Tag Archives: chocolate

Exploring terroir with DV Chocolate at Spice Route

5 Oct

Last week I was invited to join a curated chocolate and wine tasting with a special focus on terroir at Spice Route, hosted by DV Chocolate‘s Pieter de Villiers.

Surrounded by some serious wine experts, it was such an enlightening experience to be exploring the unique terroirs of DV Chocolate‘s single origin organic 70% dark chocolate bars paired with Spice Route’s 2014 and 1015 Grenache. Flavours of citrus emerged from Magadascar, earthy tones from Uganda, raspberry notes from Dominican Republic, rose buds and coconut from Peru, and incredible balance from Panama. After the tasting we were treated by a chocolate-inspired lunch prepared by chef Philip Pretorius of Barley & Biltong next door.

DV Chocolate is making waves as a proudly African bean-to-bar chocolatier. They keep expanding their range with exciting products, the latest being a dark chocolate truffle with a longer shelf life and a spicy chocolate bark made for sharing with bigger crowds around a festive table. Apart from their chocolate shop at Spice Route, their full range of chocolates are now also available from an exclusive booth in the Woolworths Waterstone store in Somerset West, and a limited range at most other Woolworths stores countrywide.

Here is my visit in pictures. Be sure to stop by DV Café at Spice Route for a cold chocolate shot or a freshly baked chocolate muffin, as well as their chocolate tasting room (Monday – Sunday, 09h00-17h00).

Greeted by freshly baked chocolate muffins at DV Café.

Interior at DV Café.

One of the iconic chocolate label designs that DV Chocolate is known for.

A perfect coffee at DV Café.

They also sell single origin coffee beans.

My choice to start the day: an ice cold chocolate shot. This was incredible!

Welcome to DV Chocolate’s factory at Spice Route.

DV Chocolate’s owner, Pieter de Villiers, tells us more about single origin beans and bars.

Chef Philip Pretorius cooked a chocolate-inpired lunch for us. (picture from spiceroute.co.za)

Pork belly and lentils in a spiced dark chocolate sauce. So rich in flavour – a stunning dish.

Dusted dark chocolate truffles with a longer shelf life – a brand new product from DV Chocolate.

The spiced chocolate bark, also a new product from DV Chocolate.

The popular DV Chocolate tasting centre at Spice Route.

Hand crafted chocolate from DV Chocolate’s chocolate shop.

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Caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne & tiramisu jars with Galbani Cheese

3 May

Caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne and individual tiramisu jars – my ultimate Italian-style feast! Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

When it comes to laid-back, festive, scrumptious food that’s packed with flavour, the Italians just know how. I’ve taken a few tips from their most popular traditional cheese-themed recipes to come up with my favourite three-course Italian-inspired feast: an over-the-top caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne (made with mozzarella, cheddar and mascarpone) and individual tiramisu cups with chocolate flakes and fresh raspberries. You can assemble the lasagne and tiramisu ahead so that you have more time to spend with your guests – the most important thing when hosting friends and family!

All my recipes serve 8, because they deserve a crowd. If you’re keen on a smaller gathering, just halve the ingredients to serve 4.

And don’t miss my video below – it shows how to make this killer lasagne.

Buon appetito!

My ultimate caprese salad with soft mozzarella, an array of tomatoes, fresh basil, pesto, toasted pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, salt flakes and ground black pepper. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Ultimate caprese salad (serves 8)

  • 3 very big ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • about 400 g smaller tomatoes on the vine
  • a handful baby tomatoes, halved
  • 3 x 125 g Galbani soft white mozzarella, sliced into rounds
  • a handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • 3-4 tablespoons basil pesto
  • extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • balsamic vinegar, for serving (optional)
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter, interleaved with slices of mozzarella. Scatter with basil leaves and pine nuts, then drizzle with pesto (add a little olive oil to the pesto if it is very thick). Serve with olive oil and balsamic on the side, seasoned with salt & pepper. Serve immediately.

Note: The tomatoes will wilt on standing, so this salad is best served straight after assembling.

