Day 117 27 April – dessert cups

My daughter’s best friend’s parents happen to be good friends of ours. Two weeks ago she received news that her brother passed away. He was suffering from an infection which had left him in a vegetative state for over a year. She travelled back to her home town in Thailand soon after which left her husband to look after my daughter’s friend and her younger sister.

To give him a helping hand we invited them over for dinner tonight because from what I heard his speciality has been mince on rice 🙂 I prepared a vegetarian lasagne with chicken nibbles and fresh ciabatta bread to soak up the sauciness. The lasagne took a whole lot longer to prepare than the 1/2 hour I gave myself. The vegetable  sauce took the longest to boil down and thicken. But in all honesty, it was well worth it! All 4 children gobbled it down with my son (not a trusty veggie eater) exclaimed afterwards, “It wasn’t good, it was delicious”.

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For dessert I turned a traditional South African peppermint crisp tart into a dessert cup. A peppermint crisp tart is made from a South African chocolate called Peppermint Crisp which is roughly grated and then folded into a cream and caramel mixture. We use a coconut based biscuit called Tennis biscuits to form the biscuit base. You start off with a layer of biscuits, followed by the cream mixture. Repeat the layers until you have the required height/size you want. Top the tart or dessert cup off with left-over pieces of peppermint crisp chocolate. It needs to set in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. The dessert cups were reasonably large and after a filling dinner it was a bit overkill, so I would suggest serving these in small jars.

Peppermint Crisp dessert cups (serves 6)

500ml cream

1 tin Caramel Treat

3 Peppermint Crisp bars, roughly grated

1 1/2 packets of Tennis biscuits, crushed

6 small mason jars

Whisk cream until thickened. Add the Caramel Treat and gently whisk until the mixture is well combined and smooth. Add the grated peppermint crisp (but leave some for the garnish) to the mixture and fold in until well combined. Layer the mason jars, starting with the crushed biscuits and followed by the cream mixture. Repeat until the jars are filled to the top. Garnish with left-over peppermint crisp. Let it set in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Enjoy!

 

 

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Day 76 17 March – Key Lime Pie

I have always been fascinated by a Key Lime Pie. I have NEVER tasted one before and I had some misconceptions about this pie:

  1. I thought it had tequila in it, you know like ‘1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, floor’.
  2. I thought it was Jamaican inspired.
  3. I thought it was a green coloured pie.
  4. I thought it sets in the fridge, similar to a cheese cake.
  5. I thought it was a difficult tart to make.

How wrong could I have been!

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I found an easy to follow recipe on Jamie Oliver’s website today and decided to educate myself within the realm of baking school. The recipe is all written in pounds and ounces so I bought what I thought is equivalent to grams. I bought way to many ingredients, but at least they are all dry products and will soon be used for other baking adventures. While paying for my shopping, the cashier looked at the huge bag of limes and stated “Are you making a drink from these limes?” I might look like I need a drink today but I said laughingly “No, I making a key lime pie”. She looked intrigued and gave a good-on-you nod.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this pie. I found a small bag of macadamia nuts and incorporated it into my base. I usually deviate from a recipe and this was the only change I made. The rest I followed to the exact measurement. Chef Google is the perfect place to search for pound conversions to grams. The filling, prior to baking, is very similar to a South African tart called a Cremora tart, which is basically a lemon fridge tart, so you can imagine my surprise when I read that the pie is meant to be baked. Once baked, I touched the surface of the pie and it had completely set. After cooling I placed it in the fridge overnight as directed.

The morning of 18 March:

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I woke up early to get myself ready for work, and quickly beat the honey and double cream until it formed soft peaks, spread it gently over the set filling and topped it with grated lime zest. I had a very tiny taster before taking some to work with me, and oh my goodness it is divine! Tangy, sweet, creamy with the crunchy base.

1 lime, 2 limes, 3 limes, pie!

Day 41 10 February – buttermilk rusks

We bake a few traditional items for our shop, and one of those are rusks. We have a variety but the most popular ones are my mum’s health rusks and the buttermilk rusks. I often make both, especially when my mother is too busy dealing with online orders, deliveries and helping customers. Today my mom asked me to bake the buttermilk rusks again as she prefers how neatly I roll them into little balls before placing them into the baking tray.

A few weeks back I realised that the recipe she uses for these rusks is the same recipe I used to bake my rusks back in 1999! I noticed my handwriting on the now well used piece of paper, and couldn’t believe that my mom kept it all these years, never the less using it for the past 5 years to sell in her shop. I remembered the day I baked these for the first time. I was home alone, had the kitchen all to myself and decided now is a good of a time to teach myself how to make rusks. Baking was also a temporary distraction from the poisonous bulimic thoughts I struggled with at the time.

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I always felt intimidated with baking rusks, because my ouma use to bake them by the dozens and I thought that only an experiences and seasoned baker can attempt them. I wrote the recipe out in a way I will understand it, read it carefully and started making them. I particularly enjoyed rolling out the dough into neat little balls and tucking them tightly next to each other into the baking tray. The house smelled like freshly baked bread when they were done, but they are not yet ready to eat. You first have to cool and then dry them. For a young inexperienced baker this waiting and lengthy process was torture. My mother was very impressed when she arrived home from work to find a large container filled with rusks and she couldn’t wait to take them to work the following day for her colleagues to taste. I dreaded this as I was doubtful of my baking ability and was scared they wouldn’t like it. The following afternoon I went to my mother’s work after my counselling session, and I only received praises from them over the rusks. I felt slightly embarrassed, but was genuinely relieved that they approved of my baking.

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So today I’m putting these little soldiers into their oven bed to bake so that others can enjoy them as much as we do.