spiced plum tarte tatin with shiraz reduction

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

It’s not often I make something, eat it, and then make it again the next day. This tarte tatin will do that to you! It is an utter delight. The shiraz reduction was like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I wasn’t expecting it to blow my mind. Of course I thought it would be yum and a fun way to use some shiraz in the recipe but I had no idea it would knock my socks off completely. The husband and I were eventually spoon fighting post shoot to see who could get the last drop.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

FAT Bastard Wines asked me to create a dessert that would pair well with their shiraz for their upcoming 21st birthday. The shiraz has a pure fruit character and gives off hints of red fruit, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. This spiced plum tarte tatin is a match made in heaven for the shiraz as I used all the spices to toss the plums and get their juices flowing as well as in the sauce. I also added some orange zest to liven things up in the reduction and hey presto you’ve got a concentrated liquid gold version of the best sangria you’ve ever tasted.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Two little tips… Remember puff pastry must stay very cold when you’re working with it. So cut the ring of pastry out and pop it straight back into the fridge. When it’s time to bake place it quickly onto the plums and into the oven. This will ensure a good puffy crust. Do not start drinking vino and get distracted, your pastry will suffer. Secondly there’s a butter zone of when you need to flip the tarte tatin once baked. Flip it too soon and all the caramel will be liquid, you’ll probably burn and make quite a mess. Flip it once it’s too cool and it’ll have solidified and you won’t get it out. If that happens fear not- just gently reheat the bottom of the pan on the stovetop. So aim for room temp. Check the caramel is sticky enough but the tarte is loose and wiggles around the pan.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

One last thing… if plums aren’t in season nectarines will work beautifully for this too. Enough blabbing. Watch the video. Read the recipe and happy cooking!

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin

Ingredients:

7 large ripe plums
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla seeds
1 sheet puff pastry
100g sugar
50g butter

For the shiraz reduction:

300ml FAT Bastard Shiraz
100g sugar
The zest of 1 orange
4 cloves
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks

Vanilla bean ice cream to serve

Method:

Preheat oven to 220˚C.

Choose an oven safe round saucepan / buffet casserole dish.

Measure the diameter and cut out a ring from the sheet of puff pastry that will fit snugly in the dish. Place in the fridge.

Slice plums in half and remove pips.

Place in a large bowl along with the orange juice, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well and set aside.

In your saucepan melt the butter and add the sugar. Stir until they become homogenous, foamy and the sugar begins to caramelize. Switch off the heat and add the plums snugly. Keep the delicious juices from the bowl to add to your sauce later.

Remove the puff pastry from the fridge and cover the plums. Tuck the edges in around the plums.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through.

While the tarte is in the oven make your sauce.

Add all the sauce ingredients into a medium sized saucepan along with all the spices, vanilla and juices from the plum bowl. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the sauce has reduced by half. Strain out all of the aromatics and pour into a serving vessel to cool.

When the tarte is baked remove from the oven and allow to cool. Don’t let the tarte cool completely or the caramel will set and you won’t be able to flip it and remove it from the pan.

So once the tarte is around room temperature place your dish on top of the pan and flip it.

Serve the tarte with vanilla bean ice cream and a super generous drizzle of the shiraz reduction.

Enjoy!

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Proudly sponsored by FAT Bastard Wines.

 

brown butter ice cream with easter egg bark

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

There are few things more delicious than brown butter, and few things more delicious than well made ice cream. Combine the two and boom you have yourself a winner! The brown butter adds richness and nuttiness to this creamy vanilla base. The Easter egg bark is fun and festive and can be subbed for any kind of bark all year round. All sorts of nuts, dried fruit and other chocolates will work perfectly too.

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

This ice cream base is a goodie and if you don’t have an ice cream maker no problem! Use the freeze- blend- freeze method and you’ll achieve a great consistency. If you are able to temper the chocolate- it’ll give you a much better snap and the chocolate will remain hard and breakable for much longer. But if you plan on digging in with some speed then no need!

