Monthly Archives: November 2013

What are trans fats? The hidden danger killing you

TransfatsUnknowingly, part of your weekly diet most likely contains trans fats. What are trans fats, you ask?

Trans fatty acids or trans fats are formed when manufacturers turn liquid oils, usually palm oil, into solid fats. Manufacturers create trans fats using a process called hydrogenation in which hydrogen atoms are added to vegetable oils, converting them into solid fats. This process increases the shelf life and flavour stability of foods.

While trans fats do exist naturally in some foods, it is the industrially produced trans fats found in many processed foods that are the largest cause for concern. Like saturated or animal fats, trans fats contribute to clogged arteries, increasing the risk of both heart disease and stroke. They also increase levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, and some studies have indicated that trans fats may also increase the risk of diabetes. Effectively, for consumers, consuming trans fats is like eating candle wax: they can’t be broken down in the digestive system so accumulate and clog up arteries.

Many countries around the world have a total ban or a limit on the amount of trans fats consumed or at least minimum labelling requirements enabling consumers to make more informed decisions. Unfortunately none of this applies in Australia. In Austria and Iceland there is a total ban on trans fats, and Sweden is in the process of a total ban. In 2003, Denmark became the first country in the world to introduce laws strictly regulating the sale of many foods containing trans fats by limiting the amount of trans fats in foods to a maximum of 2%. This legislation has made Denmark the only country where it is likely that people will eat “far less” than 1 g of non-naturally occurring trans fats per day. Over the past 20 years, trans fat consumption in Denmark has decreased from an average daily intake of 6g per person to only 1g per person, which is linked to a 50% decrease in deaths from heart disease over that period. In 2006, New York City was the first city in the United Sates to ban trans fats in restaurant food. Many countries and cities around the world have similar policies.

Oleic acid is a fatty acid that occurs naturally in various animal and vegetable fats and oils. When trans fats are industrially produced, the arrangement of the molecules in the fatty acids are altered, causing changes to occur to the chemical and physical properties of the fat. For example, the trans fatty acid, elaidic acid, and naturally occurring oleic acid have the same chemical formula but they have different chemical and physical properties:

Oleic acid (natural fatty acid):

– Has a melting point of 13.4˚C
– Is liquid at room temperature, because the molecules are loosely packed together

Elaidic acid (man-made fatty acid)

– Has a much higher melting point of 45˚C, much too high to melt in the mouth
– Is solid at room temperature, as the molecules are much more tightly packed

This also explains why trans fats have been increasingly used in the processed food industry: they make the food last longer and decrease refrigeration requirements.

Trans fats can be found in a long list of foods including vegetable shortening, margarine, crackers and biscuits, cereals, lollies, baked cakes, cookies, muesli bars, chips, snack foods, salad dressings, fats, fried foods, compound chocolate and many other processed foods. Naturally occurring trans fatty acids are found in small quantities in some foods including beef, pork, lamb, milk other dairy products, but the vast amount of trans fats consumed are from industrially-made sources.

Today trans fats are found in approximately 40% of the products on our supermarket shelves. Almost half of trans fat intake comes from pre-made cakes, biscuits, bread and other pastry products, while over 15% comes from margarine alone. The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 1% of a persons’ total daily calories be from trans fats.

Extract from NSW Food Authority – Trans Fatty Acids Survey May 2008
Products with greater than 2% Trans Fatty Acids

Trans fatty acid levels above 2% were found in 36 (41.9%) food products. None of these products contain ruminant fats and it would be expected that the trans fatty acids originated from hydrogenated fats (that is, industrially-made trans fats). Products from the following food categories had trans fatty acids concentrations greater than 2%:

• Potato crisps
• Biscuits
• Margarine
• Shelf stable cakes
• Potato chips
• Chicken nuggets
• Donuts
• Processed fish

A donut sample had the highest concentration of trans fatty acids at an average of 28.6% ± 5.4%. Other products that had very high concentrations of TFA included another donut sample (average of 8.9%) and samples of shelf stable cakes with an average of 9.6% (range from 2.9 to 23.5%).

Don’t let the pretty colors throw you…Donuts are one of the worst offenders of trans fats

In the past, the Australian Federal Government has announced that it wishes to pursue policies to reduce trans fats and saturated fats in fast foods, with a September 2007 timetable, however this was never enacted into law. The federal government has also defined trans fats very narrowly, as being only those that contain a trans bond, disregarding a broader definition which has been recognised by the United States, EU and other nations when passing laws against trans fats. This narrow definition will lead to some trans fats possibly not being classified correctly or being included in calculations of trans fat levels in foods.

