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Deniz Karaca – A Chocolate Master

Deniz KaracaDeniz Karaca has certainly made his mark on the global chocolate and patisserie scene. As well as winning the inaugural Savour Patissier of the Year in 2016, Deniz was ranked among the top 3 in the World Chocolate Masters 2013. You may recognise him from MasterChef Australia, where he presented his notoriously complex yet spectacular dessert from the Masters, ‘Passion for Caramel’. Now, Deniz has combined his passion for wine and chocolate in his latest venture, Cuvée Chocolate, which produces artisan Australian-made chocolate to complement an array of wines. Deniz was recently filming two videos for Savour Online Classes so we decided to have a quick catch up!

When and how did you get into chocolate and patisserie?

When I was 16 I got an apprenticeship in the wonderful Cron & Lanz pastry shop in Göttingen, Germany. This sparked my interest in patisserie and chocolate, and from there, I went on to work in various areas of the industry such as hotels and cruise ships before relocating to Australia.

You won the very first Savour Patissier of the Year competition, what made you enter?

I loved the idea of competing against such a high calibre of Australian and international pastry chefs. Savour Patissier of the Year was in its first year when I entered, which made it even more thrilling as no one knew a concept like it before.

Your infamous ‘Passion for Caramel Tart’ from MasterChef (and Savour Online Classes) has so many components and uses of caramel. How did you come up with such a complex recipe?

I was visiting my wife’s aunt in Sydney and she made us a banoffee pie for dessert. I had never tasted a banoffee pie before and I absolutely loved it! I was mesmerised by the flavours. My brain then went into creative mode and I began playing with new ideas and elements. That is where my Passion for Caramel Tart stems from – a simple banoffee!

Is that the most difficult thing you’ve made?

No, surprisingly! I presented it on MasterChef and all the contestants were able to put it together so it’s not as challenging as it sounds. Crème Brulee on the other hand is something that sounds so simple, but if it’s not 100% perfect you cannot serve it, so I’d say crème brulee is difficult to nail.

Tell us about Cuvée (pronounced que – vay).

Since living in Australia, I have discovered a new-found love for wine! A few years ago, my wife and I were at a winery for a tasting and they offered us chocolate to try with the wine. As it is my forte, I thought I would give it a go, but even with alcohol in my system the chocolate did not taste good. All my best ideas come together when I’ve had a bit to drink, so on the journey back from the tasting, I came up with the idea to create chocolate to complement wines. It took 7 months from generating the idea to putting it into action and creating the first chocolate bar.

What’s the future for Cuvée?

At present, we use a blend of cocoa beans when creating our couverture. I have a farm where I breed cattle, so my dream is to become as self-sustainable as possible. I aim to use as many beans from source and create as much chocolate from scratch as I possibly can.

 What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

The World Chocolate Masters was amazing. It was such a challenge to really push myself and I was mentored by the wonderful Kirsten Tibballs and Paul Kennedy. All in all, it was a rewarding experience in so many ways.

Passion for Caramel Tart and Eggcelence are now available on Savour Online Classes!

Callebaut Gold Eclairs

EclairsAs seen on Studio 10, these caramel eclairs are made using Callebaut Gold couverture and garnished with delicate chocolate leaves.

Makes: 15

Pate A Choux

200 ml cold water
80 g unsalted butter
pinch of salt
5 g caster sugar
15 g milk powder
110 g baker’s flour, sifted
175 g whole eggs
QS vegetable oil spray, for greasing
QS plain flour, for dusting

