My Little Chequered Kitchen

Filling the Baking Tins / Gift Ideas

M&M Cookies …

M&M Cookies 7

In my mind, it’s almost impossible to make cookies without the help of small children.  I just simply don’t have the patience to roll out all of those balls of cookie dough by myself!

M&M Cookies 1

Baking is of course a wonderful way of spending quality time with your kids, as well as teaching them the pleasures of preparing food for other people.  

M&M Cookies 2

… And I don’t think you’ll have much trouble asking for help to make these fun and delicious M&M cookies.  :)

M&M Cookies 3

These cookies are extremely simple to make.  I use an electric stand mixer (Kitchen Aid) but you can also easily cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer or egg beater.   

M&M Cookies 4

 You can use either the plain or the peanut M&Ms for these cookies.  I’ve used plain for mine in these photos.

M&M Cookies 5

Don’t forget to put your baking to good use by wrapping it up and giving it away as gifts … 

M&M Cookies 6

 A little cellophane, some curled ribbon and voila!  An inexpensive yet personal gift ideal to give to friends and family as birthday presents or simply to say “thank you” or “I love you”.

M&M Cookies 8


M&M Cookies
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175g butter
1 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
160g M&Ms
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together by placing both into the bowl of an electric mixer and beating until pale and creamy (you can use a hand mixer if you don't have a stand mixer).
Add the vanilla extract and egg yolks and beat well.
Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together.
Add most of the M&Ms to the bowl, leaving a few over for decoration. Gently incorporate them into the mixture.
Roll the mixture into even balls and place onto the baking trays, leaving plenty of room in between them as they will spread while baking.
Flatten each ball slightly, and decorate with the remaining M&Ms.
Bake for 15 minutes or until very lightly golden.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
My Little Chequered Kitchen


Old-Fashioned Raspberry Cordial …


Last weekend I had the honour of attending a Hen’s Party here in the Netherlands for a friend of mine who is getting married in a couple of weeks.  One of the activities included a boat trip around the canals and waterways around Zwolle, while indulging on a delicious “High Tea” which we were all asked to contribute to.  


(Must get the recipe for the delicious caramel walnut brownies!!!!)


I decided to mix it up a bit and instead of baking something like I usually would, I made home-made raspberry cordial and took a bottle of soda water to dilute it with (and yes that’s me with a cardigan and scarf, even though it’s summer here in Holland!!).   


The best thing about making home-made cordial is that the fruits of your labour stick around for a while; the cordial keeps for months in the fridge.   The worst thing about making home-made cordial is that you begin to really understand just how much sugar is added to fruit drinks.  But do keep in mind that cordial is a concentrate, and this recipe makes an intensely flavoured syrup.  You only need to add a little bit to the glass and top up with water or soda water (avoid lemonade as that only adds to the sugar content!).  And of course home-made cordial contains no artificial colours or preservatives and is therefore so much better than anything you can buy in the supermarket.  But still, I don’t think I can go so far as to say that it’s healthy … 


Making home-made cordial is actually extremely simple.  The only complicated bit is finding some muslin cloth or something similar in order to strain out the raspberry seeds.  I was luckily able to improvise with some tulle lying around the house which worked perfectly.


Another idea is to make raspberry ice blocks by mixing 1 cup of the raspberry cordial with 1/4 cup of water and pouring into ice block moulds and freezing.  And don’t forget that a bottle of cordial makes an original and creative gift idea!  Just lay your hands on some cheap little glass bottles with a tight fitting lid, tie a ribbon around them and voila.  A wonderful present to say you care!



Old-Fashioned Raspberry Cordial
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
6 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 cup of lemon juice
1 tablespoon citric acid
4 cups raspberries
Begin by thoroughly washing and sterilizing your glass bottles with tight-fitted lids. I do this by squirting some detergent into the bottles and adding a little amount of very hot water from the tap. Shake the bottles well and then rinse them out thoroughly with the water running as hot as possible in order to get rid of any trace of the detergent. Next pop them into the oven on the coolest setting to allow them to dry while you prepare the cordial.
To make the cordial, place the sugar and water into a large pot and bring to a gentle simmer while constantly stirring.
Once simmering, add the lemon juice and the citric acid and stir until dissolved.
Add the raspberries and leave to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and leave to cool before straining batches of the cordial through a muslin covered sieve in order to remove the pulp and the seeds.
Pour the cordial into the sterilized bottles and seal. Your cordial should last for months in the fridge.
To serve, dilute the cordial to taste with either water or soda water (don't use lemonade as the syrup is sweet enough and doesn't need the extra sweetness from the lemonade!).
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Caramel Oat Slice …

