Thursday, December 26, 2013

Gingerbeer and naartjie slush

Hello summer holidays! I don't have to tell you what that means do I? Well, I will anyway. 
It means beach days and sunburn and sand stuck on your toes all day and  the smell of a braai being lit somewhere and warm sunshine on your face and salty skin and lazing by the pool and soft serve ice cream dripping on your fingers and balmy evenings and... We really do live in the best country don't we? 

Before I get all excited about the beautiful summer holiday we'll be having, I'm actually off to freezing Italy (yes, pity me please!). I've been so looking forward to being snowed on for the first time and eating chestnuts roasted on the fire, and consuming my bodyweight in pasta... Until of course it came to posting this recipe - the last one for 2013. It's just so summery and quite South African with it's naartjie and gingerbeer flavours (hope you didn't miss the Peppermint crisp tart milkshake a while back!). While I sip on this icy slush and ponder just how cold -2 degrees is, it will come as a welcome thirst quencher for the gloriously hot summer ahead. 

The gingerbeer and naartjie slush is so deliciously simple with just the right amount of tang, ginger kick and icy refreshment. It's the perfect drink to serve on a steamy day at a braai with friends or simply to sip on poolside. I've used my Zoku Slush & Shake maker again (everyone should have one of these this summer) to get it all icy and slushy, and okay, I'll be honest, I added a good glug of gin to mine - absolutely scrummy! 
Happy summer holidays - and soak up some sunshine for me will you? Cheers!

Ginger beer and naartjie slush
Serves 2 (if you're feeling generous enough to share)

1 ½ cups freshly squeezed naartjie juice, chilled
1 cup gingerbeer, chilled
Juice from ½ lime

Combine the naartjie juice, gingerbeer and lime and pour into the Zoku Slush & Shake maker. Stir every 60 seconds until thick. 

TIP: A shot of tequila or brandy poured in at the end, makes for a great cocktail!

*This post has been sponsored by the awesome people at Zoku who make an array of gadgets to whip up icy delights! Visit their website here or like the Facebook page for more yummy recipes. You can find the Slush & Shake makers at Boardmans, @Home and CNA stores or at my personal favourite,

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chocorons & Christmas mince pie macarons

A few weeks ago my pastry chef/chocolatier extraordinaire of a boyfriend came home one day waxing lyrical about the World Chocolate Championships and how an entrant had included chocorons in his breathtaking sculpture. He said (in his thick Sicilian accent), 'just watch, chocorons are going to be the next cronut'. Ja, ja, I said and carried on paging through my Donna Hay. Well, I'm eating humble pie now as the chocoron explosion has hit the streets of Paris. Apparently invented by Japanese pastry guru Sadaharu Aoki (although boyfriend claims he dipped macarons way before this), the chocoron is a macaron coated in a thick layer of chocolate. Just pure genius.

Hybrid pastries seem to be gaining more and more momentum and with the inspiration of the chocoron fresh in my mind, I set out to create my own, and so, I give to you, the Christmas mince pie chocoron. 
These little babies taste exactly like mince pies and are just so festive. Cover a few in chocolate, pop them in a box and you have an uber trendy gift (but only keep the chocolate covered beauties for those who were good this year!). 

Mince pie chocorons
Makes 20

120g sifted finely ground almonds
200g sifted icing sugar
1 tsp ground mixed spice
100g egg whites (from about 3 eggs), at room temperature
35g castor sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar

60g butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
¼ cup Amarula
Christmas fruit mince, to taste
Good-quality dark chocolate, for dipping

