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Banana bread is so rewarding to make with very little effort, and this recipe excludes sugar and grains in keeping with a Banting-style treat. We adapted this recipe from a wonderful Paleo banana bread recipe from the ‘Civilised Caveman’ (a Paleo legend). This recipe uses coconut flour in place of wheat flour, and produces a moist, nutritious and flavourful breakfast treat.
In a food processer, blitz the banana, butter, egg and almond butter. Mix together the dry ingredients and add to the banana mixture, blitz till all ingredients are combined. If you prefer a sweeter banana bread, add a Tbs. honey to the batter. Pour the batter into a medium silicone loaf mould/ a greased loaf tin. Bake at 170°C for 40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before demoulding.
This recipe didn’t even make it to the cake tin, we loved it warm with cream cheese/ mascarpone and slices of fresh banana. Ice your banana bread with cream cheese icing (made using whipped cream cheese and Sweet Nothings xylitol – blitzed to a powder) and dust with Silver / Gold Nicoletta Shimmer or Graffiti for Cakes.
Using a very cool set of cookie cutters in different sizes, we cut out cookies in a bunny shape (we used our ‘tried and tested’ vanilla butter biscuit recipe).
Ready to Roll Fondant was used as icing, and we rolled and cut out pink, green and yellow shaped bunnies. The top layer of icing was made lighter using pink/green/yellow fondant and adding white fondant.
As a tradition, every year we ‘paint’ chocolate Easter Eggs with food colouring, and generally have a bit of fun reminiscing about decorating eggs as well as our excellent finger painting skills when we were young! This year we came up with creative edible ways to decorate our favourite eggs (White candy-coated chocolate eggs).
Eggs were drawn on using Stationery for Cakes – food colouring markers – to create an elegant designs in black.
We used a teaspoon of edible glue powder mixed with 100ml boiling water to create an edible glue; and spread edible glue on the eggs before rolling them in Nicoletta Silver & Angel Drops.
We also sprayed a few eggs with Graffiti for Cakes, our new edible metallic gold food spray! We placed a number of round stickers on the egg before spraying, and then removed the stickers to reveal white polka dots on a golden egg!
Thank you to the lovely Yolandi Heyneke from LoveLifeCupcakes who spoiled us with decorated Easter Egg Cake Pops – which made use of our Ready to Roll Fondant and Cake Confetti. Here a snap we took before munching them all!
This recipe produces a two tiered, moist and generous carrot cake with cream cheese icing!
Ingredients:2 Cups Carrots, grated 1/4 Cup Tinned pineapple, crushed / chopped pineapple pieces 1 Cup Walnuts & Pecans, chopped 1 Cup Dates, chopped 2 Cups Sugar 4 Eggs 1 Cup Oil 2.5 Cups Cake Flour 2 tsp. Bicarbonate of Soda 2 tsp. Baking powder 1 tsp. Cinnamon, ground pinch of Salt
Sift the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar, oil and eggs; add the carrots and pineapple and mix well. Dust the dates and nuts in a portion of the flour. Fold in the dry ingredients and then fold in the dusted dates and nuts.
Bake at 180°C for 1 hour in a large baking tin / 180°C for 40 minutes if splitting the batter into two baking tins.
Cream cheese icing –250g Cream Cheese, at room temperature 1.5 Cups Icing Sugar Lemon zest Vanilla essence/ extract
Mix together the ingredients, be careful not to overbeat the cream cheese, as it will become too soft and runny. We decorated our cake with carrots moulded from Ready to Roll Fondant, and topped the icing with extra crushed pecans and walnuts.
In order to become a better baker, it is generally accepted that developing your own recipes will not only teach you the art of balance in baking, but this is where you can show some bravery, and feel a sense of accomplishment when you achieve your envisioned creation. If you want to learn to become better bakers, use your imagination, be creative, and surprise yourself!
Baking is a science (almost an exact art), making additions / substitutions all ‘willy-nilly’ will probably get you into trouble. Don’t try and alter a recipe if you haven’t tried it before. In science, whenever an experiment is completed, there is always a control group (called “group-nothing-has-been-changed”) so that scientists can measure their changes / deviation from the norm. It’s the same for us bakers – we need to see all the factors that would be normal, before we alter the recipe (i.e. how long a recipe will take to bake, what is the texture / colour/ flavour).
Take a trusty recipe and alter it in a way that makes something completely new. Don’t be intimated, if it doesn’t work out, you’ll only create a wonderful flop.