Oaty Caramel SliceI’ve been busy baking lately … baking a lot.  My good friend Alice is travelling in September to Uganda and will be living there for six months while working for a charity called Edukans which focuses on improving the education standards for children in Uganda.  I’m so proud of her that I wanted to help support her.  So we came up with the idea of letting people order some home-baked goodies and it’s been a great success!   

Oaty Caramel Slice - 1

One of the treats available to order is this Caramel Oat Slice, adapted from Jo Seagar’s version in her book “It’s Easier Than You Think!”.  It’s been so popular that this weekend I have to bake a whole lot of them to fulfill 19 orders just for this slice alone!  

Oaty Caramel Slice - 3

But I understand why it’s been so popular.  It’s ooey, gooey, sticky, and sweet and yet the oats give it an air of wholesomeness – which of course is absolute rubbish because it’s a massive calorie bomb! But hey, a little in moderation right?

Oaty Caramel Slice - 5

I don’t know if Jo Seagar’s recipe was supposed to come out the way it does for me or not, but I found that the caramel topping tends to soak into the base while cooking in the oven, resulting in a soft gooey slice without any layers.  Still delicious, but I prefer a little more definition between the base and the caramel filling.  Therefore I cook my base a little bit first before adding the caramel on top and popping it into the oven again to cook properly.  I also found that Jo Seagar’s recipe contained too much base to the caramel filling so I’ve adjusted the ratios to suit my taste.

Oaty Caramel Slice - 8

Want to know more about my friend Alice’s journey to Uganda?  Keep reading, as her story (in Dutch and English) features below the recipe card.  Otherwise you can visit her website for more information, including how you can help support her:

Oaty Caramel Slice - 6

Caramel Oat Slice
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for the base ...
200g butter
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup desiccated coconut
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups rolled oats
2 small eggs
for the caramel filling ...
200g butter
2 x 400g cans sweetened condensed millk
4 tablespoons golden syrup
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
white and dark chocolate to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Line a large slice or sponge roll tin with baking paper - don't be stingy here. Make sure it's well lined and that you have enough hanging over the edge to lift the slice out when it's ready. Finish with baking spray.
To make the base, melt the butter over a low heat on the stove top or in the microwave.
Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Add the eggs and the melted butter and mix well, using your hands if necessary.
Press the base mixture firmly into the tin, keeping one handful of the mixture aside for later.
Put in the oven for 8 minutes to cook the base slightly. This will help to keep the caramel on top instead of soaking into the base later on.
Meanwhile, start making the caramel filling by adding the butter, condensed milk, and golden syrup into a pot and warming on top of the stove until the butter is completely melted and all ingredients are fully mixed and incorporated.
Once the butter has melted, take the caramel mixture off the stove and stir in the vanilla extract.
When the base is ready, pull the tin out of the oven and pour the caramel mixture over the top of the base.
Sprinkle the remaining base mixture on top of the caramel.
Pop the tin back into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the caramel is beautifully golden brown.
Once cooked, let the slice cool in the tin.
Once the slice is cool enough (you could put it in the fridge and let it cool completely overnight), melt the white and dark chocolate and use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate on top of the slice. You can use your own artistic creativity here, but I like to drizzle it diagonally across the slice in the same direction. But don't get too caught up in being perfect with this. It's actually far more delicious if you allow the chocolate to fall off the spoon in large clumps! The more chocolate the better I say.
Pop the slice back into the fridge to allow the chocolate to set before cutting into slices and serving.
Golden Syrup is available in Holland at Jumbo supermarkets and can be found in the honey, peanut butter, or jam sections.
Adapted from Jo Seagar's "It's Easier Than You Think!"
My Little Chequered Kitchen


Aankomend september hoop ik af te reizen naar Oeganda voor 6 maanden. Via Edukans ga ik werken voor de organisatie CRO. Deze organisatie helpt straatkinderen weer aan een thuis. De kinderen volgen een eenjarig programma bij de organisatie en vervolgens helpt de organisatie hen te reïntegreren in de samenleving en in het onderwijs. Voor meer informatie over CRO klik hier.

