16 March 2018


This cake is a fine example of a delicious no-bake treat that is amazingly easy to make, yet utterly scrumptious. The layers may get a bit messy and imperfect, but that will not take away from the final taste of the cake. Also you can place it in the freezer for 30-60 minutes before serving, so it has an ice-cream consistency.
The recipe is quite straightforward, but it does involve making caramel in the very beginning. Real, rich caramel is just caramelized sugar, either using the dry or wet method. I prefer the dry caramel, which is what is described in the recipe below. As always, be very careful when cooking sugar, because the temperature is high, and sugar can cause burns.

900 ml whole milk
3 large egg yolks
6 levelled tablespoons corn starch
100 grams light brown sugar
150 grams butter
100 grams icing sugar
250 ml heavy cream
300 grams cocoa biscuits, 30 pieces (Petit Beurre or similar)

To make the caramel filling, start by taking away about 250 ml of milk, and whisk it really well with sifted corn starch, and the egg yolks in a medium bowl, and set it aside. Pour the sugar in an even layer in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or a skillet. Place the saucepan over medium heat and let the sugar melt slowly. Do not rush this process or stir the sugar at this point. It will take some time for the sugar to start melting, but once it does start to brown around the edges, slowly move the melted parts towards the centre.
Keep cooking the sugar on medium heat, whilst keeping a close eye on it, until it starts to turn darker in colour and become very fragrant. Once it becomes a deep amber colour, very carefully, in a slow stream, pour in 500 ml of milk, and let it come to a boil. At this point, the caramel will harden, but it will completely melt into the milk by the time it starts to boil.
Once it does start boiling, add in the mixture of corn starch and egg yolks, and cook until it thickens up, about 2-3 minutes, and becomes a rich custard. Remove it from the heat and strain it through a mesh strainer, just in case there are some pieces of hardened caramel. Cover the top of the cooked custard with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
When the custard is ready, take a large bowl, add in the room temperature butter, and the sifted icing sugar, and beat with an electric mixer on high, until very light and creamy, and resembling a buttercream. Whilst the mixer is running, add in the cooled custard, a spoonful at a time, until well-blended. In another large bowl, with clean beaters, whip up the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
To assemble the cake, line a small rectangular cake tin (18x18 cm), ideally with a removable bottom, with cling film, for easier removal of the cake later on. Pour the remaining milk into a container that you find most convenient for dipping in the biscuits, and start layering the dessert.
Divide the biscuits into three equal parts, and dip the first part into the milk briefly, then line the bottom of the tin. Spread half of the whipped cream over the biscuits gently, and then, slowly and carefully, spread half of the caramel filling over the whipped cream. Dip the next batch of biscuits into the milk, and layer them on the caramel filling. Repeat the same steps with the filling and whipped cream, then top the cake with the last remaining biscuits.
Cover the top with cling film, to prevent the cake from drying out, and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight. Next day, when you are ready to serve the cake, remove the cling film, place the serving platter on top of the cake, and flip it - making the bottom the top now. Decorate the cake as desired, and serve with strong coffee. Yields 9 servings.
Baker's note: I recommend putting the cake in the freezer for a little while, to give it an ice-cream bar texture.

09 March 2018


Smoothies are really one of the best ways to start the day, and this particular smoothie is the best of both worlds – coffee and breakfast, and chocolate, of course. Made with bananas, cocoa, espresso powder and cinnamon, it is creamy, rich, and the perfect breakfast treat.
Although naturally sweetened by bananas, I have opted for adding in some raw honey, and feel free to add more, if you like your smoothies on the sweet side. If you so desire, you can replace the chocolate protein powder with a plant protein, such as rice protein powder.

250 grams fresh ripe bananas
120 grams vanilla yogurt
50 grams old-fashioned oats
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons chocolate protein powder
250 ml whole milk
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons raw honey
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place the chopped bananas and the yogurt in a blender and let it run until it looks completely smooth. Add in the oats, cocoa powder, and the protein powder, and let the blender run until they are fully blended and the powders are dissolved. Pour in the milk, honey, coffee, and cinnamon, then blend again thoroughly. Pour into two glasses and place it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, so that the oats can hydrate and soften. Serve chilled. Yields 2 rich servings.

02 March 2018


It has been snowing non-stop for a few days now, and that calls for comfort food. This lovely and wholesome stew has all the necessary ingredients for a delicious warming meal - seared pork, caramelised onions, and lots of vegetables and spices. As the stew is cooked for an hour, the meat will be fork tender, and the veggies will be soft and delicious.
Because the stew starts by searing the seasoned cubes of pork, make sure you take the time to cook the meat in a few batches, 3-5 minutes per batch, and not to overcrowd the pan. If you do, the meat won’t sear properly, and will start to almost steam in all the released liquid. Yes, cooking it in batches will take longer, but it is very well worth it.