We used our basic Vanilla Butter Biscuit recipe and started to make additions. The basic recipe contains vanilla flavour, which actually enhances other flavours, so don’t be afraid to make your addition and add the vanilla. We made 5 varieties – Double Chocolate Chip Cookies; Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies; Peanut Butter Cookies; Apple & Cinnamon Cookies; and Zesty Lemon Cookies.
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIESMake a batch of the “Vanilla Butter Biscuits” substituting 50g flour with 50g cocoa Once all the flour has been added to the mixture, add 100g white chocolate chips and 100g milk chocolate chips, mix well Chill the mixture for at least 45 minutes Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into the desired shapes and bake on a non-stick baking sheet for 15 minutes. The chocolate cookies tend to spread a bit so make sure you spread them out on the baking sheet. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
CRANBERRY & WHITE CHOCOLATE COOKIESMake a batch of the “Vanilla Butter Biscuits” as per the recipe Once all the flour has been added to the mixture, add 150g dried cranberries and 100g white chocolate chips and mix well Continue with the original recipe’s method.
PEANUT BUTTER COOKIESMake a batch of the “Vanilla Butter Biscuits” as per the recipe Once half the flour has been added, add ½ cup peanut butter and mix well. (We used chunky peanut butter to give the biscuit extra crunch). Add the remaining flour and mix well. Chill the mixture for at least 45 minutes. The peanut butter will make the dough softer than usual. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into small balls. Flatten the balls with your hand, place on the baking sheet and bake as usual.
APPLE & CINNAMON COOKIESChop 150g dried apple into small chunks. In a bowl mix together 3 tbsp castor sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon. Toss the apple in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Make a batch of the “Vanilla Butter Biscuits” as per the recipe Once all the flour has been added to the mixture, add 2 tsp cinnamon and the apple chunks. Mix well. Continue with the original recipe’s method.
ZESTY LEMON COOKIESMake a batch of the “Vanilla Butter Biscuits” as per the recipe Once half the flour has been added, add the zest of two lemons and ¼ cup of lemon juice. Mix well. Continue with the original recipe’s method. Whilst the cookies are baking, roll out Nicoletta yellow fondant so that it is very thin. With a knife cut out lemon shapes and press onto the cooled cookies.
Go on… test your limits, and your baking skills. Try any number of concoctions such as: Ground Cinnamon + Crystalized Ginger; Almonds + Almond Flavouring; Raisins/Sultanas + Oats; Hazelnut + Dark Chocolate pieces; Instant Coffee granules + Chocolate pieces; Walnut + Dried Pear; Cherries; Toasted Coconut; Dried Mango + Pecan Nuts; Fresh Orange zest + Candied Citrus peel; Custard powder + Dried Peach.
This butter biscuit recipe forms a great dough to use as a base for any extra additions/ flavour combinations. It’s also yummy on it’s own.
Ingredients:250g Butter, softened 140g Castor sugar 1 Egg yolk 2 tsp. Vanilla extract 350g Cake flour
Mix the softened butter and castor sugar together using an electric mixer. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Beat until all the ingredients are combined.
If you are using a free standing mixer, you need to swop the beater for the dough hook before adding the flour. Add the flour to the mixture, one table spoon at a time. Mix well between additions until you have used all the flour and have a soft dough consistency. Place the dough in a plastic bag or wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes to an hour.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into the desired shapes and bake on a non-stick baking sheet for 15 minutes at 180°C or until golden brown in colour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
NOTESThis basic dough can be adapted to suit your taste. Have fun experimenting with different shapes and flavours. The Nicoletta March newsletter is packed with different flavour combinations. This dough is freezable (defrost before cooking). This dough can also be easily doubled in quantity.
This is a “new breed” of cheesecake – this baked chocolate cheesecake has the rich and smooth fudginess of a chocolate torte, and although baked, it does not create that dry peanut-butter mouth feel synonymous with baked cheesecakes.
Crust –240g Chocolate coated digestive biscuits, crushed 125g Butter
Filling –500g Cream cheese 250g Mascarpone 175g Castor sugar 2 Eggs (extra-large), beaten 300g Dark chocolate
Heat oven to 180°C. Mix together the biscuit crumbs and butter (melt the butter if you are mixing by hand or blitz the biscuits and unmelted butter together in the food processor). Press the crumbs evenly into a 24cm spring-form cake tin/ deep tart dish. Bake the base for 10mins to crisp and then let it cool while you make the filling.
