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Baking and Confectionery

These biscuits do not require cooling down after baking; they are pure bliss hot from the oven. In fact, they are a bit like a cup of thickly brewed Mexican hot chocolate: creamy, chocolaty, and lightly spiced with cinnamon and a dash of chilli.

“Shall I bake a cheesecake?” Marietjie asked, and proceeded to spread her recipe books on the table. She could not quite find what she wanted and started to devise a new recipe on the spot. Jaco had his doubts, but can now report that he worried too much. His wife’s new recipe turned out to be just right in his view – and he’s been looking for the perfect New York style cheesecake for a very long time.

An Alsatian bit Marietjie when she was only nine years old. A good friend of Marietjie’s mother brought a plate of homemade meringues as a get-well-soon gift and that is exactly what Marietjie did: Betty-June’s meringues were that good. Her meringue recipe stood the test of time, and become a firm favorite with our own daughter and her friends here in New Zealand.

A firm favourite with kids and peanut butter lovers alike, these nutty biscuits make great lunchbox treats, but are at their best when served with milk or coffee.

Lepelsteeltjies is another much loved South African combination of savoury and sweet: they are tiny biscuits made from cheddar cheese, with a wee bit of apricot jam in the centre.

They are not easy to pass by: the only safe way to store them is behind lock and key. Luckily, lepelsteeltjies will get stale if you leave them too long, so you’ll have the perfect excuse to liberate them.

Ginger tart is an old South African treat: it appeared in the South African “Kook en Geniet” (Cook and Enjoy) recipe book as far back as the 1950s.

Mixing sweet and savoury is typical South African: we grew up with combinations such as grated cheese and apricot jam, or cheese and golden syrup, on sandwiches or vetkoek. Although it was a little unusual at first, Jaco’s colleagues quickly became partial to these small marmite and cheese cakes, baked in muffin pans for morning tea.

This is Marietjie's favourite shortbread recipe. It appeared in the South African Rooi Rose magazine a few years ago, when they featured a lady that passionately loved Scotland and all things Scottish.

Marietjie loves the love-heart cookie mold, but the Scottish thistle pattern is also quite popular with our Kiwi friends, perhaps due to Christchurch's Scottish heritage. The tartan used for the photo is that of the MacLeod clan.

The Australian Women's Weekly Test Kitchen leads the field in baking and this sponge cake recipe (from their book, Classic Cakes), proves the point: it is simply the best ever sponge cake.

The filling of cream and rose-scented strawberries is our own variation.

Marietjie grew up with this attractive cheese and condensed milk tart, topped with apricot halves, that perfectly combines sweet, tangy and savoury tastes.

It looks just like sunny side up eggs. Marietjie's sister, who declared this to be her all-time favourite tart, was known to eat it for breakfast. She also made it a standard item on her birthday where, together with chocolate cake and a savoury tart, it was offered to guests who dropped by any time between morning tea and afternoon tea time.

If you're looking for a South-African dessert or afternoon tea-time treat that can be made on either the stove-top or in the microwave oven, instead of being baked in a conventional oven, you will find this unbaked milk tart to be quick, easy, creamy and delicious.

Passionfruit adds a lovely new twist to a traditional lemon meringue pie. This lovely new variation was recently introduced as a promotional recipe by Nestle South-Africa, for their Full Cream Sweetened Condensed Milk. This is our adapted recipe.

Unbaked, refrigerated squares or balls that are made from dates and crushed biscuits are a South African favourite. They can be flavoured with vanilla or brandy and can be cut into squares or rolled into balls. They are usually covered in desiccated coconut to make them less sticky, and some recipes add more butter to make them softer, but the basic recipe remains the same.

These lovely biscuits, also known as Highlander biscuits, are great for a coffee-time nibble, and can be baked with or without chocolate chips. This traditional New Zealand recipe is similar to the South African version, the main difference being that New Zealand's condensed milk biscuits are made without egg.

Scrolls are delicious and economical, and great fun to make and eat. We enjoy them as morning or afternoon snacks, served as a side when we have soup, and in our lunch boxes.

We bake snowflake butter biscuits to proclaim the arrival of winter in New Zealand.

