Habanero Jelly

fresh habaneros

habanero jelly jars








Hello, sweet hotness! Fresh habaneros can be turned into the most beautiful red jelly that goes wonderfully with cream cheese & crackers. Or with goat cheese. Or as a BBQ glaze. Add it to grilling sauces, serve it as a side with chicken. Make it, eat it. It’s hot, it’s good.


Habanero Jelly (makes approximately 750 ml)


2 red bell peppers

3-6 fresh, ripe habanero peppers

3/4 cup white vinegar

3 1/2 cups jam sugar (sugar with pectin)


Remove stems, seeds and membranes from both bell peppers and habaneros. Chop. Wear gloves when handling the habaneros. No, seriously: wear gloves. You won’t want to touch your (or another person’s) eyes, lips, or any mucous membranes for hours and hours after handling habaneros with your bare hands, no matter how carefully you wash them. You really don’t. Don’t ask. Just wear gloves.

Put peppers in a blender, add vinegar. Process until smooth. (Beware the fumes!)

Pour the pepper puree into a non-corrosive saucepan and heat gently.

When steam begins to form, add the jam sugar and stir. Bring to boil, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes (check the time on the jam sugar package, they can vary), stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Pour into hot, sterilised jars. Seal.


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Caramel Squares

caramel squares

Millionaire’s shortbread. A buttery crust, a thick layer of toffee, dark chocolate. Rich, delicious, decadent. I don’t see how one could need any more incentive to make these.


The recipe was originally posted by the lovely Mille® on I have metrified.


Caramel Squares


Shortbread crust:
100 g butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
60 g cornstarch, sifted
85 g all-purpose flour, sifted


Caramel filling:
125 g butter
85 g brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 (385 g/14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence


Chocolate topping:
240 g dark chocolate, melted


Preheat oven to 175°C. Line and grease an 18 cm x 28 cm (7″ x 11″) tin.
To make crust: Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
Sift in the cornstarch and the plain flour; mix. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to make a smooth dough.
Press the dough into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until firm.
To make filling: place the butter, brown sugar and honey in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts and the ingredients are well combined. Bring to the boil and simmer for 7 minutes.
Beat in the sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla essence.
Pour the filling over the baked crust and bake for 20 minutes longer.
Allow to cool completely.
Topping: Melt the chocolate over the top of a double boiler, and spread the melted chocolate over the filling. Set aside until firm, then cut into squares.

Store squares at room temperature in an airtight container.


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Gooseberry & Banana Jam

Gooseberry Banana JamIt was a very good gooseberry year. There are probably still a few litres of berries hiding inside the thorny bushes, because we just gave up a few weeks ago: the freezer is full and there’s only so much gooseberry pie two people can eat! This is new recipe I tried out this year: ripe and juicy green gooseberries meet sweet bananas in a jam. Perfectly delightful!


Gooseberry and Banana Jam (makes about 1,5 litres)


700 g gooseberries, topped, tailed and rinsed

2-3 tablespoon water

2 bananas, chopped

500 g sugar with pectin


Put gooseberries and water in a saucepan. Bring gently to boil.

Gradually stir in sugar. Simmer for about five minutes.

Add chopped bananas and continue to simmer for about ten minutes, stirring gently occasionally.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for half an hour, stirring occasionally (and skimming off foam, if needed). When the jam begins to set slightly and the berries no longer rise to the surface, transfer into sterilised jars and seal.


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Rhubarb Curd

Rhubarb CurdRhubarb curd is divine. There, I’ve started with the main point of the whole post. It’s really, really good, and I’m mortified that I have no gorgeous photos to show you just how beautiful it was in these dainty little individual tartlets I made – buttery crust, rhubarb curd filling, meringue top. Can you imagine them? I hope so, because as luck would have it, I have no pictures. *sigh* Anyway, you do need rhubarb curd in your fridge, on your toast, in your cookies, and on your pies, so make some!


