“And finally!” said Mrs Houdten. Olsen entered the dining room carrying a large tray with eight gold-rimmed white plates. He left it on the small table next to the piano. He brought two plates to the table and placed the first one in front of Mrs Houdten, the second one in front of my mother. A tiny biscuit castle rose from her plate. Inside was a square of muddy chocolate torte. Drops of pale custard and small bits of pistachio brittle surrounded the castle. Olsen returned to the table with two more plates. The geography teacher lifted his hand. “Not for me, I never eat dessert.” he said. Mrs Houdten grabbed her chest. “Never eat dessert?” she gasped. Her necklace broke, pearls were rolling over the soft carpet and the noisy wooden floor. “This night is ruined!” she cried. The men started picking up the pearls, the women started putting on their coats. In front of the house Mr and Mrs Blom got into their car. “Geography teacher!” said Mr Blom and slammed the door.



A refreshing, extra-creamy, no-bake lemon and lime cheesecake with the added depth of vanilla, ginger and kumquats. And without any gelatine! I am not the greatest fan of baked cheesecake, a flavourful, unbaked, not-too-sweet cheesecake is a journey to a better place. I have no idea why the world is obsessed with creating uptight unbaked cheesecakes that will cut like baked ones and stand perfectly upright. A slice of soft, dreamy cheesecake with soft edges, (called The Delicious Meltdown), almost like a choir member after a very long but satisfying practice, is one of the best things you can ever experience. I often serve scoops of this cheesecake in dessert glasses.


100g digestive biscuits

100g ginger cookies

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1/4 tsp seasalt

80g butter, melted

Place cookies in a bag and pound with a roller until finely crumbled

Place in mixing bowl, add rest of ingredients

Mix well and press down on the bottom of a 22cm non-stick springform pan

(Very few things on earth are really non-stick, so I very lightly spray pan   with oil)

Bake in oven at 170˚C (fan) for 6 minutes

Let cool and place in refrigerator until needed


500g Philadelphia cream cheese at room temperature

2 tbsp sour cream

1/2 cup castor sugar

seeds of 1 vanilla pod

2 tbsp lemon juice

finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

finely grated zest of 1 lime

250ml fresh whipping cream, very cold

2 tbsp icing sugar

preserved kumquats for serving


Combine cream cheese, sour cream, castor sugar and vanilla seeds in mixing bowl

Mix until smooth (do not overwork mixture!)

Stir in juice and zest

Beat cream with icing sugar in a separate bowl until soft peaks form

Fold into cream cheese mixture

Spoon onto cookie crust, smooth top, cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight

Remove cake from refrigerator a few minutes before serving

Heat knife in hot water and then dry

Cut cake into slices

Garnish with thin slithers of lime zest and serve with kumquats



I first published this recipe in GATHERINGS, my 2009 cookbook. It is a perfect example of the food that writes my life story, simple, delicious and versatile. Made with only 4 ingredients - 3 if you remember that the juice and zest come from the same fruit - this beautiful dish is equally royal and rustic and has many uses. I mostly serve it as a dessert or as part of another dessert, I add mascarpone or ice cream or thick custard or biscuits or nothing. I bake it with a crumble on top. I bake it for 2 minutes less so the plums hold their shape better and use it as a topping for pound cake. Or I bake it for 2 minutes longer and serve it as a breakfast compote with yoghurt, nuts and oats.

10 ripe plums, halved and pitted

juice of 1 large orange (about 1/3 cup)

1 heaped tbsp dark brown sugar

zest of 1 orange, cut into very thin strips


Arrange plums in ovenproof dish

Pour orange juice over

(I often use the juice and zest of a grapefruit)

Sprinkle sugar over plums

(Taste the plums, if they are not sweet enough, add a little more sugar)

Arrange zest on top

Bake in oven at 175˚C (fan) for 10 to 12 minutes



I first published a version of this cake in my FOOD FROM THE WHITE HOUSE book nineteen years ago. And to this day, it is still the most popular and most requested recipe. As a creature of habit, I always serve this when the first autumn chills arrive. Urging the guests to drizzle the cake with champagne always create great excitement, the bubbles seem to lift the flavours to new heights! My latest version is baked for longer at a slightly lower temperature, creating those glorious cracks that make any un-iced cake irresistible. And now that de-alcoholised bubbly is available, even more people can enjoy this treat, not everybody wishes to consume alcohol during a daytime gathering. This time I served my autumn cake with Lautus De-Alcoholised Sparkling.

