250ml caster sugar
zest of lemons used to make juice

Combine all ingredients, set aside.

Pour lemon mixture into pastry shell, bake in a slow oven (140-160°C) for 25-35 minutes. Test for doneness by giving the dish a jiggle. Watch the wobble, the lemon curd should be firm enough to move only slightly. Remove from oven, allow to cool.

Rhubarb compote

1/2 bunch rhubarb
1 cup sugar
Juice of 1 orange
Zest of the same orange
1 knob ginger, finely grated

Put all ingredients into heavy based pot, cook over low heat for 10-20 minutes until rhubarb gives up its liquid, is soft and tender, and sugar has melted. Set aside until ready to serve.

Vanilla clotted cream

500ml pure cream (it must have at least a minimum of 45% milk fat content)
1 vanilla bean, split
150g sugar

Place in pan and bring to boil. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Place into a dish, cover with cling film, and set aside in the refrigerator . This can be overnight. The more you reduce it, the thicker it will be, it should spoon out like ice cream.

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Chocolate pudding with a twist

The Dining Room, Peppermint Bay, 3435 Channel Highway, Woodbridge

Thirty minutes’ drive south of Hobart, or a 75km cruise from the city on the sleek catamaran, Peppermint Bay I, a new dining complex called Peppermint Bay has risen phoenix-like from the site of the old Woodbridge Hotel on the water’s edge of the magnificent D’Entrecasteaux Channel. Rising isn’t the exact description, because this long, low, very contemporary building nestles beautifully into its surroundings.

The food is terrific, much of it centred around local produce, but the desserts are out of this world. Which brings us to the chocolate pudding: soft and rich, and sensational. There had to be a secret ingredient — and we inveigled it out of chef Steven Crumper to share with you.

Warm chocolate and stout pudding
(this amount makes 10 individual small puddings)

300g bitter chocolate
300g softened butter
200ml Cascade Stout
5 whole eggs
5 egg yolks
150g castor sugar
150g plain flour
Cocoa for dusting
Clotted cream (or whipped cream to taste)

Melt together the butter and chocolate in a pan over simmering water. Meanwhile whisk together the egg yolks, whole eggs, stout and sugar until soft ribbons appear when you lift the whisk.

Pre-heat fan-forced oven to 220°C. Grease and flour 10 small (125ml or 1/2 cup) pudding moulds. Carefully combine the melted chocolate mix and the egg mix. Finally sift in the plain flour, fold in carefully and spoon into the moulds.

Bake for exactly 8 minutes. If using a non fan-forced oven extend cooking time to 12 minutes. The puddings must be rested for 2 minutes before serving to allow them to ‘relax’ before unmoulding them. This can be tricky! Dust well with cocoa powder and serve immediately.

The centres should still be molten and so will ‘self-sauce’. If you prefer to make the dessert in one batch, turn the mixture into a greased and floured ovenproof serving dish and bake for about 20 minutes. Don’t try to turn it out, just dust with cocoa and serve it at table for people to help themselves.

Clotted cream Place 250ml cream in an earthenware dish overnight in your oven with only the pilot light on. The next morning transfer the cream to the fridge — by then it should have set firm. The cream should not be whisked as it will break down. Kept refrigerated the cream should last up to three days. PH

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Chocoholic heaven

The House of Anvers, 9025 Bass Highway, Latrobe

Five minutes’ drive from Devonport and a favourite spot for people off the ferry to stop for breakfast or morning tea. Chocolate tops the list, and you can watch chocolate wonders such as fudge, praline and truffles being made. Sit in the garden listening to the birds or inside in what was formerly a ballroom in a gracious old house.

Good coffee, teas, breakfasts and light lunches are on offer (Aussie wines and Belgian beers too) but topping the list — chilli chocolate! This rich, hot drink is an unreal combination of sublime chocolate laced with chilli but unfortunately the owner says it’s an old family recipe and he simply won’t part with it.

One and a half km from the Latrobe roundabout towards Devonport. Well signposted. Open from 7am to 5pm, every day. (03) 6426 2958 or visit their web site

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Sweets treats

Zeps Cafe, 92 High Street Campbelltown

Fabulous stop on the Midlands Highway between Launceston and Hobart — a nice midway point for a bracing cup of coffee, maybe breakfast if you started out early. Lunch too, and there’s an à la carte menu. Licensed.

It’s the sweets board that gets special mention: blueberry bread and butter pudding, apple and cinnamon cake, always chocolate cake, sure to be a cheesecake, but watch for the changing delights. Orange and almond gluten-free cakes are frequently featured.

Best of all, sticky date pudding, served hot with a rich toffee sauce, some say best with lashings of ice cream. Other people have been known to ask for it as a takeaway (heated through, but sans ice cream) to perk themselves up on the drive home. Open 8.30am Monday to Friday until 9.30pm or so, depending on traffic. From 9am on Saturdays and Sundays. 6381 1344 email: zeps92@bigpond.com.au ¶