Faux Croquembouche Vanilla Zulu Style…

The feared Croquembouche, once you know how to make them, they really aren’t that daunting.  Also, a Croquembouche cone is terribly expensive.  Did you know you can actually fashion a very useful cone out of a piece of A3 cardboard, as you would buy at the stationery store.  So it doesn’t have to be costly.  You an simply cover it in greaseproof paper and use it again and again. The actual creation won’t last too long that’s for sure. I found this on youtube for us http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vl7TrB–gCw

Here they have used little meringues, you could also use piped biscuits or the more traditional profiteroles.  But meringues are cheap, we can make them in advance, and everyone loves them. So to make it sound terribly important and difficult why don’t we call it a deconstructed vertical vanilla and berry pavlova and see if we get a round of applause at the Christmas table this year!  This photo is off the net but I’m making one of these this afternoon or tomorrow to test it and then I’ll report back… heavens, who’s going to help me eat it!

Festively white cupcakes…

So simple yet soooo Christmassy.

Defintely can be made in advance, leaving you more time to spend precious moments with your loved ones. I found these while researching ‘white christmas desserts’ and they definitely took my fancy.

Here is the recipe for you to try, no harm in baking a batch this weekend just to practice. You will need to buy a piping bag and nozzle, easy obtainable from places like Robins kitchen, so don’t think it can’t be done.  And once you have the nozzles, and the confidence, you’ll be piping your way to glamourous and breathtaking creations for years to come. To get the chocolate shavings, take a block of white chocolate and use your vegetable peeler or even a palette knife to make the curls.

White cup cakes, to make 12

1/2 cup butter, grate to soften or use at room temperature

2/3 cup white or castor sugar

3 large eggs, fresh is best

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract

1 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

50ml milk or cream or plain yogurt

50g white chocolate chips


Place the softened butter and sugar in a mixer with the batter paddle and beat until pale and fluffy.  Now add the eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, salt and milk/cream/yogurt and chocolate chips and mix together for about a minute until smooth and well mixed.  Stick your finger in the bowl and taste, this is the best part of baking cup cakes, and of course is not compulsary!  Spoon into greased cup cake liners and divide evenly, bake for about 15-20 minutes in a moderate oven of 180c or until the toothpick or skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool and then top with a glorious piping of this decadent icing.

Christmassy snowy icing

1/2 cup butter, grate to soften or use at room temperature

2 cups icing sugar sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste

2 tablespoons cream or plain yogurt


Beat the butter until pale and fluffy in your mixer.  The paler you let the butter go, the whiter your icing will be.  Once pale and fluffy add the icing mix and vanilla and cream/yogurt and then start the mixer up very slowly.  Starting at top speed will only result in frustration as plumes of icing sugar rain down on your counter!  Slowly slowly incorporate the butter and the icing mix, beat until silky smooth and then place into the piping bag.

*NOTE* The neatest and least frustrating way to get icing into a piping bag is to fold the top of the bag over your hand while you hold it, peel it over your hand, then use a spatula or spoon to place the icing in the bag.  By folding the bag over your hand you will keep the top of it clear and clean and then you can fold it over and work the icing out as you pipe.  You can do this two or three days in advance if you need to?



” Vivacious Melanie Townsend holds court with aplomb.  An interactive class that flourishes with lots of wine and laughter. Even shy students will be coaxed into the cooking action!: – Tracy Gielink


“Townsend, a bubbly, intelligent woman whose classes are fun and relaxed, says they’re about allowing a team to be creative by setting a time bound goal and encouraging them to think outside the box.  Apart from being a  necessity, food has long since been regarded as a great way to bring people together and because Townsend doesn’t even get into chef garb and speaks plainly, peoople are more open to experiment” – Omeshnie Naidoo