News and Events

Dessert at Pinetrees

28-Dec-2017

Let’s face it – great desserts are the domain of professional chefs and restaurants. It’s all about economies of scale. The home cook, as good as you are, is normally constrained by time. It’s hard to prepare five delicate components in an hour, and kind of pointless for six people. Restaurant chefs, on the other hand, have all day to prepare fastidious pastries, sorbets, gels, sauces, syrups and foams, and then spread them out efficiently over 80 plates. It makes sense.

Good home cooks excel in simple desserts – and there are endless combinations of butter, sugar, chocolate, spice, fruit and cream from around the world. Although, to be honest, the European countries still have the edge – there are only so many times you can play with food colouring and gelatine, and get away with it.

As much as we’d like to serve Christine Manfield’s desserts at Pinetrees, we know our strengths, and keep our desserts relatively simple – which is good for you, because we can share the recipes. A typical Pinetrees menu will have three desserts. There’s always a ‘lighter option’, which is something with more fruit and less sugar, plus two more indulgent options. One of our new waiters famously asked some guests if they’d “prefer the heavy or light option”, and the look on their faces was like she’d asked to buy their children for ten million dollars each. They both took the light option and argued for the rest of the night.

Probably the best investment you’ll ever make if you want to gobsmack your family and friends is an ice cream machine. Home-made ice cream is restaurant quality and idiot proof. Quick - get your credit card, buy one online and you’ll have it by the weekend.

Lemon curd tart



Cheesecake at Pinetrees

 How can something so beautiful be so bloody dangerous to make? Working with caramel is like having a small volcano erupting in your kitchen but, like your razor sharp Japanese knife and double sided mandolin, which has lost its safety guard, it’s all about balancing risk and reward. But there’s more. Just when the beads of sweat from making the caramel have dried, you need to light up the blowtorch. Panic attacks aside, take your time, use deliberate movements, lock the kids outside, and all being well, you’ll soon eat something worthy of a fine dining restaurant – and you’ll get a bigger slice.

Makes 1 30 cm tart
1 hour preparation, plus 4 hours chilling
45 minutes cooking

Lemon curd tart
1 quantity sable pastry
1 quantity lemon curd (needs to be used while still hot)
4 titanium strength gelatine leaves
Sifted icing sugar, to serve

Raspberry caramel:
200 g caster sugar
500 g frozen raspberries, defrosted

Preheat oven to 160 C (315 F). Roll out sable pastry to line a 30 cm loose based tart tin. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden all over. Depending on how evenly your oven cooks, you may need to rotate the tart shell so it colours evenly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Leave the shell in the tin.

Make the lemon curd and while it is still hot soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes until soft. Squeeze out the excess water using your hands. Add the gelatine to the lemon curd mixture while it is still hot and stir until dissolved. Pour the lemon curd mixture into the tart shell. Carefully fill so as not to overflow the shell case. Place the tart in the fridge ensuring it is level. Leave to chill for at least 4 hours.

To make the raspberry caramel, place the sugar into a heavy, wide based pan and add 50 ml of water. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. To prevent crystals forming while it is boiling, brush down the sides of the pan using a pastry brush and cold water. Take the sugar to a dark caramel, as far as you dare without burning the caramel. Carefully add the raspberries (take care as the raspberries may cause the caramel to spit) and mix together. The raspberries will cause the caramel to begin setting. Gently heat until the caramel has melted. Bring to the boil and cook for 2 minutes until the raspberries have broken down and you have a glossy syrup.

Strain the mix through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. Use the back of a ladle to force the mixture through so as not to waste any of the caramel. Be very careful when making caramel, it is very hot and can cause nasty burns.

Before you serve, dust the tart with a little icing sugar and then using a blow torch quickly caramelise. Put back in the fridge for a couple of minutes to solidify. Cut using a hot knife and serve accompanied by the raspberry caramel.

Baked chocolate tart



Chocolate tart  at Pinetrees

 At our traditional five course ‘Fish Fry’ dinner, we serve about ten different desserts to guests who really don’t need them. They’ve already had bread rolls, soup, sashimi, sushi, prawns, oysters, fish, chips and salads. But you’d think they hadn’t eaten for days. They sometimes even get a bit pushy, particularly the older ladies. The reason for all of this is simple – chocolate. We’ve been serving this chocolate tart for generations.