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark

Ingredients:

  • 120g (½ cup) Lurpak butter
  • 200g (1 cup) demerara sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 500ml (2 cups) cream
  • 250ml (1 cup) full-cream milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 150g white chocolate
  • Speckled eggs

Method:

Melt the butter over medium heat until foaming. Swirl the pan often until butter turns a rich nut brown. Pour into a jar and set aside to cool.

In a medium sized pot- bring milk, cream and vanilla to a simmer.

In a large bowl- beat egg yolks and demerara sugar until thick and pale.

Gradually whisk in the hot milk mixture. Pour back into the pot. Stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the custard is cooked and thickly coats the back of a spoon. If you have a thermometer cook until the custard reaches 85 ̊C.

Pour custard into a bowl and stir in the brown butter. Combine.

Place in the fridge until cool.

Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and churn according to instructions. *If you do not have an ice cream machine- freeze the custard in a zip lock bag. Break the frozen custard into bits and blend in a blender or food processor until smooth. Then scrape into a tub and freeze again.

Scrape churned ice cream into a tub and freeze until firm.

To make the bark- Melt dark and white chocolate separately. Pour dark chocolate onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Using a spatula spread it out thinly. Drizzle with white chocolate and swirl them together. Scatter with speckled eggs. Place in the refrigerator until set and serve broken into shards with the ice cream.

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

Sponsored by the awesome folks from Lurpak South Africa

spiced rum & raisin pancakes

These spiced rum and raisin pancakes are quite honestly the most delicious pancakes ever. They’re like naughty, fluffy, hot cross buns… that are ready in minutes! Serve them piping hot with a dollop of butter shmelting away and a generous drizzle of maple syrup. Heaven.

Pancakes were funny enough one of the very first things I ever learnt to cook. My grandad would put the little step ladder next to the stove and help me ladle in batter and not burn the house down. Thankfully I didn’t set anything on fire and my love of pancakes only grew stronger.

The lovely folks from Lurpak South Africa are giving away a hamper of goodies. Watch this recipe video and head over to my Instagram page to enter the competition!

 

Spiced Rum & Raisin Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 70g (⅓ cup) Lurpak butter
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 500ml (2 cups) milk
  • 300g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 75g (½ cup) raisins
  • 1 -2 tots rum

Method:

Melt butter in a small saucepan and set aside.

In a small bowl- combine eggs, milk and butter. Whisk.

In a large bowl combine flour, caster sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and mixed spice. Whisk.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry and whisk well until smooth and incorporated.

Fold in the raisins and finally a shot or two of rum if desired.

Fry pancakes using clarified butter until golden brown and fluffy.

Serve with a dollop of butter, maple syrup and cinnamon sugar.

Spiced Rum & Raisin Pancakes | The Secret Life of Bee

 

Featured On CTInsider

buttery date and walnut cookies

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

If you find yourself in the kitchen after dinner on the hunt for something sweet… If you find your afternoon cup of tea lacking a little accompanying treat… If you find yourself just in need of baked goods in a heartbeat, these cookies are for you!

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

They are ludicrously simple. They’re based on a basic cookie dough we were taught at Le Cordon Bleu. I love the addition of dates as they add some chew and the nuts add great texture. You can really add whatever floats your boat or add nothing at all and keep them a dead simple butter biscuit.

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • about a cup of chopped walnuts
  • about a cup of pitted, chopped dates

Method:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and salt.

Whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and stir gently until combined.

Fold in the nuts and dates.

Form the dough into little balls. Place onto a lined baking tray. Spread them out well spaced and press down lightly on each cookie.

*if your hands are quite warm pop the dough into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill

Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly golden. Don’t even bother allowing them to cool. Tuck in immediately!

