Category Archives: Chocolate

Zucchini brownies? Not for me thanks!

Alternative title for this post: How to get kids to eat more vegetables. Or: How to mess with your friends who say they don’t eat vegetables. Or: A slightly healthier brownie recipe (but still includes sugar).

Not your typical background props for brownies

Not your typical background props for brownies

Zucchini was stalking me. It was like a green veggie monster lurking in every corner of my life saying “Eat me, eat me!” (In the creepiest veggie monster voice you can imitate). I was like, “ew, no! Vegetables!? Too much green! Too much health! Too much not chocolate!”

That peanut butter stripe... That melted dark chocolate... That richness that looks like it translates to goodness...

That peanut butter stripe… That melted dark chocolate… That richness that looks like it translates to goodness…

I figured though, since I had given in and made the carrot cupcakes, I would just have to give these babies a shot. Problem is, zucchini isn’t the same as it is overseas. We have mini zucchini, which I took an unfortunate while to realise is what we refer to as: baby marrow. I assume it’s the same thing???

I follow quite a lot of blogs, and there was a week where every single one of those blogs sent me some form of zucchini cake/brownie/muffin/savoury-thing recipe, and they all looked so amazing! But still… Vegetables… When I got this one from Yammie’s Gluten Freedom, I decided that that had to be the one. Her recipes are reliable, and her brownies have always come out tops in my books. Alas, my trust has been broken!!

Box of brownies

Just kidding, she will always be amazing, and these brownies aren’t half bad. The peanut butter topping definitely makes them worthwhile. My major complaint with this recipe is that they kind of taste like vegetables… Kind of a lot… We gave some to a friend though who refuses to eat veggies – we didn’t tell him – he actually said he enjoyed them, and that they had a nutty flavour. So the key to this recipe is: deception. Obviously, as the baker, this didn’t work so well for me, and all I could taste was green…

Zucchine, baby marrow, grown up marrow, courgette, by any other name does not belong in a brownie

Zucchini, baby marrow, grown up marrow, courgette, by any other name does not belong in a brownie

Zucchini brownies – made in SA

Ingredients

  • 2 cups finely grated baby marrows/courgettes/zucchini (I used the zester to grate mine superfine – I didn’t feel like having huge chunks of the stuff)
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 ¹⁄³ cup applesauce (mine was a good jar of the stuff)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ²⁄³ C oat flour/food-processed oats (ground down to a flour)
  • 1 C cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Additional: chocolate chips of whatever degree of healthiness suits your taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC, and line a 11×11″ baking tray/dish
  2. Mix the sugar, eggs, apple sauce, vanilla and baby marrows
  3. Mix the oat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and salt together
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix well, ensuring there are no floury dry bits
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan/dish
  6. Bake on the middle shelf for 1 hour
  7. Remove and leave to cool before frosting – I frosted mine with melted chocolate and a mix of melted chocolate and peanut butter
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3 Ingredient ratio cookies

In school we found ourselves asking: “why do we need maths? We are never going to use the gradient of a hyperbole anywhere in our lives! Who even cares what x equals, I want to be an artist/lawyer/journalist/psychologist/fireman.”

Pam's jar

I am pleased to let you know, that I have found a use for maths that goes beyond simple addition and subtraction – we all knew that was important, how else would we be able to count our pieces of cake or get sad as people eat all your chocolates, one by one? Maths is beyond useful in these Ratio Butter Cookies, where all you have to remember is 3 little numbers. It’s so easy, you’ll quickly forget that it’s based on mathematical principles.

Mom's dayThese 3:2:1 cookies are my go-to biscuits when I am bored, craving cookies, or when I want to make a gift for someone. As a baker, I think that giving baked goods is like giving a little part of myself to the person, so it’s a personal gift, which is my favourite type of gift. As you can see from the photos, my skills with the biscuits definitely improved the more I made them, but that’s what this blog is about: learning.

Pre and post-bake

I used these fabulous cookie cutters I got from Yuppiechef, which imprint your chosen letters and words onto the cookies. Trouble is, someone has since hidden my pack of letters, so now I have to be creative when choosing my messages, because I only have the letters that were used in past messages. How many different ways can you use the letters: T. H. E. K. E. N. D. Z.? For those of you who are good with anagrams, there’s a challenge for you.

