Category Archives: day in life of dello mano

The Dello Mano Parisian Pilgrimage: Savoury Tarts and the Rose Bakery

Dello Mano is a small business family. We don’t take too many breaks but when we do,we make them worth the wait and we definitely plan our travel to eat — we plan every itinerary around renowned restaurants, buzzy bakeries, and sought-after street food we’d like to try. Our Paris jaunt was especially challenging to plan; with so many can’t-miss spots crammed into each square kilometer of the City of Light, it was tricky to narrow down a manageable number. There was one place I knew we couldn’t strike from the list: Rose Bakery, an English-inflected patisserie that has been a jewel in the boulangerie and cafe-studded crown of the Ninth Arrondissement since it was established in 2002. Since then, as we visited Paris,  the Rose Bakery had also opened a satellite store in Le Marais district – as it eventuated just a short skip from where we were staying.


Rose Bakery – Paris

Rose Bakery – Paris

I’d been dreaming of paying a visit to Rose Bakery ever since I read founder Rose Carrarini’s Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Meals of Rose Bakery, which is just as much a memoir about the trials and tribulations of starting a restaurant as it is a cookbook. So much about Rose Bakery’s story resonates with Dello Mano. Both of our bakeries were founded by husband-and-wife teams who were motivated by a deep-set devotion to food, despite their lack of restaurant training in the strict sense. (The Carrarinis worked in the fashion industry before starting their first London restaurant; we worked for multinational food brands.) Furthermore, the Carrarinis had the bravery and foresight to open an English bakery in a city more interested in macarons than Victoria sponge, just as we started Dello Mano at a time when the Australian attitude towards brownies was indifferent at best. Despite all predictions to the contrary, Parisians went as crazy for Rose’s Eccles cakes as Australians went for our Luxury Brownies.  There is a kind of kindred spirit among all the people that follow their food dreams.


Inside Rose Bakery – Paris

There was one recipe in the cookbook that I was particularly drawn to: the quiches. According to the cookbook, quiches are husband Jean-Charles’ domain; he beats together a balanced blend of cream and egg, stirs in perfectly-paired ingredients like smoked salmon and dill or broccoli and leek, and bakes it all together in little square tart shells. The photographs in the cookbook looked impossibly gorgeous: geometrically flawless little squares, craggy with protruding fillings, the egg a shade of yellow so delicate you can almost taste the creaminess. We had been thinking about incorporating some savouries into our Dello Mano offerings, and Rose-inspired quiches seemed like a perfect choice. The trip to Rose Bakery would be research, then, and any amount of indulgence entirely justified.

When we arrived in Paris, as I mentioned earlier, we were charmed to find that Rose Bakery happened to be just one street over from our apartment. A real bonus given the apartment was one of the worst we’d ever booked! Bien and I have been booking apartments online for over 10 years – optimistic at heart, we’d always faired very well. Not on this occasion.  A third floor apartment, old dilapidated and the floor seriously on an angle that was close to 90 degrees as you left the door and moved inside! — Fate though was pulling us in the direction of those quiches. We made the bakery one of the first stops in our culinary itinerary. Though it was hard to look past the beckoning cakes and crumbles and — yes — brownies, we made a beeline for the quiches. They stood stacked like well-laid shortcrust bricks above the salad case, the top layer tilted to proudly display their savoury fillings. We ordered one of every attractive flavor and found a seat among the slim metal tables set up on the sidewalk. There, I wielded my fork and knife (utensils which admittedly elevate any pastry-eating experience), cut off a generous chunk, and took the first bite of the quiche of my dreams. I still haven’t forgotten that taste, and for years I have longed to enjoy it again.


Mushroom Quiche at Rose Bakery- Paris


Rose Bakery Quiches stacked on display – Paris

French Tart at Dello Mano

The perfect opportunity to offer a delicious, delicate  quiche came in the form of our new  Dello Mano shop at New Farm. Our courtyard there in Merthyr Village  an evocative Parisian scene of French rattan bistro chairs shaded by fiddle-leaf fig trees, demanded a full brunch menu with both sweet and savoury offerings. Quiche was an obvious option. In the months leading up to the New Farm opening, we worked and reworked our quiche recipe until we hit upon a version that although not the same , evoked a beautiful reminisce of the day we visited Rose Bakery. As we developed the recipe, we found ourselves moving towards a more traditional, French-style savoury tart, and so we decided to call them that on the menu.

