Category Archives: Family

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Chocolate Ganache filling

I love having a family with good taste. It means I get to spoil them with experiments and I get to enjoy the benefits, both of actually putting together something delicious, and of enjoying it (I am still trying to figure out which one I enjoy more… thankfully it’s not important to figure out, otherwise I would be in a major quandary and dilemma and I would probably end up not doing either of them. I’m weird like that).

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I have a problem with reading, and I have lost my excuse since finishing University. While at school and while studying at University, I got a bit lazy to read. I absolutely love reading though, I always have, every since my Great Gran taught me how to read the children’s bible when I was 5! I got a Dictionary for my 6th birthday. Which I decided I would try and read when I was 11. Thankfully I didn’t get very far, that would have been a waste of time!

But that is my problem with reading: I feel that it is such a luxury past-time, that if I have something more “important” to be doing (such as assignments, studying, thesis, etc.), then how could I allow myself to indulge in reading? As a result I didn’t do my reading at Uni. Which isn’t to say that I got much of the other important stuff done in that time instead though, I would actually end up not doing either activity. So it really was a terrible excuse.

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Now, I can’t even use that excuse because I am no longer studying! I have free time which is actually free, and it is beautiful. You could say that the free time actually adds up to the endless holidays that students get. Or at least I can tell myself that so that I don’t feel so jealous about all their time to travel and explore…

The beautiful birthday girl

The beautiful birthday girl

I suppose what I do do instead of reading or studying now is bake. I am ok with that. Sometimes baking requires planning and organisation and grown up things like that, so for this cake for my cousin’s 18th, I had to make a practice version of the cake. You know, to make sure it worked out alright (nothing to do with sampling or ensuring that we had our own personal “leftovers”…

 practice cake
For the cake

Ingredients

  • 230g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 240g flour
  • 4 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 250ml milk
  • 125g butter
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Prepare two round baking tins.
  2. Place eggs and sugar into a bowl and whisk on high until lighter in colour, thick and frothy
  3. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt together and fold into the egg mixture until all ingredients are just wet
  4. Melt down the butter into the milk in a pot on low heat. Add the vanilla essence once mixed together
  5. Add butter-milk mixture to the batter and stir until it reaches a smooth consistency. Mix carefully so as to not lose any of the air in the whipped eggs
  6. Divide batter equally between the two cake tins and place in the preheated oven. Leave to bake for 30 minutes
  7. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool before frosting.

Note: for this cake, I completely flattened off both tops using a bread knife. This was so the strawberries could sit safely

For the Salted Caramel

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup caster sugar
  • 100g butter (cubes)
  • 60ml cream

Method

  1. Place the sugar in a pot on a medium-high heat and allow it to melt. Do not stir. Shake the pot to mix the sugar and allow the top dry sugar to get to the heat under the molten sugar
  2. Once a golden colour is reached and all the sugar is dissolved, add the butter and stir until melted and mixed in
  3. Remove from heat and add the cream, stirring vigorously until all is incorporated
  4. Place in a bowl/container and allow to cool before using in this cake
For the Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

  • 120g dark chocolate (I used Bournville)
  • 80ml cream (pouring or heavy cream)
  • 30g butter

Method 1:

  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring regularly. Just before all the bits are melted, remove and keep stirring until the heat of the melted chocolate melts the remaining chocolate
  2. Add the butter and allow it to melt into the chocolate
  3. Mix in the cream until a smooth and consistent glossy chocolate mixture forms. Allow to cool slightly before use

Method 2: 

  1. Heat the cream on a stove top. Once simmering, remove from heat and pour over chocolate and butter. Ensure the chocolate has been chopped into small pieces so that it melts easier.

 

caramel ganache layer

For the Chocolate Buttercream frosting

Ingredients

  • 110g butter softened
  • 220g icing sugar
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 40ml cream (or until desired texture is reached)

Method

  1. Cream the butter (electric whisk on low)
  2. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder together, and cream together with the butter
  3. Add the cream in small doses to help the mixture come together and continue to do so until desired consistency is reached
  4. Only frost cake once cake is coooled

Food lately

Oh my word I can’t believe it’s been so long since I actually posted anything! I do have a ton of reasons (internet, laptop, camera, etc.) but excuses don’t mean anything at the end of the day: it didn’t get done, and now I need to fix that!

Just because I haven’t posted anything doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doing food stuff lately – that will never happen! As you can see above (and below), Easter happened, so of course food happened. I entered a competition  on Yuppiechef.com (#eastercakeoff), and had to bake their amazing Spiced Almond Hot Cross Bun Cake, and maybe I didn’t win the awesome Le Creuset hamper (*tear), but you can’t not be winning at life when you get to eat an amazing cake like this. Instead of toasting coconut flakes (which were impossible to find the day before Easter) (also I burnt the one bag of coconut flakes that I did have, but don’t tell anyone that!), I bought some really delicious cereal topping from Woolworths, which came with flaked almonds, coconut flakes, and white chocolate. Totally makes up for the burnt coconut (and because there is now some cereal topping left over…) #WinningAtEaster!

