Vanilla bean and Buttermilk Panna Cotta with a Berry compote

Vanilla bean and Buttermilk Panna Cotta with a Berry compote
Vanilla bean and Buttermilk Panna Cotta with a Berry compote
Vanilla bean and Buttermilk Panna Cotta with a Berry compote
Vanilla bean and Buttermilk Panna Cotta with a Berry compote

This dessert is a lot of fun because it is so easy to make and if you use coconut sugar it is refined sugar-free. Topped with the berries which are high in anti oxidants it ranks high up on my guilt free dessert list. This recipe is a great example of how you can substitute unhealthy refined sugar with healthier coconut sugar and that you do not have to go without your precious sweet treats! Next time you find yourself baking and using sugar, remember that you don't have to use such a large amount and that if you lessen the amount in a recipe (it won't affect the recipe and the sweetness) or find a healthier substitute, your body will thank you. Consuming empty calories isn't a way of 'treating' your body. If you can change your mindset on that, you can invite healthier alternatives into your life that will nourish you rather than leaving you with horrible guilt and a nasty sugar crash! 


  • 3 tablespoons cold water 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavoured gelatin 
  • 2 cups heavy cream (divided) 
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (normal castor sugar will also work) 
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk 
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds removed 

Berry compote: 

  • 1 1/2 cups mixed berries (you can use frozen) 
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar  (normal castor sugar will also work)
  • Fresh mint leaves to serve 


Bloom the gelatin by sprinkling it over cold water. I use a glass of ice water and measure my water from there to ensure it very cold. If the water isn't cold you can get lumpy panna cotta. 

Add the vanilla bean scraping, 1 cup of heavy cream and the sugar to a small pot and dissolve the sugar over a medium heat.

Once dissolved whisk in the rest of the heavy cream and buttermilk. 

Remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatin. 

Pour the mixture into tumbler glasses, cover with cling film and place in the fridge to set overnight. 

Before serving: 

Add all the ingredients for the berry compote into a small pot over a medium heat. Stir the berries and let the mixture reduce. Once you reach a syrup consistency, remove from the heat. Let the berries cool before serving. 

Serve with a dollop of berries and a sprig of mint! 

Black Forest Trifle for Christmas

Black Forest Trifle for Christmas
Black Forest Trifle for Christmas
Black Forest Trifle for Christmas
Black Forest Trifle for Christmas
Black Forest Trifle for Christmas
Black Forest Trifle for Christmas

Nostalgia is a very strange thing. It pops up when you least expect it. A taste or a smell can take you right back to a moment.

The lease on my apartment wasn't renewed this year, which means its time to move out and move on.

I have been in my apartment for 9 years. It has been my home, a place that has hosted countless dinner parties, a place that holds many dear memories.

I have lived in this apartment with my best friend talking endlessly about life, our hopes, ambitions, dreams, and fears.

In between these walls; I have made new friends and said goodbye to old, built a career in food while navigating the tiny kitchen and have lived here with my love and our beautiful Piglet; my little family whom I cherish.

Funny how I have become so attached to a house that I have made into a home, a safe haven. 

I have celebrated many a Christmas whilst living here, have cooked for my tribe and shared my special family recipes.

Today I am going to do the same.

Today; I give you my grandmothers Black Forest trifle recipe which has been present at every Christmas celebration for as long as I can remember. To be honest it just wouldn't be the same without it.

It makes a magical appearance once a year, stays for a few days, all the while the flavour deepening into something truly extraordinary. 

I suppose it takes me back to so many memories a lot like my apartment. I can remember the face of every person that has tasted it for the first time. That moment of bliss as their eyes close and the mmmm that follows.

The dark chocolate paired with cherries and condensed milk are a match made in heaven. 

I hope you will share this and make beautiful memories of your own whilst doing so...

As for me? I am off to pack and although I am sure there will be many tears shed while saying goodbye to my home, at least I will have a bowl of chocolate trifle to cover the pain.

Merry Christmas.

Here's to new beginnings.