The pale pink colour comes courtesy of food colouring. The organic egg yolks I used were a particularly vibrant orange, and combining them with the pale red rhubarb juice resulted in an orangey yellow curd and not a pink one at all, so I turned to artificial means to get a curd that looks rhubarby. Feel free to skip the colouring – it is the taste that counts, of course! I also used some sugar with pectin to make extra sure the curd would thicken, but plain old granulated white sugar should work just fine: it’s the yolks that do the thickening.


Rhubarb Curd (makes about 300 ml)


250-300 ml unsweetened rhubarb juice

3 egg yolks

75 ml sugar with pectin + 75 ml granulated sugar OR 150 ml granulated sugar

50 g butter, cubed, at room temperature

red food colouring, optional


First, reduce the rhubarb juice to make a more concentrated base. Place rhubarb juice in a saucepan and bring gently to boil. Simmer until the juice has reduced to about 100 ml. Allow to cool.

In a saucepan, whisk together reduced rhubarb juice, egg yolks and sugar(s). Heat the mixture gently over medium heat, whisking, until it comes to boil. Turn the heat down a little, and continue to simmer until the mixture begins to thicken (5-7 minutes).

Pour the mixture into a bowl and place the bowl in a cold water bath. Whisk mixture at low speed until it lightens and becomes a little foam-like. Add butter cubes and whisk until smooth. (Add food colouring if you prefer – I used about ½ teaspoon)

Transfer the cooled curd into a glass jar and refrigerate. Keeps for about two weeks.


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Rhubarb Juice

rhubarb juiceIn light of the fact that I have a few recipes to post that call for unsweetened rhubarb juice, I figured I’d better post a recipe for rhubarb juice first! Very simple indeedy: you need rhubarb and water. And sugar, should you wish to make juice for drinking rather than to use in one of my recipes. (You can surely drink the unsweetened juice too! I just personally wouldn’t. ;-) )


Rhubarb Juice (makes about 1 litre)


1 kg rhubarb

750 ml water

200 ml sugar (or to taste)

(2 tablespoons lemon juice – optional)


Rinse and chop rhubarb stalks.

Place rhubarb and water in a saucepan and bring gently to boil. Simmer, partly covered, for 20-30 minutes, or until rhubarb has lost its colour and is beginning to break apart.

Set a colander over a bowl and line it with a cheesecloth (coffee filters work too). Pour the mixture into the colander and allow to drain for about half an hour. (You can use the drained rhubarb mush to make a pie, if you wish!)

You now have unsweetend rhubarb juice to use to make rhubarb curd or jelly sweets, for example. Or, continue to make sweetened rhubarb juice:

Pour the juice into a saucepan and add sugar (and lemon juice, if using). Bring gently to boil. Simmer, skimming off foam, until the juice is clear. Pour into clean, hot bottles and seal.

Store rhubarb juice in a cool place. Dilute or mix the juice to your liking.




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Milk Chocolate Cake

Milk chocolate cakeThe theme of Choclette‘s this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge is… chocolate! :-) Perfect!

I decided to test an idea I’ve been entertaining: boozing up a milk chocolate cake. I love milk chocolate, but because of its mild and sweet taste, milk chocolate cakes can sometimes be a little… lame, to me. So: add milk chocolate liqueur. And a touch of cocoa powder. Voilà. A soft, rich milk chocolate cake. More chocolatey, but still milk chocolatey!

Now, if you quite like milder milk chocolate cakes, feel free to leave out the cocoa powder (and use 300 ml of all-purpose flour). If you’d rather not add alcohol, leave out the liqueur and the yogurt, and add 100 ml of buttermilk instead. It will still be delicious!


Milk Chocolate Cake

175 g quality milk chocolate

90 g butter, at room temperature

200 ml sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

275 ml all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

75 ml chocolate liqueur (I used Mozart Chocolate Cream)

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 160 C. Grease a 23 cm x 13 cm (9″ x 5″) loaf pan and dust with cocoa powder.