In Oeganda is het onderwijs, naar onze wersterse maatstaven, nog erg ouderwets. In een klas zitten zo’n 50 leerlingen. De ‘beste’ leerlingen vooraan, de ‘slechtsten’ achteraan. Doordat de ex-straatkinderen een gedeelte van het schooltraject hebben gemist zitten zij dus helaas achteraan. Ik hoop deze kinderen en de leerkrachten te coachen en te begeleiden in het rehabilitatieproces. We denken na over vragen als ‘hoe kunnen we het onderwijs beter vorm geven’ , ‘hoe betrekken we alle kinderen bij het onderwijs’, enz. Samen met de plaatselijke leerkrachten, hun kennis, mijn kennis, willen we tot beter onderwijs komen. Ik weet het niet beter, maar omdat ik in een andere cultuur ben opgeleid, kijk ik wel anders tegen de dingen aan.  

Mijn wederhelft, Aad, zal zijn IT-vaardigheden kunnen inzetten door een digitale leeromgeving voor de leerlingen te creëren, waarin de leerlingen hun eigen traject kunnen volgen. In- en uitloggen en de volgende keer verdergaan op hetzelfde punt. Jammer genoeg bestaat dit nog nauwelijks binnen het Oegandese onderwijs, terwijl ICT zo’n goede ondersteuning bij het leren kan zijn.

Helaas is het vaak zo, dat als de medewerker weer naar huis gaat, de dingen weer op de oude manier verder gaan. Het programma waar ik aan deel neem heet Werelddocent XL. Het is een doorlopend programma, dat vanuit Edukans georganiseerd en ondersteund wordt. Ik volg mijn voorganger op en wanneer ik daar weer wegga, zal degene na mij kunnen starten waar ik ben gebleven. Zo willen we een blijvend positief effect hebben op het onderwijs. 

Veel dromen in het onderwijs kunnen niet waargemaakt worden, omdat de financiële middelen niet toereikend zijn. Als je het project wilt steunen kan dat via de knop donaties.

Wil je ons persoonlijk steunen, dan kan je een bedrag overmaken naar 3256.48.840 t.n.v. A.M.  Wildeboer-Gombert. Bedankt!

* English translation:

Upcoming September I hope to travel to Uganda for 6 months. I’ll work through Edukans at an organization called CRO. This organization helps street children to get a home again. The children take part in a one year during program at the organization. After that program CRO helps them with their rehabilitation process in the community and education. For further information about CRO click here.

In Uganda the education is, seen through our western eyes, very outdated. In a class there are about 50 students. The best students are in the front, the ‘worst’ in the back of the classroom. Because the ex-street children missed a part of the education, unfortunately they sit at the back. I hope to coach these children and teachers and attend them in the rehabilitation process. We will think about questions as ‘how can we create better education’, ‘how can we involve every children in the education’, etc. Together with the local teachers, their knowledge, my knowledge, we will hopefully come to a better educational process. It’s not that I know more or better, but I followed my education in another culture, so I see things through other eyes.

My better half, Aad, will be using his IT-knowledge to create a digital education environment for the students. In which they can follow their own route. It will be possible to log in and log out and start the next time at the same point again. Unfortunately IT isn’t a usual tool in the education of Uganda, whilst it is such a good support for studying.

It’s a shame that when the volunteers go back home, things will turn back as before. The program I will participate in is called ‘Werelddocent (world teacher) XL’ It’s a continuous program, organized by and supported by Edukans. I will succeed my predecessor and when I leave, the person after me will start at the point where I stopped. Thus we try to have a permanent positive effect on the education in Uganda.

Lots of dreams in education can’t be accomplished, because of the lack of financial needs. If you want to support the project, you can click on the button ‘donaties’.

If you want to support us personally, you can donate an amount on 3256.48.840 or to IBAN: NL81RABO0325648840  (A.M. Wildeboer-Gombert). Thanks a lot!

