Chocolate Cheesecake

To start off the new year I shall introduce you to one of my favourite recipe books on my kitchen shelf – Neil Roake’s “Shiny Happy People.” This recipe book contains a collection of Neil’s “odd and varied” friends, their stories and their best home meals. Their stories are accompanied by some beautiful photography of their homes and kitchens. From classic Tarte Tartin to some adventurous and beautiful liquorice ice-cream, some food from an Iranian couple and even simple tasty meals the kids will love such as Ruote pasta with boerewors. This South African book uses some good local Afrikaans words such as “bakkie” instead of “tub” and makes you feel part of the family. The book is full of great quotes about food, my best being “Steak is my favourite animal.”

Neil’s friend, Catherine, from Kleinfontein in the Western Cape shared some lovely farmhouse treats – hot cross buns, buttermilk banana pancakes, a great roast chicken and my subject for today – chocolate cheesecake! I baked this cake for my mom’s birthday! And WOW! Creamy, smooth and incredible like any cheesecake…but with the richness of dark chocolate and topped with pistachio nuts.

A well written, beautifully designed, and well conceived book. Thank you Neil Roake! I have read every story from cover to cover and cant wait to try something new, perhaps the tequila lime chicken wings followed by orange chiffon cupcake. To get the recipe of the below Chocolate cheese cake, see the website here and order this amazing book for your collection!

Strawberry Cake

I recently found this recipe and immediately loved the way it looked. This cake is pink inside, tastes of strawberries, and is decorated with cream cheese frosting and  sweet strawberry pieces…what more could one ask for? While reading through the recipe I was a little perturbed by the fact that the main ingredient was a box cake mix. Now I have nothing against box cakes or biscuits and I realize it is convenient and easy for the average person who does not have time to bake. But for me, I find my joy in the baking process,  measuring the dry ingredients with my cute measuring cups, getting my hands covered in the raw mixture, buying the ingredients and knowing that i didn’t just add water and “tadaa”,  a cake appeared!
I tried it anyway, because along with the box cake mix there was pink jelly, chopped strawberries and a few other things. To tell the truth I was quite intrigued by the jelly in the cake.  This cake is really moist and tasty with its strawberry flavour and colour. It was easy to put together and the cream cheese frosting complimented the sweet strawberry taste.
This cake mixture will also make for great strawberry cupcakes and the fact that it is pink inside makes it perfect for any little girls tea party. I have two nieces and I would love to bake this for them on a summers day. We will enjoy it in the garden with some tea for all the stuffed toys and some strawberry cake for ourselves. I want to pick flowers for our table and tell them I think all cakes should be colourful, and maybe after our cake we can paint…with pink of course.