Adding a touch of sweetness

Sophie McLennan.
Sophie McLennan.
In a world in which refined sugar is the new evil, consumers are looking for alternatives to add some sweetness to their lives.

In today's 101 cooking session, Sophie McLennan shows us how to make a walnut cake with yoghurt mousse using local honey as a natural sweetener.

Sophie has a degree in nutrition and is a second-year student in the bachelor of culinary arts programme at Otago Polytechnic.

It is Sophie's intention to one day combine these skills, to design and deliver healthy food alternatives.

Sophie McLennan’s walnut cake with yoghurt mousse, caramelised fruit and walnut praline. Photos by Dani Johnson.
Sophie McLennan’s walnut cake with yoghurt mousse, caramelised fruit and walnut praline. Photos by Dani Johnson.

Walnut cake with yoghurt mousse, caramelised fruit and walnut praline

Makes 6 portions


Walnut cake
375g local walnuts
3 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon
200g honey

Yoghurt mousse
2 cups cream
2 cups natural unsweetened yoghurt
1 cup water
4 Tbsp local honey
2 tsp agar-agar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Walnut praline
240g local walnuts
3 Tbsp local honey
½ tsp flaky sea salt

Caramelised fruit
3 hard fruits such as apples, nectarines or apricots
6 Tbsp local honey
60g butter


1. Heat oven to 160degC. Line a baking tray with paper and grease. Whiz the walnuts in a food processor to a coarse flour-like texture. Mix in the cinnamon and lemon zest. Then pulse in the eggs and honey. Pour into the baking dish and cook for about 20 minutes until golden and springy.

2. Line six plastic moulds with cling film and brush the sides with oil. Cut a round of the walnut cake and place at the bottom of the mould. It should fit tightly.

Yoghurt mousse
1. Add the honey to the yoghurt and mix until smooth. Whip cream to a soft peak. Boil water and agar-agar until dissolved (2-5 minutes.) Add the agar-agar to the honey and yoghurt mixture and gently fold in the cream. Pour into moulds and place in fridge to set.

Walnut praline
1. Heat oven to 160degC. Line a tray with baking paper. Heat honey in a pot until golden. Add walnuts, stir and pour on to tray. Toast until golden and bubbling. Leave to cool then whiz in a food processor until chunky.

Caramelised fruit
Cut the fruit in half and then into slices. In batches, add some butter and honey to a pan and heat until golden and caramel colour. Add fruit to the pan and leave to soften and caramelise for five minutes each side.

To serve
Gently shake the mould and let the walnut cake and mousse drop on to the plate. Spoon the fruit around the mousse and sprinkle with the walnut praline.

Garnish with some edible flowers.

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