Spring Vegetable Tart 2

Dello Mano French Tart or Quiche now available at both stores and also by order.

We now offer three varieties of French-style Savoury Tart at our New Farm and Tattersalls Arcade Dello Mano store  locations: Spring Vegetable ( gorgeous twists of shaved root vegetables), Mushroom with Truffle Oil & Thyme, and the classic, bacon-studded Quiche Lorraine. Enveloping these fillings is a beautiful, handmade shortcrust pastry, handled lightly for maximum tenderness. In keeping with the slow-food tenets we’ve followed since the beginning, we use all free-range eggs  delivered fresh from the farm to our door and local vegetables, which we have delivered straight from the market to our kitchen door. We bake our quiches into elongated rectangles, available sliced into individual servings ( dine in or take away)  or whole for a family-sized take-away. The whole quiches are also a great alternative to pizza for parties or other catered events.

Asparagus and Salmon French Tart

Dello Mano Asparagus French Tart – available by order.

We invite you to join us for brunch to try our French-style Savoury tarts, as well as our more traditionally Australian Savoury pies and sundry light bites. If you get a hold of the Carrarinis, tell them they’re invited, too.

Dello Mano Store Locations:

New Farm – Shop 4 83 Merthyr Rd. ( Merthyr Village Shopping ) New Farm  Tel: 3358 2801

Tattersalls Arcade Shop , Shop 8, Tattersalls Arcade, 215 Queen St. Mall Brisbane Tel: 3210 1168

Dello Mano Launches New High Tea

We at Dello Mano would like to invite you to our new series of in-store High Teas, the most tasteful outing we believe Brisbane has to offer 🙂 In the case that this has really excited you and you wish to read no more 🙂



or continue to  read on and  learn more about our gourmet High Teas.


Since 2006, Dello Mano has established itself as Australia’s foremost purveyor of luxury brownies and more recently premium cakes. Our signature High Tea, which has been delighting guests of all ages for over three years, is the premier way to enjoy our sumptuous sweets as well as our warm, genuine hospitality. This year, in honor of our beautiful location at the heritage-listed Tattersalls Arcade, we’re launching two new High Teas: The Arcadian and The Chocolate Queen. Both teas are available at Tattersalls Arcade and at our equally-lovely New Farm Village location, where we are nestled in an eclectic, Italianesque neighborhood lined with trees and flowers.

The Dello Mano High Tea Experience

High tea has long been a favorite outing among the fine ladies of Brisbane, from the Victorian grand dames who first strolled the aisles of the Arcade to the chicly-suited businesswomen of the present. We designed our high teas with that heritage in mind and an emphasis on relaxation and decadence, two qualities integral to the Dello Mano experience. Each tea set showcases our luxurious brownies as well as our “mini-mini” cakes, exclusively in-store treats intended for individual enjoyment. The mini-minis, named after our beloved Clubman Mini Cooper delivery car, feature all the flavors of our best-selling premium cakes. Selections change daily and may feature anything from Belgian Chocolate Buttermilk to Raspberry & Passionfruit Torte. We round out the tea sets with handmade scones, micropots of our white chocolate-raspberry jam, and an assortment of dainty ribbon sandwiches. And, of course, each set comes with a pot of freshly-brewed tea (or Di Bella coffee, if you prefer).

mini red velvet

Mini Mini Red Velvet Cake – Luxury treat in the Dello Mano High Tea

At Dello Mano, we consider artful presentation tantamount to taste, so you can expect our service to be as decadent as our desserts. The sweets, scones, and sandwiches come arranged on a grand, golden tea stand with a pineapple motif, a symbol for hospitality and a reference to the role pineapples play in Brisbane’s tropical heritage. Even our classic brownie comes wrapped in real gold foil. You’ll feel like royalty as you peel away the precious foil to reveal the dark, rich chocolate within.