These lovely biscuits, so pleasing to both the eye and palate, are suitable to celebrate almost any occasion from Mid-Winter Feasts to Christmas, because they can be decorated according to the occasion.

This recipe was originally published in Divine Cupcakes: A Book of Temptation, by Tamara Jane and reproduced on this site with her kind permission.

Tamara decorates her cupcakes with chocolate filigree and tiny baked gingerbread hearts. Marietjie decorated hers with chocolate filigree hearts, as shown on the photo. You can also use crystallised ginger.

Because we have a peach tree in our back yard, late summer is a time of peach-abundance at our house. We love turning our peaches into home-made chutney and lovely Ginger Peach Pies.

A Ginger Peach Pie is a great way to use orchard fruit such as apples, apricots, and peaches. It doesn't matter if the fruit's not perfect. Simply wash the fruit in warm, salty water, cut out the bad spots, and peel it.

Making and eating traditional hot cross buns is a serious affair.

Mass-produced buns that are spice-starved, low in fruit, with soft crusts, wrapped in plastic and stacked in piles at the end of the supermarket isle, just doesn't cut it.

You want your buns to be soft, fruity and spicy, slightly sweet, with golden crusts that are crisp and wonderfully sticky. If you bake them early in the morning on Good Friday, you want the fragrance of your buns to wake the sleepyheads from their beds, to gather the whole family around the kitchen-table for their Easter breakfast.

Easter biscuits lock the spicy flavour and taste of hot cross buns into a crunchy texture. As they will keep fresh for a few days and do not break easily, Easter Biscuits are great for Easter-weekend trips, picnics, and lunchbox treats.

This recipe is for the South African version of Easter Biscuits, which contains mixed peel and more spices than the New Zealand version in the Edmonds Cookery book.

Koffiekoekies (coffee biscuits), with it's coffee-fudge filling, was Marietjie's father's ultimate favourite biscuit.

Indeed, these biscuits are regarded as a bit of a luxury in South Africa because they are delicious, and also because it's hard work to make them. But the result is such a delightful mixture of textures and flavours, that it's well worth the effort.

These dainty, chocolate filled shortbread barrels are simply delicious.

They are ideal as a special treat over the Christmas season, a gift for friends, or when you need to take-a-plate.

The bonus is that they are also very easy to make.

This favourite Cape classic, which goes under at least four names, is one South Africa's best-known traditional recipes. With good reason too: it is simply divine.

South Africans know them as gingerbread men, but in New Zealand these delightful ginger persons tend to be genderless. Helping you to bake and decorate them is guaranteed to keep your kids busy for a long time.

Marietjie's grandmother (who lived in the Namakwaland in South Africa), made the most delicious "skuinskoek". Skuinskoek means "diagonal cakes", probably because of the peculiar diamond form one need to cut them out.

They are on their best when they are warm and fresh, but Marietjie's grandmother often made skuinskoek for "padkos": food for the road back home after a visit. She stored them in a washed fabric flour bag, which kept them for a day or two, but a modern cake tin or Tupperware container is also fine.

This is not the original recipe, but a variant that is based on Marietjie's mosbolletjie rusks, using Surebake yeast and a bread maker.

Both Marietjie's mother and grandmother were known for their delicious ginger nuts. They are made from a soft dough, rolled into little balls, resulting in gemmerkoekies that are soft and chewy on the inside and crispy outside.

The menu for Easter Sunday ought to be just as festive as a Christmas menu, and this traditional custard cake is just the thing for afternoon tea on Easter Sunday: not too rich, but delicious.

A basic recipe for vanilla cake. It is the perfect cake to turn into something special such as a birthday cake, for instance, or even a custard cake for Easter.

This is a family recipe for a luxurious cake that has a lovely moist texture, achieved by using lots of eggs. While the original recipe is by far the best tasting, but you can reduce the oil and sugar a wee bit.

This recipe for South African plaatkoekies is from Scottish origin. "Plaatkoekies" litteraly means "little cakes baked on the griddle". It should not be confused with pannekoek (pancake).

Plaatkoekies are quick and easy to make and taste great. It can be served with coffee or as a light meal. They are about 7 cm in diameter each.

Plaatkoekies they are very similar to New Zealands iconic pikelets, the main difference being that pikelets are larger and made from a somewhat thicker batter.