LuxBite, South Yarra

Last year, pastry chef Bernard Chu of Melbourne dessert cafe LuxBite created a recipe for Masterchef Australia that combined six classic Australian lollies - Bananas, Freckles, Jaffas, Musk sticks, Spearmint leaves and Redskins. The resulting opera-style Lolly Bag cake became the subject of a diabolical challenge for Masterchef contestants, who were set the daunting task of recreating the multi-layered masterpiece.

I'd heard about LuxBite long before Bernard's appearance on television, but the Lolly Bag cake really captured my imagination - and yep, it was on my Melbourne To Eat list. Jac doesn't watch Masterchef and I'm sure she had no idea why I was rabbiting on about lolly bags, but she good naturedly agreed to catch the tram to South Yarra after breakfast so we could find LuxBite. We happened to choose a scorcher of a day to be out and about in Melbourne - the forecast top temperature was 40C. It was a relief to escape the sweaty tram ride and blazing hot street to enjoy sweet treats in an air-conditioned dessert cafe.

The Lolly Bag cake has 7 layers. It starts with Banana lolly joconde (almond sponge cake) on the bottom, followed by Freckles crunch, mandarin Jaffa ganache, Musk mallow, a second layer of Banana lolly joconde, Spearmint leaf buttercream and finally on top, a Redskins glaze. The recipe is readily available online but quite frankly, I'd rather fly to Melbourne for a slice than attempt to recreate a whole cake at home.

The slice of cake is cut neatly and precisely, with 7 distinct layers.

Despite being a cake composed of lollies, it wasn't sickly sweet at all and the six lolly flavours were surprisingly harmonious. The familiar tastes and distinct textures made every multi-layered mouthful a sensational delight. I thought I'd battle to get through it but it was very easy to finish.

The Lolly Bag cake is AU$7.50 per slice but can be pre-ordered in larger sizes to serve 4, 6, 10 or 30 people.

LuxBite is also known for its macarons featuring Asian flavours. Although the macaron craze is all but over, I still love chasing macarons with unusual flavours. I studied the rainbow in LuxBite's display case for an awkwardly long time (indecisive much?!) before choosing two: lemon, ginger and pineapple, and pandan. They were very well made, crisp and chewy - probably the equal best macarons I've tasted (honours also go to the macarons at Baroque Bistro in Sydney).

LuxBite currently have special macarons for Chinese New Year 2014, 'pineapple tart' and 'bak kwa' (Chinese sweet-salty dried meat similar to jerky, grilled over charcoal for a smoky flavour). They're available for a limited time only. If you're in Melbourne and get to taste them, I'd love to hear what you think.

Macarons, left to right: green tea pistachio; coffee candy (Kopiko); lemon, ginger & pineapple; Heilala vanilla creme brulee; hazelnut; bamboo oolong tea
Macarons, left to right: lemon, ginger & pineapple; mandarin jaffa; sour strawberry;passionfruit & kaffir lime; rose & lychee; Ribena lemonade; pandan; green tea pistachio; coffee candy (Kopiko); lemon, ginger & pineapple
My macarons: Left - lemon, ginger and pineapple, with lemon and ginger buttercream filling and pineapple jelly; right - pandan, with fresh pandan-infused coconut cream and white chocolate filling. By the way, I took these photographs sitting at the cafe's beautiful communal marble top table.

As we were in Melbourne during the lead-up to Christmas, some of the desserts on display at LuxBite had a Christmassy theme. You can still get Be My Love and Endless Love in non-Christmas versions.

Rudolph Supersized Love - LuxBite's version of Ferrero Rocher, with housemade Nutella, praline cream, Piedmontese hazelnut (Christmas 2013, gluten free, AU$9)
Strawberry & Cream - Valrhona white chocolate mousse, strawberry cream, compote, sable Breton (Christmas 2013, nut free, AU$9)
Christmas be my Love - Milk chocolate mousse, raspberry cream, dark chocolate crunch, chocolate glaze (Christmas 2013, gluten and nut free, AU$9)
Christmas Endless Love - Lychee ganache, rose cream, lychee, fresh raspberries (Christmas 2013, gluten free, AU$9)
Left to right: Caramel Cravings - Chocolate, caramel, coconut base, baby salted caramel macarons; Epic Chocolate Cravings - Belgian dark chocolate with hazelnut crust and salted caramel sphere; Green tea cheesecake - Opéra style cake with green tea joconde, Japanese rice wine, pistachio ganache, cream cheese, salted green tea crumble

In addition to the desserts on display, there is a dine-in menu, which includes a tea set for two (two finger sandwiches, 4 macarons of your choice, 2 desserts and 2 beverages for $48), savoury snacks, breakfast and brunch. On the shelves are take home goodies for sale, including salted caramel spread, kaya coconut jam and Luxbite chocolates. For the dessert tourist though, it will be hard to resist the TV star. No, not Bernard... the Lolly Bag cake!

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LuxBite
38 Toorak Road
South Yarra, VIC 3141
Telephone: (03) 9867 5888
Open 7 Days 10.30am to 7pm

LuxBite on Urbanspoon

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We really liked South Yarra and ate at a number of places there (more blog posts on the way). Our accommodation was in Chinatown and it was so easy to jump on a tram to get to South Yarra.

About this series

In December 2013, my partner Jac and I went on holiday - Melbourne (3 nights), then 3 nights in Launceston (Jac, to stay with a friend) and King Island (me, for a photographic safari with a couple of friends), and finally, Hobart, where we spent Christmas (6 nights). This trip was not sponsored in any way.

The complete set of Melbourne posts
Not bad for three nights' 'work', eh? Hope you've enjoyed the series.

For a preview of some of the stories to come, see Holiday sneak peek. I'm halfway through the Melbourne posts - there's more to come. But the next post in the blog will be about something much closer to home...