The Arcadian

The Arcadian is named after our new home, Tattersalls Arcade, a high-end shopping destination housed in an Art Deco clubhouse. We also love the dictionary definition of “arcadian”: idyllically innocent, simple, or untroubled. Like our Tattersalls and New Farm locations — unhurried oases from the modern world — The Arcadian Tea is the perfect idyllic respite from your worldly troubles. We invite you to unwind among Tatterhalls’ Classical friezes and gleaming brass fixtures or New Farms’ fig trees and French rattan. The Arcadian features three mini-mini cakes — Golden Gaytime Cake, Red Velvet Cake, and Raspberry &Passionfruit Torte — as well as a brownie mousse with meringue, scones, and three savory sandwiches, all chosen to pair perfectly with your favorite tea. BOOK HIGH TEA NOW


The Dello Mano Salon is located in the beautiful heritage listed Tattersalls Arcade located on the corner of the bustling Queen St. Mall and premium shopping precinct of Edward St. Brisbane.

high tea mini mini cakes

Sample Dello Mano Luxury Cakes in their mini-mini form in the Dello Mano High Tea

The Chocolate Queen

The Chocolate Queen’s namesake is Queen Street, the beating heart of Brisbane and the street on which Tattersalls Arcade is located. Since Brisbane’s Victorian period, Queen Street has been known for sophisticated, elegant shopping experiences, a legacy that continues with the vibrant Queen Street Mall. The Chocolate Queen evokes Queen Street’s grand Victorian past while remaining fashionably grounded in the present. Fans of our intensely chocolatey brownies will love this tea set — the selections never stray far from our Brownie Revolution roots. Served on a gleaming, golden service fit for a real queen, the tea features a wide range of chocolate treats, including Blackforest and Chocolate Milkshake mini-mini cakes, truffle bon-bons, and our Belgian Chocolate brownie. We suggest pairing this spread with a pot of rich, creamy hot chocolate instead of the customary tea. The Chocolate Queen Tea is particularly perfect for Mothers’ Day, because we all know that Mum is the real queen of our hearts.

Michael Carrello

Dello Mano store at Merthyr Village New Farm – image courtesy of @michaelcarrello

Book Dello Mano High Tea Now!

The Arcadian and Chocolate Queen Teas are available just in time for Mother’s Day weekend. Don’t wait to book, though — seats for High Tea are limited and sell out fast. Click on the “Book High Tea Brisbane” link at the top of our website to reserve your table. If you miss your chance, don’t fret; we run regular High Teas every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 3 PM at both our Tattersalls Arcade and New Farm locations. We are also happy to accommodate larger groups outside of our regular High Tea hours with prior notice. And, of course, we welcome brownie browsers and cake connoisseurs to visit our shops any day of the week.

Hope to see you all soon!

Deb & Bien Peralta + Team Dello Mano

PS. If you cant make it to a Dello Mano High Tea remember if you live in Brisbane you can always have a Brisbane Cake Delivery to your door. We deliver cakes to Brisbane Metro Monday to Friday. Call 1300 661 682 to inquire or book cake delivery online 


7 Easter Gift Do’s and Dont’s


Easter Gifts

Easter is a great time for families and friends to gather and celebrate. As an event that’s not only a great family time it’s equally great, because it includes lots of chocolates, egg treats and bunnies. It is one of our most favourite holidays. My mind is drawn to think about the chocolate Easter bilbies, the little fun surprises in every egg hunt, the brownie gifts everyone looks forward to, and all sorts of chocolates that will surely make you crave big-time.  Easter gifts really make us smile!

Central to the celebration of Easter is gift-giving. And more so than Christmas gifts, the most common Easter gift most people prefer is chocolate. Yum!

You’ve probably already made up your list of gift recipients. Now you’re at the tough part – what to give to who? Before anything else, keep this in mind: everyone loves a delicious gift at Easter!

Holiday gift-giving can be a daunting task. But follow some simple Dos and Don’ts, and you’ll be fine avoiding all the  hassle. Here are the rules to make food gift giving a delightful experience for you and your gift recipient!

Let’s start with the DON’TS.

Don’t go it alone.

The thought of making your own gift is really fun. But if you consider the number of your gift recipients, plus the materials you need to gather and the time you need to make all your food Easter  gifts on time, you might end up feeling more stressed than happy. So the first rule is – try not to make gifts all on your own. Not only do you cut the work needed to prepare your food gifts, you also turn this could-be-stressful moment into a fun Holiday get-together with lots of chocolate dipping and tasting! You will be surprised how many hands are so willing to help.

Don’t start until everything you need is ready.

Baking chocolate goodies is both an art and a science. Chocolate can be difficult to handle so you want to have everything you need ready before you start making treats. It is important that you plan ahead. Make a list of the different treats you want to make – whether its brownies, chocolate tarts, chocolate-coated candies, cookies, truffles – make sure all the ingredients and baking supplies you need are right there on your kitchen counter and ready to go.

Don’t take it too seriously.

