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Are you in need of a simple recipe to impress loved ones… some Valentine’s baking inspiration perhaps? We created quick and easy, creamy, dreamy, fresh berry tartlets – made with a biscuit base and our instant Pastry Cream filling –
or as the French call it…
Crème Pâtissière – thick creamy custard used as a filling for cakes and pastries such as custard slices, mille-feuille, cream puffs, profiteroles or fruit tarts.
We used loose-bottom fluted tart pans, great for individual portions; however feel free to make and serve these tarts in ramekins, or pie dishes – use what you have, darling
Ingredients1 Packet Nicoletta Pastry Cream Mix (aka Crème Pâtissière) 400ml Milk 1 Packet Biscuits (Marie / Tennis / Oatmeal Digestives) 3 Tbs. Butter, melted Fresh Berries
Smash the biscuits and blend them together with the melted butter. Squish the crumbs into the tart pan tightly – so that the base doesn’t seek to fall apart at serving or removing the tart shell! Place the tarts in the freezer for a few minutes to allow the butter in the tarts to harden – this therefore will make it infinitely easier to remove the shell from the pan without the tart falling apart.
Mix the Pastry Cream according to instructions on the packet (add the mix to 400ml cold milk in a bowl, and beat on high-speed for 2-5 minutes, until thick and creamy. Allow the mixture to stand for 2 minutes before using).
Remove your tarts from the freezer, pop them out of the pans and fill with sweet creamy filling. Decorate with fresh berries – we used blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.
Refrigerate until served.
At Nicoletta, we have had a very interesting year of attempting ‘Banting’ and have endeavoured to keep at least 1 recipe per month Banting-friendly. The easiest recipe for a sweet fix over last year has to be our Banting-style Brownies – which can be whipped together in 20 minutes!
Ingredients¾ cup Almond Flour 3 Tbs. Cocoa Powder 1/3 cup Xylitol / Honey ½ tsp. Bicarbonate of soda Pinch of Salt Handful of assorted nuts 3 Eggs 1 tsp. Vanilla ¼ cup Butter, melted
Mix the dry ingredients; and add all the wet ingredients. Whisk till it is combined. Pour into a small baking dish/pan (we used a dish approx. 140mm x 220mm) and bake at 170°C for 15 minutes or until the brownie almost does not “jiggle”. Do not overcook, as the brownies will dry out quickly!
In the spirit of Christmas giving, and in light of those Banting over the silly season, we have created the perfect foodie gift – DIY Banting-style Brownie Mix!
MAKE THE JAR MIX:¾ cup Almond Flour 3 Tbs. Cocoa Powder 1/3 cup Xylitol ½ tsp. Bicarbonate of soda Pinch of Salt Handful of assorted nuts
Mix a quarter of the almond flour with the cocoa to create good layers. Layer the jar with 1) the almond flour, 2) the cocoa mix, 3) the xylitol, 4) top with the bicarbonate of soda and salt, 5) lastly the chopped nuts. Seal the lid tightly and add a tag with the recipe:
Contains: Almond Flour, Cocoa Powder, Xylitol, Bicarbonate of Soda, Salt, Tree Nuts
SIMPY ADD TO THE MIX:3 Eggs ¼ cup Butter, melted 1 tsp. Vanilla
Whisk till it is combined. Pour into a medium baking pan and bake at 170°C for 15 minutes or until the brownie does not “jiggle”. Happy Banting!
Here are a few tags to print for your jars:
Create your mixes ahead of the Christmas holidays and set aside for wrapping with ribbons and tags! Finish and klaar.
Our favourite way to eat it is served with Gelato Mania’s Banting and Diabetic-friendly Chocolate / Hazelnut Gelato (talk about yum!). Gelato by nature is slow churned, and results in a denser, creamier and richer product than aerated store-bought ice-cream. This Gelato screams indulgence, and still only contains 5.0g Carbohydrates per scoop! See these new flavours at the Gelato Mania Gelateria’s in Camp’s Bay, Green Point, Cavendish Square, V&A Waterfront, Franschhoek and Hermanus.
It’s clear that this Christmas we will have everything under control. No more rushing around for last minute gifts!
We are under the spell of ‘foodie gifting’ – as we indulge in our culinary proficiencies to make our own sparkling jams and jellies to use as Christmas gifts, as these types of gifts are always appreciated.
