Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Van Gaalen Cheese Farm

The fiancé and I visited the Van Gaalen Dutch Cheese Farm over the weekend (as I’ve mentioned before, the fiancé is a bit obsessed with cheese…) and being under an hour’s drive and close to Hartebeespoort Dam, it’s the ideal daytrip.

You can do a tour on the farm where they tell you a bit about the cheese making process, show you where they do it and allow you to taste some of the different flavours (like 'Stinging Nettle') they produce. It could have been a bit longer, but Louis (the cheese maker) was very eager to answer all the extra questions we had once the tour had wrapped.

We had a picnic by the river after the tour – a great selection of goodies with loads of cheese (from their farm) and some artisan beer that we bought from their shop. It was a fantastic way to spend a lazy afternoon – but be sure to book ahead. Alternatively you can have lunch on the terrace at their restaurant.

Needless to say, the cheese-making hobby got reignited, and we currently have two perfect cheeses maturing in the fridge and one very messy kitchen J

For more info on Van Gaalen, click here

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

(Image via here) 

These fab little adult delights by Dave Lieberman are just perfect for St Patrick’s Day.

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, plus more for dusting finished cupcakes
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purposeflour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch fine salt
1 bottle stout beer (recommended: Guinness)
1 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.
In another medium mixing bowl, combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.
Lightly grease 24 muffin tins. Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out.

To make the icing
In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the heavy cream. On low speed, slowly mix in the confectioners' sugar until incorporated and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Icing can be made several hours ahead and kept covered and chilled.
Top each cupcake with a heap of frosting and dust with cocoa.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Saszali Handmade Chocolates

When I was little I was enchanted by movie scenes when actors would delicately pick at paper wrapped chocolates, savouring the morsels as they slowly allowed them to melt in their mouths. Each in its own adornment, each a different flavour, and each utterly delicious…

South African artisanal chocolate makers Saszali make individually wrapped, uniquely flavoured handmade chocolates. Based in Cape Town, they hand craft flavours like Golden Thyme, Balsamic Chic, Afternoon Tea and Twilight, using all natural ingredients and no preservatives.

Now these are the kind of chocolates dreams are made of!

For more info on Saszali, visit

Beautifully packaged

Little notes under each chocolate

Each flavour has it's own wrapping