1 cup castor sugar

4 tbsp grapeseed oil

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 cups self raising flour

pinch of salt

1 cup sour cream

Lautus De-Alcholised Sparkling


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together castor sugar, grapeseed oil, eggs and vanilla

Add lemon zest and juice, mix well

Stir in self raising flour and salt

Add sour cream and mix until smooth

Line bottom of greased 22cm springform pan

Pour in batter and bake in oven at 165˚C (fan) for 40 minutes

Let stand for 20 minutes before removing from pan

Cut into slices and drizzle with bubbly



The lemon frosting turn these soft cookies into little cakes, ideal for the dessert course or to brighten up any other festive occasion. You can taste everything, the vanilla, the zucchini, the lemon and the almonds! Sweet, light and fresh! These do not keep as long as typical cookies and should be eaten within two days of baking.

(30 cookies)


120g soft butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

160g grated zucchini

finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

2 1/2 cup self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt


Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together in mixing bowl

Whisk in egg

Stir in zucchini and zest

Add flour, baking powder ad salt, mix until combined

Spoon teaspoons of batter onto lined baking tray, 6 cookies at a time,

not too close to each other

Bake in oven at 170˚C (fan) for 8 to 9 minutes

Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes

Transfer to wire rack to cool completely

Top with Lemon Frosting and roasted almonds





24 almonds

pinch of seasalt

2 cups icing sugar

3 tbsp lemon juice



Cut each almond into 4 of 5 pieces

Heat almond and salt in dry non-stick pan, stir until just starting to brown, let cool

Sift icing sugar into mixing bowl, stir in juice

Add drops of water if needed, consistency should be smooth but not too runny

Drizzle over cookies, arrange almonds on top



These simple, humble pancakes get the flavours of exotic far-away lands with the addition of vanilla, rose-water and pistachio. At breakfast, brunch, teatime or dinner, treat the ones who deserve it. Go all the way and serve with yoghurt, ice-cream or edible rose petals.

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp rose water

3 tbsp sugar

150g pistachio nuts, shelled

2 cups self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

2 to 6 tbsp grapeseed oil


grated zest of 1 orange


Whisk first 5 ingredients together in mixing bowl

Finely chop 100g pistachio nuts and mix with flour, baking powder and salt in separate bowl

Add to wet ingredients and stir until smooth

Chop rest of nuts and keep aside

Heat 2 tbsp oil in pan

Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons batter into pan

Fry over medium heat until flapjacks are golden on both sides

Repeat until all the batter has been used, add extra oil as needed

Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with nuts



1890 Grape Salad


Refreshing, simple and surprising! This dish traditionally gets smothered in sweetened cream cheese and served as part of main course or a buffet. By serving the grapes not only fresh but also pan-grilled, presenting the cream separately and adding cinnamon, Cognac, nuts and zest, this becomes a more contemporary, really inviting dessert.

330g seedless green grapes

330g seedless red grapes

330g seedless black grapes

2 tbsp grapeseed oil

2 tbs honey

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp Cognac


Combine grapes in large mixing bowl

Heat oil, honey, cinnamon and Cognac in pan

Add 250g mixed grapes

Stir over medium heat until skins just start to burst

Let cool




250g cream cheese at room temperature

6 tbsp Greek yoghurt

2 tbsp castor sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract


Combine ingredients in mixing bowl and stir until really smooth




100g pecan nuts, broken and lightly toasted

finely grated zest of 1 small lemon


Spoon fresh grapes into 6 to 8 bowls

Spoon Cream on top

Top with fried grapes

Sprinkle with nuts and zest



Not every guest is a fan of a rich dessert, but still like to end a meal with a special moment. That is when I serve these not-too-sweet perfumed cookies. Made with cinnamon and rosé (or red wine), they burst and crack during baking until they are completely irresistible. Serve them with the same wine used in the dough. This time I used Babylonstoren’s excellent Mourvèdre Rosé.

(24 cookies)


2 cups self raising flour

1 cup almond flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

1/2 cup rosé

1/2 cup sugar

extra sugar for rolling cookies in


Combine flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in mixing bowl

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together oil, wine and sugar

Stir into flour mixture

Use hands and work into typical cookie dough

(On a very hot day, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes)

Roll into 24 balls

Spoon 1/2 cup sugar into small shallow bowl

Roll cookies in sugar

Arrange 8 cookies on lined baking tray

Bake in oven at 170˚C (fan) for 13 to 14 minutes

Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes

Place on wire rack to cool completely




There are many, many opinions on how to make biscotti, also many variations in texture, size, thickness, shape and length of the second bake. You have to try and test and adjust until you find the one that really works for you. This recipe works of me, sometimes they turn out neater or more even-sized than other times, but I have learned to relax and enjoy them just as they are! Often, for a more sturdy, robust biscuit, I add 1 heaped tbsp of white bread flour to the mix. Serve them with coffee, tea or wine. Dip, dunk or don’t.