You don’t always make food gifts for your friends and family. So it is understandable that you want to give your best effort to make the perfect present for each one of them. But your homemade gifts need not be perfect like those you see in local food stores. So don’t take it too seriously. Just go with the flow. Let your imagination and resourcefulness guide you. Creativity is at its peak when you feel relaxed and not anxious.

Don’t spend too much, especially on gift wraps.

You should avoid spending too much especially on gift wraps. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make every best effort for beautiful presentation of your food gift. You probably have some clean gift wraps you are able to reuse. If you’re wrapping cookies and brownies, you can put them in clear plastic and tie with an attractive low cost ribbon. This simple gift-wrapping approach is always a winner.

Don’t forget the label and your message.

Your homemade chocolate food gift can be made more special if you make a label and include your personal message. If you have good handwriting skills, much better. But if you are not confident, you can always have your message printed. Also, it’s a good idea to put a note about the shelf life of your gift. This way, your gift recipients know how long they can keep the gift. These days too, an important consideration is recipients with a  food allergy. Label your gluten free Easter gifts, with exactly that – Gluten Free Gift -so that your Easter gift is truly personalised for your recipient.

Now, let’s go to the Dos…

Do set a budget.

The last thing you want to experience is the stress of knowing that you have overspent. So before this happens, you want to think about your budget. How much are you willing to spend for each of your chocolate gifts? Do the math now before you think about what chocolate treats to prepare. This way, you will have one less worry.

Do experiment.

Easter chocolate gifts are so fun to make. Ideas are all over – on and off the web. From the recipes to the gift boxes and wrappers, you will surely find a great design to incorporate in your gift. But don’t be afraid to experiment. Who knows – you might end up making a luxury food gift that will set the trend. You just don’t want to delight your gift recipients with the taste of your food gift but also WOW them with your presentation!

If you’re into homemade food Easter gifts, you should try baking some really good Easter nests! Here’s a recipe you can try this Easter. This no-bake recipe takes minutes to do so you can save a lot of time prepping your food gift. Your kids can even do this on their own!

Chocolate Easter Nests

200 grams milk chocolate

200 grams dark chocolate

100 grams shredded coconut

40 coloured candy-coated Easter eggs

How to do:

  1. This recipe starts with melting the dark chocolate. Cut the chocolate into small pieces and place them in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir from time to time until the chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Add the shredded coconut and stir to combine.
  3. Create chocolate nests of about 7 centimetres in diameter. Using the back of a metal spoon, make a small dent in the centre of each nest. Cool completely and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until firm.
  4. Before packing, fill the dent with candy-coated eggs.

Recipe Source:

 Importantly take the time to really enjoy the lead up to Easter. Whether you buy gifts online, in store or make them yourself, the important part is always the joy in the act of gift giving. Here at Dello Mano, we revere food gifts and always feel that a food gift is such a beautiful way to celebrate any festive events. Of course a chocolate gift is even better!

No time to bake then checkout Dello Mano Luxury Easter Chocolate gifts and cookies. Our food gifts are all hand made using our own recipes, premium ingredients and in small batches to protect our food quality.



It automatically rings a bell and makes us all happy when we hear the word “brownies”. We start imagining and craving for its oh-so-yummy and chocolaty taste. A brownie as we all know, is a sweet flattened square chocolate baked treat that is a favourite with so many people. But who knows what a Broonie is?  There is indeed also a baked goody called a “broonie”. Yes it sounds like brownie but it’s different in many ways, including its color, texture and also taste. Let’s find out more and see what you think about a Broonie or a Brownie as you choice of food gift or treat.

A Broonie is ginger bread made with oatmeal. Commonly called a “Broonie Orkney”, this treat originated in Orkney Islands, an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, United Kingdom where the staples for bread are corn, barley and oats.

According to, a Broonie is derived from the Old Norse word which refers to a thick bannock. Broonie is a lovely light gingerbread, gorgeous with a cup of hot milky tea on a dark Scottish winter’s night. Its’ home style, great taste and rustic appeal makes for a wonderful food gift. Whether it be personal or a handmade food for a business gift, the Broonie is a very much appreciated sentiment.


Rolled Oats

Unlike Brownies, the Broonies’ primary ingredient is Oatmeal. Of course, Brownie recipes, well, at least shall we say we know for sure, Dello Mano brownies, call for chocolate as one of the key ingredients.  The Broonie recipe however relies strongly on the use of oatmeal.

