Chocolatey chocolate cupcakes….Parental Guidance Advised!

Chocolately Chocolate Cake

Chocolately Chocolate Cake

Every year, I promise that I will organise my life with great care to make sure I have lots of time for parental tasks like being involved with more school activities.  This is a plan that never lasts…the one thing you can surely count on is a curve ball and it is always timed to imperfection.

Hetal, my eldest daughter, is now in Grade Seven and 2013 has kicked off to an emotional start.  Life has become serious….there are serious chats about homework, extra homework and more extra homework.  Yes, there is a monster that lives in our house and no, it’s not the Boogie Man….its a thing called Mathematics!  Fingers crossed….hope we don’t end up in family therapy soon!

 I attended the first parent teacher evening and drove home wondering if there was a box of ‘Calmettes’ lying around.  Where did all the years go…Child One is halfway through school.  I sat through the presentation, feeling quite guilty about all the things I skipped out on and decided that this year would have to be different.

My nerves were in tatters after the teachers evening when I was tasked with my first parental assignment….Cake and Candy!  It’s a fund-raiser that is hosted throughout the year and whatever I made needed to be perfect. I have been determined to do my part and not do the ‘COP OUT STORE BOUGHT CUPCAKE’! How hard could it be….twelve cupcakes…in and out the oven with some butter icing and glitter….sounded like a breeze!

Think again….12 cupcakes apparently just won’t do!  Hetal requested a rather large batch of cupcakes, errrr…about 72, that had to be ‘different’.  Butter icing is apparently for kids and being in Grade 7 means that those days are over.  I wrote of my old-time favourite, Red Velvet….that was apparently boring and so last year!

I needed chocolate and lots of it to soothe the hormone levels.  Let’s face it…chocolate is just the best thing when the hormones play up…even at my age, I still seek solace in a slab of good chocolate especially when things are not going so well.  Chocolate cupcakes with silky ganache and Belgian white chocolate shavings would hit the spot!

I have been having crazy days recently with mornings spent prepping for Broadacres Superspar and then evenings doing Curry Me Home promotions at Bellair Superspar.  There wasn’t any time for procrastination (or complaining) so I just got stuck into it.  Strapped for time, with my little helpers still at school, I opted for an almost beat and bake recipe.  With all the ingredients popped into the KitchenAid, I was free to get on with prepping the paper cases.  Ah….my KitchenAid, makes life so much easier and its like having and extra pair of hands!

Fresh out the oven....

Fresh out the oven….

I got back from work at 7.30pm and prepared the chocolate ganache.  I set up a little production…I dolloped the ganache and swirled it over the cakes.  I hauled out my secret stash of Callebaut White chocolate for added effect.  I placed the large 5kg slab on a chopping board and watched the kids out the corner of my eye as I sliced through the slab…all three of them looked like they were in some sort of decadent trance.  I was clearly on the right track.

The Chocolate Heroine!

The Chocolate Heroine!

The cupcakes were a big hit and I am clearly a heroine just for the night!  Parental guidance is advised when choosing a time to feast on these cupcakes….the kids experienced a severe ‘chocolate rush’ that lasted until 9.30pm.  I am over the moon but before I log off for the evening and start shining my gold star, I am going to share the recipe for my Chocolatey Chocolate Cupcakes…..

The production line

Chocolatey Chocolate Cupcakes


Makes 24

200g cake flour

15ml baking powder

45g cocoa powder

225g Spar sugar

100g Spar butter, room temperature!

240ml full cream milk

2 eggs

5ml vanilla essence

Here’s how:

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.

Place the cake flour, baking powder, cocoa and sugar into a mixing bowl.

Add the butter and beat until the ingredients are combined – the mixture should look quite gritty.

Gradually add the milk and vanilla essence while beating continuously.

Add the lightly beaten eggs and beat again until the batter is smooth.

Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and bake for about twenty minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cakes are tested.

Remove the cakes from the tin and then leave on a wire rack to cook completely.

For the ganache :

100g Cadbury’s milk chocolate, chopped

50ml fresh cream

To prepare the ganache:

Heat the cream on the top of a double boiler and add chopped chocolate.

