Monthly Mystery Munchies #34: Berry Meringues with Pistachios

Four attempts. Four. That’s how many times it took me to get the meringues to look like this! Who knew whipping eggs and sugar would be this hard? I learned that it’s all about timing, from how long to whip the eggs to how long to bake the meringues and leave them to cool in the oven. But once I figured it out, it was plain sailing. This is all thanks to my stepmom. High five, Shell!

 

When Ann from Grubbs ‘n Critters suggested April’s Monthy Mystery Munchies theme – berries and pistachios, I was instantly hooked. I love berries. I eat them every day. They make me happy. I also love nuts, all nuts, but pistachios are right up there for me. So, I decided to finally put my past meringue failures aside and get it right. My last attempt was about two years ago buuut I’ve wanted to try again for a while. My stepmom is an amazing cook, and she gave me a handwritten book with all her recipes a couple of years ago. She makes droolworthy meringues, so I used her recipe and it worked. Yaaaasssss! Proud to no longer be a loser in this category. I used a mixture of berrries with a strawberry compote. Like denim on denim, berry on berry is quite acceptable these days.

Credit: Grubbs ‘n Critters

 

This month, Ann made savoury cake. If you’re unsure, listen to this “soft, gooey Camembert cheese sprinkled with crushed pistachios underneath layers and layers of filo delicately brought together with melted butter. It is then topped again with blueberry sauce before crinkling the filo together at the top, drizzle it with more blueberry sauce and pistachios.” It’s a savoury revolution! Check it out!

Berry Meringues with Pistachios and Compote

Supplies:

Meringue:
6 egg whites
180 grams castor sugar
180 grams icing sugar
3/4 teaspoon cream or tartar.

Strawberry Compote:
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
2 cups fresh or frozen cherries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice

Topping:
Mixed berries (I used frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
2 tablespoons finely chopped pistach

Making it Happen

Preheat your oven to just below 100°
Beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form.
Add the sugar slowly, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Lastly add the cream of tartare and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form (approximately 3 minutes. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down.)
Fill a piping bag with the meringue mixture.
Line a large baking tray with parchement paper.
Pipe the meringue mixture in circles.
Bake for 1.5 hours. Thereafter, turn the oven off and leave the meringues inside, with the door closed. for four hours.

Compote:

Heat the sugar and orange juice on medium, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves.
Chop the strawberries and cherries and add them to the pot. Simmer on medium-low for 10 – 15 minutes, until the fruit is completely soft.
Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth.

Topping it Off:

Fill the centres of the meringues with mixed fruit and pistachios.
Drizzle the compote over the sides of the meringues and serve!

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Monthly Mystery Munchies #30: Almond Flour Banana Bread

Number 30? Whaaaaaa? Ann and I have been doing our super cool challenge, Monthly Mystery Munchies, for 30 months. I feel like this is when, in a relationship, people set a wedding date. It’s a commitment! And one I love so very much. Ann, I will never cheat on you. I swear it. And thank you, Ann, for always being up for the challenge, even when I get exhausted just thinking about everything you have going on in your life on any given day/week/month.

So, what happens when you have a gluten intolerant friend, spare bananas and a blog challenge that calls for anything almond-y? Banana bread, that’s what. Now, I am not one for the whole “gluten-is-terrible-and-if-you-eat-it-your-insides-will-shrivel-up-and-die” movement, unless you genuinely have an intolerance, which I don’t. TG. Nevertheless, I am super curious about using white flour substitutes, so I ventured off to the supermarket in search of almond flour. It is eye-wateringly expensive… I balked, hesitated for a moment, and then decided to commit. I mean, it’s banana bread, thank you Banana Food Gods for this invention (worthy of capitals), and almond flour – my favourite nut in the history of taste buds.

