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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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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Competition Time!

Delicious baked treats


Those of you who follow me on Instagram will have seen me raving about my latest favourite account – @josieluvslocal. Her passion for local products is inspiring! Jo and I are both crazy about Cape Town and supporting our local producers and have decided to team up for a fun (and delicious) giveaway for our Capetonian followers! 

One lucky follower will be spoiled with their choice of treats from CupcakesandCouscous.com, yum! Keep an eye on the @josieluvslocal Instagram account where every day this week she will be posting another delicious treat. Give us a follow, tag your friends and you could be our winner. Too easy y’all. 

So remember, local is lekker… and good luck! 


The T’s and C’s: 

  • Competition starts Monday 27 March and closes midnight on Friday 31 March. 
  • Entrants must be Cape Town residents (our treats probably won’t fare well in the post!). 
  • Prize will be hand delivered to the winner on an agreed date. 
  • The winner may choose one treat from the nine that are featured on Instagram during the course of the competition. 
  • The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Saturday 1 April.
Tasty tea time treats

Orange and apricot jam squares

Orange and apricot jam squares.

Ever had one of those weeks when you feel as though you are having to put up with a lot of nonsense? Well, I feel as though I am there at the moment, and to combat that I am sharing my recipe for good old fashioned no nonsense jam squares. A classic but a goodie. Enough said.

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Ten Fabulous Edible Christmas Gift Ideas

Edible gift ideas for Christmas.

Happy Friday! Christmas is just around the corner (eek!) and if the thought of hitting the shopping malls this weekend fills you with dread then this post is just for you. 


Personally, I love getting edible foodie gifts. But more than that, I love making and giving foodie gifts. Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a parcel of delicious goodies that have been beautifully packaged and made with love? So today I have rounded up some of my most popular gifting recipes that I am sure you and your specials will love too. And without further ado, here they are:


A recent feature on the blog, this robust cookie dough retains its shape well during baking. Use it to make cute edible decorations for the tree or fill a jar with cookies for a loved one.

Edible Christmas tree decorations.
A jar of ginger biscuits.

These scrumptious crunchies can be whipped up quickly and easily. Dried cranberries and white chocolate give them a festive feel and make them even more irresistible. 

A tin of cranberry and white chocolate crunchies.

The chocoholics in your life will love you for this! I’ll let the picture do the talking…

Fruit and nut chocolate fudge.

Warning – these are incredibly moreish, you won’t be able to stop after a few! Ideal for edible gifting or for festive snacking. 

Spiced caramelised pecan nuts.


Cheese! Need I say more? You definitely need a plate of these nibbles on the table when friends pop in these holidays, or in your picnic basket. Or take them to your next get together as a gift for the host. Made with cheddar cheese, parmesan and a dash of rosemary… so good!

Cheese and rosemary stars.


If these don’t win you any brownie points this holiday season then nothing will. Pop a few truffles in a beautiful tin, and you have an elegant gift that is sure to impress. 

Salted caramel chocolate truffles.

Cut into squares or wrapped in bars, this nougat makes a heavenly sweet stocking filler. 

Pecan, almond and honey nougat.

Woah there, you’ll need to get the stretchy pants out for this one. Studded with caramels, shortbread, nuts and cranberries this popular recipe is guaranteed to be a hit with the lucky recipient. 

Christmas rocky road.

I almost always make a batch of this sauce over the holidays. This versatile sauce is the perfect partner for ice cream, pancakes and waffles.  

Salted caramel sauce in a jar.

These decadent spiced cookies really do taste like Christmas (think cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves), and look the part dusted with cinnamon icing sugar. 

Spiced dark chocolate cookies.

