Coconut, Pine/Lime Vanilla & Liquorice Cake

by Darren Perchese

Darren Purchese, owner, pastry chef and creative force behind Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio is one of most respected pastry chefs working in Australia today.

Renowned for his exquisite and extravagant sweet creations, he skilfully balances flavour and texture by thoughtfully combining delicious components, such as jellies, sponges, mousses, cream, crumbles & spreads, layer upon layer, to create his finished work of sweet art.

Darren opened Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio in Melbourne’s upmarket South Yarra area in 2011 to much acclaim. His studio showcases new and unique dessert combinations, celebration cakes, edible artworks and dessert table installations which are much sought after.

With a background working in some of the best restaurants in the country such as Vue de Monde and Bennelong restaurant at the Opera House Darren brings restaurant warmth & hospitality to retail. Alongside him is his wife Cath Claringbold, herself a prominent chef & restaurateur and together they work on creating an experience in store. An open kitchen, irresistible aromas and a sweet soundtrack combine, with a show stopping 4-metre-long cake cabinet that is packed with high quality desserts to be enjoyed at home or at the pink tables and chairs outside.

Darren’s sweet centrepieces are in demand at some of Melbourne’s most prestigious events. The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, The Australian Grand Prix, Polo at Portsea and even the Logies after parties have all enjoyed Darren’s signature ‘tube desserts’ and cakes.

Darren has produced a wonderful book titled - Sweet Studio - The Art of Divine Desserts

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Coconut & liquorice sponge – makes 6 X 135g sponge bases

35g                                         Liquorice Paste
100g                                       Liquorice, chopped
50ml                                       Sugar syrup
5ml                                         Natural black carbon food colour
110g                                       Butter, unsalted
110g                                       Sugar, caster
3                                              Eggs
110g                                       White chocolate, melted
110g                                       Desiccated coconut
40g                                         Rice flour
120g (20g per sponge)        Liquorice, chopped

  1. Blend the liquorice paste, chopped liquorice, sugar syrup and colour until a smooth paste

  2. Beat together butter and sugar slowly to remove lumps, add in the eggs one at a time

  3. Add the liquorice paste and mix well before adding the melted white chocolate

  4. Fold in desiccated coconut and rice flour

  5. Place a 15cm diameter metal ring onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and liberally spray the inside of the ring with canola spray

  6. Pipe 135g of the mix into the ring and sprinkle 20g of chopped liquorice into the batter

  7. Bake the sponge 170°C for approximately 16 minutes

Spice base for jam

450g                                       Sugar, caster
90ml                                       Dark rum
1                                              Vanilla pod
20g                                         Ginger, fresh, grated
5g                                            Fennel seeds
5g                                            Black peppercorns
10g                                         Star anise
5g                                            Dried chilli flakes
5g                                            Ground cinnamon
4g                                            Cloves
300g                                       Banana puree
300g                                       Pineapple puree

  1. Make a direct caramel with the caster sugar and vanilla seeds using the direct method

  2. Once all of the sugar is golden brown deglaze the pan with the rum

  3. Cook for 1 minute before adding the chillies and spices and again cook for 1 minute

  4. Add the purees and re-boil for two minutes

  5. Leave to cool slightly before blitzing well, straining and reserving for jam production.

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Spiced pineapple jam

225g                                       Pineapple 1cm cubes
200g                                       Sugar, caster (A)
20g                                         Sugar, caster (B)
5g                                            Pectin medium set
80g                                         Spice base for jam

  1. Place the chopped pineapple pieces into a saucepan with the 200g sugar and bring to a boil.

  2. Remove from the heat and transfer to a plastic container to macerate in a plastic container overnight.

  3. Mix the remaining caster sugar with the pectin and add this to the pineapple/sugar mix along with the spice base.

  4. Mix well and cook over a high heat to 103°C, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Pine/lime vanilla reduction for cream

300g                                       Pineapple puree
200g                                       Lime juice, fresh
3                                              Vanilla pods, seeds scraped

  1. Combine, heat and reduce to 350g, strain and reserve.

Pine/lime vanilla cream

350g                                       Pine/Lime vanilla reduction
5                                              Egg yolks
90g                                         Sugar, caster
7g                                            Gelatine, gold leaves
90g                                         Butter, unsalted

  1. Soak the gelatin sheets in ice cold water for 4 minutes to soften, drain the leaves discarding the water.

  2. Mix the yolks and sugar well in a bowl until pale.

  3. Place the reduction into a saucepan and heat to a boil.

  4. Temper with the egg/sugar and return to the pan, cook out over a medium heat to 85°C.

  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the reserved gelatin until dissolved.

  6. Pour the mix onto the butter in a bowl and blend until smooth.

  7. Set 150g of mix into a 15cm diameter pastry ring and freeze until hard.

Lime curd

4                                              Eggs
90ml                                       Lime juice, fresh
1                                              Lime zest
120g                                       Butter, unsalted
180g                                       Sugar, caster
5g                                            Gelatine, gold leaves

  1. Blend and cook all of the ingredients together, except the gelatine to a temperature of 85°C.

  2. Remove from the heat and blend in the soaked gelatine.

  3. Set the curd on top of the frozen pine/lime vanilla cream 140g per 15cm diameter ring and freeze again to hard.

Pineapple jelly

150g                                       Pineapple puree
50ml                                       Sugar syrup
5g                                            Gelatine, gold leaves
1g                                            Agar

  1. Soak the gelatin sheets in ice-cold water for 4 minutes to soften, drain the leaves discarding the water.

  2. Place the agar in the syrup and heat to 92°C, remove from heat and stir in the gelatine.

  3. Gently heat the puree and add to the jelly mix and stir well.

  4. Set 120g of the jelly onto the frozen lime curd layer and freeze again to hard.

Coconut mousse

250g                                       Coconut cream (Kara brand)
3                                              Egg yolks
65g                                         Sugar, caster
6g                                            Gelatine, gold leaves
3g                                            Pectin, medium set
400ml                                    Cream 35% fat   

  1. Mix the pectin with the sugar. Mix this into coconut puree and cook to 95°C.

  2. Temper with the egg yolks and cook to 85°C.

  3. Remove from the heat and add the soaked gelatin, stir well and strain into a bowl set over ice.

  4. Stir to cool to 35° before folding in the whipped cream.

  5. 650g mousse per cake

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  1. Assemble the insert – liquorice sponge, spread with the jam and add the frozen layers (jelly side up) and press to attach. Chill before insertion.

  2. Place an 18cm pastry ring onto a tray lined with silpat or acetate, place two silicone rubber inserts 60mm and 45mm diameters into the ring (largest first)

  3. Line the ring with acetate and pour over 650g of coconut mousse and insert the layers

  4. Freeze well and invert, remove the silicone with a tip of a knife and demould the ring


  1. Spray the cake with yellow chocolate velvet spray.

  2. Garnish with black chocolate spheres, freeze dried liquorice and pineapple, lime curd, pineapple jelly cubes and chocolate décor.

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