Triple cheese beef lasagne (made with mascarpone, cheddar and mozzarella). Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Triple cheese beef lasagne (serves 8)

For the beef Bolognese sauce:

  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, skinned & finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 kg lean beef mince
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stalks removed & finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried origanum)
  • 375 ml (half a bottle) dry red wine
  • 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 250 ml boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cans whole Italian tomatoes, blended to a pulp
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

For the white sauce (béchamel):

  • 80 g (80 ml / 1/3 cup) President Butter
  • 80 ml (1/3/ cup) plain/cake flour
  • 1 liter full cream milk
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • a generous tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 250 g Galbani Mascarpone
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

For assembling:

  • 1 batch Bolognese sauce
  • 1 batch white sauce
  • 500 g fresh/dried pasta sheets
  • 200 g President Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 300 g Galbani Creamy Mozzarella (semi-hard), grated

For the Bolognese sauce: Heat the olive oil in a wide, large pot with a heavy base. Fry the onion, carrot and celery over medium-high heat until soft and lightly brown. Add the garlic and stir. Add the mince and stir, breaking up any lumps and scraping the bottom to loosen any sticky bits. Add the rosemary and thyme. Continue to fry on high heat to brown the meat slightly, then add the red wine, stock, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and stir well. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours, stirring every now and then.

For the white sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat, then add the flour and cook for a minute, stirring. Add the milk and stir with a whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and thickens slightly. Add the nutmeg, mustard and mascarpone and season well with salt & pepper. Set aside.

To assemble: Preheat oven to 180 C. In a large rectangular roasting tray or oven dish, start with a thin layer of white sauce, then a layer of pasta sheets (they will swell so don’t fit them too snugly), a layer of meat sauce, more white sauce, a layer of cheddar, etc. Continue and repeat, ending with a layer of white sauce and the grated mozzarella on top. Bake for 45 minutes until golden on top, then let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note: I sometimes chop my onion, carrot and celery together in a food processor to save time. The cooked lasagne will continue to stabilize on standing, becoming firmer and easier to serve. The assembled lasagne (cooked or uncooked) freezes well – thaw completely before returning to the oven.

Individual jars of tiramisu, made with mascarpone, brandy and some chocolate flakes. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Individual tiramisu cups: (serves 8)

  • 5 XL eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 x 250 g Galbani Mascarpone
  • 1 Italian-style sponge finger biscuits (Boudoir/ladyfinger)
  • 375 ml strong coffee, warm
  • 75 ml brandy
  • cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 2-3 chocolate flake bars, for serving
  • fresh raspberries, for serving

Place the egg yolks and caster sugar in a large bowl. Use and electric whisk to mix until it is very thick and creamy. Add the mascarpone and whisk until smooth.
Clean and dry this whisk, then whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff. Add half the egg whites to the mascarpone mixture and fold in with a large spoon, continuing with the second half and folding until you have a smooth, creamy, mousse-like mixture. Set aside.
Working quickly, cut the finger biscuits into thirds, and divide the pieces into 8 groups of 9 pieces each (for 8 cups of 250 ml capacity each). Place the coffee and brandy in a shallow flat bowl, then dip 4 cookie pieces at a time into the coffee mixture, and place them into the bottom of each dessert glass/jar. Top with a dollop of the mascarpone mix, then a sifting of cocoa powder. Top with a second round of 5 dipped biscuit pieces, then place the remaining half of the mascarpone mix into a piping bag and pipe dollops of the mixture at the top of each glass to cover the biscuits. Dust some cocoa powder over the top, then cover with plastic or lids (not touching the mixture) and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
To serve, add some chocolate flakes and berries on top and serve straight from the fridge.

Note: The biscuits need time to soften in the fridge. If you serve them too soon, the cookies will still be tough. The tiramisu cups keep very well in the fridge for up to 3 days and the flavour improves with time.

(This post was created in collaboration with Galbani Cheese.)

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Muscovado chocolate truffles

11 Aug

Muscovado chocolate truffles, meltingly soft, slightly bitter and super decadent (photography by Tasha Seccombe).

Muscovado chocolate truffles, meltingly soft, slightly bitter and super decadent (photography by Tasha Seccombe).

This deceptively simple recipe is not for the faint hearted. You think you might know and love a traditional chocolate truffle? Well, this one takes it to another level of decadence.

