Pear and chocolate studded gingerbread

Featuring 32 % Valrhona Dulcey Blond chocolate


For a reason I struggle to put my thumb on, gingerbread has always had a nostalgic childhood motif attached to it. I think it’s because I have memories of my Grandmother baking tooth-breakingly crunchy ginger biscuits (that unfortunately could only be softened once dunked in a cup of her instant Ricoffy. Bless her heart.)

Or… it could be that I was brought up with bulging bookcases of classic children’s literaure and Nursery Rhymes. Remember Hansel and Gretel? Or how about, “Run, run, run as fast as you can; You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man“?

Whatever the explanation, it’s always nice to be transported – if only by the vehicle of food, to those carefree, fairy-tale filled years. Sometimes life can be overwhelming and strange. Very strange. But chocolate cupcakes, Rice Crispie marshmallow bars and gingerbread will always be a stir of a wooden spoon away.

This recipe isn’t a traditional gingerbread, mainly because it has the addition of pears and chocolate (what!). I was given a sample of the recently launched Valrhona 32% Dulcey Blond chocolate by the generous folks at Wild Peacock and thought my gingerbread crusade was a perfect opportunity to put it to good use. Interestingly and, like most notable dishes in the food world, it was actually created by accident when a French pastry chef left white chocolate in a bain marie for 10 hours. Thus, giving it a rich, toasted shortbread, caramel butterscotch character.


All I can say is, the flavour profile worked wonders with the pear and ginger. Try it!

Pear and chocolate studded gingerbread
2 cups flour – sieved
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbs molasses
1.5 Tbs ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 pears – chopped
3/4 cup chopped Valrhona Dulcey chocolate (or any chocolate of your choice)
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 large eggs – beaten

Preheat to 180°C. Grease a standard -size loaf tin. Sieve the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Whisk together the honey, molasses, coconut oil and eggs.Add the buttermilk

Stir the mixture slowly into the dry ingredients and combine to form a stiff but moist batter. Gently fold in the chocolate and pears.

Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 40 – 45 mins. If the top starts to burn, cover with a piece of tinfoil until cooked all the way through. Test by inserting a skewer. It should come out clean.

Serve warm with salted butter or just on it’s own.


Happy Easter

From my kitchen to yours!



Prune and almond breakfast cakes

If there’s one thing I love about Summer, it’s seasonal fruit. Forget days on the beach. Forget flowing sundresses. Biting into a ripe juicy mango or inhaling the scent of sweet pineapple while someone in the kitchen whips up a cheeky Pina Colada, is one of the most intoxicating pleasures belonging to the warmer months. And with all the stone fruit that’s around at the moment, it’s easy to hop onto the plum/nectarine wagon without batting an eyelid.

Prunes are so underrated though. Do you eat them? I love their honey sweet flavour, backed up by a tartness that gives you a subtle mouth-puckering zap. My best way to eat them is to cut them up (straight out of the fridge) over a big dollop of thick Bulgarian yoghurt with some toasted almonds for a quick breakfast. But since eating-on-the-run doesn’t always work out so well with a bowl of  yoghurt in hand… I  decided something more ‘portable’ was required. Which is how these prune and almond cakes were born.

prune and almond cakes

1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup oatbran
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs – beaten
1 Tbs coconut oil – liquid
1/2 large banana – mashed
1 Tbs agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh prunes – chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a muffin tin with a knob of butter.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix the eggs, vanilla, coconut oil, agave and banana.
Stir into the dry ingredients until well combined.
Fold in the prunes and spoon into the muffin tin.
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Barrett’s Ridge beer bread

This is pure genius! A bread pre-mix that needs only one extra ingredient: a can of beer.

Why didn’t anyone think of this before?!

My friend Tayrene resigned from her job a couple of weeks ago and while wondering to myself what she might do next, (there have been mumblings of things “in the pipeline”), the above package magically found its way onto my desk. A great start to Monday.  Thanks Tay!!