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

hot cross bun pudding

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

Hold onto your hats, cos this one is a goodie. In fact this dish of deliciousness is so good it’ll make you wish it was Easter all year round! Easter brings with it many a public holiday and many an opportunity for lavish brunching, lunching and general munching. This hot cross bun pudding is pretty much perfect for any and every occasion.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

I do love a hot cross bun all year round. Toasted crisp and then slathered with some farm butter. Bliss. This hot cross bun pudding brings you all of those delicious spicy flavours but in the most comforting way. The vanilla and orange scented custard is rich and creamy and the tops of the buns get a wonderful crispy crust while their bottoms soak up all the custard and become gloriously pudding like.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

I do not recommend making this while alone at home. It is dangerous. The husband nearly got home to an empty baking dish and a self loathing wife. But fortunately I somehow pulled it together and managed to share this with him and a neighbour who stuck their head in through the kitchen window.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

Hot Cross Bun Pudding

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 6 hot cross buns
  • 250ml cream
  • 250ml full cream milk
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 60g sugar
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 Tbsp Grand Marnier *optional
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Softened butter for spreading
  • Maple syrup

Method:

Preheat oven to 170 ̊C. Grease an ovenproof baking dish with softened butter.

Slice hot cross buns in half and butter the insides. Place the bottom half of the buns in the baking dish.

Whisk the cream, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, orange zest, Grand Marnier and salt together. Pour half of the mixture over the buns.

Top with the other half of the bun and finish with the remaining mixture. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the custard is set and the buns are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and brush the tops of the buns with maple syrup while still warm. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and a glass of bubbles.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

 

*Disclaimer: Delicious bubbles provided by the wonderful folks from Krone.

fluffy vanilla waffles for your valentine

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

Spread the love this Valentine’s Day and make these fluffy vanilla waffles for someone near and dear to you. I don’t buy into Valentine’s Day and all the fluff and fuss of expensive roses and an over priced meal in a restaurant. What I love about this day is the general message of spreading love and happiness. Doing something at home like cooking a special meal for your other half or drawing a handmade card for your mom- that’s what Valentine’s Day is about for me.

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

These vanilla waffles are indeed love at first bite. They have a super crispy crust to them and a fluffy vanilla scented centre. I love them with berries and honey while the husband opts for butter and maple syrup. They are a vehicle for delicious toppings like caramelized cinnamon bananas or plain Jane as they are with a dusting of icing sugar. I had some of the best waffles of my life at a brunch spot in Brooklyn, NY with fried chicken and maple syrup. They were sensational, but that’s a wee bit too much admin for me first thing in the morning! If you don’t have a waffle maker it’s really not a bad little investment. It also makes a mean batch of french toast!

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

Fluffy Vanilla Waffles 

makes 3 large waffles

Ingredients:

  • 170g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 25g sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 340ml milk, warm
  • 75g melted butter

To serve:  fresh berries, honey, icing sugar, whipped cream or ice cream and of course an ice cold bottle of bubbly

Method:

Heat your waffle iron according to manufacturers instructions.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, milk, vanilla and butter.

Whip the egg white until fluffy. Add in the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form.

Whisk together the wet and dry ingredients, and finally fold in the egg whites with a spatula until combined.

Ladle the batter into the waffle iron and cook until golden brown and crisp.

Serve with a dusting of icing sugar, fresh berries, a drizzle of honey and a cold glass of bubbly.

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer: Krone Rosé Cuvée Brut supplied by the lovely folks from Twee Jonge Gezellen.

Bubbly Sorbet

Bubbly Sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

Nothing says celebration like an ice cold glass of bubbles. Now you can have your bubbles and eat it too! Champagne or MCC sorbet is one of my favourite summertime indulgences. It tastes delicious, sounds glam and it feels extra special because well, bubbles. Obvs.

