Wednesday, 29 June 2011

california dreamin'...

RJ Shaughnessy is a super duper trooper of a photog from LA, California. He's worked with brands such as Urban Outfitters, Microsoft and Adidas. If you feel like drooling over your keyboard, see his website here

vanilla bean cupcakes with vanilla ganache

Photos: heysweetie8
Oh hot dayum. Here they are, the tastiest cupcakes ever. Recipe adapted from here. The milk chocolate decoration is definitely not necessary, unless you're feeling piggish... like me.

Makes +-18


1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 cups cake flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean
4 large egg whites


300g white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cream
1 vanilla bean

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Beat butter on high until soft, for about 30 seconds.

2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

4. Measure out milk and vanilla and mix together. Add the seeds scraped out of 1/2 of a vanilla bean.

5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.

6. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until firm. Fold egg whites gently into the batter until you can't see any streaks.

7. Scoop into cupcake papers about half full. Don’t overfill.

8. Bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

For the vanilla bean ganache:

1. Chop up the white chocolate and leave in a bowl.

2. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

3. Remove the cream from the heat and pour over the chocolate.

4. Leave it for 1 minute then stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Scrape out the contents of 1 vanilla bean and add to bowl.

5. Leave the ganache to cool (stirring occasionally to keep it smooth) before spreading on cupcakes.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

tastes like MORE!

Photos: photobooth

On Sunday morning I baked the most incredible tasting cupcakes! No they're not going to win first prize for aesthetics, (let's just say I was inspired by Jackson Pollock paintings - not) but never-the-less these tasted like a real vanilla dream. Real because I used vanilla pods in my baking! (I had blogged about them here)

I will post the recipe and a clearer photo of the vanilla bean and white chocolate cupcakes tomorrow, this was just a sneak peek :)

P.S. I was in Hello Kitty pyjamas.

it's been a while

Illustration: heysweetie8
...Since I last posted. Things have been super busy, which is why there hasn't been much shaking 'n baking going down in the kitchen. Sorry. Here's a little "interlude" whilst I get my shiz together. Some work of mine I did over a year ago - some of you may have seen it at the Playing Card exhibition at Bean Bag Bohemia in Durban. Wow, if only I could find the time to illustrate like this again...

Monday, 20 June 2011


ephemera |əˈfem(ə)rə| plural noun.things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time.•   items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity Mickey Mouse ephemera. (From my Macbook dictionary)
This isn't exactly food-related, I know. But sometimes you've just got to share the love when you come across something so awesome! Dick Sheaff is an American who collects ephemera - old stamps, trade cards, tickets, post cards... The kind of stuff I gravitate toward whenever I'm antique shopping! 

I've posted a few of my favourite items from his website. So, if you're needing your daily fix of awesome, and you have a little bit of time on your hands, go and have a look. 

picnic and some "cookie pops"

Photos: heysweetie8
On Sunday we went with friends to Gillooly's farm, which is a pretty little park with a lake near Edenvale (I stand to be corrected - I think its that area). We had a picnic there and it was radi-cool. I took loads of photos of the surroundings, and, once I had completely exhausted myself from snapping away, I realised that my camera had been on some weird mode... "stupid" mode. The photos turned out completely over-exposed. I was so upset. Have you ever done that before? 

I managed to salvage a tiny handful of photos, and (thank goodness) I had also taken some pics of the "cookie pops" on my iPhone to send to my friend Cat. Phew. So here they are, and please excuse the quality. (By the way, that first photo on the left was taken straight after I found out my camera was on "stupid" mode).

Makes +- 48

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence (I used 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp rose water essence)

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks. 

For the icing:  
Make a normal glacé icing: icing sugar and a few drops of boiling water. (Just like you did when you had baking day at pre-school) But substitute half of the water with rose water, it tastes sooo much better. Then throw on some sprinkles. Feel like your 6-year old self again? That's the point. :)

Friday, 17 June 2011

sugar sugar

Photos: heysweetie8
A couple of weeks ago I blogged about a book I'd ordered online, sugar baby. It arrived almost 2 weeks early, which was an awesome surprise. I like good surprises. Thank you TAKE2 for being so reliable and efficient! The book is a real visual treat, but... the recipes look quite challenging. This is like advanced maths for confectioners. Homemade rock candy, candy floss, maple taffys...Yikes!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

i'm on holiday

Photo: heysweetie8
Not this kind of holiday. Just a little Youth Day public holiday. We're going for lunch at Tashas later, yes. P.S. I took this photo when I went on a week-long sea cruise with my family and boyfriend in December 2010. Sweet, sunny memories.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

some things

Photos: heysweetie8
...I recently purchased.

Gold teaspoon - Antique shop on Queen street, Kensington
Stafford's Rose Water (Should I attempt Turkish Delight soon?!)
Vanilla pod - by Vanilla Man at Pick 'n Pay
New VISI magazine - The wood issue
Black and white pattern knitted scarf - Mr Price 

Monday, 13 June 2011

currently snacking...