This year we made a marvellous golden strawberry jam and red fruit mince by adding Gold Shimmer dust to the recipe. The Gold Shimmer is completely edible and will not dissolve, giving sparkling golden pizazz to our foodie gifts this season.
SPARKLING STRAWBERRY JAM
This recipe created a wonderfully fresh tasting strawberry jam!
Ingredients:1kg Strawberries, hulled 750g Sugar Juice of 1 Lemon 3 Tbs. Fruit pectin (which can be purchased from your local pharmacy / health shop)
Our simple strawberry jam recipe is prepared by first coating the fresh strawberries in the sugar; leave uncovered in the fridge for up to 12 hours or overnight.
Add the lemon juice and heat the strawberry mixture in a pot on the stovetop until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil for 4 minutes, and then add the pectin. Boil for a further 1-5 minutes or until the jam coats the back of a chilled spoon (a jammy texture that sticks on the back of a cold spoon vs. an under-cooked syrup that runs off the cold spoon).
Take off the heat and pour directly into sterile jam jars. Seal the lid whilst the jam is still hot.
SPARKLING RED FRUIT MINCE
We created our own red fruit mince by combining red currant jelly, brandy and fruit juice with all the good ‘bits’ that go into fruit mince. This recipe is not an instant ready-to-use mince; it should be made up to 1 month advance, and left for the flavours to develop and deepen in the jar.
Ingredients:1/2 cup Red glacé cherries 1/2 cup Cranberries, dried 1/2 cup Golden sultanas 1/2 cup Currants 1/2 cup Dates, dried, pitted, chopped 1/4 cup Candied mixed peel 2 tsp. Lemon zest, fresh 2 tsp. Orange zest, fresh 1 tsp. Cinnamon, ground 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg, ground 1/2 tsp. Ginger, ground 1 small jar Red currant jelly (condiment) 1/4 cup Apple juice 1/4 cup Lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1/4 cup Orange juice, freshly squeezed 1/4 cup Brandy (use to taste) 1/4 cup Golden syrup
Mix the liquid ingredients and dissolve the jelly in the liquid. Mix in the dried fruits, zests and spices. Transfer to an airtight container. Stir the mixture again at least 12 hours later (add extra liquid if the mixture is too dry – the fruit will absorb the liquid over the next month). Place in sterile dry jars for 4 weeks to allow flavours to develop, before using in your favourite recipe.
Mixture makes approx. 900g / 875 ml. This should be a great foodie gift for those who love fruit cake; or use the mince as a topping for ice-cream, or baked in fruit mince strudel, in mince pies or in Christmas muffins.
Ta daa – Special foodie gifts made in advance, and brimming with home-made satisfaction.
We cant get enough of the Christmas spirit, and it’s only November… To gear up for Christmas this year we are preparing ahead of time for the cooking and baking marathon that is *Christmas*.
GINGERBREAD DOUGH – TO FREEZE
Our recipe for Gingerbread is not too sweet and has a wonderfully warm spiced aroma of ginger, cinnamon and molasses. The dark rich dough that forms is perfect for freezing – to bring out at Christmas time. Simply thaw the dough, roll out and cut out desired shapes. See our Gingerbread Men post for this recipe.
Or use the fresh dough mixed with ice cream to create Gingerbread cookie dough ice cream.
PREPARING AND MATURING YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS CAKE
Only lovers of fruit cake need read any further…
To make your own wonderful Christmas cakes that will have everyone converted from Christmas cake haters to enthusiasts – use our secret recipe for success. Our secret is to drown the fruity ingredients in booze overnight! Okay well it’s not so secret anymore, but it’s a good tip. Your golden sultanas, raisins, candied citrus peel, glace cherries and currants will plump up and drink in the aromatic brandy while you relax. This means that you do not have to “feed” your baked Christmas cake often (meaning add extra brandy to moisten the cake – as the cake often becomes dry after the fruit has absorbed all the liquid in the cake!). This way, when the cake is ceremonially brought out to eat, the cake remains tasty, but not alcoholic – since the only alcohol added has evaporated while baking. See our Christmas Cake post for this recipe.
And if this recipe does not receive any converts… “haters gonna hate”.
Mousse cake is one of those desserts that is both indulgently comforting and light. We turned a very Banting-conscious blueberry smoothie into a mousse by adding gelatine – and before you turn your nose up at using gelatine – the texture of this tart is more creamy mousse-like than stiff gel-like! Gelatine is made up of protein, that has been refined from porcine/bovine hide, and adds great structure to jelly, panna cotta, gummy sweets, marshmallows and mousses.