Rose Water, Cranberry & Pistachio Truffles …

DSC_4129 mod

I have something to confess.  I’m not all that crazy about these truffles.  Which is a little unusual on a number of levels.  Mainly because I only post recipes that I’m passionate about and can highly recommend.  And also because by admitting this, I’m not giving you much reason to go and make them yourselves.  So let me explain further …  


When I first saw Jo Seagar’s original recipe for rose water and pistachio truffles from her cookbook “It’s easier than you think” (available here), I was immediately intrigued.  I already owned a little bottle of rose water which I had purchased from the Asian specialty shop (toko) a week or so beforehand.  And these truffles look and sound so feminine and delicate.  I just had to try them.  


But they just aren’t me.  You see, they simply don’t satisfy my ultra sweet tooth.  But that’s exactly why I wanted to share them with you, because I realize that not everybody is like me, and that some of you actually prefer a sweet treat that’s a little more subtle on the sugar stakes.  And furthermore, everyone else who tried them seemed to genuinely enjoy them.  Which makes sense, because I live in Holland, and I’ve noticed that the Dutch don’t have the same craving for ultra sweet foods as us Kiwis.  For instance, they are very conservative when it comes to size (ice cream is only available in what us Kiwi’s would call “small” tubs, and the variety and size of the blocks of chocolate in the supermarkets is sadly disappointing).  Perhaps this is also why the Dutch really don’t get into baking all that much (unless it’s from a packet, which doesn’t count!).  The term “food binge” means nothing to them.  And then there are the comments after “gouging” themselves on a bite sized sweet morsel.  Things like: “Wow this is delicious but very sweet, can’t eat too much of this!” or “Delicious but I feel like I now need to run a marathon” and the like.  And so, it seemed my mission was somewhat accomplished with these truffles.  They were loved by all … except me.  


My version of Jo Seagar’s rose water pistachio truffles include the addition of white chocolate and cranberries to give them a little more excitement.  They are incredibly easy to make, and make ideal gifts for any occasion.  But yes they come with a word of warning:  If you are interested in making a “sweet treat” that’s more exotic than sweet, then do try these out!  But if you really are more of a ooey gooey chocolate brownie kind of person, or someone who secretly enjoys scoffing down a whole tub of ice cream when no ones looking (the Dutch won’t even comprehend what I’m saying here) … then just maybe these aren’t the truffles for you :)


Rose Water, Cranberry & Pistachio Truffles
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200g white chocolate
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup roasted pistachio nuts (shelled)
2 cups desiccated coconut (gemalen kokos)
400g tin of condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice (or speculaas kruiden)
2 tablespoons rose water (available from the Toko or most Asian specialty food stores)
1/2 cup extra desiccated coconut for coating
Gently melt the white chocolate in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water.
Meanwhile, chop or cut up the dried cranberries into quarters.
Next, chuck the pistachio nuts and coconut into a food processor and blitz until the nuts are finely chopped.
Add the condensed milk, melted white chocolate, mixed spice (or speculaas kruiden), and rose water and process further until it forms a wet paste.
Add the chopped dried cranberries and combine into the mixture using your hands or a spoon.
With wet hands, roll the mixture into roughly 20 gram balls, covering in coconut as you go and placing onto a large plate or baking tray.
Refrigerate preferably overnight before devouring.
Adapted from Jo Seagar's recipe in "It's Easier Than You Think"
Adapted from Jo Seagar's recipe in "It's Easier Than You Think"
My Little Chequered Kitchen
Sweet NZ


This recipe is My Little Chequered Kitchen´s entry into May 2013´s Sweet New Zealand monthly blogging event which is hosted this month by After Taste.  For more information, see the Sweet New Zealand website.

Easy go-to chocolate cake …

Chocolate Cake 1

Everyone needs their own go-to chocolate cake recipe.  One that you almost know how to cook without following the recipe, and one that is easy to make, never fails, and covers all bases.  This recipe is my go-to chocolate recipe.  It’s not too moist, not too dry, incredibly simple to throw together, and seemingly impossible to get it wrong.  You can cut it in half and fill it with jam and cream, or slather the whole thing in sickly sweet butter cream icing.  Annabel Langbein drizzles hers with chocolate ganache.  My favourite, however, is simply dusting it with icing sugar and eating it as is.  Each to their own I say …

Chocolate Cake 4

You can easily make this cake using simply a wooden spoon and a large mixing bowl. But I like to throw everything into the food processor and blitz for a couple of seconds and then voila it’s done. Just make sure that the butter has been properly incorporated in the mixture.  If you butter isn’t soft enough, then you might want to break it up first into smaller pieces before adding to the rest of the ingredients and blitzing.   

