Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

Sweet Treats!

"I don't advocate eating too many sweet treats however..."

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

I don't advocate eating too many sweet treats however if/when you do, I advocate you choose quality.

To round off dinner at Hartford House, our well-loved and talented pastry chef, Delli Nene, takes her handmade delights to each table. There is nothing better than popping one of these authentic indulgences into the mouth to satisfy a sweet craving.

A digital thermometer is essential to ensure perfection when making these delectable delicacies. This leads me to Panforte, the Sienna (Italian) round Christmas cake which is very different from the familiar, English fruit cake. It has the sweet-spiciness and nuttiness of the traditional cake we all know so well, but it is nougat-like with deep cocoa-citrus flavouring. It can be eaten on its own to keep things simple, alternatively, homemade ice cream or vanilla-bean frozen yoghurt make delicious accompaniments.

For some strange reason fudge always seems to be difficult to perfect. There is one, shop-bought variety that, with all the will in the world, I cannot resist. It is vanilla flavoured and oh so memorable! It is smooth and butter rich - and has the decadence all fudge should boast. I get mad when fudge is made up of sugar crystals. I have stopped buying the product from home-industry shops because I'm tired of the disappointment it carries. The recipe I have included comprises white or dark Belgian chocolate which for a reason I cannot explain makes this fudge a lot easier to make. Fool proof? Well almost! Try it. It promises to please.

I have seen every variation of meringue over the years - from tiny blobs and traditional piping, to meringue-gelatine crisp sheets - used as dessert decorations. And not to forget the lively-turquoise or perky-pink bought meringues. Trying out a 'fresh' option, I added berry coulis to the mixture in the piping bag, and it worked. Nothing beats berry freshness. The joy of the true flavour is in the crispy, crunch of a perfectly dried out meringue, finished with rounded berry flavour.

Lady finger biscuits, cat tongues or - as we South Africans know it - Boudoir biscuits are always a hit with the young people. Actually, come to think of it, all ages are pretty fond of these. This recipe demonstrates how easy it is to make them at home. There is no need to rush out to the shop when a craving arises - just step into your kitchen and whip up a few.

We recently started making baskets filled with sweet and savoury macaroons - very fashionable! Jessica Meyerowitz, one of my current trainees, made the best I have tasted. It was a blood-orange macaroon that tickled my taste buds with flavours I shall always remember...

I like to roll salted caramel, in rice paper to make little 'bonbons'. We use black lava salt - but this is not essential. These are delicious little treasures that will play around in your mouth and take you on a journey of discovery. Like Hartford House guests, you too will find yourself dreaming about the delicate little creations.

Here's to quality-rather-than-quantity recipes that work.

Please take these recipes and try them!

sweet baking treats

Panforte
Chocolate Fudge
Meringue
Lady Fingers
Orange Macaroons
Salted Butter Caramels

Keep an eye open for "Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home" hitting the shelves in April 2013.

Send comments and food-related questions to jackie@hartford.co.za. I always look forward to hearing from you. For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK, find me on Twitter - jackie_cameron and visit my website, www.jackiecameron.co.za.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
www.hartford.co.za
jackie@hartford.co.za
+27 33 263 2713

Photography courtesy of :
Karen Edward's Photography
082 441 7429
karene@bundunet.com
www.karenephotographysa.com
www.midlandsphotographers.wordpress.com