Makes 1 30 cm tart
40 minutes preparation
40 minutes cooking

1 quantity sable pastry
When making the pastry replace 2 tablespoons of the flour with 2 tablespoons of Dutch cocoa powder

Chocolate filling:
3 whole eggs, at room temperature
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
125 g caster sugar
350 g dark chocolate
250 g butter

Preheat oven to 160 C (315 F). Roll out the pastry to about 2 mm thick and line a 30 cm loose based tart tin. Bake for 10 minutes until just firm to the touch. It is very easy to burn this pastry due to its colour. Use your sense of touch and smell.

To make the filling, whisk together the whole eggs, yolks and sugar until light and fluffy and doubled in volume.

Put the chocolate and butter in a separate heatproof bowl and melt. Do this either in a microwave or sit the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, ensuring the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Fold both mixtures together and mix until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the tart shell and bake for 15-20 minutes until well risen and just firm to the touch. Allow to cool on a wire rack. The tart will be easier to cut if refrigerated. Allow to return to room temperature before serving.

Poached apricots


This is a dessert for adults – spiced apricots, roasted pistachios, shards of spiced pastry and yoghurt sorbet. If you need something sweet, you’ll need to look elsewhere. There are almost enough savoury elements in this dessert to serve it with some confit duck for dinner, but don’t get us started about duck. Let’s take a deep breath and move on.

Serves 4
40 minutes preparation, plus 1 hour infusing, plus time to make yoghurt sorbet
30 minutes cooking

1 quantity yoghurt sorbet

Poached apricots
250 g caster sugar
2 cinnamon quills
2 star anise
2 cloves
4 cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste (or seeds scraped from ¼ vanilla pod)
5 cm piece ginger, sliced
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
12 apricots, halved, stone removed

Brique pastry:
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
50 g caster sugar
2 sheets (or filo) pastry
50 g melted butter
100 g shelled pistachios

First make the poached apricots. Place 250 ml of water into a saucepan with all the ingredients, except the apricots. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for about an hour.

Place the apricot halves in the syrup and return to the boil. As soon as it has boiled remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, leaving the apricots in the syrup.

For the brique/filo pastry, preheat oven to 160 C (315 F). Combine the spices, lemon zest and sugar. Place each of the sheets of pastry on a flat baking tray and brush with the melted butter. Sprinkle over the spiced sugar. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Allow to cool and break into large shards.

Reduce oven temperature to 140 C (275 F). Toast the pistachios by placing them on a flat tray and roasting for 10-12 minutes. By roasting at a lower temperature you are roasting the nut all the way through rather than just burning the outside, which can happen if the oven is too hot.

Remove the apricots from the syrup and allow to drain. Place in a shallow bowl, sprinkle with the toasted nuts and shards of pastry. Add a scoop of yoghurt sorbet, drizzle with some of the poaching syrup.

Honeycomb cheesecake


New Zealand’s contribution to world cuisine – hokey pokey ice cream – is the inspiration for this cheesecake. You see, small chunks of crunchy sweet honeycomb set into a mix of cream cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla is a complete taste sensation. It’s a step up on traditional cheesecake and well worth the extra effort.

Makes 1 25 cm cake
30 minutes preparation
1 hour cooking

150 ml fresh whipped cream, to serve
About 50 g shaved chocolate, to serve
About 50 g honeycomb, crumbled (see recipe below)

Honeycomb:
320 g caster sugar
120 g glucose
50 g honey
1 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate

Baked cheesecake:
250 g scotch finger biscuits
100 g melted butter
700 g cream cheese
200 g caster sugar
4 whole eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste (or seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla pod)
100 g honeycomb (from recipe above)

To make the honeycomb, line a large roasting tray with baking paper and set aside. Put the sugar, glucose, honey and 100 ml of water in a large saucepan and stir to dissolve over a low heat. Bring to the boil and cook until caramelised and golden brown, this will take 5-6 minutes. Don’t take the sugar too dark as it will continue to cook after you have added the sodium bicarbonate.

