Saturday, October 10, 2015

No-Churn Amarula Ice Cream Cake with Malted Chocolate Balls

Maltesers, Whispers, Whoppers - malted chocolate puff balls have many names, but I have a special place for the ones we call Chuckles here in South Africa. Mainly because the 40g suggested portion size Woolies has placed on the packet makes me LOL. Do you know how much 40g is?! Not enough. 

This no-churn ice cream is AMAZING - what's not to love about it? 
It's got condensed milk - YES, Amarula - YES! Chocolate sauce - Yes! 
Chuckles - A million times yes! 

The most difficult part of making this cake is chopping the malty chocolate balls in half. Warning: they do NOT like being chopped - I had quite a few runners who tried to escape the wrath of my knife. They of course didn't escape the wrath of being eaten though! Mwahaha. 

Note: I give an amount of malty chocolate balls in the ingredient list, but of course, you need to buy double - if you need to know why, then we can't be friends.

You may also leave out the Amarula; I would replace it with some Milo or hot chocolate powder (Nesquik!) dissolved in a bit of milk. I poured my ice cream mix into a fancy silicone bundt mould, but let's be honest here, no one will actually care what it looks like once they taste it because all you REALLY need is a spoon!

No-Churn Amarula Ice Cream Cake with Malted Chocolate Balls
Serves 6-8

600ml fresh cream
60ml (1/4 cup) Amarula (optional: use Milo or Hot Chocolate mixed in 60ml milk)
1/2 (400g) tin condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
100g malted chocolate puffs, halved plus extra to decorate 

Amarula Chocolate Sauce
55g dark chocolate, chopped
60ml cream
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp Amarula
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whip the cream until stiff peaks then add the Amarula and whip until combined.
Fold the condensed milk, vanilla and chocolate into the whipped cream. 
Pour into a lined cake tin or silicone mould, sprinkling in the halved chocolate malt puffs as you go. Freeze for 4-5 hours (or overnight) until firm. 
To make the sauce, place all the ingredients in a jug and microwave until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly. 
Unmould the ice ceam cake by briefly dipping into water and unmould it onto a chilled plate. Serve drizzled with the sauce and sprinkled with the malt puffs. 


Neapolitan Ice Cream Cake                              

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Demerara Toffee Fudge Bars with White Chocolate and Sea salt

Should I even bother typing an intro to this? I mean, with a title like that, I know you’re already thinking ‘Get in mah belleh!!!’ and working out how you can get to the shops and back in the quickest amount of time. I’m thinking it too. ‘Cos I know how flipping amazing these are!

For those of you still reading, let me break it down for you: cocoa shortbread, slapped with a thick layer of fudge, slathered with white chocolate and sprinkled with salt flakes. Jip, that’s fat on top of sugar, on top of butter (somewhere a dietician just quit her job cos she discovered what I do for a living… awkward!). BUT the key here is that it’s not just any sugar - it’s scrummalicious sugar (there are just too few food adjectives out there okay - inventing my own starting now).

I’ve used the crunchy caramelly Natura Demerara sugars for the job (Demerara sugars is crystallized from the first press of sugarcane juice). The Light Demerara is perfect for shortbread - the texture is fine (like wiggling your toes in beach sand!) so it dissolves while baking but still adds flavour. The Dark Demerara has gorgeous amber crystals (so pretty I used them as decoration on top of the white chocolate) which are perfect 
for making a kick-ass caramel fudge. I’ve realised that sugar is so much more than 
just adding sweetness and using proper unrefined sugar will add heaps of 
flavour to your baking!

In my opinion, the best part, is the sexy off-cuts! I pretty much spent the entire morning munching on them while shooting - don’t think for a second they made it back into any sort of storage container (what is this ‘storage container’ you speak of? What is it used for?!). 
Well, now my camera is covered in fudge… Wait, my camera is covered in fudge!