Mix well until the chocolate melts completely and then remove from the heat.

Leave the chocolate to cool.

Stir the chocolate occasionally and leave to thicken – its much easier to work with.

Spoon the chocolate over the cakes and use a teaspoon or spatula to swirl it over the top.

To garnish:

Haul out your best white chocolate and slice it with a serrated knife.

Sprinkle the pieces over the cakes and garnish with silver balls.


The joys of jet lag….

Freshly baked croissants


I have just got back from a fabulous holiday…three weeks of pure bliss.  I am such a lucky girl…Bangkok, Koh Samui and Singapore in one holiday.  Luckier still, the Bangkok leg of the trip was sponsored by the Royal Thai Embassy in Pretoria, who arranged an invitation to Bangkok Fashion Week  as well as a few days at the world famous Blue Elephant cooking school.

We thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our three week holiday stint – great weather, fantastic food, 5 star service, and above all such friendly and helpful people. Despite this, we were still happy to get back home last week. I think that is the benefit of a 3 week break instead of 2 – you are not left still needing a bit more. Plus, I have to say that despite the taxis, broken traffic lights and the billing shambles, Joburg is actually not such a bad place (I must be getting soft!)

After all the holiday fun comes the work – I am now way behind on my blogging. But for now, I am going to jump the queue with this blog because this recipe needs to be shared with the world!  In the last week I have dealt with my jet lag troubles by indulging in a few decadent treats. On Sunday morning I woke up at 3am, and after spending an hour tossing and turning in bed I decided to get up  and do something useful.  I briefly thought about watching a movie, reading a book, or sewing a dress. I decided instead to fulfil an early morning craving for home-made croissants – light and delicious freshly baked pastry was what  my troubled tummy was calling for.

So at 4am, with just the afghan hounds for company, I tiptoed downstairs and crept into the kitchen.  An early morning start is always enjoyable once you are up, and it also meant the croissants were ready for tea at 3pm.


My butter stash…


I always keep a stash of Spar butter in the refrigerator so I don’t break the bank when I make these.  I love cooking and baking with butter and maybe you have noticed that it has become quite expensive.  If you are going to give this recipe a bash – stay away from the margarine….it just won’t work!

Here is my recipe for Butter Croissants….


500g cake flour

7g dried yeast

10ml salt

50g sugar

40g powdered milk (I used Klim)

350ml iced water

275g butter, at room temperature

1 large egg, beaten

Icing sugar, optional to dust

Here’s how:

Sift the cake flour into a large mixing bowl.

Add the yeast to the sifted flour.

Dissolve the salt, sugar and milk powder in 100ml of the iced water.

Stir the ingredients into the iced water.

Make a well in the flour and pour in the iced water mixture.

Use your fingertips to work the flour into the liquid.

Slowly add the remaining iced water taking care not make the dough too sticky.

Knead the dough lightly and then leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until the dough doubles.

Knead the dough for a few seconds and cover with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate the dough for 6 hours.

While the dough is resting, lightly cream the butter.

Leave the butter in the refrigerator to chill – it should be cold but not hard.

Place the butter on grease proof and work it into a 10cm x 10cm block.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and then roll into a large rectangle.

Place the butter block diagonally over the centre of the dough.

Fold the edges over the butter ensuring that it is properly enclosed with the dough.

Roll the dough into a large rectangle.

Fold top third of the dough over the middle section.

Fold the bottom third over the middle section.

Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface with the folded flap facing right.

Roll out the dough out and repeat the process twice more – The dough must rest for 20 minutes in the refrigerator each time.

Roll the dough into a large rectangle and cut out 2 x 35cm rounds.

Use a ruler to mark each round into eight ‘triangles’.

Refrigerate the triangles for 20 minutes.

Roll each triangle starting at the base and tuck the point under the roll.

Gently curl the roll into a crescent shape.

Leave the rolls to rise at room temperature.

Beat the egg with 5ml cold water.

Brush the croissants with the egg mixture.

Bake at 230 degrees celsius for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown.


Croissants lightly dusted with icing sugar

Dust the croissants with icing sugar when they cool down.