Add the sodium bicarbonate and whisk to combine. The caramel will react by foaming up. Quickly pour the hot mixture into the lined roasting tray and allow to set. Before the honeycomb sets in the saucepan, wash in hot water. When your tray of honeycomb has set, break into 2-3 cm pieces (this might be quite tricky as it may shatter). Set aside 150 g for this cheesecake. Freeze the remainder in airtight containers. This is the best way to store it, especially in areas of high humidity. This makes lots of honeycomb that can be used in many other desserts or dipped in chocolate for a sweet snack.

To make the cheesecake, line the base and side of a 25 cm spring form cake tin. Crush the biscuits in a food processer then add the melted butter and mix again. Press into the base of the lined tin and place in the fridge to chill.

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Put the cream cheese and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth. Add all the eggs and vanilla and blend briefly to combine. Pour the mixture into the cake tin. Crumble 100 g of the reserved honeycomb then crush into the cream cheese mixture. If the honeycomb is folded in earlier it will dissolve. You want to have some nuggets of honeycomb through the cheesecake.

Bake for 45 minutes until set. Allow to cool in the tin before removing. Crumble the remaining 50 g of honeycomb over the top as you like and serve with fresh whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

Cinnamon doughnuts



Doughnuts at Pinetrees

 The simple process of cooking dough in hot oil and serving it with something sweet has filtered through most global cuisines. South Africans eat koeksister, Indians eat badushahi, Israelis eat sufganiyah, Austrians eat krapfen, Russians eat ponchiki, and Australians (among others) eat doughnuts. We’ve tried them with fancy ingredients like lemon curd, Callebaut chocolate and cardamom spiced apple puree. But you know what? Cinnamon sugar works best.

Makes about 30 bite size doughnuts
2 hours preparation, including proving
5 minutes cooking

Stage 1:
1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
150 g strong flour

Stage 2:
60 g butter
300 g strong flour
1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
60 ml milk
80 g caster sugar
Pinch salt
6 egg yolks

100 g fine caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
cottonseed oil for deep frying

Stage 1: Put 120 ml of water in a small bowl, add the yeast and whisk gently to combine. Put the flour into a bowl, add the yeast mixture and mix together to form a dough. Knead for 2 minutes until smooth. Cover the bowl with glad wrap or a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place to double in volume, this will take about 1 hour.

Stage 2: Using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. In a separate bowl, combine the yeast, milk and sugar. Quickly whisk until frothy then leave to stand for 10 minutes. Add the salt, egg yolks and yeast mixture to the flour and mix to form a dough. Knead for 2 minutes until smooth. Cover the bowl with glad wrap or a damp cloth and set aside until doubled in volume, this will take about 1 hour.

When both bowls of dough have risen, mix together and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and totally combined.

Roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of 2 cm. Cut out using a 4 cm round pastry cutter. At this stage the doughnuts can be left to prove and used straight away or they can be frozen and used later. To freeze, lay them on a baking tray so they are not touching each other and freeze for 2 hours. When they are frozen they can then be stored in a plastic container without sticking together. To defrost place them on a tray with baking paper and allow to prove in a warm place as normal.

The offcuts don’t re-roll very well, the doughnuts tend to split when they are cooked. Allow the offcuts to prove and cook them as below. Eat them as a snack or rip them up and make a really rich ice cream sundae

Combine the caster sugar and ground cinnamon together in a bowl. Line another bowl with absorbent kitchen paper.

Half-fill a saucepan with oil and heat to 170 C (325 F) (or when a cube of bread turns golden brown in 20 seconds). When the doughnuts have doubled in volume slide them off the baking paper into the hot oil, cooking a few at a time to prevent over-crowding of the pan. Cook for 1 minute then flip over using a slotted spoon so they colour evenly. Remove from the oil and drain on the kitchen paper to remove any excess oil. Transfer to the cinnamon sugar mix and coat well. Serve warm.

Chargrilled peaches



You could almost have this dish for breakfast (less the strawberry and vincotto ice cream of course). Smoky chargrilled peaches in a syrup of lemon, basil and spices would take natural yoghurt and gluten free muesli to a whole new level. It’s also a quick, easy and glamorous dessert.

Serves 4
30 minutes preparation
30 minutes cooking

4 firm but ripe peaches
50 g caster sugar
2 basil stalks
2 lemons
2 star anise
2 cinnamon quills
100 ml white wine
Strawberry ice cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and heat a chargrill pan to hot. Using a sharp knife, cut the peaches in half and remove the stone. Chargrill on a very hot, clean grill. Give the peaches 1 quarter turn to get nice bar marks. Place the peaches cut side up in a roasting tray.