Line 2-3 baking sheets with silicone baking sheets. Sift together the ground almonds, icing sugar and mixed spice. Begin beating the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed. Once the egg whites are at soft peak stage, begin sprinkling in the sugar as you beat. Increase the speed to medium, if necessary, and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks. Add about 1/4 of the almond/sugar mixture and fold until no streaks remain. Continue to add the almond mixture in quarters, folding until incorporated. Pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a fluted nozzle and pipe rows of batter onto the baking sheets in even sizes, giving them space to spread. Tap the pan on the counter to bring up any air bubbles and quickly pop them with a toothpick if necessary. Allow the cookies to rest on a level surface for 30-60 minutes until they are no longer tacky to the touch.  While they rest, place an oven rack in the lower 3rd of your oven and preheat to 130C (fan-forced) or 150C (no fan).  Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes. Allow to cool. 
Make the buttercream by creaming the butter until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and Amarula and whip until combined and a light consistency. Stir in enough fruit mince to your taste and place the icing in a piping bag. Assemble the macaroons by piping a blob of icing onto one macaroon and sandwiching with the other.  Once set, dip the macarons into chocolate using a fork, allow the chocolate to drip off before placing on a lined baking sheet to set. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a day before serving.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas malva pudding

In South Africa, everybody has ‘the best recipe’ for malva pudding – like chocolate cake, or milk tart, it’s one of those recipes that we all have and ours is always better than any other.

Well, mine really is better than yours, because it has the addition of cherries, nuts and Amarula – all the things we love about Christmas. I love the tradition of Christmas food but it comes with a lot of European customs and recipes that we as South Africans don’t really identify with. This recipe is my way of still keeping a little tradition, but adding a lot of South African flavour to it!

Christmas malva pudding
Serves 6-8

For the Malva:
½ cup castor sugar
1 egg
1 ½ tbsp apricot jam
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup of milk
½ cup cherries chopped
100g pecan nuts, chopped
1/2 cup fruit cake mix soaked in 1/4 cup brandy overnight
zest of 1 orange

For the sauce:
¼ cup Stork Bake margarine
1 cup castor sugar
½ cup boiling water
1/2 cup evaporated milk
½ cup Amarula
Pinch of salt

Beat together the sugar, eggs and jam until creamy. Sift together the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. Stir in the cherries, pecans, fruit cake mix and orange zest. Pour the batter into a greased baking dish or individual cups and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until dark golden brown and risen. You know that the puddings are ready when a skewer is inserted in the middle and it comes out clean. Make the sauce by placing all the ingredients into a pot and bringing to the boil. Pour the sauce onto the cooked puddings as soon as they come out the oven and serve with Amarula custard or ice cream.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Embossed spiced butter Christmas biscuits

Years of working in magazines meant that, thanks to print deadlines, Christmas was celebrated in September (if you're lucky) so by the time December arrived (and the magazine world has just put it's Easter issue to bed) I was in no mood for Christmas. Go away, gammon! Thankfully, the television industry has once again restored my intense love of the festive season and I can finally celebrate Christmas when it's actually Christmas. If you're struggling to get into the spirit, then baking a batch of cookies should sort you out. Filling up your home with the smell of spices will definitely put you in the mood. And your family will thank you for the nibbles! 

I spotted the cute idea of embossing cookies on Pinterest (isn't this where all great ideas come from?!) and thought it would make some beautiful edible tree trinkets. Such a beautifully simple idea and so easy to do. 

Spiced butter Christmas cookies
Makes 25

140g butter, softened
1 egg
500g Sasko Quick Treats cookie mix
60ml cornflour
1 tsp mixed spiced
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Royal icing
1 egg white, beaten
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
squeeze of lemon juice

Cream the butter until fluffy then beat in the egg until combined.
Mix the Sasko Quick Treats cookie mix, cornflour and spices and add it to the butter mix with the vanilla.
Beat until combined and a soft dough forms.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1/2cm thick and cut out with cookie cutters.
Place on a lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 180C until golden brown.
Allow to cool before icing with royal icing.

To make the royal icing, whisk the egg white gently then add the icing sugar until a stiff paste forms. Add the lemon juice and stir before placing in a piping bag.

TIP: To make the embossing, dab a clean sponge in black gel colouring then lightly dab onto a clean rubber stamp (be careful not to apply too much). Gently press the stamp onto the cookie and lift. Allow to dry thoroughly.