Talking desserts with chocolate connoisseur Kirsten Tibballs
We love providing our customers with the opportunity to discover and learn more about Miele appliances, and who better to assist us with this, than friend of the brand Kirsten Tibballs.
Kirsten, the queen of chocolate, and one of the most internationally respected pastry chefs, shares with us the inspiration behind her sweet creations. Having started baking when she was only eight-years-old, Kirsten soon became an apprentice baker at age 15, before moving quickly through her career in a patisserie to where she is now – an award-winning pastry chef and chocolatier.
Learn all about Kirsten’s cooking style and gain some expert baking tips…
Kirsten, we know you love baking and all things chocolate but can you tell us a little bit about how your cooking style has evolved over the years?
My cooking style developed very quickly, particularly now with the prominence of social media. Just as fashion and trends evolve in cycles, so does cooking and baking. In the food industry, certain types of foods will be reinvigorated and come back into the spotlight.
Typically, I will take a classic dish or pastry and look at how I can reinvent or remake it to be better than the original version. For example, a dish that has really reinvented itself over the years and has now become popular again is the éclair. In the past, the éclair was a really simple chocolate dish, now you see it presented with cream and strawberries, or in any flavour you could possibly imagine!
Where do you find your inspiration comes from for new desserts?
I always draw out what my new concepts or creations will look like first, so I can picture exactly what will be before me. From there, I then determine the layers, elements and textures of what the dessert is going to be.
We often eat with our eyes and are attracted to the way something looks. I always find that I am intrigued by the way something looks or how a certain technique is done or how delicious something looks, which is why I like drawing my desserts first. I then go on to add the various flavour components on paper, before writing a recipe to bring it to reality.
What is your go-to dessert when you are hosting a dinner party?
My go-to dessert really depends on the season as I always try to use seasonal produce, particularly when it comes to fruit. As it is currently winter, I would probably choose to cook a classic liquid chocolate pudding as it is really simple to make and everyone loves it – it never fails in my household! I would typically serve it with homemade ice cream, fresh fruit or a fruit compote to make it even more delicious.
In summer, I would look to make a lovely strawberry shortcake which I usually serve with fresh berries and white chocolate cream. Otherwise a vanilla sponge with strawberry syrup and jam – a really yummy combination. You really can never go wrong with fresh berries in summer.
What are your top three tips for up and coming home cooks or pastry chefs?
- If you are really looking to improve your baking skills it is really important to continue learning. Push yourself to try new recipes, rather than staying with a recipe that you are familiar with and works well for you.
- Always try and push the boundaries in the kitchen. I find this really exciting! You need to try new recipes and experiment as it is the only way that you will learn and grow as a cook or chef – you don’t want to remain stagnant.
- My final tip is to always try and cook for an audience. When you have an audience, who is appreciative of what you are cooking it can help build motivation. Whether it is a friend, family member or customer who can taste test for you and give you feedback on your cooking style, it really helps you to learn. When people really love what you do and are really supportive of your cooking style, it results in improved cooking skills and overall confidence in the kitchen.
What are your must have tools of the trade?
I really love my Miele induction cooktop because you can temper chocolate with it on the large stove top and it is a lot faster than a normal electric stove. The innovative ExtraSpeed function technology allows you to control the speed and achieve the best results in a short amount of time, which is very important if you are time poor. You can also easily select the power levels and cooking times through an easy-to-use numerical key bank as part of the Direct Selection Plus function, which is fantastic.