My previous assistant at the demo KITCHEN, Elsebé Cronjé, shared my passion for beautiful recipes, pictures and food. She often brought new ideas to the table for upcoming menus and shoots, and this recipe is from one of her books: Adventures with Chocolate by Paul A. Young. It’s a dark chocolate truffle that is made with muscovado sugar. The recipe calls for the muscovado to be melted with fresh cream in a saucepan, forming a rich caramel sauce which is then added to chopped dark chocolate.  It is then stirred to create a smooth dark caramel chocolate ganache. Once cooled, you can roll your truffles and coat them in cocoa powder.

Caramel and melted chocolate, rolled into bite-size balls. Need I say more? I think not.

 Ingredients: (recipe by Paul A. Young from Adventures with Chocolate)

  • 100 g muscovado sugar
  • a pinch of salt flakes
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 250 g finest dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Method:

  1. Add the sugar, salt & cream to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring. When the sugar has melted, remove from the heat.
  2. Add the broken chocolate pieces to a small mixing bowl, then pour the warm cream mixture over it and stir until smooth and glossy and melted. Leave to cool, then refrigerate to set.
  3. Using a teaspoon, scoop some of the mixture and roll quickly into balls. Then cover in cocoa powder and set aside.
  4. Store in the refrigerator, but enjoy at room temperature.

Credits:

This post was written by Ilse van der Merwe for The Pretty Blog.

Text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

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WIN a Lindt Excellence hamper

25 Jun

My #EveningOfExcellence hamper, courtesy of Lindt South Africa. What a treat!

My #EveningOfExcellence hamper, courtesy of Lindt South Africa. What a treat!

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to an #EveningOfExcellence from Lindt South Africa. The invitation included a luxury chauffeured ride from my home in Stellenbosch to the coveted Café Chic in Cape Town, two tickets to see the famous Swan Lake St Petersburg ballet production at Artscape Theatre, as well as an amazing hamper containing 4 international wines, Riedel glassware and oodles of fabulous Lindt Excellence chocolate to pair with the wines.

My husband and I accepted the invitation and proceeded to have an unforgettable evening filled with pure pleasure, indulgence, adventure, luxury and relaxation. But the good news is this: one lucky reader will WIN a fantastic Lindt Excellence hamper containing 4 exceptional local wines, lots of Lindt Excellence chocolate and 4 beautiful pairing cards to help you pair the wines with the chocolate. To enter this competition and stand the chance to win, mention the following line on Twitter: “I want to WIN a @LindtSA #EveningOfExcellence hamper via @the_foodfox!” The winner will be drawn randomly (and notified soon thereafter) on Friday 26 June 2015 at 17h00. Enter as many times as you want before the time of the draw.

Here are some of the pictures from our #EveningOfExcellence. We also hosted a dinner with friends afterwards to enjoy the hamper wines and chocolate with a home-cooked French-inspired menu.

Thank you to OFyt and Lindt South Africa for making this adventure and give-away possible.

On our way to Cape Town for an #EveningOfExcellence.

On our way to Cape Town for an #EveningOfExcellence.

Outside Café Chic, ready for dinner. #EveningOfExcellence

Outside Café Chic, ready for dinner. #EveningOfExcellence

Checking out the fabulous menu at Café Chic. #EveningofExcellence

Checking out the fabulous menu at Café Chic. #EveningofExcellence

The St Petersburg Swan Lake performance at Artscape Theatre. #EveningOfExcellence

The St Petersburg Swan Lake performance at Artscape Theatre. #EveningOfExcellence

Our stylish ride! #EveningOfExcellence

Our stylish ride! #EveningOfExcellence

 

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Chocolate pineapple pudding with almond & orange

21 Apr

Baked chocolate pineapple pudding with almonds and orange rind, served with dark chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.

Baked chocolate pineapple pudding with almonds and orange rind, served with dark chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.

Last night, the MasterChef SA Celebrity contestants had to cook something using a secret ingredient: pineapple. The team behind the Woolworths #CelebrityChef campaign asked me to also put together a recipe using pineapple.

