Tuesday, 31 May 2011

put this on your bucket list

From top left to right: A bunny at The Crocodile Farm; Maropeng Museum; Forum Homini hotel; meerkat at The Lion Park;
playing with the lion cubs at Lion Park; entrance to the hotel rooms at Forum Homini. Photos: heysweetie8
Towards the end of last year I got to discover Joburg's equivalent to the Midlands Meander. A friend had recommended Roots to me - an awarding-winning restaurant situated at Forum Homini hotel, Kromdraai (Magaliesburg). Having only been in Joburg for a couple of months, I was eager to try it out with my boyfriend. It was only a 40 minute drive from home - perfect for a mini weekend getaway. We stayed over for the night, and the next day drove all around Cradle of Humankind. I've been back twice since then. Wow. Do it. 

Monday, 30 May 2011

to me, from me.

Photos: anthropologie.com
One of my favourite things to do is browse the books section over at anthropologie. Yowza, they have the most amazing selection of books. During my lunchbreak today I decided that I would treat myself to ONE of the many books I've been perving over lately - sugarbaby by Gesine Bullock-Prado. Because I can't order products on anthropologie I went to take2.co.za and found sugarbaby over there. Yay. I can't wait to receive her in the post!

good morning

image: heysweetie
My mantra for the week.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

red velvet cheesecake brownies

Photos: heysweetie8
Ok here's a random fact about red velvet cake: Jessica Simpson requested one as her wedding cake when she married Nick Lachey. 

Anyway, I got my first taste of red velvet cake when I moved up to Johannesburg mid-year last year. Lucky Pony had blogged about her Wolves version, so I headed out the moment my feet landed on highveld ground. I have since tasted Life's red velvet cake, (at Hyde Park Shopping Centre), which is equally amazing. I've made red velvet cupcakes a couple of times, so I had to try this interesting twist on the Southern classic. Thank you Baking Bites.

Makes 16

1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp red food coloring
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

8-oz cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease. In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add in the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Batter should be red. If a brighter red is desired, add an additional 1/2 tsp food coloring. Add flour and salt into the bowl and stir until everything is just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.

3. Prepare cheesecake mixture. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.

4. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned. Cool in the pan completely before slicing and serving, either at room temperature or chilled. Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

milk tart

Photos: heysweetie8
There is nothing more nostalgic to me than a slice of wobbly milk tart. Growing up, my mom baked for a home industry, and milk tart was one of her specialities. I would go as far as to say it was pretty much a sell out at "Die Hoek winkel" everyday! Yes, my mom is one superstar of a baker, and although she doesn't supply goods to a home industry anymore, she is still baking up a storm, everyday, without fail. 

Since I live in another province now, away from home, I don't get to celebrate my mom's gourmet creations as often as I'd like to. So, mom, this recipe post is just for you. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

espresso chocolate shortbread

Photos: heysweetie8

I am constantly on the search for new biscuit recipes. (IF I'm lucky, a batch of biscuits will last as long as 2 days in my house) So I couldn't ignore the opportunity to try this coffee/chocolate combo, featured a while back on smitten kitchen

TIP: If you love a strong coffee flavour, double the dosage on the instant espresso powder - I did.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

spiced cranberry biscotti

Photos: heysweetie8
Made without butter or oil, these crunchy Italian biscuits are a delicious, low-fat treat to accompany your coffee or cappuccino. This recipe calls for dried cranberries but you can replace it with a cup of chopped macadamias, pistachios, or even dark chocolate. 

Makes 15

1 egg
2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp water
½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients and set them aside. In a medium bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients (flour through cranberries). Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until you've formed a soft dough, adding more flour as necessary.

2. Knead the dough for about 10 strokes to bring the dough together. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a 5 cm wide log, using more flour if necessary to prevent the dough from sticking. Place each log on a baking-paper lined tray and bake for 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees.

3. Allow the logs to cool for 15 minutes and carefully transfer them to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut each log into about 15 slices, 1 
½ cm thick. Return the slices to the baking tray, cut side facing down. Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once halfway through the baking time. 

4. Remove the biscotti from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool.

strawberry flavoured butter biscuits

Photos: heysweetie8
The strawberry oil used in this recipe adds instant WOW factor to these pretty little things. 

Makes 24

2 ½ cups cake flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp strawberry oil
1 tsp pink or red food colouring
icing sugar, for rolling out dough

1. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugar together in another large bowl. Add egg and beat until incorporated. Add vanilla essence and strawberry oil. Gradually add the dry mixture, beating until combined. Remove half of the mixture from the bowl. Add the food colouring, beat until fully combined. In waxed paper, roll out dough to form a large rectangle. Repeat this step with the other half of uncoloured dough with no food colouring. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

3. Tear out a sheet of waxed paper. Sprinkle surface with flour to prevent sticking. Carefully slide the red dough on top of the white dough. Roll combined dough into a log, creating a swirl effect. Refrigerate again for another 20 minutes.

4. Preheat oven at 180 degrees.

5. Slice the dough into 1cm slices and place onto wax-paper covered tray. Allow about 2 ½ cm between each cookie. Bake in the oven for 10 mins. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Monday, 16 May 2011

white chocolate lamingtons

Photos: heysweetie8

These little blocks of coconut heaven come from The Australian Women's Weekly Sweet Treats book. I glammed these babies up with some heart-shaped glitter toppers.

Makes 25

6 eggs
2/3 cup (150g) castor sugar
80g white chocolate, chopped finely
½  cup (75g) plain flour
1/3 cup (50g) self-raising flour
1/3 cup (50g) cornflour
4 cups (640g) icing sugar
3/4 cup (180ml) milk
2 cups (150g) desiccated coconut
100g white chocolate, grated finely

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease 23cm square slab cake pan; line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 5cm over sides.

2. Beat eggs in medium bowl with electric mixer about 10 minutes or until thick and creamy; gradually beat in castor sugar, dissolving between each addition. Fold in chopped chocolate and sifted flours.

3. Spread mixture into pan; bake about 35 minutes. Turn cake immediately onto baking-paper-lined wire rack to cool; refrigerate while preparing the icing.

4. Sift icing into medium heatproof bowl; stir in milk. Place bowl over medium saucepan of simmering water, stir until icing is of a coating consistency.

5. Cut cold cake into 25 squares.

6. Dip each square of cake into icing, drain off excess. Toss squares in combined coconut and grated chocolate. Place lamingtons on wire rack to set.