11 Decadent Questions with Australia’s Queen of Desserts

This Mother’s Day, we asked Australia’s Queen of Desserts, Ann Reardon, 11 decadent dessert questions to help you decide what dessert you should make for the amazing mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, or sister in your life. We dive into delicious recipes from How to Cook That and teach you how to make all kinds of desserts that go with any dish that you have in mind. If you’re asking yourself, “what dessert should I make for Mother’s Day?”, then read our exclusive interview with the one and only Ann Reardon of the world famous How To Cook That Youtube channel. She’s here to answer all of your dessert questions from what dessert goes with lasagna if you’re in a cozy mood to what dessert goes with tacos if you’re aiming for a more festive Mother’s Day surprise.

1. We’re all curious to know the science behind the tiny recipes! How long did it take you to master baking in a tiny kitchen? It really is the cutest thing ever, but looks challenging!

Ann Reardon: The thing that takes the longest is making the tiny sized ingredients before I start. Mini baking is fiddly and needs a steady hand. It doesn’t take long for things to cook or cool down, but in other ways it’s very similar to normal baking.

2. If baking is a science, which branch do you use most when making such fancy desserts? Chemistry? Physics?

AR: Food science leans into quite a few different branches of science. There is microbiology – which involves food safety, but also using microorganisms like yeast or bacteria to make bread rise or yoghurt ferment. Food processing – the way a food is processed has a direct impact on the flavour, colour and texture of the end product. For example if you decrease the amount of time bread is kneaded the dough will not have enough elasticity to rise properly. Food chemistry and biochemistry – different ingredients react together in different ways, for example there is an enzyme in pineapple that will stop gelatine from setting. Sensory analysis – evaluating the flavours, textures and appearance of the dessert and the effect of their combination. And finally nutrition – depending on who I am baking for there are often modifications required to make it suit special diets.

3. For those of us who aren’t scientists, what’s your best piece of advice on how to develop recipes? Most importantly, where do you find inspiration for creating such decadent desserts?

AR: Experiment, experiment, experiment. Don’t be afraid to fail. When trying something new, write down what you are testing and only bake a quarter of the recipe, this reduces food waste. In my house we have a thing called ‘one cup cooking’ where the kids can invent a recipe using any ingredients they want. But the total volume of all ingredients combined can not be more than one cup. They’ve made some great ones, and some terrible flops – but learning what does not work is just as important as finding what does.

4. With Mother’s Day approaching, I’m sure everyone wants to know what are some of your favorite baking gifts for mom? Any gifts that would pair exceptionally well with the decadent desserts inside Crazy Sweet Creations?

AR: Oven gloves are often an ugly necessity, if you can find a functional but pretty pair that goes with your mums kitchen I’m sure she will appreciate it.

Pamper your lovely mother(s) this Mother´s Day and make her a dessert she will not soon forget. With a little help from Ann of course!

5. What dessert should I make for my mom who loves to indulge in chocolate?

AR: For something dimple the chocolate creme with raspberries, if you’ve got a bit more time then the melting chocolate and peanut ball has a wow moment when it is served.

6. What dessert should I make for my mom who loves decadent ice cream flavors?

AR: Roasted strawberry ice-cream is my personal favorite.

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream by Ann Reardon
Serves
  • Makes ¼ gallon (1 liter) of ice cream.
Ice Cream
  • 3 1/3 cups (500 g / 17.6 oz) fresh strawberries
  • ¼ cup (55 g / 1.9 oz) sugar
  • ¾ cup (200 mL / 6.8 fl oz) milk
  • 6 large egg yolks (90 g / 3.2 oz)
  • ¾ cup (160 g / 5.6 oz) caster sugar or superfine sugar
  • 1/3 cup (100 mL / 3.4 fl oz) heavy cream (35 percent fat)

Preheat the oven to 165°C (329°F).

Wash the strawberries, hull them and cut them in half lengthwise. Place them (cut side down) onto a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and sprinkle each one with sugar. Bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes or until the sugar is melted and the strawberries are soft.