After considering many different dishes from a pineapple tarte tatin to a pineapple salsa taco to pineapple BBQ sauce ribs, I came up with this rich and decadent pudding using grilled fresh pineapple, chocolate, ground almonds and orange rind. The pudding must be slightly underbaked to ensure a gooey centre. It has a tropical undertone that goes so very well with the richness of dark chocolate. Serve warm with dark chocolate sauce and creme fraiche.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 100g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 60 g butter
  • 3/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 2 XL egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cream

To serve:

  • a dusting of cocoa powder (optional)
  • 250 g creme fraiche (or vanilla ice cream)

Method:

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin off the pineapple and cut into chunks or rounds (I also removed the tough inner core). Grill the chunks in a very hot griddle pan until you get beautifully charred marks on the outside. Put half of the grilled pineapple in a food processor and process to a smooth pulp. Set aside the pulp and the remaining grilled pineapple.
  2. In a small glass bowl, add the chocolate and butter. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir well until smooth and melted. Put aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 200 C and grease a deep 23cm heat proof baking dish or skillet.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, almonds, sugar and salt. Mix well with a hand whisk. Now add the eggs, yolks, milk, zest, vanilla, pineapple pulp and melted chocolate mixture. Mix with the whisk until smooth, then pour into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just undercooked in the centre. Remove from the oven, dust with cocoa powder (optional) and serve warm with grilled pieces of pineapple, chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.
  6. For the chocolate sauce: While the pudding is baking, heat the cream in a tall cup in the microwave until it just starts to boil (about 30 seconds – 1 minute). Add the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth and melted.

Tips:

  • You can also use cheaper commercial dark chocolate for this recipe, but be sure to add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the batter to ensure a dark pudding.
  • If you’d like to serve this at room temperature as a chocolate tart, bake the pudding for 20 minutes in total, then cool completely. Cool the chocolate sauce as well, then spread the sauce over the pudding as a stylish ganache topping. Slice and serve.
  • I find it easy and fuss-free to melt chocolate in the microwave, but you can also do it in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water (the traditional French way).
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Chocolate brioche

20 Jun

Dark and moody, buttery and decadent chocolate brioche with Nutella (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Dark and moody, buttery and decadent chocolate brioche with Nutella (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

My sister is a keen baker. She specifically loves baking ciabatta loaves for her family and for dinner guests, and uses great quality stone ground flour for her bread. They also have a beautiful little outdoor pizza oven at the farmhouse where they live in Somerset West, which bakes amazing pizzas in just 2-3 minutes – fantastic.

My sister also loves baking cakes and pastries. She has dozens of little colourful page markers inside her food magazines that she uses as recipe references, and have passed quite a few of her favourite recipes on to me.  Last year, she gave me a 10 page spread from Rooi Rose of July 2013 featuring amazing bread recipes and baking tips. I use it as a reference often!

So when I got the idea of baking a chocolate brioche, I first consulted my sister’s baking references, then my trusted range of recipe books at home. Strangely, none of them contained a recipe that I liked. I was looking for a dark brown all-chocolate loaf, not a white loaf with a chocolate filling (which can also be amazing, by the way). In the process I came across Herman Lensing’s recipe for a chocolate brioche that he did for Sarie Kos – a rich buttery loaf with a chocolate filling and a chocolate sauce drizzled over the top. I decided to adapt Herman’s recipe for what I had in mind, and serve it with lashes of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread.

Herman’s recipe makes 2 large loaves, which I found can sometimes be a little too much for a small household. I halved the recipe, but kept some more yeast in the list of ingredients for the smaller mixture to rise as well as the large mixture does.

This is a recipe that I’ll be passing back to my sister for her collection – such an indulgent treat, especially for breakfast on a rainy Winter’s weekend. Enjoy!

Note: The dough needs to rest overnight in the fridge, so remember to start the process the night before if you want to eat it freshly baked for breakfast.

Ingredients: (makes 1 large loaf)

  •  450g cake flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 50g (60ml or 1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 15g instant dry yeast (1 and a half sachets)
  • 10g (10ml) salt
  • 6 XL eggs
  • 250ml butter, cut into small blocks
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked

Method:

  1. Using a stand mixer with K-beater attachment, place the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, yeast, salt and eggs in the bowl of the mixer and mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. You should have a stiff dough mixture.
  2. Now add butter a bit at a time, mixer running, until all the butter has been incorporated. You should have a smooth sticky dough.
  3. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover, then refrigerate overnight to rest.
  4. Turn the mixture out on a floured surface, then roll it out to a thickness of about 1cm. Fold the dough and repeat 2 times. Now roll it up and place inside a greased bread tin, OR cut into 3 strands and plait for a different look (place on a greased baking tray). Leave the dough in a warm area to rise for 60-90 minutes, until double in volume.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180C for at least 15 minutes, then brush with the whisked egg and bake for about 30 minutes until done. Serve warm with lashings of Nutella spread.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Chocolate peanut butter sundae with cheat’s roasted banana ice cream

