Monday, November 10, 2014

Neapolitan Ice Cream Cake

They say you can't buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream. And that's sort of the same thing isn't it?! Well how about buying the ingredients to create this spectacular show-stopper of a beauty guaranteed to bring you happiness. This ice cream cake is so ridiculous easy to make I should be embarrassed for even sharing it. But I'm not. 

This recipe combines two of my childhood memories; I'm sure I'm not the only one to remember licking melted dribbles of artificially-flavoured strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ice cream off my fingers. And of course, the ice cream had to be served in those hideous pink cones! 
The other childhood memory is trips to Milky Lane for soft serve - which meant an award for best parents for mom and dad!  I would sit and swoon over the intricate ice cream cakes that were made to order - if you managed to score a Milky Lane ice cream cake for your birthday party then you were the luckiest kid ever. 

 Despite the kitsch-ness that we associate with Neopolitan ice cream, it actually has a far more dignified history. Invented in Italy (Naples to be exact) it was apparently first made up of the colours of the Italian flag - pistachio, vanilla and cherry! Over time, pistachio and cherry (sadly!) got ditched for the more popular chocolate and strawberry. I've subbed the chocolate layer for a brownie base but if that's too much effort, then go for chocolate cake, crushed chocolate biscuits or even just good ol' chocolate ice cream!

Serves 10-12

300g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
150g unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla
150g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
75g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt

1L vanilla ice cream, softened
1L raspberry, strawberry or mixed berry sorbet, softened
Chocolate sauce, to decorate
Fresh raspberries, frozen, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Line a 20cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.
For the brownie base, melt 200g chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla together in a heatproof bowl, set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the surface of the water does not touch the bowl. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, then leave to cool for a few minutes.
Beat in the eggs, then sift in the flour, cocoa and salt and fold in until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Stir in the remaining chocolate. 
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the top starts to crack but the centre remains gooey.
Turn off the oven and leave the brownies inside for a further 5 minutes before removing.
Leave to cool completely in the tin. Loosen with a palette knife, clean the tin and place the brownie base back in the cake tin.
Spread over the softened sorbet and place in the freezer to set.
Top with softened vanilla ice cream and and freeze until set.
Remove from the mould, top with chocolate sauce and decorate with raspberries.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pretty Pink Coconut Ice & an Afternoon Tea Giveaway

Do you love cake as much as I do? Yes, I am aware that if you are reading this then then you're probably like 'well, duh, that's a silly question!' Although I don't think there is anyone out there that loves it as much as I do, but I'm willing to debate that so how about joining me at a high tea celebration in Cape Town next week so we can sit and chat about all things cake and sweet? Sound yummy? Yay!

Since October is breast cancer awareness month, one of you beautiful readers will get the chance to join me at a Cuppa for CANSA tea party at the Table Bay Hotel next week Thursday 23 October 2014 at 14h30 hosted by Vicki Sleet of  Le Creuset have sponsored a variety of their gorgeous goodies to give away on the day as well.

TO ENTER: Tell me, in the comments below, if you were a sweet treat, what would you be and why? 
*The winner will be announced on Friday 17 October 2014

Cuppa for CANSA is a lovely cause - you basically host a tea party, your guests make a donation and the proceeds go to CANSA where the funds are used to support those fighting cancer. Take pictures of your tea party, upload them to Le Creuset's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts using the hashtag #cuppaforcansa and you're automatically entered into a R10 000 draw to win a Le Creuset hamper! What a fun and delicious way to help others! If you're keen to host your own, then visit the Cuppa for CANSA website for details. 

If all this talk of afternoon tea has given you a craving, then here's a recipe for my favourite pink sweet treat, coconut ice. It's an oldie but a goodie!

Coconut Ice
Makes 20

500ml (2 cups) white sugar
pinch of salt 
150ml milk
1ml pinch of cream tartar
12,5ml golden syrup or glucose syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
500ml (2 cups) desiccated coconut
Pink food colouring

Line a 20cm square baking dish with nonstick paper. Combine the sugar, salt, milk, cream of tartar and syrup and stir over a low heat until dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer until the syrup reaches soft ball stage or 118 degrees celcius. If you don't have a thermometer, drop a little syrup into a teacup of cold water. It should immediately form a soft, pliable ball. Remove the syrup from the heat and add the vanilla and coconut. Press half the mixture into the lined baking tray then colour the rest of the mixture pink and place on top of the white layer. Gently mark with a knife and allow to cool and set completely. Once set, cut into blocks then store in an airtight container. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dark Chocolate and Coconut Ganache cake (Gluten and Dairy-free)

 Gluten-free, dairy-free, fat-free... these are not terms that you will often find me using. In my opinion, anything that ends in '-free' might as well begin with 'fun'. Fun-free desserts just don't do it for me, but, with that said, I think everyone deserves the right to eat a slice of chocolate cake. And if your body has issues with dairy and gluten, then that should not stop you! 