Strip the leaves from the basil and set aside. Finley grate the zest and squeeze the juice from one of the lemons and put into a small saucepan with the basil stalks, star anise, cinnamon quills and white wine and bring to the boil. Pour the hot syrup over the peaches and roast in the oven for 7-8 minutes. Ensuring the peaches are coated in the syrup leave to cool in the syrup.

Serve at room temperature with a squeeze of fresh lemon, some finely sliced basil leaves and strawberry ice cream.


Pinetrees pavlova



Pavlova at Pinetrees

 Christmas lunch at Pinetrees starts with midday champagne on the boatshed deck, and is followed by sashimi, kingfish, salads and pavlova. Who needs roast turkey in the subtropics? It’s strange – no matter how many pavlovas we make, they always disappear. We have a suspicion that people have multiple serves because, as one guest said, “pavlovas are mostly air”.

Serves 12
30 minutes preparation
1 hour 30 minutes cooking

Bigger is better....

1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste (or seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla pod)
2 tablespoons cornflour
250 g caster sugar
200 g egg white (you will need about 5 eggs)
Juice of 1 lemon
500 ml thick cream
500 g mixed fruit, strawberries, passion fruit, blueberries etc

Preheat oven to 120 C (235 F). Line a large baking tray with baking paper. You will also need to line the side of a 30 cm round loose based cake tin without the base.

Make a paste from the vanilla, cornflour and lemon juice. Using an electric mixer whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, then the cornflour paste. Whisk for 10 minutes until really thick and shiny.

Place the cake tin without the base on the lined baking sheet. Spoon the meringue into the cake tin. This will act as a mould for the pavlova and ensure you have a perfectly round pavlova with nice high sides. Make the sides higher than the centre so it will hold more filling

Bake for 1 1/2 hours until risen and dry to the touch. Remove the cake tin and allow to cool.

Whip the cream to soft peaks and spoon onto the pavlova. Garnish with lots of fresh fruit.

Pineapple ravioli


We love Christine Manfield for introducing us to the simple combination of pineapple, sugar and spice. It was a revelation that inspired many of our ‘light option’ desserts. This recipe has an extra component – pineapple sherbet – which has a cold sweet acidic fizz.

Serves 8
25 minutes preparation, plus 4 hours freezing
30 minutes cooking

1 large firm but ripe pineapple
150 g brown sugar
2 star anise
2 cinnamon quills
4 makrut lime leaves, left whole
1 lemon grass stalk, crushed
Finely grated zest and juice of 3 oranges
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste (or seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla pod)
5 cm piece ginger, finely grated
flesh from 1 young coconut, thinly sliced, to serve
1/2 punnet baby coriander, to serve

Pineapple sherbet:
500 ml pineapple juice
150 g caster sugar
50 g corn syrup
120 ml milk
120 ml thick cream

Preheat oven to 220 C (425 F). Peel the pineapple and remove the leaves. Combine all the other ingredients, (except the young coconut and baby coriander) in a bowl. Place the pineapple in a medium sized ovenproof roasting tin. Pour over the sugar mix and coat the pineapple well. Roast for 25 minutes until caramelised. Baste the pineapple with the melted sugar every 5 minutes to get a nice even colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, again basting with the sugar syrup. Refrigerate for 2 hours until cold.

Meanwhile, make the pineapple sherbet. Put the pineapple juice, sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Whisk in the milk and cream and allow to cool. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in the freezer until needed. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, combine all the ingredients and place in a shallow freezer container. Freeze until slushy then whisk using electric beaters. Freeze again then repeat the whisking twice more to break up any ice crystals.

Slice the cold pineapple into very thin discs with a sharp knife or on a meat slicer. Lay a pineapple disc on a cold plate and place a small scoop of iced pineapple sherbet in the centre. Lay another pineapple disc on top and press down the edges. Serve 2 ravioli per person. Garnish with thinly sliced young coconut and baby coriander.