15 Apr

Chocolate peanut butter sundae with extra hazelnuts and a quick roasted banana ice cream (photography  by Daniela Zondagh)

Chocolate peanut butter sundae with extra hazelnuts and a quick roasted banana ice cream (photography by Daniela Zondagh)

Woolworths recently approached me to become involved with their very exciting Flavour Society campaign (#wwflavoursociety), where the flavour of the month is chocolate. Check out their amazing pin board this month on Pinterest.

As a part of this campaign, they asked me to develop a special recipe of my choice using chocolate. Seeing that I’m already a sucker for all things cocoa, there was no problem in finding inspiration. I thought about doing a chocolate cake, or maybe a chocolate terrine. Or what about some chocolate truffles? It had to be something that really tickled my emotional connection with chocolate, and maybe something that brought back some sweet childhood memories – an easy recipe with maximum results and instant drool-worthy craving satisfaction. So I decided to make a chocolate sundae. When last did you have one?

As an adult, I don’t order a chocolate sundae very often these days. But if someone would offer it to me, there’s just no way of saying no. In fact, now that I think of it, it’s probably the best way of ending any dinner – offering your guests something that would make them feel like kids again.

So here’s a recipe for some of the best chocolate peanut butter sundae sauce you’ll ever taste, plus a recipe for making your own cheat’s versions of roasted banana ice cream using real bananas, brown sugar, and a tub of store-bought vanilla ice cream. Add as many extra chopped nuts, fresh banana, pieces of fudge or whipped cream as you want. It’s going to be a messy, happy, affair – I can promise you that. I’ll be the one drinking the sauce from the jug.

Warm chocolate peanut butter sundae sauce - good enought to eat from the pot! (photography by Daniela Zondagh)

Warm chocolate peanut butter sundae sauce – good enought to eat from the pot! (photography by Daniela Zondagh)

Chocolate peanut butter sundae sauce:

Serves 6

  • 200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) smooth peanut butter
  • 250ml (1 cup) cream
  • 45ml (3 Tbsp) golden syrup
  • 15ml (1 Tbsp) butter
  • a pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat on the stove top, then stir regularly until the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth and glossy. Use a wire whisk right at the end to whisk the mixture vigorously if it still looks grainy – it should be totally smooth.

Cheat’s roasted banana ice-cream:

Serves 6

  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 15ml (1 Tbsp) demerara sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 litres store-bought vanilla ice cream

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 220C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Peel the bananas and half them lengthways. Place the bananas on the lined baking tray and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake for 10 minutes at 220C, then remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. In the meantime, take the ice-cream out of the fridge to become soft – about 30 minutes.
  3. When the bananas are cool, transfer the bananas to a blending cup and use a stick blender (or food processor) to blend to a smooth pulp.
  4. Transfer the ice cream to a large mixing bowl and add the banana pulp. Mix thoroughly, then return to the ice-cream container and refreeze for a few hours until it is hard enough to serve with an ice-cream scoop.

For assembling the sundae:

Makes 6 large sundaes

  • 1 batch chocolate peanut butter sundae sauce, warmed
  • 1 batch cheat’s roasted banana ice cream (or your favourite flavour store-bought ice cream)
  • about 250g roasted nuts (I used hazelnuts, but peanuts also work very well)

Method:

In a tall glass or dessert bowl, place some nuts at the bottom, then follow with a scoop of ice-cream, more nuts, and more ice cream. Top with hot chocolate sundae sauce and more chopped nuts. Serve immediately. The sauce will get thick and fudgy when left to cool on top of the ice-cream.

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An Easter garden tea party with Poetry stores

7 Apr

An Easter garden tea party fit for a king (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

An Easter garden tea party fit for a king (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Next weekend many of us will be celebrating the Easter holidays – a time for utter indulgence in terms of festive family foods and sweet treats. The friendly team from Poetry stores asked me to once again put together a feast for this special occasion, and I decided to create a tea party spread with recipes from one of the books from their shelves: Tea Time by Jackie Brooks.