Now, go bake yourself happy while I contemplate whether licking my camera is socially acceptable…

P.S. This is what was left of the batch:

Demerara Fudge Bars with White Chocolate and Sea salt
Makes 16-20

Shortbread base
150g cake flour
30g cocoa powder
130g butter, cut into blocks

Demerara Filling
130g milk powder (full-fat if possible)
150g Light Demerara Sugar
210g salted butter
160ml boiling water

200g white chocolate, melted
Sea salt flakes
Dark Demerara Sugar, for sprinkling

Grease and line a 20 x 20cm baking tray with baking paper. 
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 if you’re using a fan-forced oven).
Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar and butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until it forms a soft dough. Alternately, get your fingers dirty and rub all the ingredients together until well combined. 
Press the dough into the prepared baking tin and prick the base with a fork. 
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool completely. 
To make the Demerara fudge layer, place all the ingredients in a  blender and blend for 1-2 minutes or until smooth and combined. Pour into a saucepan and stir continuously over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. 
Bring to the boil and cook until the mixture turns golden brown and reaches soft ball stage (118C on a sugar thermometer). To test if it’s ready, drop a small amount into a small cup filled with tap water, it should form a soft, pliable ball. Remove from the heat and immediately pour over the shortbread. Allow to cool completely. 

Spread the melted white chocolate over the top of the toffee then sprinkle with a little sea salt and the Demerara sugar. Allow to set then cut into bars using a hot knife. 

Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by Natura Sugars who produce a range of really special sugars that are unrefined and made according to traditional Mauritian sugar-making techniques. The sugars are non-GM, non-irradiated and unbleached with no preservatives, colourants or syrups added which basically means they are pure, natural and packed with flavour! 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Heritage Almond Cake

 I don't know much about my great grandmother, Beatrice Versfeld except that her and my great grandfather, Alexander lived and farmed on the now wine-growing estate of Groote Post in Darling. It's where my grandfather and my mother also grew up. Judging from my genes, I've always thought it safe to assume that she was an excellent baker. 'Cos, well all the woman (on my mom's side of the family) are! Well, that was an assumption until I found the Cape's very first cookbook written by Hildegonda Duckitt amongst my Great Aunt's things the other day. 

You'll notice that, for a cookbook, it is suspiciously spotless - mainly because it came from my dad's side of the family ;)
The author, Hildegonda Duckitt also grew up on Groote Post (with my great grandmother) and is credited as being the first collector of typically South African recipes - Dutch, English, German, East Indian and Malay - which she started collecting in her teen years from servants and then later from the high society groups in which she moved. Basically, this book contains the who's-who of excellent bakers and cooks from the 1850's. And guess who I found... On the very first page in the 'cakes' chapter too!

Turns out my great grandmother's almond cake was legendary in the Cape. Not just legendary, but Hildagonda penned a 'very good' next to it too. 
Now, these recipes are so old that most of them indicate cooking on an open fire and there are a few that use a 'plateful' of flour as a measurement! (The ex-pastry chef in me gasps in horror!)

Mrs Versfeld's Old Dutch Almond Cake calls for one pound of loaf sugar - don't worry, I also asked what the heck is loaf sugar?! Turns out in the 19th century, sugar was sold in cones called 'sugar loaves' to ensure it's quality and weight, as it was such an expensive ingredient. To use it, you'd need sugar nips (tongs) to break off lumps which were then ground down to a finer consistency. 

Can you imagine grinding sugar like this for any of my recipes?
You'd be in the kitchen for days!
Great Granny Beatrice would turn in her grave if she saw how much of this 'expensive' sugar I use each week but I don't think she'd mind that I added my own touches to her beloved recipe. A few inky raspberries, a touch of lemon zest and a sprinkling of flaked almonds was it. This cake is light but moist and gets even better after a few days. 
The method is seriously on the vague side - something I noticed to be a trend in this book. The assumption in those times was that everyone could bake, so most instructions are only 3-4 sentences long. This cake, for instance, doesn't even explain that you need to whip the egg whites... Because, I mean, duh! 

Do you have any treasured family recipes? Why not dig them up and bake something truly special (rather than braaing - bleh) this Heritage Day 24 September. 

