Kirsten Tibballs established online classes seven years ago so that she could engage with the legions of fans unable to attend her Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School in Melbourne. Little did she imagine how important those virtual tutorials would become in 2020, or the following she would amass in one crazy year. Back then, few could have foreseen a worldwide pandemic that would drive people into lockdown, discovering the joy of cooking and baking, honing skills they never knew they had.
Proclaimed by MasterChef Australia as “the Queen of Chocolate”, Tibballs is not only a talented pastry chef and chocolatier but also an engaging presenter who can make the most awesome chocolate glaze look like child’s play. During the online class Food Wine Travel zoomed into, she made a passionfruit tart with a chocolate glaze so perfect and shiny you could see her reflection in it. Then to cap it all off, she decorated it to look like an exquisite Christmas wreath.
I wonder how anyone could make anything so perfect but Tibballs has a long history of creating magic. She has judged the World Chocolate Masters in Paris, the Patisserie Grand Prix in Japan and the World Chocolate Masters selections in London. She represented Australia in the World Pastry Team Championships in Las Vegas, and won gold and bronze medals in the Pastry Olympics in Germany.
Her cooking show, The Chocolate Queen, which premiered on SBS in 2019, is seen in 30 countries. She has appeared on Channel 10’s The Living Room, is seen regularly on Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield, and has presented numerous chocolate challenges on MasterChef Australia.
Her Trio of Fruits and more recently her Meljito dessert which achieved fame as challenge dishes on MasterChef are among the creations presented in her online classes. To date, she has created more than 350 video tutorials, with a new online class released each week along with a downloadable recipe.
The classes are available by subscription and are designed to appeal to everyone from complete beginners to seasoned professionals. Guest appearances from some of the world’s most esteemed pastry chefs provide further inspiration and encouragement.
For those looking for tropical inspiration, Tibballs’ Luana coconut and banana cake was inspired by the surge in popularity of homemade banana bread during isolation. The classes also include a great selection of Christmas-inspired tutorials including a gingerbread house, Yule log, and a wonderful Christmas trifle that can be made in just 15 minutes.
There are also treats suitable for gift giving, such as fruit mince tarts and nougat. (Incidentally, a subscription to Savour’s online classes is also a great gift option for anyone interested in cooking, baking or patisserie.)
During our Zoom class, Tibballs showed some of the tips ‘n’ tricks she presents in her online classes, including edible Christmas decorations and twists on Christmas classics. Her shortbread stack decorated with nuts and dried fruit and dusted with icing sugar is made to look like a Christmas wreath.
“Sometimes I make simple things and my staff say it’s the best thing I’ve ever made, and this is one of them,” she says of her white chocolate eggnog, to which she suggests adding rum, brandy or Frangelico. “The eggnog recipe makes a beautiful sauce for Christmas pudding.”
Tibballs established Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School in 2002 and it is the only cooking school in Australia dedicated solely to teaching the art of chocolate and patisserie. The sole Australian Ambassador for Callebaut chocolate, she has published two books, Chocolate and Chocolate to Savour.
She says it has been fascinating to watch the growth and interest in her online classes during the lockdown period, with viewers in the U.S. her fastest growing audience. Her decadent chocolate cookie recipe was her most popular recipe during lockdown. Sometimes it takes a chocolate cookie to make everything feel alright.
“I hope that through my online classes, I’m able to bring a sense of joy to those at home and that they too, find comfort in the simple pleasures that cooking and baking can bring in such difficult times,” she says.
For more information about Savour’s online classes, visit www.savourschool.com.au