A tea party is such a great way to celebrate special occasions with family and friends. While the kids are hunting Easter eggs in the garden, you and your friends can gather around in a shady spot to enjoy the most delicious and decadent Easter treats with a cup of steaming tea. While Tasha (my good friend and also the photographer of this spread) and I worked to make the food look pretty, we asked our daughters to hold some of the dishes for a few individual recipe shots. They made such beautiful “hand models” that we had to pay them in Easter eggs!

My favourite recipe from this whole spread is the pecan cheesecake – it is utterly decadent and so very delicious. But the raspberry tarts take the prize for their wow factor – how pretty are those?

Jackie’s little recipe book is conveniently small (it will certainly fit into most handbags) and packed with so many easy recipes – sweet and savoury – for any tea time occasion. At only R150 is also makes a very affordable gift for a friend or loved one this Easter. Get it from your nearest Poetry store or online.

Butterfly cupcakes with pink cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Butterfly cupcakes with pink cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Butterfly cupcakes – makes 24: (all recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks)

  • 125g butter
  • 5ml vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • filling: 250 ml cream, 2,5ml vanilla extract, 15 ml icing sugar, a drop of pink food colouring

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
  2. Beat butter, vanilla and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir until mixture is smooth and all ingredients are well combined.
  4. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of mixture into paper cases. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. To make the filling, beat cream, vanilla and icing sugar together until thick.
  6. When the cupcakes are cool, cut a slice from the top of each cake and pipe on a small amount of filling. Cut the removed cake slices in half and arrange on top of cream to make butterfly wings. Dust with a little icing sugar.
Chocolate hazelnut cake with vintage doily sieve pattern (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate hazelnut cake with vintage doily sieve pattern (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate hazelnut cake – serves 8:

  • 250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 325g hazelnuts, toasted and roughtly chopped
  • 15ml rum
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190C.
  2. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and keep stirring until the chocolate melts. Remove from pan and cool slightly.
  3. Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until thick and pale. Fold the melted chocolate, hazelnuts and rum into the egg mixture.
  4. Place egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into a greased and lined 23cm spring-form cake tin and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool cake in tin.
  5. Just prior to serving, dust cake with icing sugar (I used one of Tasha’s antique lace doilies to create a beautiful pattern).
Meltingly soft ginger kisses (photograhy by Tasha Seccombe)

Meltingly soft ginger kisses (photograhy by Tasha Seccombe)

Ginger kisses – makes 24:

  • 250g soft butter
  • 115g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 15ml ground ginger
  • 225g plain/cake flour
  • 150g cornflour (Maizena)
  • Filling: 250g mascarpone, 50g stem ginger or preserved ginger, 15ml stem ginger syrup or maple syrup, 50g demerara sugar, 2,5ml vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl beat the butter until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating well until the mixutre is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of the flour.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the ginger, flour and cornflour. Sift the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Roll teaspoon-sized amount into balls and press down with a fork (use floured hands).
  4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until firm and lightly golden in colour (not brown). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. While the biscuits and cooling, prepare the filling. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. When the biscuits are cool enough, spread the filling on half the biscuits then place the remaining biscuits on top.
Baked pecan cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked pecan cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Pecan cheesecake – serves 12:

Base:

  • 180-200g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
  • 45ml sugar (optional)
  • 50g butter

Filling:

  • 1,25kg plain cream cheese (5 x 250g tubs), at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 40g butter, melted
  • 5 eggs
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 1 cup pecan nuts, chopped

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C.
  2. To make base, combine biscuits, sugar and butter, mixing well. Press into bottom of a greased 25cm spring-form tin, then chill in the fridge.
  3. For the filling: beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar and butter, mixing well. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spoon filling into tin and bake for 1 hour.
  4. Turn oven off and allow cheesecake to cool in oven with closed door for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, then cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate for 8 hours. Remove sides of spring-form tin, then decorate with extra pecans.
Fresh raspberry tarts with cream cheese filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fresh raspberry tarts with cream cheese filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Raspberry & hazelnut tarts – makes 6:

Base:

  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 30 ml icing sugar
  • 30g ground hazelnuts
  • 80g butter, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Cream filling:

  • 375g creamcheese430ml caster sugar
  • 60ml double cream

Raspberry topping:

  • 350g fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup smooth raspberry jam (warmed and sieved)

Method:

  1. To make pastry base, place flour, icing sugar, and hazelnuts in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and pulse until it just comes together as a soft dough. Remove from bowl and wrap in cling wrap, then refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Knead pastry lightly, then roll out to 3mm thick. Line 6 greased 75mm flan tins with the rolled-out pastry dough. Line with baking paper and add beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for 10 minute, then remove paper and beans and bake for another 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. To make filling, place cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth. Beat cream in a separate bowl, then fold into cream cheese mixture.
  4. To assemble, spoon or pipe the filling into cooled pastry cases. Arrange raspberries on top, then brush warm jam over and refrigerate to set. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Credits:

This post was especially written for Poetry stores as part of their Easter 2014 celebration campaign.

All recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks. Available from Poetry stores for R150.

All homeware, Wonkiware, jugs, mini wooden boards, tea cups & saucers, nougat bars, toffee bars, glass tea pot and wooden boxed exotic teas available from Poetry stores (except for white cake stand, animated vintage mug, bunny cookie cutters, and Easter eggs).

Intro text, recipe selection, food preparation & co-styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & co-styling: Tasha Seccombe

Green bunny prop courtesy of Lily’s Closet.

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Classic chocolate cupcakes

25 Mar

A classic, moist, dark chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

A few years ago, before I even considered changing careers from music to food, I was already a huge fan of food TV. I watched Nigella, Jamie and Bill religiously on BBC Food (now BBC Lifestyle), and made notes now and then to remember some of their recipes.

One of the recipes that survived in my scribbled recipe notebook, was a basic cupcake recipe from Nigella Lawson. While she was demonstrating the easy steps, I was trying to write it down – only getting cryptic notes of ingredients and some of the method. Not knowing back then that I could have just checked the full recipe online, I tried to make sense of my scribbles later that day. The great thing is, the recipe is so very simple and absolutely fool proof that I have made dozens of batches of these over the years. For chocolate cupcakes, I just substitute two heaped tablespoons of flour for two heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder.

More recently, I looked up the original recipe. Nigella uses royal icing for her cupcakes, but I prefer a rich and fluffy buttercream frosting. Use whatever you prefer.

These chocolate cupcakes always deliver in terms of taste and texture. (Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Ingredients: (makes 12)

Note: Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you start. It makes a big difference to the texture. Also, a digital scale will make your life a lot easier for this recipe.

  • 75 g cake flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder (for vanilla cupcakes, leave the cocoa powder out and just use 125 g of cake flour in total)
  • 125 g sugar
  • 125 g soft butter
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 2.5 ml baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • a small pinch of salt
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 30 ml milk

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Place all of the ingredients except the milk in a food processor, and pulse to mix thoroughly. Scrape down the sides.
  3. With the motor running, add the milk and process for a further 1 minute until the mixture becomes very smooth. Now use 2 dessert spoons to drop the batter into the cupcake tin holes, spreading the mixture to fill all 12 holes (it always looks like it’s not enough, but trust me – it is).
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes until cooked and golden on top (an inserted skewer should come out clean). Remove from the oven and transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the chocolate buttercream frosting:

  • 125 g soft butter (very soft, but not melted)
  • 200 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 50 g cocoa powder, sifted (or less if you don’t like it to be too dark)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 15-30 ml milk

Method:

  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), then use an electric whisk to beat it until pale and creamy (takes about 2-3 minutes).
  2. Add the sifted icing sugar and cocoa powder a little at a time, mixing until it is thoroughly incorporated. Add the vanilla and a little milk and whisk to get a light and fluffy texture, but don’t add too much milk or the mixture won’t hold shape.
  3. Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a nozzle of your choice, then pipe the icing on top of the cupcakes. Don’t refrigerate them, as the icing will become hard and unpleasant to eat. Enjoy immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

The mixture makes exactly 12 cupcakes. I love their cracked tops. (Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe adaptation, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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A New Year’s eve cocktail party with Poetry Stores: Part 3

19 Dec

A New Year’s eve cocktail spread from “The French Affair” by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

For my last collaboration project with Poetry Stores this festive season, I’ve chosen some fabulous snacks for a glitzy New Year’s eve cocktail party. The recipes all come from The French Affair by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen (available from Poetry Stores for R375) – a beautiful hard cover book with amazing photographs and mouth-watering recipes. Jan Hendrik played the part of both recipe writer and photographer, and I have tremendous respect for the amount of work that went into this book! He did an amazing job.

