Christmas with Matt Preston

Matt Preston shares recipes from his latest cookbook

As a MasterChef Australia judge, cookbook author and award-winning food journalist, Matt Preston is a man who knows about food. Complete with his cheeky smile and ever-so-stylish cravat, Matt dropped by hardtofind HQ to chat all things food and Christmas. Luckily for you, he has given us exclusive access to two delicious recipes from his brand spanking new cookbook, aptly named Matt Preston Cookbook, which are perfect for the Christmas table. Stay tuned for Matt’s apricot cheesecake recipe tomorrow. To start you off, here’s Matt’s wicked take on Eton mess.

Decadent brownie recipe

White chocolate and hazelnut blondie with whipped cream, vanilla syrup and grapes

Serves 4 (plus leftovers)

I know lots of blokes called ‘Brownie’ but there can only ever be one woman who answers to the name ‘Blondie’. In homage to one of my earliest crushes, this is basically a ‘brownie’ made without chocolate or cocoa. This recipe uses skimmed milk powder to get even more of the milk solids that taste deliciously brown buttery, without adding extra butter. This, I fear, is the only measure of restraint shown in this recipe, which is a mash-up of an Eton mess and a brownie. I suppose that it is really a ‘whitie’ or a ‘caramelly’ but I never had a crush on anyone called ‘Whitey’.

PS. Yes, I know, white chocolate isn’t chocolate, but it is still jolly good.


250g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 tbs skimmed milk powder
275g dark brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbs vanilla extract
250g plain flour, sifted
1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp salt flakes
250g white chocolate, cut or broken into thumbnail-sized chunks
200g hazelnuts, toasted, skin rubbed off

Vanilla syrup
1⁄2 cup caster sugar
1⁄2 cup water
1 vanilla pod, cut into super-fine shards on the angle

To serve
200ml softly whipped cream
200g seedless red or green grapes (or blueberries), halved just before serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  2. Line a 28cm × 18cm slice pan with baking paper. Use a piece that’s large enough to go up the two longest sides. Make it stick to the metal tray by greasing the tray with spray oil first.
  3. In a frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the skimmed milk powder. Heat and let the butter and the added milk solids go tanned and smell nicely toasty and nutty, to make a beurre noisette. Watch it carefully though – it will very quickly burn once it starts to colour. Pour the browned butter into a bowl and let it cool down.
  4. Now in a large bowl, mix the cooled brown butter with the brown sugar. Stir in the eggs and the vanilla extract.
  5. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Fold these dry ingredients into the goopy butter and sugar paste. Finally fold in the chopped white chocolate and the hazelnuts.
  6. Pour this blondie batter into the lined baking tray and bake for 40–45 minutes. Your blondie is ready when it starts cracking a little on the top and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out with a little of the batter still sticking to it. The batter should be moist rather than wet, however.
  7. When cooked, leave the blondie in the slice pan to cool slightly before cutting into roughly 4cm squares.
  8. While it is cooling make a simple vanilla syrup. Dissolve the caster sugar in the water over a low heat. Once it’s dissolved, turn up the heat, add the vanilla and let it bubble until golden and syrupy – but don’t take it too far or you will end up with toffee. Take it off the heat; it will thicken as it cools. You want it to be like runny honey, so add more water over gentle heat if it gets too thick.
  9. To serve, take a glass for each person, and lay 3 pieces of blondie into each glass. Spoon in some whipped cream to cover the blondies like a snowy blanket, drizzle over vanilla syrup, then finish with a few of the grape halves.

After making this recipe for four you’ll be left with 12–16 pieces of blondie to go in the kids’ lunch boxes – or yours. Score!

Come back tomorrow when Matt shares his totally delectable apricot cheesecake with a spiced base.

Gifts we’d give Matt Preston for Christmas

Christmas gift ideas for foodies
It’s no secret Matt has a cheeky sense of humour. Combined with his love of all things food, he’s a gift giver’s dream. We’ve put together our ultimate gift list for Matt (which would also be perfect for your culinary and wine-obsessed friends).

  1. Wine chiller, $69.99
  2. Kinetic wine glasses (set of 2), $150
  3. ‘Bird’ kitchen bag carriers, $58
  4. Wine diver, $27.95
  5. ‘Melbourne’ tea towel, $29
  6. Rick Stein mezzaluna with board, $50.60
  7. ‘Legless’ corkscrew, $31.95
  8. Rick Stein glass carafe, $39.95

To shop our entire foodie gifts collection click here

Matt Preston cookbook


MasterChef judge, food journalist and restaurant critic Matt Preston knows a good dish when he sees one. His new book, Matt Preston Cookbook (Pan Macmillan Australia, $39.99), is full of recipes perfect for Christmas entertaining and is available in bookshops now. 


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