‘Faux biscuit’ base40g Mixed Nuts 10g Coconut, desiccated 1 tsp. Butter 5 Dates, dried (rehydrated in boiling water)
Soak the dates in boiling water for a minute. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend till crumb consistency is reached. Pour the crumb base into a tray or small springform pan lined with baking paper and press down.We used a 15cm springform pan
Mousse300g Plain yogurt 250g Blueberries, frozen/ any frozen berries 400 gr. Whipped cream 1 tablespoon lemon juice 120 gr. Xylitol 4 Leaves of gelatine Vanilla
Soak the gelatine according to package directions. Puree the berries and pass the berry pulp through a sieve. Mix in the yoghurt and lemon juice. Separately whip the cream with the vanilla and xylitol until stiff; and then fold into the berry yoghurt mixture.
Carefully squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine, and heat it in a small saucepan until it becomes liquid. Slowly stir into the mousse mixture. Stir well and quickly so that no lumps arise. Carefully pour the filling into the pan. This mixture made a little extra for tasting! This mixture can be separated into serving glasses for individual portions, and sprinkled with the ‘faux biscuit’ as a topping.
Allow to set in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
We decorated our mousse tart with fresh blueberries and yellow fondant ribbon roses (just for fun!).
For Nicoletta’s 10th birthday, we created a cake in our honour, to be henceforth known as the Nicoletta Cake; hear hear!
This cake was made with 3 tiers of varying shades of yellow sponge cake and iced with buttercream. We made a mini ombre naked cake to accompany our fondant iced creation, to indicate the layers in our Nicoletta Cake.
This recipe is a family favourite, and has been used for all kinds of birthday cakes, Neapolitan cakes, cupcakes and tray bakes. It is fondly known as the “1-2-3 cake recipe”:250g Butter (room temp.) 1 cup Milk 2 cups Sugar 4 Eggs (room temp.) 1 tsp. Vanilla extract 3 cups Flour 1½ tsp. Baking powder
Cream the sugar and butter in an electric beater until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating till the eggs are incorporated after each addition. Mix in the milk and flavouring. Add the sifted cake flour and baking powder and mix well (scrape the bottom to make sure it’s all mixed together). Split the batter into 3 and colour 2 of the batters in varying shades of yellow (light yellow and bright yellow).
Spoon each batter into a pan and bake at 180°c for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and the cake tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool while you prepare your fluffy buttercream frosting:185g Butter (room temperature, and cut into cubes) 200g Icing sugar 1 Tbs. Milk 1½ Tbs. Vanilla extract a pinch of salt
Whip butter in a mixer till it becomes very pale and very creamy; the more you beat, the creamier it gets. Add the remaining ingredients and mix slowly. Frost your cake.
Our friend at Love Life Cupcakes helped us out by decorating the cake using White and Yellow Ready to Roll Fondant Icing. The cake was covered in a sheet of fondant and draped with ruffle layers around the cake. Ruffles were created by cutting strips of fondant to build up the layers one by one. The cake was finished with a large yellow and white flower!
Since these lemon bars were adapted from our recipe for lemon meringue, we made this tray bake using a mixture of condensed milk, lemon and eggs on a biscuit base. We adore our lemony treats to be tart and perfumed with lemon zest, so we suggest that you add lemon to taste. The biscuit base was mixed with Nicoletta’s new Lemon flavoured Sprinkle Crunch: crunchy hail sugar shards that were added for extra lemony-ness and texture.
Base1 packet Oatmeal Digestive Biscuits 3-4 Tbs. Butter, softened 20g Lemon Sprinkle Crunch
Filling2 Tins Condensed Milk 200-250ml Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed (to taste, depending on the sourness) Lemon Zest 4 Egg yolks, separated a few drops of yellow food colour (optional)
Blitz biscuits together with the butter, and mix in the Lemon Sprinkle Crunch. Spread and push down the biscuit mixture into a 29 x 29cm baking tray or dish to form the base. The tray should be at least 5mm deep.
Mix the condensed milk with the egg yolks and lemon. Do not whip to avoid the mixture becoming aerated. Pour onto the biscuit base.
Bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool.
This recipe is for a deep dish; halve the mixture if using a flan dish.