The Kendz cookies

Ratio butter cookies – dark chocolate and orange butter cookies

Ingredients

  • 300g cake/plain flour
  • 200g salted butter (or unsalted, with a pinch of salt added later)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest (or lemon zest, but this doesn’t go as well with the dark chocolate)
  • melted dark chocolate (about 1 slab, depending on how much of the cookie you want to cover in chocolate)

Method

  1. Cream the softened butter and the sugar with the orange zest until smooth, light and creamy, almost fluffy
  2. Add the flour mix together until well-combined. You may want to get your hands in there to make sure it all comes together nicely
  3. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. It can also be frozen in a sausage shape to be cut into discs whenever you want it
  4. Heat the oven to 180ºC, and line a baking tray
  5. Roll out the cookies and cut into the desired shapes. Make sure they are all of even thickness or they will cook at different speeds
  6. Place on the prepared baking tray and place in the oven
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden and they no longer look wet. Depending on how crispy you like your cookies of course…
  8. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely
  9. Melt the dark chocolate (double boiler or in the microwave, but be careful not to let it burn), and dip cookies as desired, placing them on baking parchment to set.

Be mine

Alice in Wonderland Party – Red Velvet Queen of Hearts

The person that wrote Alice in Wonderland was definitely cooked off his rocker. But, some of the best things in life are just that: cooked! (Or “Mad”, if we want to go full-on Alice in Wonderland reference)

Mom’s “hat braai” had me wanting to do a real mad-hatter theme party. Actually, my mini steampunk hat made me want to do a Mad Hatter’s party. I couldn’t go straight “Hat”, though – can’t be copying my mother – so I went with the whimsical land of Alice, with all of it’s crazy tea-parties and glam of the Queen of Hearts.

It turned out quite well: everyone was dressed up, and the theme actually lent itself to great decorations. See my Pinterest board for inspiration.

Red Velvet Cupcakes 3

Following the carrot cupcakes of the other day, I needed to make that cream cheese frosting again. Emphasis there on the word needed. It really was that good. The red velvet cupcakes came out so cute as well! I may have left them out in the open for a bit long, however, so they weren’t as moist as they should have been. The flavour, though, was great, really does the iconic red velvet cupcake.

Red Velvet cupcakes

I have to admit that there is a disappointing amount of cocoa in the red velvet mixture. 1 Tbsp? What’s the point!? Either way, apart from some of the random ingredients (don’t be put off by the smell of the mixture or the consistency of some of the ingredients), these cupcakes are really easy to make (mix mix mix everything together!). Though you might not want to eat the cupcake batter, you will definitely want to dig into the finished product (some may argue that there isn’t even a point to making the cupcakes if you can’t enjoy the batter, but bear with me for that little red gem of joy). Again, I used this recipe from One Sweet Appetite, because her carrot cupcakes were so good, there was no doubt that the red velvet ones would speak to me on the same level.

Red Velvet cupcakes 2

Red Velvet Cupcakes – makes 24

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ C cake flour
  • 1 ½ C caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ C vegetable oil
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp red food colouring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider because that’s what we had, and it’s an acceptable vinegar substitute for most recipes, which is good to note)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC
  2. Prepare your cupcake tin (liners or greased)
  3. Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl
  4. Whisk all the wet ingredients together until well-combined
  5. Mix the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients until the mixture is of even consistency. Note to self: do not lick the batter spoon
  6. Divide evenly, about ²⁄³ full
  7. Place in the oven on the middle shelf, for 15 minutes, or until the sounds of wet-baking have disappeared, and a skewer comes out the centre of the cupcake dry
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting

 

Cream Cheese Frosting – enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes (and eat the leftovers)

Ingredients

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 5 tsp softened butter (not melted)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ C icing (powdered/confectioner’s) sugar

Method

  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together until soft (this makes it easier to mix the sugar in, instead of having the chunks of dairy flying around)
  2. Add the icing sugar and mix slightly before beating until well-combined and of a desired consistency (like whipped cream or a solid buttercream frosting)
  3. Pipe onto your cupcakes

Chocolate brownie “Hat” cake

Winter babies are the best. (And to me, there are only 2 seasons in the year: Summer, and Winter. Don’t worry if you’re a summer baby, though, it was winter somewhere). So lately there have been a lot of awesome birthdays, all starting with my mother dearest’s. We always have family braais (BBQs) to celebrate things, so this time we decided to spice it up a little by adding a theme: it was a hat braai. My mother is so creative (I am being sarcastic but also not… You will see why next week).

One of mom's friends went to the effort of making a personalised fun hat

One of mom’s friends went to the effort of making a personalised fun hat

This mother dearest of mine requested a hat cake for her birthday party. I was up for a challenge, but on Pinterest, all the hatness was made out of fondant, which I am really NOT a fan of. I decided to try find an alternative, but would settle for that sweetened playdough if I had to. I came across this recipe for marshmallow fondant. I love marshmallows. It was surely going to be a winner.