600 grams pork loin, cubed
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced finely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
400 grams champignon mushrooms, chopped
300 grams carrots, chopped
500 grams fresh tomatoes
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
750 ml vegetable stock

Cut the meat into bite-size pieces, dice the onion, mince the garlic, and clean and chop the mushrooms and the carrots. Peel the tomatoes, and chop them up roughly, as well. Pat the pork cubes dry, then generously season with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the oil, and sear the meat in a few batches, making sure you do not overcrowd the pot. When the meat is seared, remove it from the pot, and place it a covered container in a warm spot.
Add the remaining oil to the pot, and add in the onion. Cook it, stirring often, until it becomes caramelised and fragrant. Add in the carrots, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until it becomes soft. Add in the garlic, and cook for only a minute, then add in the mushrooms, and cook until all the liquid they release evaporates, about 10 minutes or so.
Return the seared meat into the pot, add in the tomatoes, remaining spices, and half of the vegetable stock. Cook the stew, stirring from time to time, adding the rest of the stock as you cook, for about an hour and a half or so. Finally, taste the stew and adjust the seasoning, then serve hot, with crusty bread and a salad of your choice. Yields 6 servings.

23 February 2018


These lovely double chocolate brownies with cookie frosting are a fantastical dessert, and make for a perfect weekend sweet treat. They are essentially one-bowl brownies, as you can mix everything in the very same pan you used to melt the butter and cocoa powder.
As always, with brownies it's very important not to overmix the batter, not to overbake them, and use a really good chocolate, as well as cocoa powder. The cocoa powder I use is unsweetened cocoa powder, and that is what works best for this recipe. Same goes for the chocolate - use high quality bittersweet chocolate, as that one will be the best match the sweetness of the brownies.
And finally, every oven is a tad different, and it is best to check the brownies for doneness by checking them with a toothpick – if there are only a few moist crumbs attached to it, the brownies are done. If you bake them any longer, they will lose their fudgy texture and become very dry.

For the fudge brownies
120 grams butter
50 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
150 grams granulated sugar
2 medium eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
120 grams plain flour
100 grams bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
For the chocolate & cookies frosting
150 grams bittersweet chocolate
75 grams butter
50 grams crushed vanilla cookies

To make the brownies, start by melting the butter, and the sifted cocoa powder, over medium heat, in a heavy-bottomed pan. Stir often, so the butter melts evenly, and the cocoa powder doesn’t stick to the bottom. Once melted, remove from the heat, and add in the granulated sugar. It is perfectly fine if it looks a bit grainy, it will become smooth and glossy as soon as you mix in the eggs. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each one. Add the vanilla, and mix well.
Finally, sift in the flour, add the chopped chocolate, and gently fold everything through using a spatula, just until incorporated. Any further mixing will make the brownies less fudgy, and more on the dry and crumbly side. Pour the batter into a baking tin lined with baking paper (20x30 cm), and bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F), for about 15-20 minutes. Make sure you check them with a toothpick, to see if they are done. You do not want them overbaked.
For the frosting, place a saucepan over medium heat, add in the chopped chocolate and the butter, and melt them slowly. Once melted and smooth, remove from the heat, let it cool down slightly, then add in the crushed biscuits. I recommend roughly crushed biscuits, as they will give a bit of a texture and crunch to the finished frosting. Pour the warm frosting over the warm brownies, spread it as evenly as possible, and decorate with various sprinkles before the frosting sets, if desired.

16 February 2018


Butter cookies are usually found on every cookie platter for several reasons – they are delicious, and pretty much everyone loves them. These are completely egg-free, but they are still very soft, rich, buttery, and delicious, and perfect for the afternoon tea, or with a cup of caffè macchiato. They are also pretty amazing on their own, right off the baking trey, still slightly warm.
After chilling, the dough should seem just ever so slightly tacky, but should not stick to your hands, and you should be able to easily form little pink spheres. That being said, if you wish to make them more intense in colour, feel free to add more red food colouring, or on the other side, feel free to completely omit it, they will be just as good. If serving these to children, you can replace the liqueur with strawberry cordial (squash).

200 grams plain flour
120 grams icing sugar
4 levelled tablespoons cornflour
120 grams butter, softened
4 tablespoons freeze-dried strawberries
3 tablespoons strawberry liqueur
2 drops strawberry red food colouring

Sift together the flour, icing sugar, and cornflour twice. Set it aside for the time being. Place the softened butter in a large bowl, add in the freeze-dried strawberries, and blend with an electric mixer on high, until the butter is smooth. Add the food colouring (if using), and blend really well. Sift in half of the dry ingredients, and mix with an electric mixer on low, until crumbly, then add the rest of the dry ingredients, along with the strawberry liqueur, and blend completely. The dough will look sticky at this point, but that is fine.
Cover the top with cling film, and place the bowl in the refrigerator for about an hour. When ready to make the cookies, line a large cookie sheet with baking paper, take out tablespoons of chilled dough, and arrange them a few centimetres apart, because they will spread a bit whilst baking. If you want to have a flatter cookie, press them slightly with your palm. Bake them in a preheated oven, at 180˚C (350˚F), for 10-12 minutes. They will be very soft when you take them out of the oven, but they will firm up and sink a bit as they cool down. Yields 20 cookies.