Category Archives: Food

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
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Johannesburg Cake and Bake Show

Saturday was a day of treats – Urban Angel Food Market in the morning, Cake and Bake Show in the afternoon. Of course, I tried to balance this out with some exercise in the morning, but you can’t out-exercise 2 doughnuts, 4 cupcakes, a couple cookies, a scone and some chocolate truffles for lunch… But hey, we all deserve to let loose every now and then.

Mom and her cupcake

Of course, I only went for the educational aspect of the Cake and Bake Show. It had nothing at all to do with the possibility of free food, surely not! I would say the show was definitely value for money – a goodie bag upon entry, free spin-the-wheel competitions where you win more goodie bags, free samples from the different stalls, especially from the Bakels store…

Johan from the Bakels stand was particularly generous with their offerings...

Johan from the Bakels stand was particularly generous with their offerings…

Sasko was there showcasing their Quick Treats packet mixes, Clicks had a stall for their Love to Bake range, there was lumo baking chocolate, with a fantastic cake display featuring lurid but exciting lumo cake pops, and a stall for ready-made cake/cupcake decorations (sugar decor). Kenwood had a stand as well, but that just upset me… One day when I am rich!

My biggest lesson from the show: you can buy acetate at hardware stores (not baking shops, as I’d previously believed). Also, just because something looks delicious, doesn’t automatically mean it is. And beware of chocolate chip cookies who pretend to have big chocolate chips… They are liars who want to hurt your soul.

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)!

Viennese Whirls

I am having such uncharacteristically strong cravings lately. Not in a weird way (I’m not pregnant), but my body is definitely telling me which nutrients I am lacking. Like salty or spicy potato chips (which I normally only each about 4 times a year). And chocolate too, which is normal for me, but not normally such an insatiable desire…

There’s also the inability to stop once I’ve started. I guess this is what happens when you attempt to be healthy! (Though being healthy is definitely paying off – six pack, here I come!)

Pre-baked whirls

So the other day I had a craving for those little melting moments shortbread cookies. I really just wanted the sweet buttery-ness to melt and dissolve on my tongue. With a nice dusting of icing sugar of course.

I Pinterested recipes for the little gems and I came across recipes for Viennese whirls, which are just a slightly different consistency, making them pipable. Result: the most professional-looking home-baked cookies I have ever made! And even better when dipped in the rare perfection that is Bournville (seriously, though, why have they stopped selling that in my local shops? Where did it go?!)

Tea and whirls

Make sure when you’re making these that the dough/batter is extremely soft – pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds or cream it extra well; you may end up with a split piping bag if you don’t.

Whirl batter

I am also considering adding a dash of vanilla next time I make these, just to add a subtle sweet depth to them.

Tea and biccies

Viennese Whirls

Makes about 16-20

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 55g icing sugar
  • 225g cake flour
  • 75g cornflour
  • About 200g dark chocolate for dipping (I keep the quantity low so I don’t end up eating all the leftovers!)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C
  2. Cream the butter and icing sugar together really well
  3. Sift the cake flour and cornflour together, and add to the butter mixture. Mix very well
  4. Place in a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe onto a prepared baking sheet
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, just before they start to change colour
  6. Remove and let cool before dipping in melted chocolate. Leave for the chocolate to harden

Getting Lucky at the Good Luck Club

The Good Luck Club

And by lucky I mean free food, because we all know that that is the best score you can get.

I stumbled upon this neat little restaurant on a casual afternoon drive home from work when I was actually looking for another restaurant, and discovered that the Good Luck Club, which I had never heard of before, was going to be having a Grand Opening launching their new expansion. I wasn’t planning on staying for lunch, but a launch I could definitely count myself included in. And man, was I NOT disappointed.

 

The Good Luck Club has a branch in Illovo, so the quality of the food in this new branch in Emmarentia was unsurprisingly delightful. I love how the menu brings Asian cuisine into the suburbs of Jo’burg, without being too pretentious (although the restaurant was packed to the BRIM with hipsters on opening night – it was the craft beer they were there for, I’m sure of it!)

Good Luck Club Dumplings

After 2 hours of waiting (apparently everyone knew it was opening night) we were finally served our free dim sum platter of 6 dumplings in 3 varieties. Though they were late, they were still steaming hot, and coupled with a deliciously spicy dipping sauce.

It is cheaper than many of the Asian fusion restaurants that are popping up around Jo’burg, however it is still out of my price range at about R98 for the average main (so much, and just for noodles or curry!?) As a result, I had the miso soup for main. It was tiny, but full of flavour, and of course packed with protein-filled tofu. Mr Kendz had the Thai Chicken soup, which he was thrilled with: there was a delicate balance of coconut and undertones of subtle and beautifully combined flavours – not overwhelming, and really generous with the chicken. He was satisfied after his half of the dim sum platter and his soup, so it is still possible to make it a cheap date and get some great tasting good quality food.

Good Luck Club Miso Soup

Deep fried banana spring rolls with chocolate dipping sauce for dessert. Delicious (even though we got it before we even got our dim sum)

Deep fried banana spring rolls with chocolate dipping sauce for dessert. Delicious (even though we got it before we even got our dim sum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The restaurant itself is stunning – it is simplistic, with concrete walls and simple wooden tables. The lights hang off the walls on neatly wound cords of wire (I’m sure it’s safe!), and there are Sir Cats on the wall. I would go there just for Sir Cat. He’s majestic.

One day when I’m big and rich I will go to restaurants like the Good Luck Club all the time! But for now, I will just save it for payday (along all the other exciting restaurants Jozi is tempting me with).

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