Tag Archives: recipe

Classic chocolate brownies

30 Jul

Donna Hay’s classic chocolate brownies (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I dream about chocolate brownies at night. They are some of my favourite indulgent treats, my go-to decadence, my secret “sinful” food affair.

I would sometimes eat brownies when I’m alone in my car, where I wouldn’t have to share them with anyone else. I like them fudgey, dark and very chocolatey. This is Donna Hay’s recipe for classic chocolate brownies from her Magazine, October/November 2011. She did an 11-page spread on these brown beauties, featuring not only the classic version, but also caramel crunch brownies, cookies and cream blondies, coffee meringue brownies, dark chocolate and raspberries brownie tarts, brownie cookies with peanut butter frosting, choc-peppermint brownies and toffee pecan and caramel brownies. Now if that doesn’t have you drooling, I don’t think you’re human!

Donna’s classic brownie features 400 g dark chocolate, which sounds like a lot, but it makes a fabulous crunchy top and a deliciously chewy centre. Half of the chocolate gets melted in the batter, and the other half gets chopped and mixed with the batter. That means you get fabulous chunks of chocolate inside the brownie, which adds great texture.

I used a slightly cheaper dark chocolate with some almonds in it, as opposed to the more expensive, best quality 70 % dark chocolate. It really still tastes fantastic! If you would like to go the same route, substitute the flour with a mix of flour and cocoa powder to make sure the brownie is really dark.

Serve them at room temperature, or just slightly warmer if you like the chocolate to be gooey. Heavenly squares of dark, dense, fudgey, chewy chocolate.


  • 400 g dark chocolate, chopped (preferable 70 % cocoa solids)
  • 250 g butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar (I use 1 cup light brown sugar and 1 cup treacle sugar)
  • 6 eggs (I use XL)
  • 1 cup flour (or 200 ml flour and 50 ml cocoa powder, if you are using cheaper dark chocolate)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Place half of the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Place the sugar, eggs and flour in a bowl with the chocolate mixture and mix with a hand whisk to combine.
  4. Stir through the remaining chocolate pieces and pour batter into a lined/greased baking tin, about 20 x 30 cm.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked. Cool in the tin, then cut into squares.

These brownies will keep in an air-tight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.


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

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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Real fudge

19 Apr

Real fudge - the classic Nestlé recipe (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

When I was in primary school in the late 1980’s, I created my first recipe book. It was a “reporters notebook”, ringbound, with a model posing as a cowgirl on the cover (I cut it out of a magazine).  It had an index, featuring basic recipes like meringues, cheese scones, pecan nut cookies and fudge – the recipes were all hand written, complete with hand drawn full colour pictures galore.

To my horror, I recently discovered that I had lost that recipe book. I wanted to make the featured recipe for fudge – a recipe that I had found on the wrapper of a Nestlé condensed milk can many years ago. I frantically searched for the book, but no luck. It must have fallen through the cracks of my very unorganised book shelves, or maybe somewhere in the garage, or upstairs where I recently tried to clean up some office space. The point is, I hope it is still somewhere in my house, temporarily hiding from me. I’ll hopefully find it when it is time to move house again in a few years.

Then I found the original Nestlé fudge recipe online, thank heavens. It was exactly as I remembered, simple and old-fashioned. It had a quote at the top: “I have lost and found this recipe so many times I am finally committing it to Zaar. From Fair Lady, May 14, 1986”. It was the right one.

So here we go: I’m sharing this recipe as one of my all-time favourites. It is proper fudge, the real deal, melt-in-the-mouth. Save it!


  • 1 (385 g) can condensed milk
  • 500 ml (2 cups) sugar
  • 25 mlgolden syrup
  • 75 ml water
  • 60 g butter
  • 5 ml vanilla essence


  1. Put sugar and water into a large heavy saucepan.
  2. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add the butter and syrup and stir until the butter has melted.
  4. Add the condensed milk and stir until it comes to the boil.
  5. Boil very slowly on low heat, stirring every minute or 2, until soft ball stage (the mixture will darken to a deep caramel colour and will start to form sugary crystals on the sides, sounding like sand when you scrape it).
  6. Remove from the stove, add the vanilla and beat it with a wooden spoon for 5-10 minutes until it starts to thicken (beating the fudge will ensure a great texture when completely cooled)
  7. Pour into a greased pan and leave to cool.
  8. Cut into squares when cold.