This recipe was given to me by my much-better-half who is a supremely better pastry chef than I am. It is the darkest, richest, moistest chocolate cake you will ever have the pleasure of tasting. It's also low on sugar (excuse me swearing like this, but you could even use ahem... xylitol which would make it Paleo or banting or whatever diet people are going on these days). But because there is no place for sugar-free desserts on this blog, my version will feature in all it's sugary glory. 

If you're not a fan of coconut, then swop out the coconut flour and milk for extra ground almonds and almond milk, although you'll need to add some more oil as almond milk isn't nearly as fatty as coconut milk. If you want a sweeter cake, simply add more sugar or honey but the bitter chocolate is really quite delicious!

Dark chocolate coconut ganache cake

For the cake:
75g coconut flour
30g ground almonds
120g cocoa powder
14g baking powder
250g muscovado sugar
800ml coconut milk
7 eggs

For the ganache:
200ml coconut milk
60g brown sugar
120g cocoa powder
50g dark chocolate, chopped

Coconut shavings, toasted, to garnish

Combine the flour, almonds, cocoa, baking powder and sugar.
Mix together the coconut milk and eggs and add to the dry ingredients.
Whisk well to combine then pour into a 2 greased and lined 15cm cake tins.
Bake in a preheated oven at 175C for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
For the frosting, combine the coconut milk, sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth then allow to cool.
Assemble the cake by sandwiching with the ganache then topping with remaining ganache. Sprinkle with the coconut shavings to decorate.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Caramel Peppermint Crisp Cake

 I heard someone once describe our beloved peppermint crisp tart as ‘a lazy version of Italian tiramisu’, which, once you get over the initial offence, is a pretty accurate description really. Four ingredients: Tennis biscuits (don’t even bother asking me if there is an alternative flavour of biscuit you can use because any South African will tell you there just isn’t), tinned caramel (if you’re feeling fancy, boiling a tin of condensed milk will make it ‘gourmet’), whipped cream (well, if you want to be AUTHENTIC it should be that non-dairy Orley whip cream…) and of course the darling of South African chocolates, Peppermint Crisp (those shards of sticky peppermint covered in chocolate are pure bliss!).

I must be honest, I never grew up with peppermint crisp tart. It doesn’t conjure up memories of my grandmother serving it to me as a child, or my mom whipping up a pyrex dish of it for a church bazaar. The decadent dessert was completely left out of my childhood (my mom and I will have words about this!) but that hasn’t stopped me from cramming all the tart I missed out on as a child into my adult life!

I’ve given the dessert it’s fair share of makeovers - from ice cream sandwiches to milkshakes, but this cake is a serious showstopper! It’s not as sweet as it’s traditional counterpart due to the coconutty sponge cake layers in between and it will make a jaw-dropping end to a lekker braai!

Caramel Peppermint crisp cake
Serves 10-12

Recipe by Katelyn Williams
Adapted from Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days

120g butter, softened
400g castor sugar
360g cake flour
1½ tbsp baking powder
40g desiccated coconut, toasted
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1 tin (400ml) coconut milk

1 tin caramel
2 cups cream, whipped to stiff peaks
400g peppermint crisp chocolate, crushed

Mini Tennis biscuits , to garnish

Preheat the oven to 170C and line 3 x 20cm sandwich tins with baking paper.
Beat the butter, castor sugar, flour, baking powder, coconut and salt together on a low speed until a sandy texture forms. Whisk the eggs and coconut milk together in a jug then slowly add to the dry ingredients while the mixer is running, to form a batter. Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared tins and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean, and the cakes are golden. Allow to cool a little in the tin before turning out onto a cake rack. Trim the cooled cakes by levelling the tops then place one cake layer on a plate. Spread with caramel, whipped cream, peppermint crisp and crushed biscuits.  Continue layering finishing with the caramel, cream, peppermint crisp and the mini biscuits. Refrigerate for 1 hour to set then slice and serve.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Great Aunty May's Romany Creams

A few months ago I was entrusted with one of our family heirlooms - a tatty, splattered, literally falling-apart cookbook that belonged to my Great Aunty May. It fits perfectly into my bookshelf where it sits snuggly next to my grandmother's equally worn cookbook (as well as my mothers!). Such a serendipitous reunion seeing as though both books were lovingly penned by sisters. 

My three most treasured possessions: Mom, Great Aunty May, and my Grandmother's cookbooks. 
These are the books I turn to when inspiration is low, when my passion for baking wanes or if I simply need a moment to be close to these three amazing women. Each recipe, whether handwritten, torn out of a magazine, passed on from a friend, or even jotted on the back of a shopping list, has a story and sometimes I wish I knew where the recipe came from and what made it special enough to be incorporated into the family repertoire. 