Place the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and whisk them together until they are pale in color. Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and place over high heat until it just starts to boil. Keep an eye on it so that it does not boil over. Remove from the heat, add about a quarter of a cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks and whisk well. Pour in the remainder of the hot cream mixture whisking as you do. Return all of the mixture to the pan, add a candy thermometer and stir over high heat until it reaches 85°C or 185°F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, set a timer and stir over high heat for 2 minutes, but watch carefully as overheating this mixture will make it curdle.

Remove from the heat and pour into a blender or food processor. Add the strawberries and any juice that is on the baking sheet then process until smooth. (If you don’t have a blender, push the mixture through a sieve using the back of a spoon.) Strain through a fine sieve to remove the seeds, cover and put in the fridge for at least 3 hours to chill.

Freeze and churn the mixture using an ice cream machine for around 30 minutes (or the time specified by your appliance). See the chapter introduction for alternative churning methods.

Pour into a container and return to the freezer for a few hours to firm up.

7. What dessert should I make for my mom who loves fancy pastries?

AR: If you both like to bake, then create memories making the rose apple pie together.

Rose Apple Pie by Ann Reardon

In fact, what if we don’t just want to make mom a decadent dessert, but a full course meal! Some of Anns favorite dinner-dessert pairings: 

8. What dessert goes with tacos?

AR: Have some fun with the “it’s not an avocado” dessert.

9. What dessert goes with pizza?

AR: Pizzas are quick and easy, especially for bulk catering and so to are the speedy apple turnovers.

10. What dessert goes with lasagna?

AR: After a big hearty lasagne a fresh slice of fresh watermelon pizza is just the thing.

Watermelon Pizza

Watermelon Pizza by Ann Reardon

This dessert is perfect in the summer months when watermelon and berries are at their sweetest. The secret is to keep it simple and allow the watermelon to shine as the hero of this recipe.

Serves
  • A whole watermelon
  • ½ cup (125 g / 4.4 oz) cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar or powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup (100 g / 3.5 oz) blueberries
  • 1/8 cup (20 g / 0.7 oz) pistachios
  • 1/3 cup (100 g / 3.5 oz) strawberries

Cut a large round slice of watermelon from the center of the melon and remove the rind. You could use a cake ring for a perfect circle.

Mix together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the watermelon leaving a border uncovered around the edge. Wash the strawberries and blueberries and dry with paper towel. Hull and chop the strawberries. Sprinkle the blueberries, pistachios and strawberries on top of the cream cheese. Cut into pizza shaped slices and serve. This dessert is best made fresh but can be stored in the fridge for several hours.

11. Lastly, out of all the decadent desserts in Crazy Sweet Creations…what dessert are you and why?

AR: The chocolate cheese board. It’s a dessert that goes out of its way to make others feel special, no matter if they prefer savory or sweet.

We hope that this interview answers the question of “what dessert should I make?” for Mother’s Day. From Apple Turnovers to Roasted Strawberry Ice-Cream, we hope you’re feeling excited and inspired for a one of a kind Mother’s Day this year filled with crazy sweet creations and an abundance of decadent desserts.

Ann Reardon

Ann Reardon is a qualified food scientist, pastry chef and dietitian who has been named Australia’s Queen of Desserts by the Sidney Morning Herald. She is the host of the wildly popular How to Cook That YouTube series (4.8M subscribers). Reardon has made her claim to fame making pop-culture-themed treats from a giant KitKat to a 3D Avenger’s Cake, fancy  desserts in all shapes and sizes, and debunking fake cooking hacks. 

“How to Cook That is the most popular Australian cooking channel in all the world, and it’s not hard to see why.”

―PopSugar

In her debut cookbook, How to Cook That: Crazy Sweet Creations, Ann shares her favorite dessert recipes and explains the science behind baking the perfect cake, tempering chocolate and making smooth ice cream. Both beginner bakers and experienced chefs will learn new and creative recipes to add to their repertoire.

“Edible engineering meets wow-factor whimsy in this debut dessert guide from Aussie Youtube baker Reardon.”

– Publishers Weekly