Great Granny Beatrice's Almond Cake
Serves 8-10

50g flaked almonds
5 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g ground almonds
80ml (1/3 cup) crushed plain biscuits (about 6 biscuits) - I used Marie Biscuits
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup frozen raspberries (optional), dusted in flour
Natura icing sugar, for dusting

Line a 18-20cm springform cake tin with baking paper then sprinkle half the almonds on the bottom. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius (160 degrees for a fan-forced oven).
Whip the egg yolks with 200g of the sugar and the vanilla with an electric or stand mixer until very pale, thick and light. 
In a clean, seperate bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peak stage, then gradually add the remaining 50g of sugar until thick and glossy. 
Combine the ground almonds, biscuits, and lemon zest and fold into the whipped egg yolks alternately with the whipped egg whites. 
Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin then press the flour-dusted raspberries into the batter. Sprinkle with the remaining flaked almonds over the top and bake in the preheated oven for an hour and a half until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before unmoulding. 
Serve with a dollop of softly whipped cream and a dusting of icing sugar. 


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Muscovado Drizzle Cake with Pecan Nuts and Cream Cheese Frosting

I thought it was about time for another epic cake. There have been a few, this one, oooh and this one, and definitely this one

If I could, I would just create OMG cakes all day long, but then they wouldn't be special, right? And boy is this one special. See how many words are in the title? Life tip: when you see a cake with THAT many delicious things in it's name, you know it's going to be gooooooood. Just look at it... *moment of silence, please*

A cake this beautiful always has a muse and my muse for this one was real, proper Muscovado sugar. 

Dark Muscovado sugar has a more intense molasses flavour than it's Light counterpart
I've only recently discovered the world of proper unrefined sugar. Until now, I've kind of just thought that sugar is well, sugar; although it comes in different forms which can alter the texture of baked goodies it really just adds sweetness, not flavour. 
That was until I spotted a new Dark Muscovado sugar made in Mauritius by a brand called Natura Sugars. I brought it home, and ended up eating it straight out the bag, with a spoon. It is THAT good. Rich, dark, complex and dusky. 

Remember when you discovered proper dark chocolate for the first time? This is like that. The real friggin' deal. A total game-changer.

My general motto in life, is that if something tastes good on a spoon, it automatically tastes good in anything else. And this cake once again, proves my hypothesis (woah big word alert). The sugar takes it to a whole different level. 

FYI 'Muscovado' means 'unrefined' in Spanish - although in Spanish they say 'Mascabado' - and Muscovado sugar was first crafted in Latin America several centuries ago. 

 So, with my muse selected, I set out to create a cake to show off all the complex flavours of dark and light Muscovado sugar. Spices. Pecan nuts. Butter (always butter). A bit of cream cheese - okay, a lot of cream cheese,  and, of course, there had to be a Muscovado glaze; drippy cake glazes are, like, so in right now. 

Sorry, but it's hard to care about cake decorating trends when you know the cake is so delicious it's not going to last long enough to be Instagrammed! ;) 

Muscovado Cake with Pecans, Cream Cheese Frosting and Muscovado Glaze
Serves 8-10

4 large eggs
120ml buttermilk
120g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
280g cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
100g pecan nuts, finely chopped

Cream Cheese Frosting
100g butter, softened
250g full fat cream cheese*

Muscovado Glaze
50g Light Muscovado Sugar
50g Dark Muscovado Sugar
75g butter
125ml cream

To Serve
Crushed shortbread (I used chocolate-coated shortbread balls too)
Candied pecan nuts, crushed
Pecan praline shards (see Tip)

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius.
Grease and line 4 x 20cm sandwich cake tins (or use two and slice the cake in half)
In a stand mixer, whip the eggs and sugar until very light (almost white), thick and fluffy. 
In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. 
Pour this mixture into the egg mixture.
Sift together the remaining dry ingredients and fold into the creamed mixture along with the chopped pecan nuts.
Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the sponge is golden brown on top and bounces back when pressed lightly. 
Allow the cakes to cool completely, upside down, before unmoulding. 

For the frosting, cream the butter, Muscovado and Demerara Icing sugar until light and very fluffy. Add the cream cheese and whip until very fluffy. 

To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until dissolved. Then bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute then set aside and allow to cool. 

Assemble the cake by layering the cake with the cream cheese frosting. To make layering easier, freeze the layers for 20-30 minutes before you begin assembling, this will make the cake more rigid and keep the frosting in place. Frost the sides of the cake, drizzle with the glaze, then decorate with pecan nuts, shortbread and extra frosting piped on top.