Brownies and Broonies are further separated by another factor. The Broonie is usually baked in a form of a loaf bread whereas the Brownie in a tray or flat pan.

The Broonie has as a distinct flavour with the addition of ginger. While Ginger Brownies are definitely available ( we do one here at Dello Mano), the Broonie with its’ absence of chocolate, allows for a very distinct ginger flavour profile.

The  wholesome whole grains used to craft the Broonie makes it a fantastic health food gift or treat. Of course if it is a chocolate gift you’re looking for, then we say you can’t go past  a Brownie :)- but having said that, all handmade food gifts are such a treat even we can live without the chocolate… at least once or twice.

To better understand the Broonie, here’s the recipe we found on the internet that you might like to try at home. Let us know what you think.


Photo  and recipe courtesy of


Yields: 1 loaf


  1. Preheat oven 170°C.
  2. Combine oatmeal,salt and flour.
  3. Rub in butter,stir in sugar and ginger.
  4. In a small saucepan heat treacle gently,stir in egg. Pour into dry ingredients add buttermilk and stir thoroughly until all are well combined.
  5. Pour batter into a buttered 900g/2lb loaf tin.
  6. Bake 60-70 minutes until knife inserted in centre comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack and cool COMPLETELY before turning out.

Something that both Brownie and Broonie have in common is that both are best left to “mature” for a few days. Allowing both baked treats time to settle and for the flavours to develop, really does result in a better final product. Not sure about Broonies, but I know for sure, it’s awfully hard to protect a new batch of brownies as they  “mature”-  since generally they’re eaten up in the first few minutes they come out of the oven!

So what do you say? – Broonie or Brownie as your choice of food gift or would that choice be different if it’s just a treat at home to enjoy with the family? Our vote here, is of course a Brownie as our Chocolate gift – but then again we’re fairly biased.

Broonie or Brownie, handmade food is the best treat every time!

Chocolate Basics


Taking the time to understand some chocolate basics is a great idea when you decide to start cooking with chocolate in your kitchen.  Each of the chocolate types will behave quite differently and so understanding the basic nuances will short circuit a few of the common errors.

Because the chocolate types vary in their composition and their behaviour it’s usually not a straight substitution for one over the other in a recipe. Often the brownie recipe or chocolate cake recipe for example, will need to be adjusted to accommodate the different chocolate type. Sometimes it’s simply not possible to substitute one chocolate for another in a brownie or chocolate cake recipe..

So lets take a look at some chocolate basics:

Unsweetened Chocolate

Unsweetened chocolate is 99% chocolate. It contains nothing else and as a result has a very strong, rugged and intense flavour. It’s very bitter and I think most people would say it is very unpleasant to eat in this form. Unsweetened chocolate is  rarely used in baking although can be used to bake brownies when you are looking for something that has a very intense and interesting flavour.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a lovely eating chocolate. It performs equally as well as a baking chocolate as it does a chocolate bon bon. Dark Chocolates may contain varying degrees of sugar. The % chocolate means the percentage of chocolate liquor the chocolate contains.

Usually the % chocolate liqor indicates the amount of sugar in the block. For example a 60% chocolate will contain a little under 40% sugar and usually some emulsifier and a vanilla.

The greater the amount of sugar the more the actual chocolate liquor flavour is masked. It’s important to remember when choosing a  chocolate that the higher the solids level the more the fuller flavour profile of the chocolate will appear.

Take note though, that the higher the chocolate solids (higher chocolate liquor) does make the chocolate a little more difficult to use. This issue arises often when making emulsions such as a dark chocolate ganache where separation may occur . If you decide to use a higher solids chocolate then you may need to add a little extra sugar to your brownie recipe just to round and soften out the flavour.

If you are tempering Dark Chocolate then follow this guide:

Melting Temperature 45-50C

Cooling Temperature 28-29C

Tempering Temperature 31-32 C

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate contains milk solids that generally replace some of the cocoa solids. The result is a chocolate that is creamier and smoother in taste and texture. It generally contains more sugar.

Because milk chocolate contains milk solids, it’s very sensitive to heat. This also makes it very difficult to use in cooking and it definitely cannot be substituted for dark chocolate in a brownie recipe.

Milk chocolate is best used in no bake recipes for items like chocolate sauce or of course bon bons.

Milk chocolate has a great purpose – to eat it as a chocolate rather than use it as a baking chocolate!