We’re doing renovations again. It feels like just the other day I nearly lost my mind with the last round. It was, in fact, almost two years ago, but the mind remembers and I feel that trauma in my soul. So, a good excuse to venture into the kitchen, get busy and put my music on full blast. Cue ACDC. Old school never sounded so sweet. I was very hesitant to bake with almond flour, sans butter. Hooooow does one bake banana bread without butter, pray tell? Add maple syrup, that’s how. Yet more “WTF”? Buuuuut it works. It really, really works. I loved it. It’s easy and the prep is ridiculously quick – throw everything into the blender, mix, transfer to pan, bake. Done. Okay, I’m sold. And it tastes soooo good! If almonds, or bananas, or both, are your vibe, do this. Try it, enjoy it and feel zero guilt! I’m pumped for Ann’s recipe this month: Dutch Bitterkoejes. “They are somewhat related to macarons, taste like marzipan, almost pepernoten-like and very much a typical Dutch classic. It’s chewy on the inside, NOT bitter and incredibly easy to make.” I’m so in. I’m booking my ticket as we speak. Have a look-see at her latest culinary creation on Grubbs n Critters, and while you’re there, check out the rest of her site. It’s awesome!

Almond Four Banana Bread

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Supplies:

3 ripe, mashed bananas
2 eggs
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt

Making it Happen:

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°CF).
Spray a bread tin with non-stick spray.
In a blender, blitz the first four wet ingredients until smooth.
Add the remaining four dry ingredients, blitz until mixed, about 5 – 10 seconds.
Pour into the prepared bread tin and bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clear.

Monthly Mystery Munchies #29: Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese and Buttermilk Glaze

Whoop whoop! Back in the land of the living! (Although I am often zombie-esque, so I’m not really sure how accurate that statement is, but it’s all relative.) To make a long story short, I had an accident which resulted in a few surgeries and bed-rest for six weeks. After two months, I rejoined society. This annoying and frustrating situation threw a spanner in the works of, well, everything. However, I was totally ready to go ahead with Ann’s Monthly Mystery Munchies theme: Cinnamon. Anything with cinnamon. Now, you might say “oh, that’s so easy”, but it was actually quite tricky. The very first idea that popped into my mind was cinnabuns. I mean, yassss.

Google was my trusty friend, but I was daunted by the recipes I found online, until I found Once Upon A Chef’s cinnamon bun recipe. “Let’s just try it and see what happens”, I thought. And so I made it, and it was amazing AF. Jenn Segal, food guru from Once Upon A chef, tried a few recipes before perfecting this one. And perfect it is! I’ve adjusted the frosting by increasing the portions and adding vanilla, which I am permanently ‘sessing over. I am also obsessed with cinnamon. I’ve had a love affair with it for years. I put it in everything. Like, everything. It goes into my smoothies, I sprinkle it over my All Bran and bananas every morning, I put it in curries and chilli dishes… Any opportunity and I’m down.

Baking is something I haven’t done for quite some time. The price of butter has skyrocked in South Africa. FML. No, seriously, it saddens me. Baking is something that’s an instant mood enhancer, and I’m not just talking about the finished product. In fact, I think I enjoy the actual process and preparation more than the reward that comes out of the oven! Okay, maybe not more, but definitely on par.

Cinnabuns. Cinnamon buns. Cinfully delicious. Crisp, not too sweet, and the icing melts, literally melts, in your mouth. It’s like little fairies moonwalking over your tongue. I am so amped to see Ann’s creation. She always pushes the boat out. She’s a serious foodie and her recipes are beyond impressive, inventive, imaginative and delicious. Please visit her site for the most amazing food, adventures, humour and more.

It’s important to note that these portions have to be measured precisely.

Cinnamon buns

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Supplies:

For the buns:
7 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon + ½teaspoon salt
3 cups spooned flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1¼ cups buttermilk

For the glaze:
3 tablespoons cream cheese, room temp
4 tablespoons buttermilk
1¼ cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Making it Happen:

In a 9-inch cake tin, place a piece of tin foil at the bottom, covering the sides too. Preheat your oven to 220°C (440°F).

In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, cinnamon, ⅛ teaspoon salt salt in a small bowl. Add one tablespoon melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand.

In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining dry ingredients together. Add 3 tablespoons melted butter and buttermilk and stir using a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed, 30 seconds – 1 minute.

Sprinkle flour over a work surface, transfer the dough and knead until it’s smooth, about 30 seconds – 1 minute.
Sprinkle more flour on your surface, lightly dusting it. Form a rectangle with the dough, then roll it into a 9 inch x 12 inch rectangle with your rolling pin. Dust the rolling pin lightly with flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.

Brush the dough with a tablespoon of butter and evenly spoon the brown sugar mixture over it, pressing it down firmly with your hands. Roll the dough into a tight log, pinching to seal it. (You might need to use a tiny bit of water to help seal the seam.)