TIP: If you'd like to create the pecan shards, place 1 cup of light Muscovado sugar in a saucepan with 1 tbsp water and simmer until melted and caramelized. Pour over a handful of pecan nuts scattered on a greased and lined baking tray. Allow to cool completely then break into shards. I also crushed some to toss onto the side of the cake. 

*This post has been sponsored by Natura Sugars who produce a range of really special sugars that are unrefined and made according to traditional Mauritian sugar-making techniques. The sugars are non-GM, non-irradiated and unbleached with no preservatives, colourants or syrups added which basically means they are pure, natural and packed with flavour! 
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

You see that nibbled cookie there in the back? Now let me tell you something about food stylists, most of them would carefully break off a piece of said cookie to look like someone had taken a bite out of it, they would then meticulously arrange the crumbs with tweezers to look like they accidentally tumbled from the cookie. Er, yeah... that's totally what I did... JOKES! 

Are you kidding me?! The best way to make a cookie LOOK like it's had a big bite taken out of it is to TAKE A BITE OUT OF IT. And also, I ate a ton of these cookies while shooting them. The batch didn't make 9, I just ate so many that there were only 9 left...

 Oh you want to know about the cookie? Of course you do! Because you want to eat way too many like I did. That's why you're here!
This recipe is my twist on Christina Tosi's childhood chocolate chip cookie. 
Christina Tosi, incase you don't know, is the sweet genius behind Momofuko Milk Bar in the US. I haven't met her, but I just know we would be baking besties. 

For me, the perfect chocolate chip cookie has firstly, more chocolate chips than cookie and secondly, is crispy on the outside but chewy in the middle. This is ALL of those things!  Chris (my baking bestie) uses milk powder in her recipe, I swapped mine for Horlicks (because I basically keep them in business with my addiction) and I revved up the chocolate chips. And I really mean revved, because I used three kinds; white, caramel and milk chocolate. Good things always come in three's, people. 

Also, imagine Astro's or Smarties in these? Or Chuckles?

Now, go forth and bake cookies!

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe inspired by Christina Tosi
Makes 24

225g butter, melted (still warm but not hot)
1 cup packed Natura Light Demerara Sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 tbsp Horlicks (malted milk drink) or milk powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
360g chopped chocolate or chocolate chips*

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celcius. 
Mix together the butter and sugar for 1 minute or until well combined. 
Beat in the egg and vanilla for another minute. 
Mix in the flour, milk powder, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda until just combined. Add the chocolate bits and mix again. 
Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto lined baking sheets ad bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. 
I'm not going to even bother telling you how to store them because there won't be any left to store. 

*TIP: Chopped chocolate is much better than choc chips, in my opinion. We're looking for ooze here, and choc chips are way too stabilized. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Microwave Double Chocolate Lamingtons

This chocolate cake recipe is legendary in the Williams household. 
It was the first thing I learnt to bake, probably the only reason we owned a microwave and definitely one of the last things I want to eat on this earth.
 The sponge is light as a feather and has been layered into birthday cakes, baked into a bundt and glazed with chocolate icing for bible studies, and poured into slabs and topped with swirls of tinned caramel for school fundraisers. It can be a cupcake, a swiss roll - and now, a lamington!

Start to finish? These lamingtons will take you 30 minutes flat (if that). 
Or your money back. Jokes! But seriously, just chuck everything in a bowl. 
Whisk. Microwave. Dip. Roll. Eat. Repeat. (The eating part, that is)

The recipe is really so easy that I've memorised it. Which is pretty handy, you know for cake emergencies and all.

I've made mine pretty ('cos I love pretty things - yes, even my lamingtons) by baking them in heart-shaped silicone moulds which you can buy super-cheap nowadays but you can simply bake the batter in a silicone muffin tray, or a microwave-safe dish and then cut them out with cutters or keep them in blocks. 

These are the classic lamington flavour (chocolate and coconut) but I will mention that my intention was to give them a tart twist by stuffing the insides with a raspberry sauce.  But I was craving the classic and they tasted just too darn good on their own. You can be more creative than I was and sandwich the cake together with jam, or caramel(!) or flavour the dipping glaze with coffee or liqueuer. 