Bubbly Sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

This bubbles in particular is something special. Krone recently released the R.D. after after having spent 15 years on the lees before disgorgement. I popped a bottle of this to try it out with my toes in the sand and a magical sunset in front of me and… WOW. Just wow. I can quite honestly say it is one of the most spectacular bottles of bubbles I have ever tasted. It’s up there with the Krug and Doms of the world. In general I think we produce some of the most outstanding wine and MCC in the world and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else on earth! My proximity to wine farms is crucial for my mental and physical well being! It’s a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away right?

Bubbly Sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

Bubbly Sorbet

Ingredients:

  • 200ml water
  • 150g sugar
  • 2 tbsp liquid glucose
  • 300ml Méthode Cap Classique
  • 1 lemon, juice & zest

Method:

Bring the water, sugar and glucose to the boil. Cook until syrupy and remove from the heat.

Add the MCC, lemon juice and lemon zest. Allow to cool.

Once cool strain out the zest with a sieve and pour into an ice cream machine. Churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you don’t have an ice cream machine pour the mixture into a ziplock bag. Freeze. Remove frozen sorbet, break into pieces and blitz until smooth using a blender or food processor.

Serve with some ice cold bubbles on the side!

 Bubbly Sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer: This utterly fabulous bubbles was sponsored by the awesome folks from Krone.

vegan chocolate ice cream with pistachio brittle

vegan chocolate ice cream with pistachio brittle | The Secret Life of Bee

This vegan chocolate ice cream, or nicecream should I say is dairy-free, sugar-free and guilt-free but with ALL the flavour and the most amazing luxurious texture. Bananas are a truly handy little fruit and are the base of this ice cream. Add some top quality dark cocoa powder, vanilla and almond milk and you have yourself something seriously scrumptious.

vegan chocolate ice cream with pistachio brittle | The Secret Life of Bee

This sweet treat takes seconds to whip together. Just remember to freeze your sliced bananas the day before or even early in the morning if you make this for an after dinner delight. I slice my bananas and lay them onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, cling film the lot and then pop them into the freezer.

vegan chocolate ice cream with pistachio brittle | The Secret Life of Bee

The pistachio brittle adds amazing crunch, colour and it’s delicious. If you want to keep this recipe refined sugar free then just leave it out and you can serve your nicecream with some toasted almond flakes or fresh raspberries. I love the brittle and could eat it on its own as is. Just watch out for your teeth!

vegan chocolate ice cream with pistachio brittle | The Secret Life of Bee

Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream with Pistachio Brittle 

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 400g bananas, sliced, frozen overnight
  • 4 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract/essence or paste
  • 100ml almond milk

For the brittle:

  • 225g caster sugar
  • 75ml water
  • 50g pistachios, roughly chopped
  • pinch sea salt

Method:

Add the frozen bananas, cocoa powder, vanilla and almond milk to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Scrape into a small serving dish and freeze.

For the brittle: Whisk caster sugar and water together in a pan on high heat. Make sure to clean down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush and some water or your caramel will crystallise. Do not stir the caramel. Allow it to cook and bubble until it turns a rich golden brown colour. Pour out immediately onto a greased baking tray or a baking tray lined with a silicone mat.

Scatter with the roughly chopped pistachios and sea salt and leave to harden and cool.

Serve ice cream with shattered shards of pistachio brittle.

vegan chocolate ice cream with pistachio brittle | The Secret Life of Bee

vegan chocolate ice cream with pistachio brittle | The Secret Life of Bee

vegan chocolate ice cream with pistachio brittle | The Secret Life of Bee

 

mixed berry tart

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

This mixed berry tart is the perfect dessert for a summer gathering and with Christmas around the corner i’m already starting to plan our menu and test out some old favourites. Summer in South Africa brings with it my happiest time of year. Berries are in season and beach days are in full swing!

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

So because we spend Christmas at the beach and not building a snowman we love having a seafood braai with plenty of fresh salads, a lot of white wine and something fresh and light for dessert. This berry tart satisfies the sweet tooth rather perfectly with its super creamy luxurious almond cream filling and bursts of fresh tart berries. It’s also supremely easy to make so more time to frolic in the sea and concentrate on nursing your wine bottle glass.

