Monthly Archives: June 2015

Chocolate Showpieces: The Pinnacle of Food Art

What is a show piece? What makes pastry chefs and professionals strive to perfect these creative structures that flout gravity. I often ask myself why show pieces? They are impossible to sell due to the high labour content, they often don’t last long due to the fragile nature of the ingredients, and they take hours sometimes weeks of painstaking work to form.

Chocolate Showpiece by Paul KennedyNew Chocolate Showpiece by Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School Paul KennedyI do know why the increasingly popular constructions are made. What better way to showcase your skills on a grand scale. You must be able to create a showpiece to enter most international competitions. We as professionals are now often judged as a tradespeople by the strength of our show piece making skills. The top of their game Stephane Treand, Stephane Leroux, Frank Haasnoot and Stephane Klein are closely monitored by professionals around the world for the next trend or fashion in show pieces.

Show pieces are usually created by one of three mediums, chocolate, sugar and pastillage very few pastry chefs specialize in all three areas. The main one we lack skill and expertise in Australia is sugar but we certainly shine through with chocolate with Australia hosting some of the best in the world arguably Paul Kennedy is one of the leaders in Australia.

Chocolate Showpiece

Chocolate Showpiece from World Chocolate Masters

Paul was a finalist at the World Chocolate Masters in Paris and is Executive Pastry Chef at Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School. ‘Styles are constantly being re-invented with a new twist’ explains Paul. ‘Like fashion and everything in food, the styles of show pieces changes rapidly.’

The first step in starting the journey on a new show piece is understanding the medium you are working with for example the ability to temper chocolate. Next is the design, to start with it is easier to copy a simple show piece you have seen and liked. Draw the piece in pencil first ensuring the design flows and is not too static so the piece looks like it is moving. Cardboard is an easy medium to use to create your structure for chocolate. A lot of professionals will make a mock up of the show piece in cardboard before creating it with expensive ingredients. With our climate in Australia any type of sugar structure will deteriorate quickly, chocolate with the correct temperature controls can last for years.

One of the most important points when creating a show piece is to keep the piece clean and neat. Also try to emulate air and lightness by creating negative space in the piece so it is not too heavy. If you are recreating a life like item make it as close as possible to the natural equivalent. For example a flower should reflect a native flower but on a larger scale. Your structure should be solid to support all your decorations on the piece, but once the show piece is finished your structure should be almost invisible and just supporting your decorations.

Frank Haasnoot Chocolate Showpiece

Frank Haasnoot Chocolate Showpiece from 2011 World Chocolate Master

Chocolate show pieces date back over 70 years in history which started out as piped chocolate filigree assembled into three dimensional centre pieces followed by carved sculptures from a solid block of chocolate.  Then we moved onto modelling chocolate figures, modelling chocolate created from glucose and chocolate. With the invention of chocolate cool spray chocolate show pieces improved in leaps and bounds. Chocolate cool spray is compressed cold air in a aerosol that will instantly set chocolate, which means you no longer have to stand there holding a piece in place waiting for the chocolate to set. We now see incredible architecturally designed pieces that are getting more sophisticated each year.

Savour has just launched the newest chocolate showpiece creation for students to create in class. The western themed showpiece featuring various skulls, intricate flowers and life-like barbed wired.

Paris Brest Recipe | Kirsten Tibballs

Paris Brest Recipe by Kirsten Tibballs

Quantity: Makes one 220mm Paris Brest

Breton Shortbread

72g Egg Yolks
168g Caster Sugar
168g Unsalted Butter
4g Salt
230g Plain Four
22g Baking powder
QS Callebaut Mycryo Cocoa Butter

Mix the butter, caster sugar and the salt in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the egg yolks and then finally the flour and baking powder. Press the dough in a flat square, wrap and chill for an hour before rolling out.

Choux Pastry

125g Water
125g Milk
112g Unsalted Butter
5g Salt
238g Flour
250 – 275g Eggs

Bring the water, milk, butter and salt to a boil over a medium heat stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the flour, mixing thoroughly to avoid any lumps being formed. Once a smooth paste has been achieved place over a low heat while stirring to dry the mixture out. It must reach the stage where it stops sticking to the sides of the saucepan and the spatula. Slowly add the eggs to reach the desired consistency. Pipe onto a perforated tray covered with a Silform® mat 3cm choux puffs. After piping cover choux pastry with prepared sable before baking at 130˚C for 15 minutes. Increase the temperature in the oven to 170°C until golden brown. Dry out before removing from the oven.


100g Brown Sugar
100g Plain Flour
85g Unsalted Butter

Mix all together to create dough, do not over mix. Cover in the fridge until required. Roll out 3mm thick and cut 4cm discs to place on top of the choux pastry. Store the discs in the freezer before placing on top of the choux pastry.

Raspberry Jelly

235g Raspberry Puree
3g Citrus Pectin
20g Caster Sugar
200g Caster Sugar
60g Glucose
3g Tartaric Acid
Boiling Water

Boil the raspberry puree and mix the 40g of sugar with the pectin. When the raspberry mixture is boiling incorporate the pectin and sugar mixture. Boil again and add the second group of sugar boil again and add the glucose and heat on a high heat whisking continuously until you reach a temperature of 107°c. Pour into two large Frames.

Vanilla Custard

375g Milk
2 Vanilla Beans
75g Sugar
15g Custard Powder
150g Yolks
130g Callebaut White Chocolate
10g Gold Gelatine Sheets
90g Unsalted Butter
150g Semi whipped cream

Boil the milk with the cut and scraped vanilla beans, mix the custard powder and sugar then add in the egg yolks. Pour the boiled milk onto the egg mixture and whisk together before placing back into the saucepan and whisking while it comes back to a boil. Cool to 50°C and add in the white chocolate and softened butter adding them gradually while whisking by hand. This process can also be done in a mixer. Once all the chocolate and butter is added press plastic wrap onto the surface of the bowl.

Salted Caramel

140g Fresh Cream
Pinch of Sea Salt
1 Vanilla Bean
5 Star Anise
150g Caster Sugar
60g Liquid Glucose
80g Unsalted Butter

Boil the cream with the sea salt and cut and scraped vanilla bean and star anise. Dry caramelize the sugar and stop it cooking by pouring the boiled cream over it. Add in the glucose and butter and whisk to combine.
Strain and place in a bowl with the plastic wrap touching the surface.

Crystallized Rose Petals

95g Gelatine Solution
150g Egg Whites
1 Red Rose
1 Hot Pink Rose

Rehydrate the gelatine sheets in cold water. Melt in the microwave.
Slightly warm the egg whites and combine with the melted gelatine.
Brush the rose petals with the egg white mixture and sprinkle with sugar.
Dehydrate for 4 hours or until crispy.


Chocolate Garnishes
Rose Petals
Lavender Flowers
Micro Mint