  1. Combine the cold water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over a high heat. Add the milk powder and while boiling, stir to dissolve.
  2. Turn the heat off and add the sifted flour in one motion while stirring with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat back on to medium-low and continue to stir until the mixture comes together as a ball and forms a skin at the base of the pot. It can take approximately 2 minutes for small batches, or up to 5 minutes for large batches.
  3. Transfer the ball of dough to the bowl of a KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on medium-low speed for approximately 1 minute.
  4. Allow to cool slightly and add the eggs in four additions, cleaning the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula after each addition.
  5. Once cool, transfer the dough to a disposable piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
  6. Line a tray with baking paper and pipe the choux in a straight line. Spray with an even mist of vegetable oil spray, coating all sides of the choux. Spraying is part of the success of an even éclair – it prevents the surface from cracking.
  7. Place the choux in the freezer.
  8. Once hard, remove the choux from the freezer and cut into 12cm long pieces. If necessary, freeze the choux to re-harden each piece.
  9. Spray a baking tray with vegetable oil and dust with flour. Place the frozen choux pieces on top of the tray. Allow to defrost.
  10. Preheat the oven to 230°C, place the defrosted eclairs in and immediately reduce the temperature to 170°C.
  11. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

  Gold Chocolate Filling

150 g Callebaut Gold Chocolate
100 ml Bulla pure cream
½ tsp Heilala vanilla bean paste
300 ml full cream milk
25 g custard powder or cornflour (corn starch)
25 g caster sugar
120 g egg yolks
105 g unsalted butter

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof plastic bowl in the microwave.
  2. Boil the cream and vanilla in a saucepan then pour over the melted chocolate. Whisk by hand to combine. This will create a ganache.
  3. Boil the milk in a saucepan.
  4. Mix the custard powder (or corn starch) and sugar together in a bowl, add in the egg yolks and whisk together by hand.
  5. Pour the boiled milk over the egg mixture and whisk together before placing the mixture back into the saucepan and whisking while it comes back to a boil.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and slowly add the butter a piece at a time while whisking. Cool to approximately 30°C and add in the chocolate ganache. When all the ganache is added, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and press the wrap onto the surface.
  7. Allow to cool at room temperature before placing in the fridge for at least 3 hours before using. You can make this filling up to three days in advance and store in the fridge until you’re ready to fill your éclairs.
  8. Pierce one end of the base of each baked éclair with a metal piping tube or the tip of a small sharp knife.
  9. Transfer the gold chocolate filling to a disposable piping bag fitted with an 8-10mm round piping nozzle. Pipe the filling into the pierced end of the éclair until it is full. The éclair is best eaten the same day or else the pastry will go soft.

Chocolate Leaves for Garnishing

100 g Callebaut Gold Chocolate
QS pesticide-free ivy, lemon or lime leaves
QS metallic powder, for dusting

  1. Melt the chocolate or temper it if it contains cocoa butter. To temper the chocolate, heat it in a plastic bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until you have 50% liquid and 50% pieces of chocolate. Stir it vigorously without additional heat until all the chocolate has melted. If you have some resistant buttons, you can gently heat the chocolate with a hair dryer while stirring.
  2. With a small brush, coat each leaf with metallic powder followed by a thin layer of melted chocolate. Ensure you don’t go over the side.
  3. Scrunch up a piece of foil and place each leaf on the foil to give it natural movement.
  4. Allow to set in the fridge for no more than 5 minutes.
  5. Remove each leaf from the chocolate using tweezers or your fingers. The chocolate leaves can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.

Christmas Meringue Tree | Recipe by Kirsten Tibballs

Kirsten Tibballs' Bulla meringue Christmas tree



  • 3 large egg whites
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 132g caster sugar
  • green food colouring

