Chocolate and banana mattress pancake

I got this pancake recipe from my new favourite food blog, afoodieliveshere and tried it out for breakfast on my recent camping trip to Beaverlac in the Cederberg (lovely campsite, by the way). I added cocoa for a bit of chocolateyness, and changed the name to mattress pancakes. This is a no-fuss solid mass of pancake that can be cut up like a pizza to feed your hungry camping friends. Bring along some honey to drizzle over the pancake slices, and you’ll have a breakfast for camping champions.

Makes one giant mattress pancake

1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup cold milk
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
3 T sugar
1 T cocoa powder
1 banana, chopped

If you’re an organised camper, you could mix all the dry ingredients together and store in a tupperware container for your camping trip. If you’re like me and you throw a whole lot of things into a bag when you go on a trip without much organisation, then it’s easy to mix together the ingredients when you’re there. Mix the dry ingredients together first, then make a well in the centre and break in the eggs. Add the milk slowly and mix thoroughly. Mix in the banana and heat up some butter in a frying pan over a gas cooker. Pour in the pancake mixture in one go and cook until the bottom is pretty solid. Flip over with some confidence (you may need an extra pair of hands to help with this) and cook over on the other side until golden.

Baked chocolate chilli figs

I love figs, and I try to eat as many of them as I can during their short season. I always plan to make something really yummy with them, but I just end up eating them as they are or squished on toast with lots of butter and a drizzle of honey. We’re almost at the end of fig season and this may be my last chance at a fig recipe for the year. It’s ridiculously simple and easy, but really quite delicious. I’m coming to the realisation that the moreish chocolate-chilli combo goes with just about anything, but it’s really superb with baked figs. Serve this late summer/early autumn dessert with Greek yoghurt, marscapone or vanilla bean ice-cream.

baked chocolate chilli figs

Serves four

12 fresh figs
50 g dark chilli chocolate (I like Lindt)
1 tbsp of butter

Cut off the stalks, and make a criss-cross cut in each fig. Break up the chocolate and put a shard inside each fig. Top off the figs with a tiny blob of butter. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until the chocolate has melted and the figs are releasing their juices.

Valentine’s dark chocolate cake

Valentine’s Day is all about baking and chocolate. This heart-shaped cake fits the bill for a love-day treat if you like your cakes dense, intensely chocolatey and not too sweet.

I adapted this recipe from one in the February issue of Food & Home, which was for an immense cake. Their recipe was for a huge double-tiered cake, which would have meant the two of us scoffing cake non-stop all weekend. This is a far less indulgent cake if there’s only two (or one) of you.

valentines cake

  • 70 g cake flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 60 g caster sugar
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 100 ml buttermilk
  • 50 g butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 65 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 30 g butter
  • 25 g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 C. I made my cake in a silicone heart-shaped cakeform (dimensions 20 x 18.5 x 4 cm). If you’re doubling the recipe, make the cake in a 20 cm spring-form cake tin lined with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour, salt, cocoa powder and baking powder three times in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Beat the sugar and eggs with a fork or in a mixer until pale and thick.

Fold in the flour mixture to the eggs and sugar, alternating with buttermilk. When mixed, add in the melted butter and vanilla.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake until the cake comes away from the sides

To make the icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over boiling water. Sift in the icing sugar and mix to combine.

Chocolate chilli fudge cake

I made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday last year and this year. He loves dark chocolate, chilli and cakes that aren’t too sweet, so this is basically his ideal cake. The first time I made it exactly according to Dan Lepard’s recipe and it was a bit dry. I’ve increased the amounts of wet ingredients and this time round and the cake was perfect. I know the ingredients seem a bit strange – the tahini and salted nuts put me off initially – but they somehow all work together to make a intensely chocolatey, dense, moist cake.

I’ve made it with lime icing before, which is so delicious. The wonderful tartness of the fresh lime really complements the dark chocolate flavour. I couldn’t get hold of any limes the second time I made the cake so I used orange zest instead, and that worked well too.

Chocolate chilli fudge cake

  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g cocoa
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • 100g cashews
  • 3 T tahini
  • ¼-½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 225g light muscovado or Demerara sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 200ml cold full cream milk
  • zest and juice of two limes or zest of two oranges

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan-assisted)/350F/gas mark 4.

Line a round, 20cm tin with non-stick baking paper and grease the paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and cinnamon into a bowl.

Grind the nuts finely in a food processor, then add the tahini, chilli and sugar, and mix until combined.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan and add to the nut mixture along with the eggs. Beat until smooth. Spoon into another bowl, stir in the milk, sift in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour into the tin and bake for about an hour.

To make the icing you need:

  • icing sugar
  • luke warm water
  • lime juice (fresh is the best)
  • lime or orange zest (or both)

squeeze out the juice from two limes, and mix with icing sugar and the water until you get a thick paste.  I did not put quantities since you can make it as thick or thin as you like.  mix in a bit of lime or orange zest at this stage as well, before spreading the icing over the cake.  Whilst it is still wet, sprinkle some more zest on top.

Chocolate chilli fudge cake

Easy peasy chocolate cupcakes

I’ve been trawling the internet for the best and easiest chocolate cupcake recipe, and I think this is definitely it. Martha Stewart’s recipe for one-bowl chocolate cupcakes couldn’t be easier. A lot of cupcake recipes call for copious amounts of oil, but these use only three tablespoons of it, relying instead on yoghurt or buttermilk for moisture. Moist they are, and darkly chocolatey too.

Easy Peasy Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes around 22 cupcakes.

  • ¾ cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • ¾ cup yoghurt or buttermilk
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the over to 180C. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift together the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix for about two minutes until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each two thirds full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops spring back with touched with a knife.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before icing.

Simple icing:

  • 2 cups sifted icing sugar
  • 4 T melted butter
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients and mix well until smooth. To make chocolate icing for some of the cupcakes, melt 3-4 blocks of dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate with a teaspoon of butter, and mix into some of the vanilla icing.

Easy Peasy Chocolate Cupcakes