The product is labelled under Barrett’s Ridge Beer Bread and comes in real artisinal, old school packaging which I just adore. There are 4 flavours to choose from:

– Original

– Chilli & Garlic

– Garlic & Herb

– Italian Cheese

Another great stocking filler for sure!! Check out the website for more info.

PS. Tayrene will be showcasing the product at this month’s TjingTjing night market.

Product review: Gluten-free flapjack mix

I’ve had this box of flapjack mix in my house for at least 3 months and finally decided to open it and see what it was all about..

Wellness Warehouse launched their own brand of gluten-free mixes a while ago and I noticed that they’re in fact very reasonably priced! I think the flapjack mix was roughly R29? Not bad considering most other G.F mixes are close to R40 or R50! I think it’s because most of them are imported.

These ones don’t contain any weird artificial preservatives and additives which is nice to know:)

I was a bit hesitant to try them in the beginning because in my experience all gluten-free flours that I’ve baked with have left a very ‘crumbly’ product. These were not crumbly in the slightest! I did notice however that the actual mix contained quite a bit of raising agent (as the texture was a bit too “cake-like”) and I found I needed to add at least double the amount of milk the recipe called for, just to thin down the batter and allow for a flatter and more even flapjack.

The only ingredients that you need are 3 eggs and some milk. I used soy milk just because I like the flavour.

Taste-wise they were great but it must be noted that you need to season the mix with a pinch of salt before cooking. I decided to flavour my ‘jacks’ with dried strawberries and simply stirred them into the batter.

I served them with a drizzle of honey and a few raw almonds. They were delish and made about 20  medium size flapjacks.


The veneration of cake baking


pic: Shutterstock

Is this not the most mesmerizing video?! It just makes me want to lock myself in the kitchen with nothing but eggs, flour, sugar and butter.

Happy Mother’s Day weekend everybodaaaaay!


Marmalade hot cross bun pudding

You know those celebrity chef Q&A’s you always see where it says, “What can always be found in you fridge?”… Or “what ingredient could you not live without?”

They often lead me to think about what I would say if it were me being asked the questions. Hmmm…. I definitely always have hummus in the fridge. Always. And fresh fruit of some kind- which indelibly becomes part of breakfast every day.

There’s something else though, that’s sneakily crept into my breakfast territory lately. Chaloner Seville orange marmalade.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was given a jar a few weeks ago and since then have been enjoying it on crispy pecan rye toast. One of the the reasons I love it so much is that it’s not too sweet. It’s got a slight bitterness with hints of tangy tartness, mingled with natural fruit sugars of orange. The product, I discovered, is made right on my doorstep- in Stellenbosch. And like all things trendy these days, is made in a rather artisanal style, hand-crafted by the Chaloner family with no added preservatives or sugar .

Seville oranges are known for producing high quality fruit so of course that elevated my expectations from the moment my eyes met the label. It’s so good that I felt I needed to showcase it in a better way than just on toast. It was deserving of something better, if you know what I mean?

Having been Easter recently, I grabbed a few hot cross buns and whipped up a hot cross bun, marmalade bread and butter pudding. Sheesh, what a mouthful that was! (Excuse the pun).

I wouldn’t be lying if I said I actually ate it for breakfast. Pudding for breakfast? You bet!

Hot cross bun, marmalade, bread and butter pudding
4 hot cross buns- halved
bottle of Chaloner marmalade
3 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
2 Tbs sugar
5 ml vanilla essence

What to do:
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and large oven-proof dish.
Smear a layer of the marmalade on the bottom of the baking dish.
Butter both sides of each bun and place firmly and snugly into the dish, ensuring that there are no open spaces. Smear another layer of marmalade on top of the buns.
Cream the eggs and sugar and stir in the milk and vanilla essence. Pour the custard over the buns until it covers them and
They begin to soak up the liquid.
Bake in the oven for 35-30mins until golden and brown.