I have chosen a selection of cold cocktail snacks, including vichyssoise (a traditional French cold potato & leek soup), old-fashioned prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce, roasted pepper and tomato tart with anchovies, and dark chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing. All of these go well with a glass of bubbly, so don’t be shy to drink while you snack!

Thank you so much to Rilee Palmer from Poetry Stores for this amazing opportunity to work with your in-store books, homeware and kitchenware. It was an absolute feast of a project, and I look forward to many more of these in 2014.

We have used some of Poetry‘s beautiful pewter (silver metal) homeware: trays, flower shaped bowls and Moroccan inspired candle holders. They are available in different sizes and are the perfect way to create a festive atmosphere! They also make great gifts.

(Please note: Linen, cutlery and vintage copperware are the photographer’s own.)

Vichyssoise (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Vichyssoise:

  • 3 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups chopped leeks (white part only)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup double cream
  • chopped chives for garnishing

Method:

  1. Simmer the vegetables in the stock for 40-50 minutes, partially covered. Season with salt.
  2. Blend in batches using a blender or food processor until you get a very smooth consistency. Strain through cheesecloth to remove any lumps or pieces (optional).
  3. Add the cream, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold, garnished with chives.

Red pepper, anchovy and tomato tart (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Sweet red pepper, anchovy and tomato tart: (serves 6-8)

For the filling:

  • 350 g ripe red tomatoes
  • 4 medium red peppers
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 ml smoked paprika (or paprika)
  • 50 g anchovy fillets in oil

For the pastry:

  • 110 g cake flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 50 g butter, softened
  • 15 ml finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 5 ml chopped thyme

Method:

  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Butter a 23 cm loose bottomed tart tin.
  2. Skin the tomatoes by placing them in a large bowl of simmering water for 2 minutes. Remove from the hot water and cover with cold water. Slip off the skins and cut in halves (or in thick slices if the tomatoes are very big).
  3. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Slice each pepper into 3 strips and mix with the tomatoes, oil, garlic and some seasoning. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for about 50 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Start cutting in the butter with a palate knife, then start rubbing it in lightly with your fingers until they mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the parmesan and thyme and 1 teaspoon of cold water. Bring the dough together and shape into a ball. Add more water if necessary. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll out the pastry on a flat work surface lightly sprinkled with flour. Line the tart pan with the pastry, and prick with a fork to prevent it from rising. Bake at 180 C for 20 minutes or until a light golden colour. Cool slightly.
  6. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks and paprika along with the oil from the anchovy fillets. Arrange the peppers, tomatoes and anchovy fillets in the tart shell. Increase the oven temperature to 190 C, then pour the egg mixture into the tart shell and bake for 35 minutes, or until firm in the centre. Serve at room temperature.

Chocolate and apple sauce cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and fresh cherries (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate and apple sauce cupcakes: (serves 12)

For the cupcake mixture:

  • 3/4 cup (185 ml) cocoa powder
  • 1250 ml cake flour
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml salt
  • 250 ml butter
  • 250 ml sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 250 ml dark chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 250 ml cream cheese
  • 60 ml créme fraiche or sour cream
  • 60 ml butter at room temperature
  • 2.5 ml vanilla extract
  • 500 ml icing sugar, sifted

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Combine the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar with electric beaters. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla, then stir in the  flour mixture and apple sauce alternating between them. Fold in the chocolate chips and mix well. Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out relatively clean (the chocolate chips will be melted, so it cannot come out 100% clean). Let it cool completely.
  5. To make the frosting, combine the softened cream cheese, creme fraiche, butter and vanilla and beat until creamy. Slowly add the icing sugar and beat on a medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl until smooth and fluffy. Spread or pipe the frosting evenly over the cooled cupcakes and top with berries or chopped nuts.
  6. Credits:All recipes by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, from his book The French Affair (available from Poetry Stores at R375).
    Food preparation & text: Ilse van der Merwe of The Food Fox

    Photography: Tasha Seccombe

    Styling: Ilse van der Merwe & Tasha Seccombe

    Homeware: Poetry Stores

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