Wellington pâtissier Maxine Scheckter –fresh from working at celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal's restaurant - shares her recipe for chocolate canelés.
Scheckter, at 22, already has an impressive CV.
Her culinary experience started with a weekend job at Wellington fine dining institution Logan Brown while she was still at high school. She went on to study at Ferrandi culinary institute in Paris and work at famous UK eateries; Sketch, in London, and The Fat Duck, celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant in Berkshire.
Now she’s creating sweets and pastry treats at her newly opened Wellington restaurant Sugar Flour.
At Blumenthal’s restaurant, Schekter had the opportunity to learn some of the chef's trademark molecular gastronomy.
“We made a lot of weird ice creams – fish and chip ice cream, pizza ice cream. We did a lot of molecular stuff – liquid nitrogen floating around.”
She worked long hours; “I learned how to survive on three hours of sleep a day!”
But Schekter says the best thing she learned was that not every flavour has to stand out in a dish.
“You can use 10 flavours in a dish if they all complement each other and build up to make a different flavour.”
Though chefs are in high demand worldwide, she says, and not a lot of people have pastry skills, few restaurants are willing to pay for those who do. “It’s quite an uneconomic part of the business.”
She returned to New Zealand, tired of moving around but unsure of her next move.
After cooking an eight-course degustation menu as a Christmas present to her parents, her father, owner of food supply business Ontrays in Petone, suggested she open a restaurant, and spotted a location in the suburb of Kilbirne for Sugar Flour, which she opens at weekends only for now.
Schekter aims to create unique dishes and for Mother’s Day made five pastries inspired by women artists, each with a card describing the relationship between the food and the artist.
Maxine Scheckter shares her recipe for sweet treat Chocolate Canelés.
The traditional French pastries - dark and crispy on the outside and moist inside - are often flavoured with rum, but this recipe has chocolate instead.
Scheckter cooks the canelés in copper moulds she brought back from Paris, but says cupcake tins can be used instead, though the pastries won’t have the same crunchiness on the outside.