One of the main uses of trans fats is as a replacement for cocoa butter in the production of compound chocolate. Manufacturers of compound chocolate use hydrogenated and fractioned vegetable oils such as soyabean oil, rapeseed oil, coconut oil and palm oil, which contain high levels of trans fatty acids. Alarmingly, some compound chocolates have been found to have trans fat levels of up to 50%.

There is also the other side of the coin with Australia Zoos attempting to stop the eradication of rain forests which are being cut down and replaced with palm oil plantations in many parts of the world. They are currently running a campaign, “Don’t Palm Us Off” to raise awareness for the unsustainable palm oil production that is destroying orang-utan and the poor labelling of palm oil in supermarket products.

You now have the information on hand to make an educated choice about not only the ingredients you use but also the processed products you purchase.

My Favourite Patisseries and Restaurants in Melbourne

Attica---BeesMelbourne is clearly the leader in exceptional gastronomy and dining experiences in Australia. With over 4,000 restaurants and cafes for a population of under 5 million, Melbourne has an abundance of delectable food experiences for you to enjoy.


I will start with not only my favourite, but one of the world’s top restaurants Attica, ranked number twenty one in the world in the S. Pellegrino ‘The Worlds Fifty Top Restaurants’. Head chef Ben Shewry has an incredible philosophy of food which shines through in his dishes. Not only does Attica have their own gardens where the chefs grow as much produce as they can, Ben also forages for uniquely native ingredients near his coastal home every morning before taking the 70km drive to work. You have the option of indulging in a five or eight course degustation. The eight course menu includes one of my favourite desserts, ‘Plight of the Bees’; layers of freeze dried apple, white thyme honey, meringue, dehydrated pumpkin, mandarin and fennel. All delivered in a handmade wooden box with a lid.


Cacao-Fine-Chocolates-&-PatisserieCacao Fine Chocolates & Patisserie is one of Melbourne’s high end patisseries with a boutique fit out, making it look more like a high end jewellery store. With three stores and a delightful melange of chocolates, petit gateaux, éclairs and macarons. Owners Tim Clark and Laurent Meric make a great team, making modern mouth watering morsels. I can’t go past Cacao without sampling their heart shaped chocolate filled with passionfruit caramel and milk chocolate ganache or a salted caramel macaron. If it’s too early for something sweet, make sure you stay for a delectable French style lunch.


chez-dre---frenchtoastChez Dre is one of Melbourne’s hidden gems tucked away in a small alleyway with a rustic French charm. Owner Andrea Reiss has worked in Michelen star restaurants through France. Serving breakfast, lunch and the opportunity to indulge in their delicious range of patisserie products in between. A must when you visit is the caramel eclair and peanut butter caramel brownie. Chez Dre has a large seating area including an outdoor courtyard.


Burch & Purchese located on bustling Chapel Street, South Yarra is sweet shop like few others. Studio Chef/owner Darren Purchese, combines delicious components, such as jellies, sponges, mousses, cream, crumbles & spreads, layer upon layer, to create his finished work of sweet art.


LuxBiteAlso in South Yarra, is LuxBite, a luxury patisserie inspired by ones seen in both Europe and Japan. Owners Bernard Chu and Yen Yee create a dazzling visual experience. Walking into the store is like walking into a kaleidoscope of colour. The range of products will change with the seasons, offering flavours, colours and experiences that constantly evolve. Whether you’re sitting down for all day breakfast or brunch, a visit to Lux Bite is not complete without sampling some of the delicious homemade desserts. The Lollybag cake, recently seen on the hit TV show Masterchef Australia, is now the flavour of the month at Luxbite. Featuring 7 layers including banana lolly, jaconde, freckles crunch, mandarin jaffa ganache, musk mallow, more banana lolly, jaconde, spearmint leaf buttercream and topped with redskin glaze, this is one cake not to miss!



Found through the hidden and iconic Melbourne laneways, Tonka explores the wonderful world of the Orient, where the magic of India is captured through its interior design and menu. With art adorned ceilings and sweeping views of the Yarra River, MCG and Arts Precinct you can do all your sightseeing sitting and dining in comfort. Sounds perfect if you ask me. Whether it’s the rib eye, lamb curry, or Rajasthani duck, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Delicious!


Xocolatl may be hard to pronounce (sho-ko-la-tl), but it is definitely not hard to eat. Father and daughter team, Christos & Tina Partsioglou are passionate artisans, creating exceptional award winning handmade chocolates, best savoured over a superlative coffee or an indulgent hot chocolate. With two stores in Kew East and Canterbury, you won’t have to travel far from the city to get your chocolate fix.