If you’d like to see the original recipe on Annabel Langbein’s website, including a video watching her make it, then click here.  Interestingly enough, when I met Annabel in Amsterdam earlier this year, she told me that this recipe (The Ultimate Chocolate Cake) is one of her most popular and sought after recipes.  Once you’ve made it, you’ll understand why. 

Chocolate Cake 3


“The thing about cooking is … just to remember its about giving pleasure to people its not about being judged.” 

- Nigella Lawson, College Tour 2013, Amsterdam

Chocolate Cake 2


Easy go-to chocolate cake
Yields 1
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr
1 cup milk or unsweetened yoghurt
3 large eggs
1½ tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour (tarwebloem)
4½ tsp baking powder (bakpoeder)
2 cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda, sifted
200g butter, softened
1 cup boiling hot coffee
Pull out your butter well in advance so that it softens in time.
Heat oven to 160°C.
Using a 30cm round cake tin or 2 x 20cm round cake tins, grease the sides and line the base with baking paper.
Put all the ingredients into a food processor (preferably in the order as listed so that you don't scramble the eggs with the boiling hot coffee) and blitz until the ingredients are combined and the butter is fully incorporated (if your butter isn't soft enough then you can break it up into small pieces before blitzing). If you don't have a food processor, then you can mix the ingredients together by hand in a large bowl.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin or tins.
Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a cake rack.
You can dust the cake with icing sugar and eat while sill warm or leave it to cool completely before icing. This cake will keep for about a week in a sealed container in the fridge. You can also freeze it uniced.
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers Propoints Value per slice: 6 (when making two smaller cakes)
Adapted from The Ultimate Chocolate Cake
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Blueberry & Oat Muffins …

Blueberry Oaty Muffins 2

I’m embarrassed to admit that I first made these muffins thinking they might be a healthy treat to eat while on WeightWatchers.  I mean, they have blueberries which are known to be a superberry, and oats are considered a health food.  So these must be healthy right?  Wrong.  Although I suppose they contain more nutritional value than a plain muffin, they are still full of butter and sugar and so are worth around 10 ProPoints.  Oops!!

Blueberry Oaty Muffins 5

So now I’ve told you why you shouldn’t make these, but now I’m about to tell you why you should. They are quite simply delicious!  The oats provide a nutty texture and the brown sugar a slightly caramel flavour.  These are my go-to muffins, perfect for a picnic or a roadtrip.  Just not so handy if you are on a diet.  :)

Blueberry Oaty Muffins 4

I like to make my muffins using pieces of baking paper rather than muffin cases.  It allows you to make a bigger muffin and looks more rustic and modern.  Just simply cut out a square of baking paper about 10cm x 10cm and use a glass or anything round and about the same size as your muffin tin moulds to shape the paper.  Try and crease the paper so that it sits flat and flush against the glass, otherwise the muffin mixture will fill all the folds and look slightly strange.  When spooning the mixture into the cases, try to avoid getting too much of it on the paper, otherwise it will burn.    

Blueberry Oaty Muffins 3

This recipe comes from Lorraine Pascale’s “Fast, Fresh, & Easy Food” (available from Amazon here).   Try using other fruits as well as blueberries.  Blackberries or raspberries would be equally delicious.  But really the options are endless!  

Blueberry Oaty Muffinsipe Card

Blueberry & Oat Muffins
Yields 12
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
100g butter
300g flour
275g brown sugar
50g rolled oats (havermout vlokken)
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
200g fresh or frozen blueberries
300g creme fraiche
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
to garnish ...
25g rolled oats (havermout vlokken)
handful of blueberries
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Melt the butter in a small pot over a low heat. Leave to cool.
Cut out 12 squares from baking paper (about 10cm x 10cm) and use a glass the same size as your muffin tin moulds to push the paper into the mould and crease the paper tightly around the glass to create a paper case. Leave these aside ready to use later.
Pop the flour, sugar, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and mix together really well.
In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk, before adding the creme fraiche, and the melted butter and mixing well to combine.
Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients together with the blueberries and gently mix to combine (don't over mix otherwise the muffins will be tough).
Place the first paper case into a muffin mould and spoon in a little of the mixutre. Repeat until all the paper cases are full with even amounts of mixture.
Sprinkle the garnish (oats and blueberries) on top of each muffin.
Bake for 25 - 30 minutes - the tops should be golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the muffins should come out clean.
These muffins are equally delicious when eaten warm or cold. They will keep for a few days in an airtight container, and also freeze well.
Eet Smakelijk!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints value per muffin: 10
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Lemonade Scones …

Lemonade Scones

I know it’s been a little silent from me the last week, but it’s only because I’ve been working on this new look for my blog which I hope to have fully updated very soon!  