You know what the only problem is with making a recipe from memory though? There's a very real possibility of leaving an ingredient out, say for instance, the sugar. Which I totally did! And yes, I flop recipes too. All the bloody time. And on that bombshell... go make these! Now! Just make sure to add the sugar ;)

Microwave Chocolate Lamingtons
Makes 18-20

1 cup (250ml) cake flour
1 cup (250ml) caster sugar
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
4 tsp (20ml) baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup (250ml) hot water
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract

Chocolate glaze
60g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (60ml) cream
2 tbsp (30ml) golden syrup or honey
1/4 cup (60ml) hot water

Toasted desiccated coconut, for tossing

Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth. 

Divide the batter between silicone heart moulds (or whichever you desire) sprayed with cooking spray - don't fill more than halfway as the cake mix expands quite a bit. 
Now pop the moulds into the microwave and microwave on full power/high for 2-3 minutes or until the cake springs back when you touch it in. 
Remove from the microwave and allow to cool slightly before unmoulding. 
Continue with the rest of the batter. 

TIP If your silicone tray doesn't fit in your microwave (mine didn't), cut it in half - the cakes will cook more evenly too. 

While the cakes are cooling, make the glaze by placing all the ingredients in a small microwave safe bowl and heat gently until melted and glossy. Allow to cool. 

When the cakes and glaze are completely cool, use a pastry brush to paint the glaze onto the cakes then toss in the toasted coconut. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Caramel Creme Horns

I remember the first time I had to make puff pastry at chef school. Actually, I'm surprised I remember it - what with our brains blocking out horrific events and all. 
No other pastry has a more appropriate name than puff;  you spend what feels like hours just hanging around waiting (for the butter to chill in the fridge), and then there's lots of huffing and puffing as you frantically roll and fold that pastry before that same butter melts. Then the waiting. Then the puffing. And repeat. I mean, it's just a nightmare, and probably the only time butter is annoying. Ever. But, you only have to make puff pastry once to come to the same conclusion I did:

Life is too short to make your own puff pastry. 

Let's add a star thingy to that statement and include phyllo pastry in there too, shall we? Don't even bother trying to make your own paper-thin phyllo pastry. It will end in tears. And tears. Gosh, English is weird. 

But I digress, back to puff pastry. The pastry that won the butter lottery. 
I've had this old box of cream horn moulds for ages which I was given by my Great Aunt and have been desperately wanting to bake a batch. Except, are they still a thing?

Whatever happened to cream horns? They seem terribly out of date these days, but why? Whoever is doing the PR for them, is doing a shoddy job. Doughnuts - still trendy. Pavlova - still trendy. Tarts - still trendy. How can puff pastry and whipped cream be OLD-FASHIONED?! Well, I'm resurrecting them. With a boozy caramel cream that will knock your socks off. I reckon a tiramisu filling (the one I used in my eclairs here) would be mind-blowing too. And before you tell me you need cream horn moulds, you don't - simply cover ice cream cones in foil. The only thing difficult about making these, is figuring out how to eat them gracefully. 

Caramel Cream Horns
Makes 10-12

1 x 400g packet ready-made puff pastry (I used Today's)
Milk, for brushing
White sugar, for sprinkling
1/2 cup (125ml) cream
2 tsp (10ml) almond liqueuer (optional)
1 tsp (5ml) caster sugar
1/2 tin (200g) caramel or dulce de leche (do I need to tell you what to do with the other half)
Icing sugar, for dusting 

Preheat your oven to 200C and grease or line a large baking sheet. 
Spray your cream horn moulds with cooking spray (if you don't have, simply wrap ice cream cones in foil and spray the outside). 

Start by unrolling the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. No need to roll it out with a rolling pin, it's just the right thickness for the cream horns. Less work - yay! Cut 1cm strips lengthwise from the puff pastry then starting at the tip of the horn, wrap the pastry around, making sure it overlaps slightly. Brush a little milk on the end to make sure it sticks then place it on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with more milk and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat until all the puff pastry is finished. 

Bake the horns for 20-25 minutes or until they're a lovely golden brown. Remove from the baking tray (or the sugar will make them stick) and allow to cool on a cooling rack. 

Make the filling by whipping the cream with the liqueuer and sugar until thick then place in a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. 
Whisk the caramel in a bowl until smooth. 

Fill the horns with a little (or a lot of) caramel then pipe the whipped cream on top - do this just before serving so they stay nice and crunchy. Don't forget the dusting of icing sugar!