Turn the log over so that the seam is at the bottom and slice into 9 pieces. Place the buns in the cake tin, flat side down, and brush with the remaining butter. Bake for 23 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Using the foil overhang, transfer the buns to a wire rack. Allow to rest for five minutes, then separate the buns (you might need to use a knife.)

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Mix the buttermilk, cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar, and drizzle over the buns.

Serve warm, or refrigerate and reheat later. (15 – 20 seconds in your microwave.)  

 

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Monthly Mystery Munchies #23: Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Filling Topped with Chocolate Ganache

Yes, the title is a mouthful, but so are these cupcakes! This month’s theme made me so incredibly happy! I mean, I freaking love baking, and I love frosting, and filling of any variety, so let’s play! Ann’s instructions were: something with frosting and/or filling and you can use frosting as filling and vice versa. I mean!! Listen to this: Chocolate cupcakes hollowed out and filled with cream cheese frosting, then topped with chocolate ganache. Hashtag inheaven! When you first bite into the cupcake, there’s a distinct chocolatey taste, swiftly followed by a burst of creamy vanilla, then finished with a creamy ganache. Lots of creaminess, so much of!

Please click your way over to Grubbs n Critters and check out Ann’s delicious offering for this month’s challenge – choux (cream puffs) with Mascarpone cheese filling. The tummy wants what it wants! I have no doubt you will luh it!

Here we go…

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Filling Topped with Chocolate Ganache

Cupcake Supplies:

1 cup (100g) flour
¾ cup (75g) cocoa
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup (80g) white sugar
½ cup (80g) brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons Bulgarian yoghurt

Cream Cheese Frosting Filling Supplies:

100g butter, room temperature
150g plain cream cheese, also room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or essence)

Chocolate Ganache Supplies:

80g dark baking chocolate
80ml cream

Making It Happen:

Cupcakes: Preheat your oven to 180°C (375°F). Whisk the butter and sugar on high until well mixed.
Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt and whisk on low for 10 seconds. The batter will be crumbly.

Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until just combined, scraping down the sides and bottom well.
Whisk in the yoghurt and vanilla essence, beat on low for 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom and give it one last beat, about 5 seconds.

Fill the muffin cups half full and bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes our clear. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then refrigerate for half an hour.

While the cupcakes are chilling, make the filling, and then the ganache.

Cream Cheese Frosting Filling: In a large bowl, beat the room temperature butter and cream cheese on high for a minute. about 5 seconds. Sift in the icing sugar, stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until loosely combined, then beat until fully combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla paste and give it one last stir.

Remove the chilled cupcakes from the fridge and hollow out the centre using a serrated knife, slicing the top off and keeping aside. Using a piping bag, fill the centre of each cupcake with frosting. Place the top back on, kinda like a lid. Refrigerate again.

Chocolate ganache: Heat the cream and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth and allow to cool. Once chilled, scoop one tablespoon onto the cupcakes.

Monthly Mystery Munchies #22: Rugelach

rugelach-cooked-1Oh yeah! Pastry filled with peanut butter and chocolate chips, anyone? My hand bolts up! Rugelach – this month’s recipe, is a popular treat in Israel, and apparently America is enthusiastic about it too. Can’t say I blame them! This traditionally Jewish delight was usually reserved for special occasions such as Hanukkah, but it’s become more popular and now it’s made for any occasion. I’m hosting a dear friend’s birthday shindig this month, for 20 people, and I wanted to find something interesting and plentiful to feed the masses. I found this, and I’m hooked! Speaking of hooked, Ann made Bodhi (Fig) Pudding in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Well, I for one heart this recipe! Ann, like me, doesn’t like OTT V Day vibes, so I think making a fig-based dessert is the perfect break from the traditional chocolate treats. I feel ya, Ann!

rugelach-circle-2

Flaky pastry smothered in peanut butter, topped with chocolate chips, rolled up and baked in the oven, literally melts in your mouth. This is a fitting recipe for this month’s theme – a dish that’s derived from a different culture for special occasions. Ann was, as always, down with this. Aah, I love her enthusiasm! No matter what the theme, she is always up for the challenge. Check out her take on this, and prepare to be wowed!

rugelach-raw-rolls-1

Rugelach

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Supplies:

2 sticks/1 cup/230g cold salted butter*, cubed
230g/8 oz cold cream cheese
¼ sour cream
2 cups flour + 4 tablespoons for sprinkling on surface
* You can use unsalted butter, just add ¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg for brushing

For The Filling:

1 cup melted smooth peanut butter divided into ¼
½ cup dark chocolate chips divided into ¼

Making It Happen:

In a food processor, add the flour, butter, cream cheese and sour cream. Pulse until the dough is crumbly and coming away from the sides. Do not over-process.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour onto a clean surface and form a rough ball with the dough. Divide it into four pieces, forming a ball for each, cover in cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

Again, sprinkle flour onto a work surface and sprinkle a bit onto your rolling pin.
Roll the dough from the center out, forming a circle, and until the dough is about 1/8inch thick.
Take a 9 inch cake pan, place it hollow side down onto the dough, and cut the edges off to form a neat circle.

Heat the peanut butter in the microwave until runny, and, starting from the centre, spread it over the dough until it’s about 1 inch from the outer side. Sprinkle choc chips over the peanut butter.
Using a shark knife, halve the circle. Halve it again, and continue until it’s cut into eight triangles. It will look like a pizza. Yum.
Starting from the outer egde, roll each triangle up and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Repeat this process with the rest of the dough balls.
Heat your oven to 190°C (375°F). Remove the chilled rugelach from the fridge. Place parchment paper on a baking tray, lay your rugelach down and brush with egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Your can refrigerate this for several days, and freeze it too.

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies #15: Mini Tartlets with Rosemary-Infused Grapefruit and Lime Curd, and Homemade Custard

Grapfruit tarts 1

Figs, lime, and rosemary. These were the three ingredients Ann chose for this month’s Monthly Mystery Munchies. However, she was kind enough to give me some leeway when I couldn’t source fresh figs. I settled on grapefruit, because I’ve never cooked with it. The second instruction: it can’t be in a main course. This thrilled me, because I’ve been jonesing to get my bake on for a while, but I needed a good excuse. So, now that I have afore-mentioned excuse, why not make pastry? Cool, good idea. Why stop there, you ask? Indeed, I agree. Homemade custard. It’s too easy. I mean, I couldn’t believe how easy it was, and how absolutely delicious it tasted. See, I’m obsessed with custard. I blame my gran. She used to give me one (two) bowls every Sunday after lunch. “Don’t tell your mother”. Bless her heart.

Custard 2

This month, we have mini tartlets with grapefruit and lime curd, infused with rosemary, and drizzled with custard. I’m so ready for this! Ann and I are clearly on the same wavelength, as she made figs, rosemary and lime-drizzled scones with lime curd. How. Freaking. Delicious! Also, she very recently emigrated to Holland, and she’s still waiting for all her kitchen equipment to arrive. She’s only been there for a few weeks, during which time she, her husband (Silver Bullet) and their kids moved from their temp base at her in-laws into their own house. She’s got both kids into school. She’s furnishing the house from scratch, and she’s looking for a new job. No biggie, right? Pffft! I am incredibly impressed that, in the midst of all this chaos, she managed to do this blog post. Major kudos! Ann is tremendously dedicated to our monthly cooking challenge, come rain or shine, Thailand or Holland, work stress or… work stress. Please head over to Grubbs n Critters and check out her blog.

I’ve broken this recipe into two parts: grapefruit curd and pastry, and custard, for your convenience, in case you only want to print out one of them. Here ya go…

Rosemary-Infused Grapefruit and Lime Tartlets

For the curd:

1 cup strained fresh grapefruit juice (about 2 grapefruits)
Zest of ½ grapefruit
Juice of ½ lime (3 tablespoons)
Zest of ½ lime
1 cup white sugar
8 strained egg yolks
½ cup butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 sprigs rosemary, each about 3 inches long

Pour the strained grapefruit juice, lime juice, grapefruit and lime zest, strained egg yolks, and sugar into a pot.
On medium heat, simmer until thickened, about 5-7 minutes, stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon every minute.
Once thickened, remove from the heat and strain to remove any cooked egg pieces.
Mix in the butter, stirring until melted. Add the rosemary, and allow to set, about 1 hour.

