Archive for the ‘Treats’ Category

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

Ingredients

1 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!

Ingredients

ž 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 Ÿ 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:

ž 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 Âź 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 glacÊ 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’ base

40g 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

Mousse

300g 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.

Base

1 packet Oatmeal Digestive Biscuits 3-4 Tbs. Butter, softened 20g Lemon Sprinkle Crunch

Filling

2 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.

Vintage cakes are usually beautifully crafted and refined – and what looks more sophisticated than mini Battenbergs for high tea? Don’t be put off, this recipe may seem complex, but it is all about the construction.

The ‘Battenberg’ is a checkered sponge cake made by cutting and combining sponge cake pieces in a chequered pattern; the pieces are traditionally “cemented” together using jam; and the cake is then enrobed in rolled marzipan.

The origin of the cake seems to be unknown; early recipes use alternative names such as “Domino Cake” (recipe by Agnes Berthe Marshall, 1898), “Neapolitan Roll” (recipe by Robert Wells, 1898), or “Church Window Cake.” The Battenberg name is linked to the town of Battenberg in central Germany; and it is alleged that the cake was created for the marriage of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria in 1884.

Our stylish mini Battenberg cake pieces were constructed with Almond Marzipan filling, and enrobed in rolled White Fondant.

This sponge cake recipe is based on our 1-2-3 cake recipe with some minor modifications.

Cake –

250g Butter 2 cups Brown Sugar, blitzed to a finer crystal 4 Eggs 1 cup Milk 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract 1½ cups Flour 1½ cups Ground Almonds 1½ tsp. Baking Powder Pink Food Colouring

Preheat the oven to 1800C. With an electric beater, beat together the sugar and the butter until the mixture is light in colour and fluffy in texture. Add the eggs one at a time to the mixture, beating the mixture until the eggs are incorporated after each addition.  Add the milk and the vanilla extract to the mixture, beat until well mixed. Add the cake flour, ground almonds and the baking powder and mix well.

Split the mixture in two. Add pink food colouring to one of the batches and mix well. Pour each of the batters into separate cake tins and bake in a warm oven for approx. 40 minutes.

 To Assemble –

Apricot jam, warmed until runny 250g block Almond Marzipan 250g block White Ready to Roll Fondant Icing sugar, for dusting

Our finished Battenbergs were approx. 70mm x 40mm:

Cut each sponge cake into long fingers, the height and width should equal 15mm (like a long square). It doesn’t matter how long the length is as this will be trimmed later. Roll out the marzipan on a lightly dusted surface and cut into lengths of 15mm wide. Brush with apricot jam. Position the marzipan between the sponge fingers and assemble with a pink and white finger at the base and then a white and pink finger on top. Alternate the colours to give a checkerboard effect. Trim the cakes and marzipan to 70mm long. Roll out the white fondant until it is 2mm thick. Trim the fondant so that it is approx. 120mm x 70mm. Brush one side of the fondant with apricot jam and wrap the fondant tightly around the sponge.

You can make the cakes as big or small as you like, just adjust the size of the sponge, marzipan and fondant accordingly. We decorated our mini cakes with Soft Cream Pearls studded on the fondant with a traditional crisscrossed pillow pattern.

Cheesecakes have been made since the time of ancient Greece! And we know why this dessert has thrived over the years (even though it’s made differently all over the world). Cheesecake made with cream cheese is our favourite, and we have a wonderfully quick no-bake cheesecake recipe that we have altered to fit a more Banting-lifestyle.

Ingredients

Base –

20g Cashews 20g Almonds 10g Coconut, desiccated 1 tsp. Butter 5 Dates, dried

Filling –

225g Cream cheese (approx. 1 x Philadelphia Cream Cheese block) – do not use low fat, as the cheesecake may not set ½ cup Cream 60g Xylitol Âź cup Lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1 tsp. Lemon zest, freshly grated

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.

Whip cream until softly whipped; add the xylitol and whip until the crystals are incorporated in the cream. Add the cream cheese (at room temp.) and whip until combined. Add the lemon zest and juice and whip for 1 minute.

Spoon the filling over the prepared base, cover and refrigerate for approx. 6 hours to set. Serves 4.

We aimed for a vintage-inspired look to our cheesecake, by adding a topping of piped smooth cottage cheese and adorning our cheesecake with lemon zest and Metallic “Bling” Balls.

Bundt cakes are so beautiful, and yield a very evenly baked cake! This style of mould was popularized in the 1950s +60s in North America; when a cookware manufacturer trademarked the name “Bundt” and began producing Bundt pans from cast aluminium, which was highly popularised Pillsbury. The origins of the Bundt cake moulds’ distinctive ring shape was apparently inspired by a traditional European fruit cake known as the ‘Bundkuchen’.

For our Bundt cake – we used a traditional apple cake recipe, based on Martha Stewart’s Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake.

Ingredients

2 ½ cups Flour 1 Tbs. Cinnamon, ground 2 tsp. Baking Powder 1 tsp. Salt ½ tsp. Bicarbonate of Soda 250g Butter 1 ½ cups Brown Sugar 4 Eggs 1 x 385g tin Pie Apples – cut into small pieces

Whisk the butter, brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and baking soda together and gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Fold in the apple pieces. Spoon the batter into the mini bunt pans and smooth on top.

Bake at 180°C for approx. 50mins, or until a tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.

We drizzled a warm simple syrup glaze (boiled sugar + water) onto our delightful apple bundts to keep them moist; and decorated the cakes with Pearl Nonpareils and Yellow Blossom Icing Shapes or Gold Twinkle Stars.