I’ve also purchased a Nikon DSLR camera which means the quality of my photos should improve at least a little.  However I know (or knew, as I’ve been cramming the past week and have learned so much!) little about photography so this is a new journey for me, in the hope to provide a more beautiful blog in the future!  (I note that these photos were taken a few weeks back now and so were not taken with my new camera).


However, today I wanted to share with you my all time favourite scone recipe.  These scones (from “The Best of Annabel Langbein Great Food for Busy Lives“) use lemonade to give them extra lightness. And above all, they are dead simple to make, and use only four ingredients!!  In New Zealand, we never use cookie cutters to cut our scones like the English do.  That’s just too refined for our tastes.  In our minds, scones should look a little ragged and rustic.  My favourite way of eating them is with whipped cream and jam.  The English use clotted cream which is now available in Jumbo supermarkets.  But they are equally good with some butter, and in my opinion, should be eaten warm or at the very least on the same day.  They are the perfect idea for a last minute or unplanned afternoon tea with friends.  I always make sure I have a couple of cans of lemonade on hand so that I can easily whip them up whenever I feel like it. 

Lemonade Scones
Yields 12
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600 gram (or 4 cups) plain flour (tarwebloem)
24 gram (or 2 tablespoons) baking powder (bakpoeder)
330 ml can of lemonade (i.e. Sprite)
1 cup (or 250 ml) of cream (slagroom)
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl.
Add the lemonade and cream and stir into the mixture until just combined. It's important not to over mix otherwise the scones will become tough. I like to use a spatula to gently fold the mixture together.
Sprinkle a little flour onto a large cutting board and place the scone dough on top. Press it out into a rectangular shape roughly 4cm thick. Cut the dough into even squares. You can always gently re-shape any of the corners into squares as well. But don't worry too much - they aren't supposed to be perfect!
Using your hands, pat each scone with a little flour. This gives them a rustic floury finish once baked. Place the scones spread apart onto a baking tray. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
Scones can be eaten while still warm or when completely cooled. Serve with jam and cream or simply butter.
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints Value per scone: 6
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Neenish Tarts …

IMAG1233_20130320191524588 - Copy - Copy

Another walk down memory lane … I seem to vividly remember that Mum and I would often make the trip to the Wainuiomata Cake Kitchen to buy neenish tarts and raspberry slices. Neenish tarts were always my particular favourite.  There was just something about the sickly sweet ooey gooey lemon filling and the half chocolate half white tops.  I would always eat the white side first.    


Neenish tarts are another New Zealand / Australian baked treat.  Although I think I may have to concede this time that the evidence points to them first being invented in Australia.  From what I have read, the Australian versions have a layer of jam inside and underneath the lemony filling.  I’ve never experienced this in New Zealand.  But even in New Zealand, no Neenish Tart is alike.  Often they are filled with a mock cream and contain no lemon.  But to date I’ve never been able to better those on offer by the Wainuiomata Cake Kitchen and the lemony goo in which they fill theirs with.   

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After doing some research, I found that most neenish tart recipes use condensed milk for the filling, including the perhaps most well known recipe from the Edmonds Cookbook.  I tried them, but the filling tasted too much like condensed milk. After quite some searching, I failed to find a recipe that would emulate the texture and flavour of those from my beloved Wainuiomata Cake Kitchen.  And so I set out to try and clone them by creating my own recipe. And I think these are pretty close. In fact they are so close, that I ended up devouring the whole batch myself!!  I felt so guilty afterwards that I began a diet …

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I like to make my neenish tarts in muffin tins as per the photo above in order to get a decent edge.  The trick to pushing the cut out rounds into the bottom of the moulds is to gently press the edges evenly until they sink and create the shape in the photo.  It’s easiest to do this when the pastry is warm and more malleable.  If you don’t have the patience for this, then you could just as easily use shallow patty tins which saves the hassle of pushing the delicate pastry rounds down into the moulds.  