But wait, there’s more! Here are some stunning ideas from a few of my favourite local foodies:

Rum and raisin chocolate salami by Di Bibby (Bibby’s Kitchen @Thirty Six)

Sugar free meringues by Tandy Sinclair (Lavender and Lime)

Baharat by Tandy Sinclair (Lavender and Lime)

Marshmallows with salted lime sugar by Hein van Tonder (Heinstirred)

Melting moments with cinnamon buttercream filling by Anina Meyer (Anina’s Recipes)

Homemade rose turkish delight by Katelyn Williams (The Kate Tin)

Festive cookies by Tami Magnin (Rumtumtiggs)

Coffee flavoured coconut ice by Suné Moolman (Add Some Butter)





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Christmas Biscuit Tree

Spiced Christmas reindeer and star cookies.
This week the nostalgic mood continues with another family inspired recipe. When it comes to food there is no question that baking is my first love, and when I think back to my earliest baking memories I am always reminded of childhood Christmases. The much anticipated, long December school holidays that felt like they went on forever were the perfect time for sun drenched afternoons in the pool and fun with friends, but a real highlight for me would be the Christmas baking. Each year I looked forward to making mince pies, biscuits and the decorating of the Christmas cake which my mum would have baked a few weeks earlier using my grandmother’s recipe. (And still does!) 

Christmas ginger cookies.


Another favourite end of year tradition was our Christmas biscuit tree, and it was always a hit with holiday visitors. My mum would hang colourfully decorated biscuits from a branch that she had cut down and painted, and when friends came to visit the children were allowed to choose one each. This tradition fell away as we got older, but last year it was revived for my children who, naturally, were all too keen on the idea. 


Christmas cookies to hang on the tree.


This is a lovely and fun treat for the little ones at Christmas and you can use this recipe to make your own biscuits at home. Get them involved and make the biscuits together, it is a fabulous holiday project to keep them occupied. 


Star cookies to hang on the Christmas tree.


If organising a branch seems like too much hassle you could also hang the biscuits on your Christmas tree, or simply pop them on a plate for tea time. And if you are baking for a crowd the simply double the recipe for an extra large batch of biscuits. They also make a great gift! 


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CHRISTMAS BISCUIT TREE

Makes about 25 biscuits, depending on size of cookie cutters

Christmas cookies that you can hang on the tree.


100g butter

3/4 cup treacle sugar

1 large egg
1 1/4 cups flour + extra for dusting
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
assorted Christmas cookie cutters

For the icing:

1 egg white

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

1 tbsp water
assorted decorations such as silver balls, glitter, fondant icing, gold dust, etc. 
silver thread
tree branch for hanging


Step 1.) Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a tray with baking paper. 

Step 2.) Cream the butter and treacle sugar until fluffy and combined. Mix in the egg.

Step 3.) Sift in the flourcinnamonclovesgingersalt and baking powder. Mix until the ingredients come together and form a dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

Step 4.) Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 3mm. Cut out your shapes and arrange them on the baking tray. Use a skewer to make a hole at the top of each biscuit. 


Step 5.) Pop the tray in the oven and bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely. 


Step 6.) To make the icing: whisk the egg white for a few seconds until foamy. Sift in 1 cup of icing sugar and beat in. Sift in the remaining icing sugar. Add the water and mix well. If the icing is too thick add more water a few drops at a time. The icing should have a soft, piping consistency but not be too runny.

Step 7.) Pipe or drizzle the icing over the biscuits. Decorate and leave to dry. Once the icing has set tie the thread through the holes and hang the biscuits on the tree. 



Christmas cookie tree.










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Almond Tart

Blocks of almond tart dusted with icing sugar.


Making these cookies is rather like going back in time for me! This is one of my mother’s recipes that my family have enjoyed for as long as I can remember. (Even now, if you were to have a peek in her biscuit tin there is a good chance you would find some of these inside.) There was often a block of almond tart tucked in my lunchbox or gobbled up as an afternoon treat after school.


Aerial photo of almond cookies with icing sugar.


This recipe comes from my ebook “Cookie Jar”. If you have not downloaded it yet please do! It has some of my favourite cookie recipes and I just know there will be something in there that you will love.


Almond tart squares.