Easter = eggs (obviously). (Let’s see how much of this blog post I can write in parenthesis…) So quiche was the order of the day – you know, to be healthy and stuff, and I have finally found a super reliable shortcrust pastry recipe which I will share (in a really cool and special new way), sometime in the new future).

I’ve also recently decided that I should probably start being a bit healthier. I am in the Wellness and Health & Fitness industry so I should maybe start setting a better example. I had a week of jar salads. I got over it. And how can I not, when there are these amazing chocolate-chocolate éclairs in a recipe book just asking to be made!

So new week, I had to try be healthy again. I’ve gone the Herbalife route now. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you will certainly hear more about it from me in the future. It’s such an amazing product, and look at the delicious (and nutritious) smoothies you can make with it. Trust me, these tasted just like a chocolate-covered strawberry, just as they should!

I’ve also started working with a more regular income. Just because it is regular, doesn’t mean it is hugely lucrative, but it does mean that on pay day I get to go buy “other people” some treats from bakeries I’ve been meaning to try. These are from Chocola. J in Northcliff and they were heavenly, especially the crème brûlée cupcake, and the Bar-One cheescake…

  Vovo Telo always presents their food so well. I have an absolute favourite sandwich at their restaurant, but I decided to give this croissant a try for a change. That’s literally one of my most challenging things ever: saying no to the things you love to try something new, even if it is likely to be as delicious. Can’t I just have both?!?!?! I kept my consistency by having African Summer Tea from Toni Glass though. I am in love!

So that’s what’s been happening in my food world over the past month or so. I’ve made a couple loaves of bread, tried to be experimental with media, and also trying to figure out this whole work-life balance thing. It’s quite tough if you’re trying to make the things you are passionate about (the “life” side of the equation) part of your work… But we are getting there. And the rest of April is going to be an amazing adventure in preparation for May and the rest of the year. Second Term starts soon: New Term, New Me (again)!

Gingerbread Cookies

Merry Christmas and happy new year and merry Christmas again! South African Christmas is really not our typical. It’s generally a scorcher of a day, and if you’re lucky, you get a “White Christmas” in the form of a massive hailstorm at the end of the day. There’s no Christmas jumpers, but maybe you’ll wear red “Christmas” shorts or a tank top, because really anything more than that and you’ll melt like Frosty the snowman.

Gingerbread cookies 1

Pardon my sad excuse at trying to write “The Kendz” with some leftover dough… At the end of the day, at least my name tastes good!

 

That doesn’t mean we don’t get to enjoy some other Christmas traditions like overeating and innumerable desserts. This year I made a meringue roulade filled with whipped Chantilly cream and strawberries. I didn’t even know such beauty existed until I got asked to make one, and wow! Really, do yourself a favour!

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Christmas is the perfect excuse to indulge in as much cooking and baking as you like, so I used the opportunity to make some Christmasy gingerbread biscuits for Mr Kendz’s mother. I initially wanted to use a recipe that didn’t use molasses or honey or those weird ingredients, but they absolutes sucked! So I had to give in, get some golden syrup, and it made the absolute world of difference to the cookies!

They are perfectly chewy and soft, a gorgeous golden colour. They are officially my new favourite biscuits… I tried to make a YouTube video of myself making them…

… But I got distracted and ended up eating them before I could make a complete video…

Last year I decided was my adventure year. I think I did pretty well: I started rock climbing, went on an overlanding expedition through Africa, and Mr Kendz’s and I went camping independently for the first time (and learnt what not to do on future trips). My goal for this year is creativity. I’ve already painted a pot for my coffee plant (check out my Instagram), and I got creative with some chalkboard paint I got as a stocking-filler. Big plans ahead for this year!!! And hopefully it’s also filled with more biscuits just as amazing as these babies.

Gingerbread cookies 2

Gingerbread cookies
Makes as many as you want it to (about 35 small cookies, or 20 gingerbread men)

Ingredients

  • 125g softened butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 125ml golden syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 375 plain flour
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together
  2. Add the egg and syrup and mix well
  3. Sift the spices and bicarb together with the flour and add to the wet mixture. Mix well until a well-incorporated dough has formed
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes
  5. Preheat oven to 170
  6. Roll out the dough to about 4mm thick (fairly thick, almost like shortcrust pastry) and cut into shapes using a cookie cutter
  7. Place cookies on a grease proof baking sheet/baking paper and place in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove when edges start to brown and let cool on a rack

Achievement Unlocked – Level Macarons!

achievement

Macarons have been my biggest challenge to date. Generally I am quite satisfied with my ability to follow a recipe and get my expected result. With macarons, however, this was not the case.