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Neenish Tarts
Yields 24
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Sheets of Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (blog post coming soon!)
to make the filling ...
200g butter
1 cup caster sugar (fijne kristalsuiker)
grated rind & juice of 3 lemons
4 eggs
250g icing sugar (poedersuiker)
to make the icing ...
80g icing sugar (poedersuiker)
Cut the Sweet Shortcrust Pastry into rounds using a pastry cutter or a glass (or something similar). Push the cut out rounds gently into muffin tins or shallow patty tins - whatever you prefer. Prick the bottoms with a fork, then chuck the tins in the freezer for about 20 minutes (this helps to stop the pastry from rising in the oven).
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Melt the butter gently in a medium pot. Once melted, whisk in the sugar, lemon rind and eggs and continue whisking over medium heat until the lemon curd starts to boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Meanwhile pull the pastry shells out of the freezer and bake in the oven for about 13 minutes. Each oven is different, so you'll need to keep an eye on them. I like my pastry shells to be faintly golden.
Once the lemon mixture is cooled, add the icing sugar. The aim is to create a sort of loose paste. You can add more icing sugar if needed to get the desired thickness.
Once the pastry shells are baked, leave for a few minutes in the tins before taking them out allowing them to cool fully on a wire cake rack.
Once the pastry shells are cool, spoon the lemon mixture into them.
Finally, make two batches of the icing, one with added cocoa and one without (use about 40g of icing sugar for each). Add a couple of drops of milk to create a paste.
To ice the tarts, use something with a straight edge such as a ruler or mini bench scraper and hold at a 90 degree angle over the tart at the midway point. Spoon a small dab of the white icing onto one half of the tart, using the straight edge as a guide. I like to leave a little of the pastry edge showing.
Once you've finished icing the white halves, go back and this time you won't need to use a straight line to add the chocolate icing half as you can simply match it up with the edge of the white icing.
Leave to set before devouring.
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers Propoints Value: 8
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Raspberry Chocolate Fudge Brownies …

So I’ve been trying to find the ultimate Brownie, but it has proven to be more difficult than I thought. 

If you do a little bit of reading up in the world of food blogging, then you’ll quickly come across the name Nigel Slater.  Nigel is, I guess, what all us amateur cooks and food bloggers aspire to one day become.  I couldn’t actually believe how well his words resonated with me when I read his bio on his website, as Nigel’s views on food exactly mirror my own.  


As a newbie on the scene myself, I first came across Nigel’s name while researching Chocolate Brownie recipes, and it soon became apparent that Nigel’s Brownies have cemented their way into the Food Blogging Hall of Fame.   

So I had to make them of course. 


But I quickly struck a conundrum.  I had no butter left in the fridge and it was snowing outside while the temperature was hanging somewhere well below 0.  So clearly going to the supermarket wasn’t an option. 

But my craving for Chocolate Brownies just wouldn’t subside.

So, I did what anyone would do and decided to try and see if I could find a recipe for Brownies that didn’t use butter (yes I was that desperate!).  I came across this recipe on which uses coconut oil instead of butter.  This was perfect as I just so happened to have a tub of coconut oil in the cupboard for which I had limited use for and so this was the perfect opportunity to put it work. 

The author (sorry I couldn’t find your name!!) claims that her coconut oil recipe delivers a rich fudge-like Brownie unlike any other, and I think she might be onto something.  They are very fudgy and moist and received a huge thumbs up from Meneer Prins who very happily scoffed them down. 

And so although my craving for Chocolate Brownies was somewhat assuaged, I just couldn’t get my head around using any substitute for butter, and could swear that I could taste its absence.  And so of course, I was still super curious to try Mr Slater’s famed recipe and see just what the fuss is all about.  


On the surface of things, Nigel’s recipe simply reads like a dream.  It has real melted chocolate as well as a very decent amount of cocoa powder and a full packet of butter. And the end result was indeed decadently divine.  I was satisfied I had found the ultimate recipe, after all who am I to argue with the food blogging community? 

Until Meneer Prins decided that they weren’t as nice as the first lot (i.e. the batch with coconut oil) and were even decidedly dry.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  How could this be?? 