If you are tempering Milk Chocolate then follow this guide:

Melting Temperature 45-50C

Cooling Temperature 28-29C

Tempering Temperature 31-32 C

White Chocolate

White chocolate continues to confound the chocolate purist. Strictly speaking, white chocolate is not a chocolate – but try telling that to a white chocolate lover!

White chocolate contains no cocoa liquor only cocoa butter. It contains sugar, milk solids, emulsifier and vanilla. It is, as a result the sweetest of chocolates.

The combination of milk solids and high cocoa butter make it very heat sensitive and the most temperamental chocolate to temper and to use in baking.

The flavour of white chocolate varies significantly amongst different types. Flavour profiles range depending on the milk and sugar types and combinations.

Brownies made with white chocolate are generally called blondies.

If you are tempering white chocolate then follow this guide:

Melting Temperature 45C

Cooling Termperature 26-27C

Tempering Temperature 29-30 C

Courveture Chocolate

Courveture is French and means to literally cover. Chocolate makers use courveture as the higher cocoa butter content makes it easier to use when tempering and chocolate making. Because of its high cocoa butter content, courveture chocolate is predictably very well behaved for the chocolate maker.

Courveture is the chocolate to use if you are coating chocolates and want a very shiny appearance, smooth texture and great snap in your bonbon chocolates.

Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder is manufactured by pressing the cocoa butter out of the cocoa mass. Naturally this cocoa powder is red or brown in colour and is very acidic.

Alkalised or Dutch Cocoa has been treated with an alkali such as Potassium Carbonate to reduce the acidity of the natural cocoa powder. This process results in a more subtle flavour.

Neither Natural nor Dutch cocoa is better than the other. Importantly though, if you are baking a brownie or a chocolate cake and using a leavening agent, it’s important to consider the cocoa powder type. If your recipe calls for baking soda then for best results use Natural cocoa powder as the combination of acid in the cocoa powder and soda will create a leavening agent, assisting in cake rising. In recipes that call for baking powder use alkalised cocoa to assist in leavening.

Cocoa nibs

Cocoa nibs are produced once the cocoa bean has been roasted. They are little parts of the bean that have been roasted but not ground.  Their flavour is an intense, astringent, chocolate flavour. Their texture is nut like crunchy and they exhibit a range of flavours including  fruity, spicy and acid notes.

Cocoa nibs can easily be used as a replacement for nuts. We use them here at Dello Mano to crust around cakes and as cake toppings. They add a delicious texture and flavour to brownies and cakes.

Interestingly the cocoa nib can be used in both sweet and savoury foods.

Compound Chocolate

Commonly referred  to as “Compound Chocolate” this product is not chocolate at all. Compound ( let’s drop the chocolate) contains vegetable oil and no cocoa butter. It does not requre tempering and so is favoured by many home cooks due to its ease of use in the kitchen. It’s also used by manufacturers looking to cut costs. It

Just understanding the basics of chocolate will really assist you as you begin to use the various different chocolates in your brownies, chocolate cakes or chocolate gifts. It’s a little more effort for sure  to use real chocolate in your brownies or other baked goods. One thing is certain though and that’s that there’s nothing better than a brownie or chocolate cake or cookie or anything for that matter – that’s made using real chocolate.

Deborah Peralta  is co-founder of Dello Mano Luxury Belgian Chocolate Brownies. Known with her partner Mr. Brownie (Bien Peralta) as the Brownie Pioneers. Deborah is a Food Scientist with broad food research, development and brand marketing experience. She was Product Development Manager for a leading international chocolatier.

Dello Mano brownies pioneered the Australian brownie market and are handmade by artisan brownie makers using real Belgian Chocolate in small batches – Brownie Pioneers since 2006.



How to Taste Chocolate

Choosing a Chocolate

Chocolate ingredients

Chocolate in its’ many forms –

So you’re looking to bake chocolate brownies or at least use real chocolate in some cooking. Great idea!  Using real chocolate is worth the expense and the time as you’ll finish with a superior treat or chocolate gift in every way.

Let’s take one step back then. Learning how to taste chocolate is essential in your quest to use chocolate in your brownie baking or other cooking endeavours.

We experimented with brownie recipes for 2 years before pioneering our Luxury Brownies in Australia. And believe me, we tried every ingredient possible!  With two small children at the time, I would test bake brownies and then take each new batch for tasting to everything from P&F meetings to ballet rehearsal.