Strawberry and vincotto ice cream


Home-made ice cream can be simple with, say, fresh vanilla or a shot of espresso, or it can be more complicated. This recipe combines sweet pureed strawberries and a slightly sour vincotto jelly to create a balanced flavour with subtle changes in texture. It’s extremely good.

Makes 1 litre
20 minutes preparation, plus 4 hours chilling, plus freezing time
10 minutes cooking

2 titanium strength gelatine sheets
150 ml vincotto
5 egg yolks
100 g caster sugar
500 ml thick cream
250 g strawberries, pureed

Line a baking tray with silicon paper and set aside. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes until soft. Bring the vincotto to the boil in a small saucepan. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine then add the gelatine to the hot vincotto and stir to dissolve. Pour onto the lined baking tray and chill in the fridge for 4 hours until set firm. Once set cut into small 5 mm dice.

Place the egg yolks in a metal mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer whisk until light and fluffy. Place the sugar in a saucepan with a splash of water to help it dissolve. Bring to the boil and heat until it reaches the soft ball stage, 118c. Pour the hot syrup over the whisked egg yolks while whisking continually. Continue to whisk until you can comfortably touch the bottom of the bowl. It will be very hot to begin with.

When it is cool add the cream and pureed strawberries and whisk until combined. Churn in an ice cream machine for 40 minutes. After churning, and while the ice cream is at soft peak consistency fold through the vincotto jelly then place in the freezer until frozen.



Yoghurt sorbet


Work with us on this one. Yes, it does seem unusual, but when you mix lemon, yogurt and sugar in an ice cream machine, the result is perfect with most sweet desserts. There’s richness without egg yolks and cream, and it’s a light way to finish off a big dinner.

Makes 1 litre
15 minutes preparation, plus 4 hours freezing
10 minutes cooking

350 g sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
500 ml plain yoghurt

Put 250 ml of water in a small saucepan with the sugar and lemon zest and bring to the boil.

Leave to cool to room temperature. When the mixture is cool whisk in the yoghurt. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, combine all the ingredients and place in a shallow freezer container. Freeze until slushy then whisk using electric beaters. Freeze again then repeat the whisking twice more to break up any ice crystals.



Blood orange sorbet



Blood orange sorbet at Pinetrees

 Now we’re just showing off, but so can you. Mix sweet blood orange, sour limes, spicy Campari and fragrant mint in your ice cream machine, and you’ll have to show restraint to let it set. Or, you could just shake it with ice and drink it as a cocktail. Either way.

Makes 500 ml
20 minutes preparation, plus 1 hour cooling and 4 hour freezing
10 minutes cooking

200 g caster sugar
50 g glucose
Finely grated zest and juice of 6 blood oranges
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes
4 mint stalks
50 ml Campari

Place the sugar, glucose, orange and lime juice and zest in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Strip the leaves from the mint and set aside. Place the bare stalks in the hot syrup and allow to infuse. Leave to cool to room temperature.

Strain through a fine sieve to remove the stalks and zest. Finely chop the mint leaves and add to the cooled syrup with the Campari.

Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, combine all the ingredients and place in a shallow freezer container. Freeze until slushy then whisk using electric beaters. Freeze again then repeat the whisking twice more to break up any ice crystals.

Chocolate gelato


Italian gelaterie sell dozens of complicated flavours, as well as the well-known simple ones. We once paid 15 Euro (or 25 AUD in those days) for a single Ferrero Rocher gelato from a tourist trap in Amalfi, and it was incredible – worth every cent. This combination of dark chocolate, coffee and coffee beans is equally as good.

Makes 1 litre
30 minutes preparation, plus 4 hours freezing
15 minutes cooking

70 g dutch cocoa powder
400 ml milk
200 ml thick cream
100 ml strong coffee
10 whole roasted coffee beans
300 g caster sugar
50 g glucose
100 g dark chocolate, roughly broken up

In a medium heavy-based saucepan make a paste with the cocoa and a splash of the milk. Add the remaining milk, cream, coffee, coffee beans, sugar and glucose. Cook over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and prevent sticking, until just below boiling. Reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will remove the floury texture from the cocoa powder.

Remove from the heat and add the dark chocolate. Stir until dissolved. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the coffee beans. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, combine all the ingredients and place in a shallow freezer container. Freeze until slushy then whisk using electric beaters. Freeze again then repeat the whisking twice more to break up any ice crystals.

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