Photo: heysweetie8
Koeksister mini bites from Woolies. Eat these with a bowl of vanilla ice-cream and your taste buds will do a little dance for you. For realsies!

lemon-ginger and white choc thumbprint cookies

Photos: heysweetie8
Ok, I know these don't really look like your usual thumbprint cookies  - somewhere along the way, something went a little wrong, and these buggers refused to rise and take shape. Perhaps it's because I adapted the recipe slightly? I replaced normal flour with "krakley" wholewheat flour. Hmmm. Well regardless of their appearance, these still managed to taste delish. I had my two best friends visit from Durban this weekend, hence the reason why I chose to bake something super quick and easy. (I didn't want to spend too much time in the kitchen!)

The thumbprint cookie recipe comes from Nicole, a very talented friend of mine. She is new to the blogosphere - visit her blog here. A while ago she published her first children's recipe book, (see here) and I am very proud of her!

Makes +-24


120g butter
100g white sugar
140g brown sugar
2 eggs
3ml vanilla essence (her secret – she uses almond essence instead of vanilla)
400g sifted flour
2ml baking powder
100ml jam (I used lemon-ginger jam, and added white chocolate to it too - it just gave the cookies that X-factor!)

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla essence into the mix.
3. Mix in flour and baking powder. Mix well until light and fluffy. Roll into little balls and place on a greased baking tray.
4. Press a hollow into each ball and fill with jam. Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

lusting over

Aaargh! My first autumn/winter in Joburg and I'm feeling totally unprepared. It's thick woolly socks and the warmth of my teddy bear (His name is Waylon and he is my boyfriend - ha!) that is helping me get through this icy time of year. Here are a few things that I think could also help... (Some of which I have already - and am therefore recommending to you!) 

1. Donna Hay Seasons cookbook from Anthropologie (gotcha already)
2. Sugar-free Hot Chocolate from NOMU (gotcha already too)
3. Lace Chopping Board from Quirky.Me
4. Knitted Headband from ASOS
5. Stoneware Casserole Dish from Le Creuset

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

cinnamon roll cake

Images: heysweetie8
Oh. My. Word. Make this if you love Cinnabons! Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything


3 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped pecans, (optional - I'm not a fan of pecan nuts so I left them out)

2 cups icing sugar
5 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla essence

Half a tub of cream cheese

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. In an electric mixer mix the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs and vanilla. Once combined well, slowly stir in the 1/2 cup melted butter. Pour batter into a greased baking pan. 

2. In a large bowl, mix the 1 cup of softened butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and pecans until well combined. Drop evenly over cake batter by the tablespoonfuls and use a knife to marble/swirl through the cake.

3. Bake at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out nearly clean from centre.

4. Place icing sugar, milk, vanilla and cream cheese in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over warm cake. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

happy tuesday

image: heysweetie
I can't remember where or when I came across this quote, but I think it's beautiful and encouraging. Interpret it as you will :) I've been illustrating/doodling with watercolour and felt-tip pens a lot lately, and this is one of the results. What do you think? I would love to do a series. 

Monday, 6 June 2011

lemon ricotta flapjacks

Photos: heysweetie8
Whilst doing a quick grocery shop on at the Pick 'n Pay on William Nicol on Friday, I came across these lovely little edible flowers. Aahhh. What a fun way to add some colour on my plate! Although my boyfriend wasn't too pleased with my purchase, ("No babe. Please don't make me eat flowers.") I managed to convince him when I sprinkled them over some warm lemon ricotta flapjacks for breakfast on Saturday. Love it when a plan comes together :)

Serves 4-5


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon canola oil

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese, egg, egg whites, lemon juice, lemon zest, and canola oil. Gently fold this mixture into the dry ingredients until flour disappears. Don't over mix. The batter will be thick.

3. Heat a griddle or a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray.  Drop about 1/3 cup of batter onto the hot griddle or skillet. Cook the pancakes until browned on the underside and beginning to set, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the pancakes on the other side, about two minutes longer. Continue making pancakes until batter is gone. Serve warm with syrup and edible flowers.

Friday, 3 June 2011

ice-cream and sunburn

Image: krisatomic
Can you still eat ice-cream this time of year in Durban? I bet you can. Missing Durban right now. Image from my favourite illustrator.

chocolate chai spiced cupcakes

Photos: heysweetie8

Forget I ever dissed buttercream frosting. It was never actually a complete diss anyway, it was more about the amount of frosting that people plonk on a cupcake. Ok anyway. If you are a chai tea fan, you have GOT to try this recipe. Need proof? I ate 3 of these at one time. Click here for the recipe.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

italian icing

Photos: heysweetie8
I often find the frosting on cupcakes to be unnecessarily rich. So when an excessively thick layer of frosting has been slapped on to a cupcake, (exceeding the height of the actual cupcake) I'm not impressed. I'm intimidated.

Don't get me wrong - I love buttercream frosting. But seriously, go easy on it! I found this lovely alternative in the FAIRLADY food magazine - the 2011 Baking edition. It's called Italian icing, and it's light, fluffy, and fat-free. Happiness.

Covers 12 cupcakes

1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 egg white
Pinch of cream of tartar

1. To make Italian icing, place sugar, water and lemon juice into a small pot and dissolve gently over a low heat.

2. Once dissolved, increase the heat and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Test syrup consistency by dropping a little into cold water. A soft ball should form. Remove from heat.

3. Whisk egg white until frothy, add cream of tartar and continue whisking until stiff.

4. Continue to beat egg white while adding the warm sugar syrup in a steady stream. Beat until thick and glossy. Ice cupcake immediately.