Of course, there were always lots of willing (and hungry!) volunteers to try each of the recipes, as I slowly honed in to my final brownie recipe launch in 2006. At that time, and after much deliberation and lots of happy mums, dads and kids, we decided on a brownie recipe that would contain generous amounts of real chocolate. We thought our luxury brownies would be the perfect option for people looking to buy online premium chocolate gifts, so it was essential to include a quality premium Belgian Chocolate in our brownies.

There are about 300 chemical compounds in chocolate. Many of these are very subtle. Different growing conditions, regions and blends will result in so many, many flavour profiles. Try buying chocolate from different regions and producers so that you can taste the various flavours. Then, let the fun begin and treat yourself to a chocolate tasting session.

Tips on Chocolate Tasting

The art and science of Chocolate tasting does take time and practice. It uses all of your senses, so sit back, enjoy and use these chocolate tasting tips to get you started:

Chocolate Temperature

Allow the chocolate to sit and come to room temperature. Make sure all of the chocolates are out on the bench at the same temperature when you begin your chocolate tasting session.

Cleanse your Palate

Before any chocolate. Drink some water and eat a small piece of dry cracker or soft bread. Some people will use an apple. The idea is to remove all lingering flavours from you palate and allow the really soft nuances of the chocolate flavour profile to exhibit and dance on your palate.


A great quality, well tempered chocolate makes a very clean snap sound when it is broken. It should not be “plastic like” when it breaks and nor should it crumble.

A quiet tasting environment will help you savour the moments and for that matter enjoy more fully all of the aspects of the tasting session


Always smell your chocolate – just like a good wine! A good quality chocolate will generally have odours that are very pleasant like fruity, nutty and vanilla aromas.

If the chocolate smells like chemicals, petroleum or other unpleasant odours, then it has either been contaminated or it is a very poor quality chocolate. Equally, any burnt odour is not a good sign. Watch out too, for harsh artificial vanillas which are typically used by inferior chocolate manufacturers.  In the later cases, I suggest discarding the chocolate and not wasting any of your precious time attempting to work with inferior chocolate in the kitchen.

Note that chocolate should have an odour – no odour present, is a sign of a poor chocolate.


Chocolate should be a beautiful rich brown to dark brown colour. The colour should be even across the piece. If it’s in “temper” then there will be no white streaks caused from either chocolate bloom or sugar bloom. These “blooms” are generally the result of significant changes in chocolate temperature resulting in destabilisation of the chocolate temper.

A great quality chocolate will be shiny and fresh looking.


For those of you that have managed to hold off, now you can finally taste the chocolate! Place the chocolate on your tongue and just let it sit there. Don’t chew the chocolate. Let it slowly begin to melt on your tongue.

The quality of the melt on your tongue is a sign of the purity of the chocolate. If the chocolate is really slow to melt or is chalky on the tongue then it is generally a sign of a poor quality chocolate. Such undesirable chocolate textures may be as a result of cheaper fats added at some point in the chocolate making process.

As the chocolate melts, note the volatile aromas of the chocolate rise up into your nasal area. At this point the many more different flavours can be detected including both the natural elements of the cocoa itself as well as the flavour complexities that are developed in the chocolate making process.

The roasting, conching and blending of beans can all contribute to flavour development and will give chocolate different flavours.


A great chocolate should feel wonderful on your tongue. Soft, smooth and free of any graininess or chalkiness is the sign of great quality chocolate.

Grainy and chalky chocolate is the sign of shortcuts in conching. Similarily  a chalky texture is the usual result of a more simple process known as stone ground conching .

A grainy texture may also be the  result of  a poor temper.

A glutinous or sticky texture suggests that less desirable fats have been substituted in the chocolate making process for the more expensive cocoa butter.

Savour the moment

Continue with the chocolate slowly. The lingering taste should be full and strong. Take note that some of the chocolate flavours do appear late and often at the very end of the chocolate. The final flavour should be clean and not bitter or in anyway unpleasant.

Consider the Tasting Order

Tasting samples in the correct order will really help with the chocolate tasting process. Keep these rules in ensure you palate is protected and refreshed as it receives each new chocolate sensation:

  • always taste the chocolate with the lowest percentage cocoa first as this is generally the simplest flavour chocolate and will reduce the chance of overwhelming your taste buds!
  • rinse with water (at room temperature)  between chocolate samples
  • clean your palate with a small piece of bread or cracker between chocolates
  • work through the chocolates slowly as the chocolate tasting process cannot be rushed

Chocolate is an expensive cooking ingredient. But just like cooking with a good wine, the quality is important.  Remember, the quality you put in, will be the quality you get out. Invest in great quality chocolate and you’ll reap amazing results.

