After last month’s earnest salad fest, we thought we better balance things out with a month of sugary and slightly silly desserts by amazing Sydney based food blogger Theresa Nguyen of The Gook! Throughout May Theresa will bring us four inspired creative dessert ideas, kicking off today with her amazing edible tiny chocolate terrariums! GENIUS!
Tiny Chocolate Terrariums. Recipe by Theresa Nguyen / The Gook. Photos by Phu Tang, styling by Gemma Lush for The Design Files. Tray stylist’s own, spoon by Dinosaur Designs.
Take these out at any dinner party and you’ll receive an ohhh, followed by an ahhh, then a round of applause. Well, that’s what happened when I brought these tiny (and edible) chocolate terrariums out for the dessert finale at a dinner party recently.
My guests were amazed. Little did they know, I actually didn’t spend that long making them. I call this a ‘not-too-much-fuss, maximum-wow dessert’.
Making the terrariums is pretty easy. The soil is so simple. It uses my trusty flourless chocolate cake, which only takes 45 minutes to make from start to finish. It’s super moist, decadent and can even be made a day in advance, too.
The only real fiddly bit is cutting the acetate, bending it round and securing it over the cake rounds. The planting is as easy as poking the soil with a skewer and sliding the micro herbs in. I’m lucky enough to have some wild fennel growing locally, so I have used the gorgeous flowers in my tiny chocolate terrariums.
Aside from looking the part, they taste pretty damn good too. These terrariums will keep in the fridge for a few hours, but do bring them to room temperature prior to serving – the soil will be gooey and melt in the mouth.
For the tiny chocolate terrariums
1 Flourless Chocolate Cake (recipe below)
Edible micro herbs or flowers
Choc chips (optional)
1 x A3 sheet of acetate
For the flourless chocolate cake
125g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa
¾ cup caster sugar
½ cup cocoa (no need to sift)
Pinch of salt
You will also need
1 x circle cookie cutter (mine was 5cm wide)
Method (Makes eight edible terrariums)
Tiny Chocolate Terrariums. Recipe by Theresa Nguyen / The Gook. Photos by Phu Tang, styling by Gemma Lush for The Design Files.
For the flourless chocolate cake
Before we can assemble our terrariums we need create the perfect faux soil base. I use an adapted flourless chocolate cake recipe from French Ties by Jane Webster for its perfectly moist and decadent consistency.
To create these bases, be sure to preheat your oven at 180 degrees, then melt butter and chocolate over a double boiler. Double boiling is a process where you place your ingredients, in this case chocolate and butter, in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of water on a low-medium heat. Chocolate can seize if heated too quickly, so watch the chocolate carefully and as soon as the chocolate and butter has melted take the bowl off the heat.
Once the chocolate/butter combination is off the heat, whisk in sugar, then add the three eggs and lightly mix to combine. Mix in the cocoa and a pinch of salt, then pour your mixture into a 22cm spring-form cake tin lined with baking paper and bake for 25-30 minutes at 180 degrees.
This cake can be made a day in advance and left it in the fridge, but be sure to bring the cake to room temperature before serving. It’s delicious with a dollop of double cream and some fresh berries.
Theresa Nguyen carefully assembles her terrariums! Photos by Phu Tang, styling by Gemma Lush for The Design Files.
How to assemble your terrariums
To make your chocolate soil bases, cut circles out of the room temperature flourless chocolate cake using the cookie cutter and arrange on serving platter.
Make clear vases out of acetate to house your tiny chocolate terrarium. Measure the circumference of the cutter as this will denote the length of acetate required – you can make the height anything you want. Mark up and cut out your acetate rectangles. Create the clear vases by sticking together the short edges of the rectangular acetate with clear tape (overlap slightly). Set aside.
Start planting! Use a small skewer (or piece of dry spaghetti) to pierce the chocolate soil, then insert your micro herbs. Repeat until you are happy with the arrangement. Add a few chocolate rocks by using the choc chips.
Carefully slide your acetate cylinders over your terrarium arrangement. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
This recipe makes eight tiny chocolate terrariums. They can be made a few hours in advance and kept in the fridge, but be sure to bring the tiny chocolate terrariums to room temperature before serving.