My Sticky Chocolate Brownie Mud-Slide Recipe

The best things about these brownies, apart from being utterly scrumptious, is their versatility. They are particularly moist and oozy, and make a delicious dessert when served with a scoop or twelve of ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

Makes 12 to 24, depending on the size you cut them.

Ingredients:

1 cup oil vegetable oil

1/2 cup of cocoa powder

2 cups of white sugar

4 eggs

2 1/2 cups of plain flour, sifted

1 tsp of baking powder

1/2 tsp of salt

Optional Ingredients:

1/2 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped

or

1/2 cup of chocolate chips

or

1/2 cup of dates, chopped

or

1/2 cup of red glace cherries, halved

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Grease a brownie tray (18 x 27.5cm baking pan) and line the bottom and sides with greaseproof paper. Grease again.
  2. In a large mug, mix together the oil and cocoa powder.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir to combine.
  5. Fold in any additional ingredients, then scoop into the prepared tray.
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until crusty around the edges but still slightly gooey in the center.
  7. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely in the pan, then cut into 12 rectangles or 24 squares.

They can be stored for about 3 days in an airtight container, but I doubt they’ll last that long. To serve warm, simply pop into the microwave for a few seconds.

Ouma’s Custard Cookies

My gran, who we called ‘Ouma’, always used to have these gorgeous melt in your mouth biscuits on hand whenever we went to visit her. They bring back very fond memories of her and her farmhouse kitchen, which was always filled with the aroma of something yummy in the oven. They are extremely easy to make, and a real treat when served with tea or coffee. Children also seem to love them!

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

60g of icing sugar (powdered)

180g of butter

180g of all purpose flour

60g of custard powder (or use 60g of cornflour plus 1 tsp of vanilla extract)

Red glace cherries for decorating

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a large non-stick baking tray, and line with grease proof paper. Grease again. (I use a silicone mat instead.)
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the icing sugar and butter using an electric egg beater.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and custard powder.
  4. Gradually incorporate the flour/ custard powder mixture into the butter/ icing sugar mix, switching to a wooden spoon if the beater takes strain.
  5. Using floured hands, roll walnut-sized pieces of the dough into little balls. Place them on the baking tray, and flatten each ball with the back of a fork. Dip the fork in icing sugar to prevent sticking.
  6. Push half a glace cherry on each biscuit.
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until just firm to the touch. Do not overbake them, or they will become hard and brittle. Cool slightly, then transfer to a wire cake/ cookie stand. When completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to a week. Enjoy!

PS: For a bit of a change, I sometimes substitute half of the butter for peanut butter. The result: Peanut Butter Custard Cookies. Need I say more?

Marvelously Moist Malva Pudding

This recipe, which has become my family’s absolute favorite, comes from a South African chef, Cas Abrahams. I have, as usual, tweaked it here and there until I thought it was perfect. Malva Pudding is about as synonymous with South Africa as Nelson Mandela.  It is a tried and trusted recipe, and will not fail to impress even the most “No thanks, I don’t have a sweet tooth” folk. When I was studying cheffing, my lecturer ordained me as the King of Malva Puddings (I know I’m bragging, but it’s not my fault it’s yummy!). It is best served piping hot or at room temperature with ice cold, shop bought custard (such as Ultramel, if you get it in the states?). Steve, the fiancé, has been known to give up Sunday lunch in favor of Malva Pudding.

Serves 6 greedy people

Ingredients:

For the pudding:

1 cup of castor sugar

2 large eggs

2 Tbsps of apricot jam

1 tsp of vanilla essence

185g of all purpose/ cake flour

1 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of baking powder

pinch of salt

1/4 cup of butter, melted

1 tsp of white spirit vinegar (regular, cheap vinegar)

1/2 cup of  cream

For the sauce:

1 1/2 cups of  cream

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup of sugar

2 Tbsps of golden syrup

2 tsps of vanilla essence

Method:

For the pudding:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Grease an oven-proof casserole dish or similar earthenware container.
  2. Using an electric egg beater, beat the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Add the jam and vanilla and beat well.
  3. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into another bowl.
  4. In a mug, mix together the melted butter, vinegar, and cream.
  5. Using a large metal spoon, fold the sifted dry ingredients into the egg-sugar mixture, alternating with the melted butter-vinegar mixture, until all the ingredients are just mixed through.
  6. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until dark brown, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean.