1/2 cup castor sugar

1/4 cup grapeseed or olive oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups self raising flour

pinch of salt

1 cup raw cashew nuts, roughly chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon


Whisk together sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, cashew nuts, cranberries and zest

Stir into egg mixture

Shape dough into ball

Cover bowl with lid or plate, refrigerate for 30 minutes

Divide dough in half, shape into two logs of 25cm each

Do not flatten logs, place on lined baking tray

Bake in oven at 160˚C (fan) for 25 minutes

(For an even bake, turn the tray around after 13 minutes)

Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes

Lower oven temperature to 145˚C (fan)

Use a very sharp, finely serrated knife and carefully cut diagonally

into slices of about 1cm thick

(Use sawing action with very little pressure)

Arrange, cut sides up, on baking tray and bake for 10 more minutes

Let rest for 10 minutes

Place on wire rack to cool completely






100g dark chocolate

80g milk chocolate

1/2 cup fresh cream

140g ginger biscuits

1/2 cup + 1tbsp desiccated coconut

grated zest of 3/4 (or whole) orange

2 tbsp raw oats

2 tbsp good cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Break chocolate into pieces and place with cream in small saucepan

Stir over low heat until chocolate has melted

Pour into mixing bowl

Place biscuits into a bag and beat with rolling pin

Stir crumbs into chocolate mixture

Stir in coconut

Add orange zest and 1/2 tsp cinnamon and mix

Mix in oats

Roll into 18 balls

Place balls on plate or tray lined with baking paper

Refrigerate for 20 minutes

Sift cocoa and 1 tsp cinnamon into bowl

Roll balls in cocoa mixture

Serve with small serving bowls of Lemon Yoghurt




500g thick natural yoghurt

2 (or 3) tbps lemon curd

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix yoghurt and curd together

Spoon into small serving bowls

Dust with cinnamon



Six servings. I usually replace half the flour with ground almonds, but had none in the house. These look different every time, sometimes they spill over, sometimes they sink, sometimes they stay upright like determined little solders, but they never disappoint. They often get frozen, reheated and served with not-too-sweet custard.

150g really soft butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup selfraising flour

1 heaped tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon

grated zest of 1 lemon

1/3 cup of milk

3 ripe plums


Cream butter and sugar together in mixing bowl

Add eggs and vanilla, beat until light and smooth

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt

Add to egg mixture and mix

Mix in cinnamon and lemon zest

Gently stir in milk

Spoon 1 tbsp of batter into bottoms of six ramekins

Cut each plum into 8 slices

Arrange 2 slices on top of batter in each ramekin

Top with rest of batter

Arrange 2 slices of plum on top of each cake

Bake in oven at 175˚C until golden brown, about 20 minutes

Remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes and serve



250g store-bought shortcrust pastry, defrosted

6 ripe pears

4 eggs

2 cups thick cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup sugar

pinch of salt

Line bottom and sides of shallow pie dish with pastry

Place baking paper on top and fill with baking marbles or dry beans

Bake in oven at 190˚C (fan) for 6 tot 7 minutes

Remove baking marbles and paper, let crust cool

Peel pears, cut into slices and arrange on bottom of crust

Whisk eggs, cream, vanilla, sugar and salt together

Bake in oven at 170˚C (fan) until set, 25 to 30 minutes

Remove from oven and let cool

Serve lukewarm or at room temperature



A few years ago, on the day before my return to South Africa, I wanted to bake my Nantes landlady a thank you cake. I had no recipe, so I improvised and what turned out is the best flourless chocolate cake I know, I have made it several times since, and it is simply flop proof!

200g salted butter

200g dark chocolate

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp Cognac

6 eggs

85g almond flour


Line bottom of 22cm non-stick springform pan with baking paper

Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat

Pour into mixing bowl, add sugar, cognac and vanilla, beat well

In a separate bowl, beat 1 egg until pale and fluffy

Beat into chocolate mixture

Repeat process with each of the 5 remaining eggs

Fold in almond flour

Pour mixture into baking pan

Bake in oven at 180˚C (fan) for 15 minutes

Lower heat to 170˚C and bake for 13 more minutes

Remove from oven and let cool in pan

Run a sharp knife around inside of pan to loosen cake


For a truly decadent experience, pour Chocolate Ganache over cake!





1/3 cup fresh cream

160g dark chocolate

1 tbsp Cognac


Heat ingredients in saucepan over low heat

Stir until chocolate has melted

Let cool for a few minutes

Pour over cake