I found this recipe for copy cat Romany Creams jammed into the back of Aunty May's book - written on a piece of notepad paper which had clearly been folded and refolded too many times. As it's become extremely trendy recently to recreate homemade versions of childhood favourites, Great Aunty May was truly ahead of her time and it's not the first time I have invented a recipe only to discover that Aunt May or my grandmother thought of it first! 

This is a truly moreish cookie - simple to make and delicious with a cup of tea! Best of all, it reminds me of the biscuit tin my best friend and I used to keep in our treehouse for tea parties; filled with romany creams bought with pocket money we saved! Thanks for the great recipe Aunty May!

Romany Creams
Makes about 20

250g butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 ½ cups desiccated coconut
2 cups cake flour
50ml cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
100g dark or milk chocolate, melted, to sandwich

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the coconut and sifted dry ingredients and mix to form a soft dough.
Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into 3cm sausages then place on a lined baking tray and flatten slightly with your fingers. Scratch the surface of the biscuits with a fork to create a rough texture.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 10-12 minutes or until firm.
Allow to cool then sandwich two biscuits together using the chocolate. Allow to set then store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lemon meringue cheesecake

I have a serious soft spot for lemon meringue pie but not because of the coconutty crust or the velvety smooth filling (made with condensed milk please!) or even the puffs of crispy-marshmallowy meringue that adorn the top. Nope, it's not because of any of those things. In fact it doesn't even have anything to do with the pie. It's because it's my dad's ultimate favourite dessert and that makes it special in our family. 

This version, made with a baked lemon cheesecake filling, combines the best of both pie and cheesecake worlds and the layer of tangy lemon curd that oozes out the bottom when you cut it, adds an extra heavenly dimension. And if you'd like to go to a little extra effort, I think cute little mini versions of this (made in ring moulds or even clean tins!) would make a memorable dessert! 

Lemon meringue cheesecake
Serves 10-12

400g biscuits, crushed
100g butter, melted
540g full fat cream cheese, softened
150g castor sugar
3 eggs
20ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup store-bought lemon curd (optional)
4 egg whites
120g castor sugar 

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line a 22cm springform cake tin with baking paper.
Combine biscuits and butter and press into the bottom and up the sides of the tin to form a crust.
Beat the cream cheese until soft and smooth then add the castor sugar, eggs, double cream, vanilla, juice and lemon zest. Spread a thin layer of lemon curd over the crust then pour in the cheesecake filling.
Whip the egg whites until soft peak stage then add the castor sugar gradually until the meringue is glossy and the sugar is dissolved.
Top the cheesecake with the meringue mixture, using a spoon to create soft peaks.
Bake for 1 hour then leave the door slightly ajar (or place a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it open), switch the oven off and allow the cheesecake to cool completely.
Refrigerate until set then serve.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Peanut Butter and Cocoa Nib Granola

Breakfast doesn't get any better than homemade designer granola. It's so darn easy to make and I love how you can tailor it to your own taste. If you've ever read the back label of a pack of muesli or granola, I won't need to tell you why you should be making your own. But incase you don't know, glance over the amount of sugar in your favourite so-called 'healthy' granola next time you're in the cereal aisle; you might as well be eating cake for breakfast - and let's be honest cake will ALWAYS win over granola!

 At least with making your own,  you can control just how much sugar is going in. Nothing is hidden in a sneaky back label.  You can add as much of the good stuff as you want and leave out all the stuff you don't like (here's looking at you raisins and banana chips!) 
If you’re not keen on peanut butter, then swop it out for any nut butter – cashew, almond; although it’s fat, it’s good fat. I wouldn't skimp on the cocoa nibs though, they are a fantastic source of antioxidants and really give you an energy kick first thing in the morning and basically it means you're eating chocolate for breakfast, but without the guilt! 

Peanut Butter and Cocoa Nib Granola
Makes 6 cups

3 cups large flake oats (not instant oats)
1 cup mixed seeds (flaxseeds, sesame, poppy and pumpkin - whatever your heart desires)
4 tbsp brown sugar (you can reduce this if you like)
pinch of salt
4 tbsp honey
4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
½ cup extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
2 tsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raw almonds, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup cocoa nibs*

Preheat the oven to 180C. In a large bowl, combine the oats, seeds, brown sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the honey, peanut butter, olive oil, water and vanilla together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well, making sure everything is coated well. Spread onto a lined baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring well every 5-10 minutes so the granola toasts evenly. Remove from the oven and stir in the almonds and cocoa nibs. Once completely cool, store in an airtight container.

*Cocoa nibs are available at health shops.