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

I know blind baking is a pain but just do it. Especially with this tart. You really want a nice crispy tart shell to contrast the velvet like filling. If berries aren’t your thing or not in season you can use plenty of other fruit! Plums and apricots would be a dream! Poached pears are also a winner! Spice them up with some cinnamon and red wine and tummies will be very happy indeed.

Mixed Berry Tart

serves 6-8

Ingredients:

Pastry:

  • 200g flour
  • 100g butter
  • 5g salt
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 5ml cold water
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 egg

Filling:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 25g self raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • two handfuls mixed berries of your choice

Method:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Begin with the pastry dough. Whisk flour, sugar and salt together. Add butter and work with your fingers into a wet sandy consistency. Add the egg and vanilla and bring together into a dough. Add the tsp of cold water if necessary. Roll dough gently into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap well in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least 30 min.

To make the filling- Whisk the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk. Finally add the flour, ground almonds, lemon zest and brandy. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry dough. Line the base and sides of a greased 20cm tart shell. Press well into the corners and trim the edges. Fill with baking paper and blind bake the pastry case with either rice or baking beans for 10 minutes. Remove beans and baking paper and blind bake further for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Fill the tart shell with the almond cream and scatter with seasonal berries. Press them into the filling very lightly so they stick out a bit.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and set. Allow to cool before slicing and serving.

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

*If you’d like to own one of these gorgeous Protea Dreams platters provided by Sugar and Vice then just click HERE!

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

If you’ve ever wondered what carbohydrate heaven looks like… it looks like this. Swirls of melted chocolate with hints of cinnamon in between layers of soft fluffy dough clouds. Bliss. This loaf came about because I wanted to make a babka. Babka requires some patience which I lack most of the time (especially while driving) so this is my solution to a sweet treat that’s rather similar, but a lot faster.

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

Some of my friends are probably reading this and thinking, “how’s the diet going B?” Just splendid. Thanks.

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

This recipe makes a large loaf. Don’t be like me and insist it can fit into a smaller one. You will regret it and make a mess. If you don’t have a large loaf tin rather make two smaller ones. The one I finally and wisely used was 23 x 13 x 8 cm. You can also make quite a few variations of this loaf by adding some nuts and other spices to the chocolate layer. I think even crumbling something like a crunchie chocolate bar into the swirl layer could be divine. So get baking and be prepared to lick the spoon. A LOT.

Chocolate & Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

makes 1 large loaf

Ingredients:

  • 375ml warm water
  • 10g instant dry yeast
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 560g flour, divided in two
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste

For the filling:

  • 150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 120g butter
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 2-4 Tbsp cinnamon sugar

Method:

Pour warm water into a bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes until foamy. Add the brown sugar and mix.

Place 280g of flour and the sea salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Pour in the yeast mixture and mix until well combined. Add the butter in dollops and mix in well. Add the vanilla and mix.

Now add the second half of the flour a little bit at a time. Once all the flour has been well incorporated scrape down the dough into a ball and change the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until silky and elastic.

Place dough in a large oiled bowl and leave to rise somewhere warm for 1 hour. Once the dough has doubled in size it’s good to go.

For the filling: Place the chocolate and butter into a double boiler and melt. Allow to cool and then mix in cocoa powder. Place in the fridge if you need it to firm up a little into a spreadable paste like texture.

Punch down and roll out dough onto a floured surface into a long rectangle. Try keep the short side as long as your loaf pan for ease later on.

Spread with chocolate paste and then dust with cinnamon sugar.

Roll into a log starting at the short side of the rectangle. Slice the log in half lengthways and then criss cross the two sliced logs together. Cut off the pointy ends of the log.

Place in a well greased loaf tin and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Bake loaf for about 45 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before slicing.

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee