Honey oat crunchies (gluten free)

Gluten free crunchies.

Last week I attended a fabulous event in Joburg with the lovely folks from Sasko. The Sasko Chefs Kitchen took place at the stunning Pick ‘n Pay Good Food Studio in Sandton, and on a rainy Thursday morning the foodies gathered to cook up a Sasko feast.

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Dark chocolate cupcakes with whipped whiskey ganache

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate and whiskey ganache.

This week’s recipe comes from a feature I put together for Cheers Magazine last month in which whiskey and sherry were the heroes. I have to be honest and say that sipping spirits has never been my thing, I am more of a wine gal myself! But I do keep a small stash of tipple tucked away for culinary purposes. A splash of brandy here, a dash of sherry there… they certainly add a deep richness to the dishes they are added to. These easy dark chocolate cupcakes are proof that whiskey is not only good for sipping but also has its place in the kitchen (and that cupcakes aren’t just for the kiddies!).

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Lemon loaf cake with saffron syrup

Lemon loaf cake with saffron syrup.
A few weeks ago I was given a pack of gorgeous saffron to try out at home. I have only ever used saffron in savoury dishes in the past (this saffron chicken dish is one of my favourites) and wanted to try it in a sweet recipe this time around.

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Caramel sponge pudding

Caramel sponge pudding
If ever there was an excuse to indulge in some comfort cooking, the chilly winter season is most definitely it. This latest recipe, which was featured in the May/June issue of Cheers magazine, has comfort food written all over it – a classic (dare I say old-fashioned) dessert that you can easily make at home on those cold days.

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Date, carrot and apple muffins with cream cheese topping (refined sugar free)

Date, carrot and apple muffins.
It has been a while since I worked on a muffin recipe and I am rather pleased with this particular one. I was recently invited onto the Expresso Morning Show to present three different, easy recipes with one common ingredient. I chose dates as my star ingredient and wanted to include a baking recipe in one of the cooking segments. That was the inspiration behind these date muffins.

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How to make easy rainbow meringues (and a rainbow cake!)

Chocolate cake topped with meringues.


Crisp, white meringues are one my favourite things to make, but a few weeks ago I tried something a little different by adding some colours to the mix! The reason? I wanted to top my daughter’s rainbow birthday cake with rainbow meringues. I had so many party guests (well, the parents) asking me for the recipe that I have decided to pop it on the blog this week along with my go-to meringue recipe. I am also sharing a few tips for making your own rainbow cake. 



How to make rainbow meringues.



Firstly, rainbows – I think this has been my favourite kiddie party theme so far! There is just so much you can do. To be honest I was completely swamped in the run up to the party, but thanks to a few simple ideas from Pinterest I was able to pull it all together in a short amount of time. In terms of decor I made colourful paper chains (too easy), tissue paper pom-poms in various colours and popped glasses filled with colourful water and sunflowers on the table. Some of the food also took on the rainbow theme, with the most popular snack by far being pretzel sticks that were dipped in white chocolate and then 100’s and 1000’s. Rather than going for a sugar laden party bag each little guest received a rainbow ribbon wand as a thank you gift. 



Rainbow birthday party ideas.



You can’t have a rainbow party without a rainbow cake right? This cake took an entire day to bake and assemble, but I think it was worth it. Six layers of vanilla cake in all the colours of the rainbow all covered in vanilla buttercream and chocolate ganache and topped with rainbow meringues, flowers and glitter. Here are a few tips if you are thinking of making one too:

  • I mixed a few drops of gel food colouring into vanilla cake batter to make the rainbow layers. I find these give a brighter colour than the supermarket liquid colours. 
  • I baked the layers separately (yes, it took ages!) in a 20cm straight sided cake tin.
  • When icing the cake I started with a very thin, smooth layer of icing all over the cake, often called the crumb coat. I then popped the entire cake in the deep freeze for about thirty minutes to set and harden before icing it. This made it much easier and neater! 
  • I used this chocolate ganache recipe to go on top of the vanilla buttercream icing. Remember to let it cool before pouring it over the cake. 


How to make a rainbow birthday cake.
Birthday cake with rainbow layers.


Drip cake topped with meringues.



I will be taking a little break next week while the kids are still on holiday but will be back in May with some lip smackingly delicious Italian inspired recipes, don’t miss those! 

Cook’s notes for the meringues:

  • I used a plastic disposable piping bag for this messy meringue mixture. I have also included a picture below of the nozzle that I used. 

Meringue piping nozzle.
  • You can use as many colours as you like but I would use 2-4. I used red, yellow and blue for the meringues on top of the birthday cake.
  • Use 2 drops of gel food colouring per colour for bold, bright meringues or a single drop per colour for a lighter more subtle colour. I used two drops for the meringues in these pictures.


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RAINBOW MERINGUES


Makes 15 medium sized meringues


Rainbow meringue tutorial.



2 large egg whites, room temperature
100g castor sugar
small pinch of fine salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
gel food colouring

Step 1.) Preheat your oven to 120°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. 

Step 2.) Place the egg whites in a large bowl. Whisk until stiff peaks form when the beater is lifted. Add the castor sugar one tablespoonful at a time, whisking well between each addition. The mixture should have a smooth texture, not grainy. Whisk in the salt and vanilla extract

Step 3.) Place a drop or two (see cook’s notes above) of gel food colouring inside the piping bag near the nozzle. Use a skewer to scrape the drop up the side of the piping bag, i.e. the bag should have streaks of colour running up the sides. Spoon the meringue into the bag. 

Step 4.) Pipe the meringues onto the tray, allowing some space between for spreading. Bake for 1 hour. Switch the oven off, keep the oven closed and leave the meringues for a further hour. 

Step 5.) Allow the meringues to cool. Store in an airtight container. 





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Lemon Easter Cookies

Today’s post is a bit of holiday fun for the kiddies, and given world events over the past two weeks and particularly here in S.A. I think us adults could do with a bit of fun too! In all seriousness though, this is an exceptionally tasty cookie, with or without all the icing and trimmings, and you should definitely give this recipe a try these Easter holidays! 

Lemon sugar cookies that hold their shape.

Cookie decorating for kids.


My children had such fun cutting out and decorating these Easter cookies (as did I!). We used an oval cutter to make Easter egg shapes as well as a bunny cutter, but you could use circles or whatever shapes you have on hand. This dough holds its shape well during baking, just be sure not to skip the step where you chill it in the fridge.


Sugar cookies for kids.


When it comes to decorating the cookies the options are really quite endless. You can keep things super simple by serving the cookies just as they are or with a dusting of icing sugar, or go all out with icing, sprinkles and speckled eggs. You can see from my photos which option my little ones preferred! Here are a few ideas:
  • Dust the cookies with icing sugar just before serving.
  • Pipe royal icing around the edges and fill the middle with glacé icing.
  • Spoon a “puddle” of glacé icing into the middle of the cookie and top with speckled eggs.
  • Add 100’s and 1000’s, chocolate vermicelli or rainbow funfetti to the cookies while the icing is wet so that the sprinkles stick.
  • Flavour the glacé icing with lemon juice before drizzling over the cookies. 
  • Sandwich the cookies together with buttercream icing. There is a great recipe HERE


Bunny and Easter cookies.

Cook’s notes – keep an eye on the cookies when they are in the oven and adjust the baking time if necessary (i.e. small cookies will bake more quickly than very large ones). If you don’t have a piping bag for the royal icing simply use a small plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped off.

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LEMON EASTER COOKIES


Makes 28 (depending on cutter size)

Easter egg and bunny cookies for kids.

100g butter
100g castor sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
200g cake flour
½ tsp baking powder
cookie cutters 

To make royal icing:
1 large egg white, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar 
gel food colouring

To make glacé icing:
1 cup icing sugar
water
gel food colouring

To decorate:
assorted sprinkles, speckled eggs, chocolate chips, etc. 


Step 1.) Cream the butter and castor sugar together until combined and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla extract and lemon zest and mix in.

Step 2.) Add the flour and baking powder and mix. Use your hands to bring everything together into a dough. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Step 3.) Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 3-4mm on a lightly floured surface. Cut out your shapes and arrange them on the tray. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until golden around the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Step 4.) To make royal icing: whisk the egg white for a few seconds until foamy. Sift in half of the icing sugar and use an electric beater to mix until combined. Sift in the remaining icing sugar. Beat the mixture for 3-4 minutes until thick and glossy. Add a drop of two of gel food colouring, mix and spoon into a piping bag.

Step 5.) To make glacé icing: sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add a small amount of water and mix. Continue to add a little bit of water at a time until you have a thick icing. It should be runny enough to spread but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add a drop or two of gel food colouring and mix well.

Step 6.) Once the biscuits are completely cool decorate with the icings and sprinkles. Allow to dry before serving. 





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Mini chocolate and almond croissants

 Mini chocolate and almond croissants.

Hello foodies! I do hope the week has been treating you well, and if not hang in there as the weekend is just around the corner. And weekends mean brunch, and what is brunch without a few tasty pastries? I do love a good croissant every now and then, but did you know how easy it is to make them yourself? This week I am showing you how!

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