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.


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.



A Friday Treat!

Last week I mentioned how my taste buds were just dying for a piece of gingerbread. I have no idea why, but I simply couldn’t get the thought of it off my mind (and I don’t even know where it came from to begin with?!) Well, deciding to go with the craving- I ended up baking a batch. BUT! The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a little less traditional. Firstly, I baked it in muffin form because it’s always nice to have things in individual portions (this also makes it a lot easier if you intend giving a few away!). I also decided to omit the oil and make use of (don’t freak out here!) mashed sweet potato. You don’t even really taste it but wow- it creates such a lovely moist, soft centre. Then…last but not least, I incorporated a touch of cocoa and dark chocolate to the mix. I can never say no to a bit of dark choc!

soft, moist centre

Hello? …

Anyone still there? …………..

Phew! … thought I may have scared you off with those ingredient combinations.
These can be best described as a sort of “brownie-muffin-type-thing”. Hmmmmm… ok the name does need some work, but in all seriousness- give these a try the next time you’re asked to bake something and your mind suddenly feels leeched of ideas (because it does happen, let’s face it).
Oh, and not that I was counting or anything…but there are approx 45 days until Christmas!!!!!
*Happy dance, Happy dance*

Dark Chocolate Ginger Quickbreads (It’s the best I could do!)
What you’ll need:
2 cup brown rice flour
¼ cup cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 medium sweet potato, cooked and pureed
2 Tbsp Blackstrap Molasses
100g dark chocolate melted
2 cups buttermilk

What to do:
Preheat oven to 180 ‘C and grease a muffin pan or bread tin. Combine all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Place the cooked and mashed sweet potato in another bowl, adding the molasses and melted chocolate. Slowly stir in the buttermilk. Fold the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture (careful not to over-mix otherwise you’ll end up with nasty-looking “tunnels” from where the air bubbles escaped) and spoon into the muffin pan. Bake in middle of the oven for 15-20 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the centre, comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before turning out (I KNOW it’s hard to wait…but you’ll be fine!)


Love From There And Here

Sjoe!!  This past week has been so busy and I’ve hardly had a moment to blog (which is a horrible feeling)…BUT, in between filing stories, pre-6am trips to gym, farewell soirees for colleagues and getting surprise packages of peanut butter, Girl With a Teacup has been sashaying around the Blogosphere and doing something a little  different.

A few months ago I was approached on twitter by the lovely Canadian, Charlotte Senini who asked me if I would be interested in contributing to her gorgeous blog – Love From There and Here. Together with her friend Chelsea, the girls share aspects of their lives from Canada and South Africa respectively (Charlotte spends half of her time here in SA and the rest in her native land of the maple leaf).

The brief sounded intriguing… she wanted me to do a guest post together with another food blogger from Canada, which would echo the style and format of Love From There and Here.  We were both given the same ingredient and asked to come up with a recipe. Both of our posts were  juxtaposed so one would be able to see the different interpretations side by side.

I had such fun with it!

Head over to Love From There and Here to see what I did !!!!

(Thanks Charlotte and Chelsea for the great opportunity!)