Turn oven down to 150°C. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Beat the cream cheese and mascarpone until smooth (use a mixer – it’s easier). Add the sugar and eggs to the cheese, then add the melted chocolate and mix well, be careful not to over mix as the mixture might curdle.
Pour the filling over the baked base and bake for approx. 30 – 40 minutes. Bake the cheesecake until all but the very centre of the cheesecake is set (don’t worry about the wobbly bit in the middle as it will carry on cooking as it cools). Cool completely on a rack before chilling overnight.
TIP: Put a dish of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven – this will stop a skin forming on top of the cheesecake.
TIP: Run a knife around the edge of the tin to free the filling from the sides, do this as soon as you take it out of the oven. As the cheesecake cools and sets, it also shrinks, if the mixture is stuck to the side of the tin it will split in the middle.
We decorated our sublime cheesecake slices with polka-dots of white Heart Cake Confetti.
A deep dish meringue nest with a fresh cream filling and tart red berries makes for a great after-dinner dessert. The whipped cream is fresh and unsweetened (the meringue is sugary enough) – but if you prefer sweet cream, fold a Tbs. of icing sugar into the whipped cream. We used raspberries and blackberries for a sour tang, but you could just as easily use sweeter blueberries and strawberries.
Ingredients4 Egg whites 1 cup Castor sugar 2 tsp. Lemon juice, fresh / 1 tsp. white wine vinegar 1 tsp. Vanilla essence (optional) 1 heaped Tbs. Corn flour (Maizena) 1 tub Whipping cream
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high until they reach a soft peak stage.
Gently add the sugar in small amounts whilst continuously beating the egg whites (don’t add the next amount of sugar if there are still granules present in the mixture). Your mixture should become ice-white and glossy. Once all the sugar has been added and the mixture can be rubbed between your thumb and forefinger without feeling any granules, the mixture is ready for the addition of the remaining ingredients.
Beat in the lemon juice / vinegar. If you choose to add vanilla essence, do so now (the vanilla will colour your meringue so that it appears a little brown). Beat in the corn starch.
Spread you meringue into a large tart dish or onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Create a well in the centre where the cream and fruit will eventually rest.
Turn down the oven to 120°C and place the meringue in the middle of the oven. Bake for 1 hour, then switch off the oven and allow the pavlova to cool in the oven.
Place your cooled pavlova on a cake plate (unless it’s in a tart dish). Whip your cream until shiny and fluffy and spread into the cooled pavlova shell. Decorate with berries. Sprinkle Silver Shimmer on to the fruit to add a pearlescent glow.
You can do this with a normal brownie recipe – just bake in mini tins. Alternatively, bake your brownie in a tray and use cookie cutters to cut the desired shapes. We used loose bottom mini cake pans, the brownies came out perfectly yummy, and were baked with a gooey centre.
Ingredients225g Butter 140g Cocoa powder 4 Eggs 450g Castor sugar 140g Flour 1 tsp. Vanilla extract 2 Tbs. Coffee, brewed strong and black 115g Nuts (optional)
Whisk the eggs and sugar until light in colour and fluffy in texture. Melt the butter and mix in the cocoa; fold the cooled cocoa mixture into the egg mixture. Mix in the vanilla and coffee. Sift dry ingredients and lightly fold into the egg mixture.
Spoon the mixture into mini cake tins – if you don’t line the tin ensure the tin is well greased or else the mixture will stick to the tin! Bake at 180°C until the mixture has risen and is firm – approx. 30 minutes. Remove from the oven a few minutes sooner if you want a gooey center.
The brownie mini cakes were sliced in two layers and a Almond Marzipan filling was added, we topped them with nutella (yum) and red Heart Cake Confetti. A few were decorated with Red & White Ready to Roll Fondant Icing; and we wrapped some in parchment paper – fit for a picnic or lunchbox.
This tried and tested recipe has been passed down from Nicoletta’s Mom. You may find it familiar, since we have used it on our free recipe cards.
Ingredients:250g Butter (room temp.) 2 cups Sugar 2 cups Cake flour 1 cup Milk 4 Eggs 1 tsp. Vanilla extract 1 ½ tsp. Baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a muffin pan with cupcake holders. 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 till the eggs are incorporated after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla to the mixture, beat well. Add the sifted cake flour and the baking powder, mix well.
Spoon the batter into cupcake holders, and bake in a warm oven for approx. 20 minutes until the cakes are golden brown. The cupcakes can be iced with vanilla buttercream; we decorated ours with Star Cake Confetti, Chocolate Hearts and Red Ready to Roll Fondant Icing.