Chocolate Cream

  • 300ml Bulla dollop cream
  • 250g good quality milk chocolate


  1. Pre-heat oven to 110°C (90°C fan-forced). Trace 6 circles in graduating sizes onto a piece of baking paper that fits your tray 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2cm. Turn
  2. the baking paper over and place it on the tray.
  3. Sift cornflour and icing sugar together. Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until you reach a firm peak and gradually add in the caster sugar, whisking for a minute to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the mixer and fold through cornflour and icing sugar mixture.
  4. Place an 8mm-10mm piping tube in a piping bag and pipe discs using the marked circles as a guide. With the remaining meringue mixture, pipe individual meringue kisses with one quarter of the mixture onto a lined flat tray with a 10mm piping tube.
  5. Add a small amount of green colour to create a pastel green finish and pipe one third of the remaining mixture into kisses. Add additional green colour and pipe half into kisses, once again add more colour to the remaining meringue and pipe into kisses.
  6. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the meringue is crunchy.
  7. Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments until it has melted. Fold a small amount of the cream through the chocolate and then add
    remaining cream.
  8. Set the chocolate cream aside at room temperature for 40 minutes or in the fridge for 10 minutes until it firms up enough to hold.
  9. To assemble, secure the largest meringue disc to your serving plate with a small dollop of chocolate cream. Spread a layer of chocolate cream on top and layer the next disc. Continue this process with the discs layered with chocolate cream. Coat the outside
    with chocolate cream by piping it on or spreading it with a knife.
  10. Alternate the different coloured meringue kisses and place them on the outside, adhering them to the chocolate cream. This can be finished up to 5 hours in advance.

Note: The meringues can be stored in an airtight container for a week prior to assembly.


Tropical Mince Pies | Recipe by Kirsten Tibballs

Kirsten Tibballs' tropical fruit mince tarts



      450g flour
      250g butter
      150g sugar
      52g egg
      25ml water

Tropical fruit filling

      435g brown sugar
      58ml orange juice
      174g mango, diced
      130g banana, diced
      420g pineapple, diced
      2.5g gingerbread spice
      116g dried apricots
      58g candied orange peel or dried orange peel
      14g vinegar
      35g sultanas


For the shortbread, combine sifted flour and butter to form a crumb. It is important that you do not over mix at this stage.

Combine sugar, water and egg and add to the crumb mixture combine until smooth dough is formed without excessive mixing.

Allow to rest in the fridge and roll out once the dough has firmed up again.

For the filling, dice the fresh and dried fruit to approximately 8mm.

Melt brown sugar in a pan with the orange juice and add in the diced mango and pineapple. Then add in the gingerbread spice.

Cook on a high flame and add banana and the dried fruits.

Add the vinegar and reduce until you achieve a chutney consistency.

Place the prepared chutney into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool.

To assemble, roll the prepared shortbread pastry to a thickness of 3mm and cut 30 x 80mm discs for the base.

Line individual tart moulds 60mm in diameter and height 23mm, with the pastry and fill with the cooled fruit mince.

Roll the remaining pastry to 3mm thickness and cut tops for the tart with a 60mm round cutter.

Place the cut pastry disc directly on top of the fruit mince and press the edges to remove the excess pastry.

With a small knife puncture a small hole in the top of the pastry.

Roll additional pastry or keep your offcuts flat and roll out to a 2mm thickness, and with a holly cutter cut three holly leaves per tart. Using a brush place a small amount of water on top of the tart to adhere each holly leaf.

Create three small holly berries per tart with the left over pastry and place in the middle of the tart.

Bake at 200°C for approximately 8 minutes.

Remove from the mould while they are still warm. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Christmas Wreath | Recipe by Kirsten Tibballs

Kirsten Tibballs' Christmas wreath


130g Callebaut 811 Dark Couverture
12 roasted hazelnuts, quartered
18 whole almonds with skin roasted
18 pistachios
18 golden raisins
6 glace cherries, quartered


Temper the dark chocolate by melting it in a plastic bowl on high in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until you have half liquid chocolate and half solid chocolate.

Stir it vigorously without additional heat until all the chocolate is melted.

If you have some stubborn pieces of unmelted chocolate, gently melt them for a few seconds with a hair dryer.

Use a silicon ring or silicon doughnut mould and place all the fruit and nuts in the base. Pipe the prepared chocolate on top and place it in the fridge for 10 minutes to set.

Unmould and tie ribbon on to hang.