And whatever you decide to bake whether it be brownies or cake or cookies or fudge, the result will be so much more pleasing with a chocolate you have voted best in your chocolate tasting session.

Learning to taste chocolate will take some time and commitment but hey, tasting chocolate  is a heck of a great way to spend some hours – all in the quest of learning!

Deborah Peralta  is co-founder of Dello Mano Luxury Belgian Chocolate Brownies. Known with her partner Mr. Brownie (Bien Peralta) as the Brownie Pioneers. Deborah is a Food Scientist with broad food research, development and brand marketing experience. She was Product Development Manager for a leading international chocolatier.

Dello Mano brownies pioneered the Australian brownie market and are handmade by artisan brownie makers using real Belgian Chocolate in small batches – Brownie Pioneers since 2006.







Recipe : Double Chocolate Pecan Fudge Squares

We bake most weekends and this past weekend was no exception.  With winter theoretically on our door step ( in theory, I say  because the days here in Brisbane at this time of the year really are glorious!) it seemed only fitting to bake ourselves  a triple layer treat.

Dello Mano Kitchen Baking of Double Pecan Fudge Squares

Triple layers of yumness!

The layers in these Double Chocolate Pecan Fudge Squares  do take a little more time however the result is well worth the effort.

Start by preparing the biscuit base according to the instructions below. Take care not to overbake it as it tends to dry quickly and you really are looking for lovely moistness across each of the square layers.

The  creamy chocolate filling is simply a brown sugar and butter mix made super delicious with condensed milk.  I’ve long been a fan of condensed milk. Beginning my Food Science career at Carnation, I remember clearly the joy of huge and I mean really huge, vats of white creamy condensed milk. My job then was to taste test the condensed milk as it caramalises over time.  A  life well spent – condensed milk tasting to now these days brownie tasting!

condensed milk pouring

Delicious condensed milk makes for the beginning

Of course, as we always say great chocolate makes or breaks a dessert. Here at Dello Mano our choice of beautiful chocolate is Belgian chocolate however so long as you choose great quality, the choice of chocolate is yours.

dark chocolate bowl

Delicious dark chocolate

After melting, pour the molten dark Belgian chocolate onto the base of biscuit and creamy filling.

Dark chocolate pouring into pan

Use great quality dark chocolate

Starting to get exciting now – take a little care to evenly spread the chocolate so as to ensure the squares look balanced when they’re cut. Refrigerate.

spread dark chocolate onto filling

Dark chocolate spread onto filling

Remove from the refrigerator and carefully cut the layers to your preferred size. Since we love Dello Mano cubes, we have a preference for little squares, but really the fudge squares could be ribbons or bar shaped.  Just take a little care when moving the knife through the layers to avoid cracking.

cutting double pecan fudge

Carefully cut into neat squares

Sit back and enjoy those delicious layers.

double pecan fudge finished

Double Pecan Fudge – the final product




¼ cup finely chopped pecans

100 g Butter, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup plain flour, sifted

1/4 teaspoon baking powder


395 g can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup brown sugar

125 g butter, chopped into small pieces

120g coursely chopped pecans

100 g  dark Belgian chocolate, chopped


60 g butter, chopped

200 g dark Belgian chocolate, chopped 


Preheat oven to 170-180°C depending on your oven. Grease and line a brownie style pan.

       THE BASE

Combine butter, sugar and pecans in a bowl. Add flour and baking powder. Mix until well combined. Using the back of a spoon         press the base mixture into the cake pan.

Bake for 18 minutes or until golden and firm to touch.


Combine milk, sugar and butter in a 2-liter (8 cup) microwave safe jug or bowl. Cook, uncovered, stirring every 2 minutes for 6         to 8 minutes on high (100%) power or until mixtures comes to the boil and is thick and golden. Stand for 1 minute.Add the          chocolate and stir constantly until melted. Stir in pecans.

Add the chocolate and stir constantly until melted. Stir in pecans.

Pour over warm base and set aside to cool completely.


Melt butter over a low heat.  When melted slowly add chocolate, stirring gently  until smooth. Be careful not to aerate the chocolate mix. Pour over fudge filling.

Optional : Spread some crushed pecans on top before refrigerating ( can there ever be too many pecans!)

Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set. Cut into squares and serve.

        Recipe adapted from Stahmann Pecan Farms –