This recipe was adapted from our Speedy Chocolate Mousse recipe. In creating a Banting-friendly dessert, we used xylitol to replace the refined sugar in the recipe.
Chocolate that contains sugar (used in chocolate desserts), is difficult to replace in a Banting recipe – since there will generally be sugar present in any chocolate, unless you add a chocolate containing 100% cocoa or an artificially sweetened chocolate. For our recipe, we used Lindt’s Dark Chocolate with 85% Cacao (70% Cacao chocolate has been mentioned on the ‘Sometimes‘ list in Lose It! Magazine).
Ingredients:300g Dark Chocolate, chopped (above 70% cocoa) 3 Eggs 1/4 cup (55g) Xylitol or use Stevia to taste 1 Tbs. Cocoa Powder 300ml Whipping Cream
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (place a bowl over a pot of simmering water, gently heat the bowl using the steam) and stir the chocolate until melted; or melt the chocolate on high in the microwave – checking every 30-60 seconds for overheating – stir the chocolate when the chocolate blocks are soft but still hold their shape. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Place eggs and xylitol in a large bowl and beat for 5 minutes with an electric beater, or until mixture is pale, thick and doubled in volume. Fold in chocolate and cocoa powder until combined.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream. Use a large metal spoon to carefully fold the cream into the chocolate mixture, trying to keep the mixture as light as possible. Spoon or pipe the mixture using a piping bag into serving glasses or ramekins and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Remove from fridge 15 minutes before serving, and serve with fruit salad / berries and cream.
We rimmed our serving glasses with Yellow Star Confetti (although they contain sugar and are not Banting-friendly, we decorated the glasses for a bit of fun!)
Using vegetables in cakes is currently all the rage; so we tried our hand at making our own chocolate avocado frosting. Umm… yum. We inadvertently discovered a guilt free chocolate pudding in the process! We used our frosting to ice animal inspired mini cakes, perfect for a child’s 1st birthday.
As 1st birthday parties are an important milestone, and often a baby’s first taste of cake, Mothers are now opting to introduce their children to healthier cakes that are less loaded with refined sugar. 1st Birthday cakes are often referred to as “Smash Cakes”, since that is what is going to happen in the first 5 seconds of letting your child loose on their own birthday cake!
We used a basic chocolate cake recipe and cut out layers to assemble the mini cakes.
Frosting –1 x Avocado 50g Dark Chocolate, melted 1 Tbs. Cocoa Powder 3 Tbs. Plain Yoghurt, Double Cream 4 tsp. Honey (add to taste)
Blend the avocado till smooth; add the melted chocolate and remaining ingredients; and blend till combined. Refrigerate until use.
We created faces for various animals out of Nicoletta Ready to Roll Fondant and Marzipan, and created eye balls using Nicoletta Soft Pearl Balls. Lion face (we used a fork to spread out the frosting for the lions mane; we used marzipan and mixed red + yellow fondant to create an orange face; black fondant was used for the nose; and we mixed black + white fondant to create a grey mouth; lastly for the eye balls we used black soft pearls); Fox face (we used white fondant for the eyes, and for the eye balls we used black fondant and cream soft pearls; we created a black fondant nose; and we mixed red + yellow fondant to create orange ears); Monkey face (we used marzipan for the face and ears; black fondant was used for the nose; we mixed black + white fondant to create a grey mouth; white fondant was used for the eyes, and for the eye balls we used black soft pearls).
Owl shapes are terribly cute! We got our hands on a owl shaped cookie cutter and cut into a tray of freshly baked crunchies. These owl shaped crunchies were decorated with melted chocolate; White Heart Confetti noses; black and white Ready to Roll Fondant eyes; and the wings were detailed using Chocolate Writing Icing.
Ingredients:2 cups Oats, rolled or steel-cut 1 cup Coconut, desiccated 2 Tbs. Sesame Seeds 1 cup Self Raising Flour 3/4 cup Treacle Sugar 50ml Golden Syrup/ Honey 200g Butter Pinch of Salt
For dipping –150g Chocolate
Melt the butter together with the syrup. Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix until the mixture is combined well and sticking together. Press the mixture into a tray to bake. Bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly before cutting into owl shapes. Allow to cool completely and before removing the cut shapes.
Dip the heads of the owls into melted chocolate (melt in the microwave or over a double boiler). Cut out white fondant eyes and add black fondant pupils. Stick the eyes and nose onto the owls using a little of the melted chocolate.