For the sauce:

  1. 10 minutes before the pudding is done, place all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the pudding from oven, prick holes all over it using a skewer or knife, and pour the hot sauce over the hot pudding.
  3. Allow to cool ever so slightly, then serve in bowls, drowning in ice cold, shop bought custard. (or make your own from scratch)

The World’s Most Scrumptious, Decadent, ‘Forget-all-your-worries,’ Sinfully Naughty Carrot Cake

This is my fail-proof, up until now top-secret, Carrot Cake recipe. It has saved many a birthday from being ruined by cheap, shop bought gunk.  I will not lie to you, it is the best carrot cake around. I have yet to encounter a non-lover. The ingredient list is long and a bit pricey, but is truly worth the expense and effort. This cake will not only make you forget about terrible things like war and mortgages, but will also contribute to your recommended 5-a-day (enough reason to eat it).

Makes one very big, or two smaller cakes.

The all-important, top secret ingredients list:

For the cake:

1 cup of raisins

6 cups of carrots, grated

1 cup of brown sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup of vegetable oil

2 tsps of vanilla essence (1 tsp of extract)

1 can of tinned pineapple chunks, crushed with a fork

3 cups of flour

2 tsps of baking powder

1 1/2 tsps of baking soda (bicarb)

1 tsp of salt

3 tsps of ground cinnamon

1 tsp of ground cardamom (the secret spice)

1/2 cups of walnuts, roughly chopped

For the Icing:

1 package of Philly cream cheese

1/4 cup of butter, softened

3 cups of icing sugar (powdered)

1 Tbsp of lemon juice

1/2 cup of walnuts, for decorating

Method:

For the cake:

  1. Combine the raisins, carrots, and brown sugar in a bowl, and set aside for half an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease a large, ring shaped cake tin (or 2 smaller tins).
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom.
  4. Mix the eggs, oil, vanilla, and crushed pineapple, and add to the dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine.
  5. Add the carrot mixture, together with any juices, and mix well.
  6. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
  7. Plop the batter into the prepared tin(s), and bake for approximately 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. You will know the cake is almost done when your kitchen is filled with a heavenly, trance inducing aroma.
  8. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tin, and then completely before cutting in half horizontally and attempting to ice, or the icing will melt and you have a very sticky mess on your hands.

For the Icing:

  1. Using an electric egg beater, cream together the Philly and butter.
  2. Gradually beat in the icing sugar, a spoonful at a time, until smooth and luscious.
  3. Beat in the lemon juice.
  4. Use half to sandwich the two halves of the cake together, and the remaining half to smear unashamedly over the rest of the cake.
  5. Scatter with walnuts.
  6. Make a mental note of how long it takes for the cake to disappear from the fridge, which is where I keep it.

Banana Boy Muffins

I found this recipe on a cooking website, and have tweaked it here and there to ensure the moistest, yummiest muffins pop out the oven every single time. If you choose to use a jumbo muffin tin, and you fill them all the way to the top (as I did), your muffins will come out with a crunchy, super scrumptious muffin top (I hear the muffin connoisseurs screaming no! ). The mixture can also be used to make a banana loaf, in which case, use a greased loaf tin, and adjust the cooking time to about an hour.

Anyhoo, here’s how it goes.

To make 6 jumbo banana boy muffins, you will need:

3 large, ripe bananas

125g butter or margarine, melted

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup of sugar

1 tsp of vanilla essence (1/2 tsp of vanilla extract)

1 tsp of bicarb (baking soda)

1/2 tsp of baking powder

2 cups of plain, all purpose flour, sifted

2 tsps of allspice or cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup of oil

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius, and grease a large-hole muffin tray.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas until soft and squishy.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the egg, followed by the sugar and vanilla.
  4. Sprinkle the baking soda and baking powder over the mixture, and stir in.
  5. Add the flour, spice and salt, and mix until just combined.
  6. Pour the oil over the mix, and stir until incorporated.
  7. Spoon into the prepared muffin tray, and bake in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes, until the tops have browned, and skewer inserted into a muffin comes out clean. (Time will vary according to oven, so keep and eye on them.)
  8. Allow to cool slightly before cutting in half, smearing with butter and dolloping some strawberry jam on each half.