Melt milk chocolate on top of a double boiler. Allow to cool.

In a bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and the melted chocolate, mix.

Alternately add the flour mixture, chocolate liqueur, and plain yogurt, beginning and ending with the flour. Avoid overmixing.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake tests just done.

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Red Currant Meringue Torte

Red currant meringue torteWhether you want to use this year’s shiny new crop or just found a lonesome bag of last year’s red currants in the freezer, do give this gorgeous torte a try. The sturdy, lightly lemon-scented crust and the sweet, light meringue are the perfect, perfect companions for red currants! While I’m sure the recipe would work with other berries, too, I think with red currants it really shines.

The recipe is an adaption of a recipe posted by Lise in Indiana on – Lise, I thank you!


Red Currant Meringue Torte


350 ml all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

115 g butter, softened

115 ml white sugar

2 egg yolks

1 1⁄2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated


2 egg whites

115 ml white sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

500 ml red currants (fresh  or frozen – if using frozen, drain very well)

Red currant meringue torte piece

To make crust:

Line the bottom of a 23-25cm/9-10” springform pan with parchment paper and lightly butter the sides.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Add butter, sugar, egg yolks, and lemon zest and mix until the mixture comes together and forms dough.

Pat evenly into the bottom of the pan and transfer to the fridge.  Chill for 25-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 165 C.

Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

To make filling (while the crust is in the oven): In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.

Gradually add in sugar and cornstarch; beat for 5 minutes.

Fold currants into the meringue mixture. Pour into warm crust.

Continue baking for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.

Cool completely before serving.



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Lemony Lemon Muffins

Lemony Lemon Muffins

I know, I know… They don’t look like much! But believe me when I tell you that these really are very moist and very lemony – they are thoroughly soaked in lemon syrup. If you want to add a super-lemony frosting, it can, of course, only make these even better by increasing the lemoniness factor. If you want to add a little lemon extract to the batter, great! If you want to add a splash of Limoncello to the lemon syrup, I like the way you think. But even as-is, these really are moistly lemony. One lemon, six muffins, easy-peasy.


Lemony Lemon Muffins (makes 6)


50 g butter
115 ml sugar
1 lemon, zest of
1 egg
50 ml light cream (or milk)
175 ml all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

Lemon syrup:
1 lemon, juice of
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 175C and line six holes of a muffin pan with paper liners.

Melt the butter and allow to cool for a while. Whisk in sugar until well combined. Add lemon zest and egg; whisk; add light cream and stir to combine.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix just until combined.

Divide the batter between the six muffin cups. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the muffins test done.

While the muffins are baking, combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring gently to boil and simmer for a few minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Allow the muffins to cool for about five minutes. Poke holes into the muffins – something larger than a toothpick but smaller than your typical spoon handle (with which you could probably poke twice – I used the handle of a honey dipper). Slowly pour the lemon syrup over muffin tops.

Allow to cool completely. Eat.

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Creme Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

creme filled chocolate cupcakes

It is Choclette’s We Should Cocoa time again, hosted this May by the lovely Karen of Lavender and Lovage! I totally know Karen. Ok, not really, but I do feel like I do, as I “met” her on Recipezaar (ah, memories!) years ago and have followed her cooking adventures online ever since. (Her blog also convinced me to try the 5:2 diet, which is the only bloody diet I have ever been able to stick to with any consistency. Yay! But no more talk of diets, for it is time to talk sweet sugar: ) The theme for this month’s challenge is a classic: vanilla. Chocolate & vanilla. It’s a wonderful combo that tastes good, smells good, and looks good.

For my chocolate and vanilla combo recipe, I decided to fill dark chocolate cupcakes with a creamy, fluffy filling. I used vanilla paste in lieu of extract. The exotic reason for this was that I was out of extract but had paste. Ta-dah! The paste I use is equal in strength to extract (apparently they can vary), so you can substitute vanilla extract in equal measure.