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

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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Smoked snoek chowder – a Cape favourite

17 May

Smoked snoek chowder with chives

“Die snoek loop!” It was front page news the other day here in the good old Cape: it’s finally snoek season and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one.

The “Cape snoek”, also known as “barracouta” in New Zealand and Australia (not to be mistaken with the game fish “barracuda”) is one of the Cape’s most popular exports.  […]

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Sannie Smit’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

14 Apr

Sannie Smit’s Chocolate Chip Cookies? Whaaat? I thought that lady was the local meat expert. Yes, she is. And nope, this cookie does not contain meat. Or biltong chips. It is a classic American-style chocolate chip cookie from Sannie Smit & Margaret Fulton’s new book “The A-Z of Food & Cookery in South Africa”. No strings attached –  just a really good, soft, chewy, chocolate chip cookie. I just added double the amount of chocolate, to put my own little indulgent stamp on it.

So get yourself a glass of cold full-cream milk and start baking. […]

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I love “pampoentert” (pumpkin tart)

12 Apr

I love pumpkin fritters. In Afrikaans we call it “pampoenkoekies”: those little round yellow pan-fried bundles of joy topped with cinnamon sugar. It just sounds much nicer in Afrikaans. It is one of those winter side dishes that makes us love cold weather and the comfort food that comes with it.

So if you love pampoenkoekies, you’ll also love their big brother, the mighty “pampoentert” (pumpkin tart). It is a baked side dish, made with cooked pumpkin. And I am telling you, this thing is so addictive you will even trick the most non-vegetable-eating child into eating seconds. […]

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Classic chocolate mousse

7 Mar

I have a confession to make. After my blog post on tiramisu last week, where I mentioned what a sucker I am for mousse desserts, I talked myself into such a craving that I couldn’t think of anything else. I had created a monster.

Chocolate mousse originated in France in the 18th century. Bless the soul of the person who invented such a treat! There are few things in life as delectable as proper chocolate mousse. Most people prefer it in small quantities, because of its richness. I don’t share their sentiments. I can finish a whole batch of chocolate mousse in one sitting. In fact, I have to restrain myself not to. […]

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Spicy tomato sauce for pizza, pasta and meat

3 Mar

Meatballs with my versatile spicy tomato sauce

Yes my darlings, it is true: I’ve created a fantastic spicy tomato sauce so versatile, you can practically use it on anything. I started making it as a tomato sauce for my pizza bases, and then realised that it also tasted great on pasta. It also works very well with meat and chicken. Lo and behold, it can even be turned into a soup! […]

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Deluxe rusks

10 Feb

Buttermilk rusks with all bran flakes, oats, sunflower seeds, sesame, pecan nuts and linseeds.

I grew up in a household where we always ate fabulous homemade rusks. My mom was THAT “tannie” who could bake the best  “mosbolletjies” and buttermilk rusks in the whole town. She made the traditional white ones, but also the whole wheat ones with nuts, muesli, raisins and all other goodies. My friends from university still swear that they became fat during those years because of my mother’s legendary rusks! (she regularly sent me huge plastic containers full of the good stuff).

Being so spoilt with regular free access to great rusks, I never really thought of baking my own. But then my parents moved to Plett a few years ago, and the rusk waves became fewer and farther between.  So it hit me that it was time to become the “tannie”. […]

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Bread to die for

1 Feb

Great ciabatta straight from the oven

A friend once asked what I would have for my so-called “last meal”. The answer is simple: great bread, drenched in the finest extra virgin olive oil. Just like that. But it has to be really great bread. And that is not very easy to find.

If you are, like me, an obsessive home cook, you must have tried your hand at baking bread. The thing is: most recipe books contain bread recipes that come out like a basic white farm loaf, or variations of it. I’ve always searched for a great recipe that would deliver a real Italian ciabatta loaf. I prefer mine to be densely heavy, with some holes (not too many), and a very spongy but slightly “moist” texture. It should feel alive when you touch the inside. […]

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I was a gnocchi virgin

26 Jan

I’ve always considered myself an obsessive home cook. So why is it that I’ve never tried my hand at making gnocchi before? I’ve eaten it at many restaurants, although it might not be my favourite dish. But my oh my, if you can find great gnocchi, it can be the ultimate indulgence. […]

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