  • 2x 397 grams condensed milk 
  • 125ml lemon juice 
  • 1 x 425 grams tinned pitted and halved cherries 
  • 120 grams grated quality dark chocolate 
  • 500 grams smooth cottage cheese 
  • 1 dark chocolate swiss roll 600 grams
  • 150 grams flaked almonds 
  • 200 grams fresh pitted cherries 
  • Whipped cream and cherry liqueur



Mix condensed milk with cottage cheese and lemon. Whisk until smooth. 

Slice swiss roll and place a layer on the base of the serving dish. I made the individual in the images but you can also make it in a large serving bowl. 

Sprinkle with cherry liqueur. 

Dot with pitted cherries. 

Sprinkle with flaked almonds 

Spoon a layer of condensed milk mix over cake and sprinkle with dark chocolate. 

Repeat until all your layers are in, ending with cottage cheese mixture and grated chocolate. You can top with whipped cream and fresh cherries! 


Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014

Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014

I have never been a fan of avocado. 
The texture was simply something I could not accept. 
I remember being young and being told that certain things in life were an acquired taste and that an appreciation for them would more than likely come with age. 
For many years I wasn’t sure that this was true, until, lo and behold, my absolute distaste for avocado disappeared. 
Slowly but surely I invited this green fruit into my life and I started experimenting with its flavours. Strange how that happens.
How the adults turned out to know a thing or two at the end of the day.

Another food that I have had the same experience with is blue cheese. 
The thought of it when I was younger turned my stomach (and my nose).
It was off putting to know that mold was grown in the cheese (on purpose!), the taste was pungent, the smell oh-so-over powering rushing into my sinuses with a less than agreeable result and that people actually ate it AS A SPECIAL TREAT!?

Now, in my later years, I enjoy a mild blue cheese and won’t say no to it especially with a fig on top. 

My new found love for blue cheese and avocado started me thinking about the wines that I drink. 
Being a stone’s throw away from some of the best wine estates in the world have given me a unique opportunity to expand my palette and begin appreciating some phenomenal wines.  

I have always loved dessert wine. For obvious reasons, it is sweet and pleasing to a novice wine drinker. 
In the same way, I have learned to appreciate new tastes with a maturing palate, I am loathed to admit that I had forgotten the delights of some of my younger forays into dessert wine and had all but excluded it from my repertoire.

Revisiting some of my earlier favorites, I’ve fallen in love with dessert wines all over again 

Appreciating the nose of a wine and the tasting notes have definitely come with age.
I found the perfect opportunity with this Lourensford Noble late harvest to pair up some unique flavours that will not only test your palette but please it right down to its nuanced sensibilities.

The wine has a certain richness to it and could be a dessert all on its own. 
With its liquid gold colour and an inviting nose of rich tropical fruits, I decided to pair it with saffron poached pears served with blue cheese and walnuts. It’s a flavour symphony that will sing in your mouth and should be kept in your arsenal for Christmas, which is just around the corner, complete with a list as long as your arm of demands for indulgent desserts and treats.

Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes. 


  • 4 pears peeled 
  • 1 cup of castor sugar 
  • 3 cinnamon sticks 
  • pinch of saffron 
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves 
  • peel of 1 lemon
  • 3 star anise
  • 100 grams blue cheese
  • 80 grams walnuts 


In a medium pot add the pears, sugar, cinnamon, saffron, cardamom, cloves, lemon peel and star anise. 

Fill the pot halfway with warm water. Place on a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 40-50 minutes or until the pears are soft when pricked with a fork. 

Remove the pears from the pot and set aside. Reduce the syrup in the pot for another 15 minutes. You want it to become slightly thick. 

Serve warm or cold topped with syrup, blue cheese and walnuts crumbled on top and the perfect glass of dessert wine from Lourensford! 


p.s this can be made the day before and the flavour gets even better! 


Sweet Potato Churros

sweet potato churros

It’s bitterly cold and raining in Cape Town. Not exactly my favourite weather. I find it really hard to adult (to be a grown up) when it is pouring and cold. My will to get out of my warm cozy bed simply does not exist. All I want to do is stay in and eat ALL the tasty carbs I can think of. I tend to daydream way too much about the comfort food I could make. Today I am dreaming about this recipe. It’s amazing because it is so more-some and of course it has melted chocolate.