Alas, my marshmallow fondant did not hold together as it was supposed to, and I ended up having to scrap that idea, though the cake mountain was already cut and moulded, buttercream layer ready for its coating of neatness. It was too late to go the fondant route now, though, so I just drizzled my remaining milk chocolate ganache over the top of the buttercream frosting. The cake was also presented on a conveniently shaped (though subtle) plate, so the whole ‘hat’ effect was not entirely lost.

Happy birthday mumzicle

Happy birthday mumzicle!

The cake recipe I used was one that has “failed” in the past for me (the taste was amazing then too). It turned out a bit differently this time, a little less fluffy and moist, more like a decadent brownie (though less fudgy than a brownie). I am going to put this down to the altitude, because this is the second time my cake has come out slightly more dense than when I made it down in Grahamstown.

Chocolate brownie "almost-hat" cake. Dense and moist chocolate cake layered with milk chocolate ganache, with chocolate buttercream frosting, and milk chocolate ganache drizzle

Chocolate brownie “almost-hat” cake. Dense and moist chocolate cake layered with milk chocolate ganache, with chocolate buttercream frosting, and milk chocolate ganache drizzle

Chocolate brownie cake 

For the cake

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 150g dark chocolate – melted (as usual I used my Bournville favourite)
  • 150g butter
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 200ml milk (as needed for mixing)
  • ¼ cup strong coffee (room temperature)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Cream the butter and the sugar
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder together
  4. Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture and mix until combined
  5. Mix in the dry ingredients. Once they are incorporated into the mixture, add the vanilla, melted dark chocolate and coffee
  6. Mix well. Use milk to loosen the batter until it is of semi-pourable consistency
  7. Divide into 3 pre-greased cake tins, and place on the middle shelf
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake is springy to touch
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the cake tin
  10. Assemble

 

For the Ganache

  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 60ml cream

Method

  1. Place the chocolate and cream in a heat proof bowl. Place this bowl on top of a pot of steaming/simmering water. This is called a bain-marie
  2. Melt the chocolate and cream together, stirring until smooth
  3. Allow to cool slightly before pouring between the cake layers, and especially before pouring on top of the buttercream frosting

 

For the Chocolate buttercream frosting 

  • 150g softened butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 30ml milk
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Method

  1. Cream the butter and add the icing sugar. Mix until well-combined, smooth and creamy
  2. Heat up the milk and add the cocoa powder. Mix until dissolved. Allow to cool before adding to the icing, as this will melt the butter
  3. Add the chocolate milk to the icing, and mix until well-combined and creamy
  4. Ice your cake

Chocolate Wasted Cake

Chocolate is my thing. I am a complete addict. So when I found this cake, I immediately decided that I wanted this to be made for my birthday. And it was, as chocolate always is, amazing! I’m pretty sure I was just Google Image searching for chocolate when I came across this recipe, but it most certainly delivered.

Look at all that chocolate-y goodness!

Granted, it was very rich, and VERY chocolate-y. It was also quite thick and stodgy. This was probably because the recipe is egg-free, so, yay if you’re into that kind of thing. Me? I like my eggies, so I probably would have preferred this cake if it had used them. I used crumbled Flakey instead of chocolate chips because I don’t have great access to delicious chocolate chips, so I decided I’d go the safer and guaranteed-delicious route of Flake. It was a good decision.

The cake was also a little bit on the large side, which put off some of my healthier guests: there is no such thing as a small slice with this baby!

It was fun to make, and with a few alterations, it would be my absolutely perfect kind of cake!

“Kendra” brownies

That is, “Kendra” after me, not the Playboy bunny, in which case these brownies might be more appropriate..

Just: chocolate <3

Just: chocolate ❤

These brownies are SO me – can you say 4 (FOUR!) different types of chocolate in these babies?! It’s no wonder they came out tops at my brownie bake-off last year, even though they got a bit burnt in a dodgy oven (thankfully, Pam has since had that fixed).

White chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. And of course, a whole load of cocoa powder.

White chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. And of course, a whole load of cocoa powder.

I made these for my classmates because I promised I’d make them these peanut butter brownies from Yammie’s Gluten Freedom. They looked incredible in the photo, but in all honesty, they are not to everyone’s taste, since they have basically no sugar in them. They are healthy (well, healthier) though, so I want to rework the recipe a bit, then I’ll be sharing it away with them. In the meantime, I had kept them waiting far too long, and it was time to deliver some baked goods to my class of Biokineticists (people who are supposed to promote health and wellbeing… Good job, guys!).

This recipe is from BBC Good Food, but their instructions are so detailed, it’s a bit difficult to follow. So I have simplified it for you, because everyone needs this much chocolate overload every now and then (/as often as possible).

 

Best Chocolate Brownies ever! 