Le Petit Gateau is in the centre of Melbourne and a regular destination for any cake lover. Attached to a private club, but fortunately open to the public in the business end of Melbourne. Pastry chef Pierrick Boyer makes a beautiful range of gateaux and petit gateaux with his signature cake the brownie passion chocolate. Don’t leave it to late in the day to try and secure the brownie treat as they sell out quickly.


* This article first appeared in UK’s Chef Magazine in August whereby Kirsten had to pick 8 establishments for tourists visiting Melbourne.

Win $4,500 worth of Classes at Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School!

$4,500 worth of classes at Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School up for grabs!Entremet-Kirsten-Tibballs

Spend over $75 on any classes, any products from our new online store or gift vouchers and go in the draw to win!


Visit our website now!


The more you shop the more chances you have to win!


This is Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School’s BIGGEST competition ever and with only 5 weeks to Christmas and we’re starting the gift giving early!


Please share this post using the share buttons below.


*Terms and conditions apply


Kirsten Tibballs’ ‘Eve’ recipe from MasterChef Australia


Eve-Kirsten Tibballs-Masterchef
Pistachio dacquoise
145g egg whites, at room temperature2g cream of tartar
64g caster sugar
2 drops green food colouring
128g ground pistachios, sifted
100g icing sugar, sifted
24g plain flour, sifted
Good quality raspberry jam, for brushing

Crispy Almond Layer
70g Callebaut dark chocolate, broken into pieces
180g Hazelnut praline paste, or increase chocolate by 40g and add 1 tablespoon
almond oil
172g slivered almonds, roasted
30g Callebaut cocoa nibs or almonds

Chocolate Cremeux
690g thickened cream
156g egg yolks
76g caster sugar
265g Callebaut milk chocolate (33.6% cocoa), broken into pieces
265g Callebaut dark chocolate (60% cocoa), broken into pieces

Chocolate Leaves and Bark
100g good quality dark chocolate (57.8% cocoa)
Assorted fresh leaves, washed and dried with paper towel

Chocolate Mushrooms
150g Callebaut W2 white chocolate (28% cocoa)

Red chocolate heart tops
200g Callebaut velvet white chocolate
20g red soluble oil based powder
Edible pebbles
30g pistachios, roughly chopped
Edible green metallic

*You will need a 33cm x 23cm cake pan for this recipe.

Pistachio dacquoise
1. For the pistachio dacquoise, preheat oven to 170C.2. Whisk egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer to soft peaks, on medium speed.2. Increase speed to high, then gradually add caster sugar while mixing continuously to allow sugar to dissolve. Add food colouring, whisking to combine.

3. Meanwhile, combine pistachios, icing sugar and flour in a bowl.

4. Gently fold meringue into bowl with pistachio mixture until just combined.

5. Using a palette knife, evenly spread mixture into a 35 x 25cm Flexipat or same-size tray lined with baking paper. Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes, then remove, and set aside to cool completely.

6. Trim dacquoise to 33cm x 23cm rectangle.

Crispy Almond Layer

1. For the crispy almond layer, grease and line the cake pan with baking paper.

2. Melt chocolate to 36°C in a microwave in 30 second increments. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

3. Evenly press mixture into cake pan. Set aside until just before the almond layer sets, then place dacquoise layer on top.

4. Brush a thin layer of jam over the top of the pistachio dacquoise.

Chocolate Cremeux

1. For the chocolate cremeux, bring cream to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until well combined. Whisking constantly, slowly add half of the warm cream to bowl with egg yolk mixture until combined.

3. Pour egg yolk mixture into pan with

remaining cream, and place over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until mixture reaches 80°C, and coats the back of the wooden spoon.

4. Meanwhile, place chocolate in a medium bowl. Strain cream mixture through a fine sieve over the chocolate, and stir until melted and combined.

5. Pour crémeux over the raspberry jam layer.

6. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. You can freeze for up to 1 month in the freezer.

Chocolate Leaves and Bark

1. For the chocolate leaves and bark, temper dark chocolate as per instructions below.

2. For the bark, brush a thin layer of

chocolate onto a piece of baking paper and roll up and set aside.

3. For the leaves, brush a thin layer on each leaf, until you can’t see the leaf. Once the chocolate has set, carefully remove the leaf.

Chocolate Mushrooms

1. For the chocolate mushrooms, temper chocolate as per instructions below. Add a few drops of water at a time, stirring until the chocolate thickens to a piping consistency. With a disposable piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle, pipe 3 mushroom bases onto a tray lined with baking paper. Set aside until firm.