Also, I near-completely failed at the ganache. I forgot to cover the bowl so most of the heat evaporated before all the chocolate had melted. I tried to salvage it the best I could (I had used the last of my chocolate and cream), but the end result was a little lumpy, as you can see from the photo (still delicious, though!). Thou shalt not make my mistake, but produce beautifully smooth and satiny ganache instead, so thou shalt!

This recipe makes 6 cupcakes – as always, it’s a small batch as there’s only TLSO and me, and we’re trying to stay human-shaped! The recipe should, however, double without problems to make 12 cupcakes.

Creme Filled Chocolate Cupcakes



50 g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

100 ml hot, brewed coffee

100 ml light brown sugar, packed

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

100 ml cake flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt



25 g butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

125 ml marshmallow fluff

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste

pinch of salt


Chocolate ganache:

50 g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

50 ml heavy cream


white icing or white chocolate for decorating


To make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 175 C. Line six cups of a 12-cup muffin/cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Place chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in a bowl; pour the hot coffee over them. Cover the bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth and allow to cool to room temperature.

Add light brown sugar, oil, egg, vinegar, and vanilla paste to the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

Divide the batter between the lined cups. Bake in the preheated oven until just done, about 15 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool completely.

To make filling: Using a hand-held mixer, beat butter and powdered sugar for a few minutes to thoroughly combined. Add marshmallow fluff, cream, vanilla paste, and salt, and continue beating for several minutes until smooth. (I find it takes surprisingly long for the graininess of the powdered sugar to dissolve so that you get a smooth mouth-feel!)

Cut the centres out of the cupcakes (about 2/3 of the way down) using a cupcake corer, or any instrument that you can think of that makes a hole about 2 cm across.

Make a cup of tea and eat the cupcake cores.

Pipe the filling into the holes of each cupcake – you can simply use two teaspoons too. Scrape off overspills so the tops remain smooth.

To make ganache: Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Gently heat the cream in a small saucepan over low medium heat. As soon as the cream starts to boil, pour it over the chocolate, cover the bowl, and let sit for a few minutes. Whisk until smooth, and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Drizzle or spread the ganache on top of each cupcake – dipping each cupcake top into the ganache will, of course, give the neatest result, but will be challenging as there’s not a whole lot of ganache in which to dip! As long as you manage to transfer the ganache onto the cupcake tops, you’re golden.

Transfer the cupcakes into the fridge to set the ganache.

Once the ganache has set, decorate with a simple white icing (100 ml powdered sugar + 1 tablespoon water) or melted white chocolate.


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Lemon Curd Bakewell Cake

I seem to have an endless supply of ground almonds in my cupboard – I feel like I search for recipes using ground almonds at least every other month because a bag of the stuff is nearing its best-by date. (Who, then, keeps buying more ground almonds? It’s a mystery, but all clues do point to me. There could be an “if I have to bake in order to use up something that I’d otherwise have to bin, then taking time off article writing to bake is ok” factor to it, but I confess nothing.)


I was very happy to discover the bakewell cake! It’s moist and luscious and rich and wonderful, easy to make, and uses almost a bag and a half of the ever-present ground almond! I also had about half a jar of lemon curd left over from my Easter baking extravaganza, and I figured almonds and lemons should get along swimmingly. They did. V. good.


Lemon Curd Bakewell Cake


140 g butter, softened
140 g light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
140 g ground almonds
140 g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

150 ml lemon curd

2 tablespoons almond flakes

powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 180 C. Line and butter a 15 cm x 20 cm cake tin (or alternatively, a round 20 cm cake tin). A loose-bottomed tin is easiest as this is not a cake you turn over, but I did manage to lift the cake using my carefully applied parchment paper lining!

In a bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs and the extracts, mix well.

Combine ground almonds, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix well.

Spread half of the batter in the tin and smooth the top. Spread the lemon curd over the batter, and then top the curd with the remaining batter. Scatter with almond flakes.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and done.

Allow to cool in the tin. Remove from the tin, dust with powdered sugar, and serve.

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