Christmas Macarons

[Let me just clarify something quickly: macaroon vs. macaron. Think: coconut vs. almond flour.

Quick recipe for a macaroon: condensed milk and desiccated coconut, mixed in a ratio that lets you form little balls and place on a baking tray to bake at 180º until the edges start to brown and the biscuit is pretty firm]

My first attempt at macarons used a recipe from Dan Lepard‘s cookbook, Short and Sweet, which has proven delicious and basically perfect every time… until now. Then I tried Mary Berry and Great British Bake Off‘s chocolate macarons. I followed the instructions to a T, and they ended up burning anyway.

I figured it was time for a troubleshooting guide, when I stumbled upon this absolute gem. She even linked to her step by step guide to making macarons, which I tried after re-attempting Dan’s recipe using some of her advice. This was my result:

Her recipe was the first to start coming out right. But surely I didn’t have to follow all of her steps? Who has time to wait overnight for egg whites to mature? As it turns out, it is important, and it makes a substantial difference.

What also helped, was this guy. I absolutely love his work! His tutorials on macarons showed me that I might have been over-beating my eggs, and maybe I was “not overmixing” too carefully. Fully incorporated, people!

Red Christmas macarons

Eventually, I ended up with these bad boys, which I made for our Christmas party. Aren’t they beautiful! And added bonus was that they were gluten free, so everyone, even the fussies (though not the Banting folk), could enjoy dessert.

They were accompanied by vanilla cupcakes with green cream cheese frosting, and cute little marshmallow reindeer that my little cousin thoroughly enjoyed.

Marshmallow reindeer

Marshmallow reindeer

Vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Macarons

Makes about 30 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp creme of tartar
  • 210g powdered (icing) sugar
  • 125g ground almonds/almond meal/almond flour
  • 30g caster (granulated) sugar

Method

  1. Separate the egg whites. Leave overnight to mature in the fridge, and remove from fridge well ahead of time to allow to come to room temperature
  2. Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds together. Place this into a food processor and blend together until very fine and resembles a flour. Do this in stages, and make sure you’ve scraped down the sides of the food processor to break everything up. Also don’t go for so long that the mixture starts to heat up (we are making macarons, not over-sweetened almond butter)
  3. Sift the icing sugar-almond mix back into the bowl. If there are any remaining chunks of almond, remove them, they will make the mixture lumpy – DO NOT PUSH THEM THROUGH
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and creme of tartar until very soft peaks form – peaks should hold their shape for long. Add the granulated sugar here in two stages, beating until stiff peaks form (but not hard peaks – they should have some movement to them still). Colour your meringue mixture now, using powder or gel food colourings – don’t use liquid colouring
  5. Add one third of the almond mix and fold in gently. Once it has started to combine, add the second third, and repeat with the final third. Ensure mixture is of the same consistency and there are no dry patches
  6. Place mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle about 0.5-0.8cm in diameter. Pipe this onto a stencilled mat or template, taking care not to put too much mixture for each biscuit as they spread quite a bit. Tap the baking tray firmly onto your working surface to remove any air bubbles. If there are remaining bubbles on the surface, give these a pop with a tooth pick
  7. Leave to form a shell at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Just before that time is up, preheat oven to 160ºC
  8. Place baking tray in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 140ºC and continue to bake for another 5-7 minutes
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before sandwiching together with filling. I filled mine with canned caramel (boiled condensed milk trick) sprinkled with some salt (salted caramel), a coffee buttercream, and some leftover green cream cheese frosting from the 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

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!

My Little Dears

Last year I lost the cutest marshmallow in the world. Harry, my ten-year-old cat was attacked by the neighbour’s dogs. I named him Harry because he was black, and Harry Potter has black hair…

   

 

In February our family was joined by two new dears. A boy and a girl domestic shorthair. Their mother was a ginger named Kylie.
Pippin and Ginger are always up to no good
Ginger is my brother’s cat. You can guess which one she is, I hope. She is the less friendly of the two, and she’s also a rather timid kitten.
Pippin is named after Peregrin Took from The Lord of the Rings. Mom wanted to name him Nougat, but to me that’s a girl kitten’s name. I considered Gandalf, but that was a bit too strong for him as a kitten…
That cat attitude is so clear on his face. I absolutely love his eyes!
He has a little ginger nose
He is always alert and curious to everything around him

 

Yeah, he know’s he’s cute. Check out the ginger socks and tail!
I almost called him UCG (Undercover Ginger)

 

“Love me! Or I will keep you up all night purring in your ear, like I’m going to do anyway…”