An oldie but a goodie, this almond tart is dense, soft and perfect with a cup of tea. Although right now I am feeling like there is simply no time for tea breaks – it’s December tomorrow (when did that happen?) and it feels as though there is still so much to do before the end of the year! The good news is that I have lots of delicious Christmas recipes and foodie gifting ideas to inspire you these holidays, so be sure to keep checking in for those. In the meantime, happy baking!

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ALMOND TART


Makes 24 squares

Blocks of almond tart cookies dusted with icing sugar.




220g butter, softened
180g castor sugar
80g marzipan, grated
1 large egg
1 ¼ tsp almond essence
300g flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt


Step 1.) Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 25 x 15cm baking tin and line the base with paper. 

Step 2.) Cream the butter and sugar together until combined. Mix in the marzipan.

Step 3.) Add the egg and almond essence and mix to combine. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until everything comes together.

Step 4.) Gently press the dough into the baking tin. Use a fork to mark lines on the surface of the dough down the length of the pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting into squares.

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A Train Party

Train cake with buttercream icing and fondant.
October was a rather hectic but very exciting month here at Cupcakes and Couscous HQ. Chaos continued to reign on the home front as renovations went on (we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, hooray!), my sister visited us from the U.K (double hooray!) and we had a couple of special family birthdays – my Dad, and my youngest James who turned two. He is completely obsessed with all things train related and so it was a no brainer as to what his party theme would be. I thought that this week I would share a few snaps from the day, perhaps they will give you a few ideas if you have a train party coming up.

Platform 2 birthday crossing sign.


The decor was heavily inspired by a couple of pics I saw on good old Pinterest. There were tons of train party related pins as you can imagine, such fantastic ideas that I probably would not have thought of myself. I went for a blue and green colour scheme and chose the following ideas:
  • the snacks were served in a train. I painted disposable foil oven trays with blue and green craft paint, stuck black paper circles on the sides for wheels and strung them together with twine. I then used old cardboard boxes to make a train to go at the front (decorated in blue and green of course), lined the carriages with blue and green tissue paper and filled them up with delicious eats. 
  • a cardboard “birthday crossing” sign with paper lights underneath, and another sign that said “Platform 2”. 
  • “Thanks for chugging by” party packs displayed in an open suitcase marked “Baggage Claim”. 
  • the children played pass-the-parcel with train songs as the music. 
  • A train craft where the children could glue their own train pictures using shapes that I had pre-cut and cotton wool. (Apologies for the terrible photo!)

Food and decor ideas for a train party.


For the food I served a selection of nibbles – fruit and bran muffins, pretzels, crudités, train shaped sugar cookies, fresh fruit, cheese and train crossing biscuits made out of wafer biscuits. It looked rather sweet served up in the train carriages.


Cookie ideas for a train party.
Cookie ideas for a train party.


The main event of course, was the cake. I decided to make a simple round cake decorated with fondant cut outs and topped with a fondant train cake topper. It worked out great as I was able to make all of the fondant goodies a few days ahead of the party (less stress on the day!). I baked the cakes the day before the party, then on the morning of the big day I simply whipped up a batch of icing, iced the cake and popped all the decorations on.


How to make a fondant train cake topper.

Easy fondant train cake topper.


Here are a few more details on how I put the cake together:
  • I baked two 22cm vanilla cakes. I levelled off the bottom cake to make it easier to stack the other on on top, but I left the top one rounded to give it a “hilly” appearance. 
  • The cake was iced with a thin layer of pale blue buttercream icing. 
  • When it came to making the fondant train I referred to this easy tutorial, adding my own touches here and there. 
  • I also used fondant to make the train tracks (I used a sharp knife to score lines into them to give them a more woody look), clouds, “tunnels” with rocks around them, apple trees and hills. 
  • I finished the cake off by piping a little bit of green buttercream icing around the base to look like grass. 

Train cake.


If you have a train party planned for your little one then hopefully this has given you a bit of inspiration. If you have hosted a train party lately I would love to hear about it! 

Snacks for a train party.

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