Sweet potato is one of my favourite foods. It is a great veggie that can be dressed up in savoury and sweet dishes. You can bake them, fry them and roast them in a variety of different ways! In this case I made some sweet potato churros. They are rolled in cinnamon sugar and then served hot and ready to dunk into a pot of dark chocolate to contrast the sweetness. They also happened to be laced with a little bit of brandy just to warm you up! I usually serve them with a Mexican feast but to be honest the fact that they have chocolate means they can go with anything! 

Makes 30


  • 110 grams (1/2 a cup) salted butter
  • 125ml (1/2 a cup) water
  • 1,25ml(1/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 1 ¼ cups flour, sifted
  • ½ sweet potato, boiled and mashed (skin off)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 3 Tablespoon brandy
  • Oil, for deep-frying (preferably seed oil)

To serve:

  • 150 grams sugar
  • 15ml cinnamon
  • 100 grams dark chocolate (good quality always, I used Lindt 70%)


Heat the butter, water and salt in a large pot over a medium heat.

Bring to a slight boil, reduce the heat and add the flour, stirring constantly, over a low heat, until it makes a smooth paste. (Work those arms)

Stir in the sweet potato, mixing well.  Remove from heat.

Using an electronic mixer, add eggs, one at a time, beating well. When the eggs have all been incorporated, stir in the vanilla and brandy. 

Place a small bowl over a pot with simmering water. Break your chocolate in and let sit over the heat for 5 minutes. Turn the heat down and fold in the chocolate. Once melted turn off the heat and let it sit ready for dunking.

Heat your oil in a deep pan. If you put a wooden spoon in and you see fine bubbles around the wood, the oil is ready. 

Use a large piping bag with a star nozzle to pipe out 10cm long churros. Cut them with scissors as you pipe them. Deep-fry them being careful they do not go too brown. Two minutes either side should be enough.

Stir together cinnamon and sugar in a shallow medium dish. Toss the Churros gently in the mixture and serve warm and ready to dunk into you chocolate. Don't try toss them when they are cold as the sugar won't stick as well!



Vegan Chocolate Tart

This is my friend Rose. She is one of the few people in my life that I will willingly spend hours in the kitchen cooking and talking about life. In fact, we have probably clocked enough time in the kitchen between us to open a café (hint, hint). Rose is a vegetarian who is flirting with Veganism. Why? Simply because she cares about animals’ lives and doesn't believe their lives are ours for the taking.

Spending time with Rose has not only been soul enriching as a friend but it has also been very educational. When she comes over, we cook only vegetarian dishes because I have recently decided not to include meat in any of my meals. I haven't crossed over to become a full-fledged vegetarian. I have simply decided to be a flexitarian. What exactly is flexitarian you ask? When I feel for meat I eat it, as long as it is free range and ethically raised. If I don't trust the source or if I don't feel for it, I eat vegetarian.

The one thing Rose has taught me is that there is no limit when it comes to tasty, healthy and protein packed vegetarian options. Together we have created dishes that are mind blowing and I will definitely be sharing them with you on The Truffle Journal.

For now, I wanted to share this vegan chocolate tart recipe that is quick and simple to make. I must admit that regardless of your food choices this one is a win.

Serves 6


1 cup raw almonds

3 tablespoons shredded coconut

7 pitted majool dates

2 tablespoons coconut oil melted

1 cup of coconut milk

175 grams dark chocolate

3 tablespoons agave nectar (optional)

Berries and figs to decorate or crushed sea salt


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Add dates, coconut and almonds to a food processor and blend until it forms fine crumbs.

Add coconut oil and blend until the mixture is sticky. You might need to use a spoon to make sure it has all mixed through.

Pour the mixture out into a 24cm quiche dish and flatten it with your fingers packing it down evenly.

Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Once ready set aside to cool.

For the filling mix the chocolate and coconut milk in a heat proof bowl over simmering water. As soon as the chocolate melts remove it from the heat and allow the remaining heat to melt the rest of the chocolate.

Add the agave and mix until all is combined.

Pour the filling into your dish. Gently tap the dish on the counter to knock out all the bubbles.

Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Just before you serve your tart you can slice up your figs and berries and decorate. If you have chosen to leave them off you can also crack some salt on the tart before serving!