For the pastry:

2 cups flour
2 ½ sticks salted COLD butter
½ cup ice cold water

Put two ice cubes into a cup and add tap water, enough to make 1/2 cup including ice cubes. Wait until the ice cubes have just melted.

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces.
Sift the flour into your food processor fitted with blades. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and pulse until mixed, about 10 pulses. Add the rest of the butter, pulsing until the dough forms a rough ball. Do not over-pulse it, make sure that once it’s formed a rough ball, you stop pulsing.

On a floured work surface, roll the dough out and form into a rectangle. Place one piece of plastic wrap until the dough, and one piece over it, and, using a rolling pin, roll until flattened into a large rectangular piece.

Remove the plastic wrap and turn the dough over onto your floured counter. Fold the dough down by a third, then, at the bottom piece, up by a third. Then roll the dough over from the left-hand side, until it’s all rolled up. Form into a square, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

To make the tartlets:

Remove the pastry from the fridge and, on a floured surface, roll it out with a rolling pin, quite thinly. Measure how much pastry you will need to fill each tartlet cup, covering the bottom and sides. Cut out enough pastry then press the pastry into the bottom, then work it up the sides.

Remove the rosemary from the curd and set aside. Fill two-thirds of the tartlet cup with grapefruit curd, then top with one piece of grapefruit, and wedge in some rosemary.

Bake at 180°C for 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Heat your custard, either in a pot or microwave, and pour over the tartlet.

Homemade Vanilla Custard

250ml cream
250ml milk
1 ½ tablespoons cornflour
3 tablespoons castor sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks, castor sugar and cornflour until well mixed. Set aside.

Pour the cream and milk into a pot and simmer gently over low heat until it’s hot but not boiling.
Very slowly, pour the hot milk and cream into the cornflour bowl, stirring with a whisk as you pour. Make sure you do this slooooowly.
Once it’s all mixed, add the vanilla to the custard mixture, and wipe the bottom of the pot.
Return the custard mixture to the pot and simmer gently, stirring with a wooden spoon until thickened.

(You can reheat the custard in a pot over low heat, or in the microwave.)

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies #14: Malva Pudding

Malva pudding 6Pour some sugar on meeeee! Ann from Grubbs n Critters has just emigrated to the Netherlands, her husband’s home country, so this month we thought it apt that she do a Dutch recipe and me an Afrikaans one. Afrikaans is a derivative of Dutch, with the early Settlers in South Africa being Dutch. I chose malva pudding, which is a sweet, spongy pudding of Cape Dutch origin. It’s topped (flooded) with an abundance of creamy, sweet sauce. A lot of sweet in this one, which certainly appeases my sugar addiction.

I can’t take credit for this recipe, as much as I’d like to! My stepmom, Michele, is a phenomenal cook, and she gave me her recipe a few years ago. Obsessed. This is my favourite hot pudding, and the fact that it’s served with custard and/or ice cream (why not both?) makes it decadent and indulgent, and one for the recipe books. It’s easy, folks, mission-free, and moreish.

Ann made something quite delicious that appeals to me in every way – kaas uienbrood (cheese onion bread with parmesan, cheddar and gouda. Oh god, I’m dying!). During her second recipe test, she added paprika, thyme and cumin-flavoured cheese. Y’all, I’m obsessed with cheese, bread and spices. Dead. For another authentic Dutch recipe, try her bitterballen. She also posts a weekly recipe called “Fabulous Friday Flavour” and her “Sunday Humour” posts are a must! Here we go…

Malva Pudding

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Cake:
2 cups self raising flour
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon bicarb
3 tablespoons apricot jam
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
½ teaspoon salt

Sauce:
1 large tin evaporated milk
200g butter
1 cup sugar

Making It Happen:

Malva pudding 2Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Cream the eggs and sugar until fully mixed, about 30 seconds.
Sift the flour in, and add the rest of the ingredients. Beat well until fully combined.
Pour the mixture into a deep corningware or pottery dish and bake for 35 – 45 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Malva pudding 4Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a small pot on medium. Add the evaporated milk and sugar and stir well. Remove from heat when the sugar has melted fully and the ingredients are throughly mixed.
Thoroughly pierce the whole cake with a toothpick and pour the hot sauce over it.

Malva pudding 5Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving, so that the cake soaks up all of the sinfully delicious sauce! You can also refrigerate this dish and heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Serve with custard and/or ice cream.