Ingredients

  • 185g dark chocolate (Bournville works pretty well
  • 185g salted butter
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 85g flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 50g milk chocolate chunks
  • 50g white chocolate chunks

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (or 160 degrees in a fan-assisted oven)
  2. Melt butter and dark chocolate together in the microwave (stirring often) or over a pot of simmering water. Leave to cool.
  3. Sift flour and cocoa powder together into a large mixing bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat sugar and eggs together until thick and creamy – mixture must be pale and will have doubled in volume.
  5. Fold the chocolate-butter mixture into the egg-sugar mixture, until it the two become a mottled brown colour. Careful not to over-mix and lose the air you just beat into the eggs.
  6. Resift the flour-cocoa mix into the wet ingredients mixture, and fold in until just combined with no dry patches.
  7. Stir in the milk and white chocolate chunks.
  8. Spread mixture out evenly into a 20cm square tin that has been prepared with non-stick spray or baking parchment.
  9. Set on middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes. If the brownies wobble in the middle when you try take them out, put them back in for a few minutes, though take care not to overdo them.
  10. Once removed, leave to cool for as long as you can bear it, and then devour them as gracefully as you can manage (that’s a challenge!)

Missing Christmas

Christmas candle

Christmas in the UK is quite a thing to behold. It is not necessarily about the religious aspect of it, but the tradition is still all there – the gorgeous Christmas lights, the Christmas puddings, the stockings by the fireplace. And the mulled wine, oh the mulled wine! In fact, the mulled everything!

I fell in love with mulled wine. It became a bit of an obsession. It is quite expensive to make from scratch, but you can also get little teabags of the spices to make it easy and more reasonable (or you can buy a bottle of read-made mulled wine). Mulled cider is also amazing: it is like an apple pie in a cup!

I fell in love with mulled wine. It became a bit of an obsession. It is quite expensive to make from scratch, but you can also get little teabags of the spices to make it easy and more reasonable (or you can buy a bottle of read-made mulled wine). Mulled cider is also amazing: it is like an apple pie in a cup!

Family time is always a good time: it gives you an opportunity to appreciate how lucky you are to have them. After all, family is forever, and it’s really hard to escape them. My gran is such a strong support and foundation in our family, and as tradition holds, she is a fabulous cook! I wish I had more of an opportunity to learn from her, but there’s only so many times you can be allowed to bake before your mother complains that there are too many cookies and cupcakes and brownies and the fridge and every other food storage space… Also, it’s far too cold in the UK to exercise enough to compensate for all that butter and sugar!

Christmas pudding. Also known as a ball of flour and brandy with a few raisins that can burn your throat out even before you have lit the alcohol! This was one strong pudding. So how did my family make up for that brandy richness? By smothering it in brandy butter and brandy cream. I would have liked it more if I had developed my taste for brandy beforehand. Luckily, we had normal cream as well, so my pudding was beautifully drowned because cream is the greatest thing ever!

Christmas pudding. Also known as a ball of flour and brandy with a few raisins that can burn your throat out even before you have lit the alcohol! This was one strong pudding. So how did my family make up for that brandy richness? By smothering it in brandy butter and brandy cream. I would have liked it more if I had developed my taste for brandy beforehand. Luckily, we had normal cream as well, so my pudding was beautifully drowned because cream is the greatest thing ever!

I really love recipes to be as simple as possible. Mostly this is because it’s easier to have all the ingredients on hand if there are fewer that you actually need, but also because often the extra ingredients don’t even change the flavour! Gran found these awesome (and illogical) cake tins online and decided that we absolutely HAD to make the Christmas pudding cake. No, not Christmas pudding or Christmas cake, it is a cake that looks like a Christmas pudding, kind of resembles the Christmas flavours, but different. The recipe was a pricey one, with lots of dark chocolate, dates, eggs, and brandy (which happened to be my grandfather’s mother’s!) and it turned out like a massive chocolate cake bomb/boulder. It was extremely heavy! It had a decent flavour, but it was far too large for such a rich cake. The greatest thing about it was the milk chocolate ganache between the two layers (note: the link to the recipe doesn’t give you the exact same recipe as the one we used).

Looks like a little someone got a hold of the fondant

Looks like a little someone got a hold of the fondant

The recipe called for brown fondant around the whole ball, but most of my family don’t like fondant, and buttercream frosting looks so much more delicious and appealing (because it is!), so we gave it a skip. Also because making brown fondant is a mission. I really don’t like fondants and marzipan though: they always look amazing, but taste dreadful!

Scarlett and the Goats - doesn't this sound like a fabulous name for a band? One that plays a banjo and uses walking sticks because they are 22 (ironically).

Scarlett and the Goats – doesn’t this sound like a fabulous name for a band? One that plays a banjo and uses walking sticks because they are 22 (ironically).

Christmas was a little over 2 months ago already! That means less than 10 months until more family and food time!