Red Chocolate Heart Tops

1. For the heart tops, temper chocolate as per instructions below. Sift the red powder into ¾ of the white chocolate and mix until combined. Transfer red chocolate to a piping bag made of baking paper. Pipe red chocolate into heart shapes, using a template as a guide underneath a sheet of baking paper. (see last page) Set the chocolate for 20-30 minutes before removing from the paper.

2. Use the remaining white chocolate to pipe white dots onto the mushroom tops, and to stick the tops and stems together.

Edible Pebbles

1. Place pistachios in a bowl and add green metallic, tossing to coat.

To Assemble

1. To assemble, temper the dark chocolate as per instructions below. Brush a thin layer of chocolate onto the surface of the cake to create a rough texture. Brush with gold metallic once set.

2. Garnish with chocolate leaves, bark, chocolate mushrooms, pebbles, raspberries and hazelnuts.

Tempering Chocolate

1. Place required chocolate in a plastic bowl (glass retains too much heat).

2. Melt chocolate in a microwave for no more than 30-second increments, stirring in between.

3. Melt chocolate until you have 50% solid chocolate and 50% melted chocolate. Continue stirring without applying any additional heat. It may take a few minutes for all of the solid chocolate to melt. Stir continuously during this time.

4. If the chocolate does not melt completely, apply gentle heat with a hair drier. Do a test by spreading a small amount of chocolate onto a piece of baking paper, in a room at a temperature no higher than 22C. The chocolate should set at room temperature in 5-10 minutes.

a. Dark couverture should set in approximately 5 minutes.

b. Milk couverture should set in approximately 7 minutes.

c. White chocolate should set in approximately 10 minutes.

5. It is necessary to maintain the chocolate in a liquid state by reheating if necessary. Be sure to take a new test every time you reheat.

6. To test if your chocolate is tempered correctly, dip a teaspoon or a square of acetate in the couverture and leave it to set. This should take around 5-10 minutes at room temperature. If the couverture does not set after 10 minutes, it is not tempered correctly. If it sets but there are streaks on the surface, you will need to continue stirring the couverture, then take another test.

For a step-by-step video recipe on how to create ‘Eve’, subscribe to Savour Online Classes.

Eclair extraordinaire Christophe Adam teaches at Savour School

Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School was fortunate to host master patisserie Christophe Adam for nine days of classes in July. In a whirlwind of chocolate and eclairs Christophe mentored Australia’s top pastry chefs to hone their abilities to perfection.Christophe-Adam


Christophe is the former executive pastry chef of Fauchon in Paris where he held rein for 15 years. It is well noted that Christophe is responsible for re-launching the humble eclair into the spectacular creations we are seeing coming out of shops today. Christophe has published four books with his fifth book on éclairs on the way. (Unfortunately all in French).


Two years ago Christophe launched his first patisserie “Eclair de Genie” that exclusively makes eclairs. Since its opening, Christophe has created 80 varieties of eclair with his top selling caramel eclair followed closely by vanilla and chocolate.


Christophe employs ten pastry chefs to service the two eclair de Genie stores, with each selling between six hundred and two thousand eclairs a day depending on the season. Interestingly, in our discussions, he mentioned that the kitchen size is the same of a standard domestic kitchen in Australia. With no freezer, everything is made fresh and sold immediately.


Christophe is also known as a hard judge and host on the French television series “Qui sera le prochain grand patissier” or, in English “Who is going to be the next top Pastry Chef” The series showcases France’s top patissiers who battle it out to win the title. Although it is in French, if you can secure a copy of the series the footage of patisserie products is incredible.


At Savour, Christophe taught three hands on classes (Eclair’s, Entremets, and Tarts ) each running for three days. Christophe’s unique approach to teaching gave the classes flexibility to enable the student’s creativity to flow. To adapt to Australia’s customs and flavours, Christophe created a lamington and honeycomb eclair.


I believe the popularity of the eclair is going to increase dramatically in Australia if we follow similar trends to France. Companies that are making large quantities of macarons that are piped mechanically can use the same machine to pipe eclairs.


Savour has a range of both choux pastry and eclair classes that incorporate modern techniques and creative finishes to enable patissiers to jump on board and be one of the first to launch your own éclairs in store.


Some tips to creating the perfect eclair: every oven is different so you will need to work out what temperature and method best suits your oven. Deck ovens are the best to bake eclair’s. Also they must be piped with an eclair piping tube rather than a star piping tube. With a star piping tube the V’s in the tube are too deep and the eclairs will tend to crack. Eclairs must be eaten the same day they are filled as the pastry will absorb too much moisture from the filling if left to sit too long. They can be stored in the freezer before being filled.


The French meaning of the name eclair is lightening. Be one of the first to create a range of eclairs or open an eclair store!