And so my search continued.  I asked around, and was told to try Donna Hay’s recipe, Martha Stewart’s, or Nigella Lawson’s.  But really, by now I was getting all brownied out and besides there were other sweet treats that I wanted to bake, and not only more Brownies.  Then the other day I stumbled across a blog post by The Amateur Gourmet.  He claimed to have found the perfect Chocolate Brownie.  By now of course I was becoming rather tired with words like “the best ever” when associated with Brownies, as I was beginning to think they just didn’t exist.  But something told me to try this one.  And so I did. 


First up, the method used for cooking these Brownies struck me as odd.  You add the butter, cocoa, sugar and salt to a metal bowl and put it over a pot of boiling water in order for the butter to melt and the mixture to warm.  This seemed unnecessary to me.  Why not just melt the butter nice and easy in the microwave and then add to the mixture?  But I kept my impatience in check and did what I was told.  Turns out, apparently what I was doing was “blooming” the cocoa powder and thereby intensifying it’s taste.  Yes, it’s completely new to me too!  To read more, have a look at David Lebovitz’s cocoa powder FAQ page here

The other quirk of this recipe, is that it takes you back to the good old days when Brownies contained only cocoa powder and not real chocolate.  According to The Amateur Gourmet, omitting real chocolate allows the Brownies to have more structure.


I also decided to put my own twist on these Brownies.  Although I consider myself a chocoholic, I’ve always found Chocolate Brownies just too much – they are so rich and gooey and sickly sweet.  The addition of tart raspberries seemed to be the perfect answer to combat all that sickly sweetness. 


And so to conclude:  Adam Roberts - I wholeheartedly agree.  These are the best Brownies of my life!  And I will NEVER make another Brownie without raspberries – the tang counteracts the sickly sweetness and unfortunately allowed me to down more pieces than I otherwise could.  Hmmm, perhaps adding raspberries wasn’t a good idea after all? 

But seriously, if you are looking for more of a cakey, less fudgy brownie, then do go and try Nigel Slater’s recipe.  I guarantee you’ll get your fix.  But if fudgy and slightly chewy is for you, forget adding real chocolate, start blooming your cocoa, and give these fantastic Brownies a go!  And don’t forget the raspberries … 

Raspberry Chocolate Brownies ...
Yields 18
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150g of butter
1 1/4 cups sugar (kristalsuiker)
3/4 cup (rounded) cocoa powder
1/4 tspn salt
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup flour (tarwebloem)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
punnet of raspberries
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Line a brownie tin with baking paper, letting the sides hang over a little so that it acts as a handle later on to pull the Brownie out. Spray the other sides briefly with oil to prevent from sticking.
Melt the butter in a bowl sitting over a pot of simmering water (bain marie).
When the butter has almost melted, add the sugar, cocoa and salt. Stir until it forms a paste. Keep stirring until the mixture is warmed through and the cocoa has had enough chance to bloom.
Add the vanilla, and the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously in between.
Finally add the flour and mix until fully incorporated. Finish off with 40 good mixing strokes (there isn't enough flour in the mixture for it to become over mixed .
Spread the mixture into the lined brownie tin. The mixture will be quite thick, so you'll need to spread it out with a palette knife or rubber spatula.
Gently press the washed whole raspberries halfway into the mixture, and sprinkle over with the chocolate chips.
Bake in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. You can check if it's ready by inserting a wooden skewer into the middle of the brownie. If it comes out mostly clean, then it's ready.
Once the brownie has cooled for a couple of minutes, pull it out and allow to fully cool on a wire cake rack.
Cut into squares, and enjoy!!!
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints values per serve: 5
Adapted from Alice Medrich
Adapted from Alice Medrich
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Belgium Biscuits …

A New Zealander may not immediately link Belgium Biscuits with Valentines Day, but I was searching for an original idea (I was determined not to go down the decorated cup cake route) when I remembered that Belgium Biscuits had been on my list to make for a while now. I mean, they fit the criteria right?  They’re pink, filled with jam, and these ones are cute miniature versions.  Perfect!

For those of you who aren’t from New Zealand, a little history lesson might be in order.  Belgium Biscuits are another baked Kiwi classic, although I admit that I’ve only ever tried the store-bought versions.  They evolved from the (Scottish) Empire Biscuits which traditionally are made from two plain biscuits being sandwiched together with jam, and covered in white icing and a glace cherry (or something similar).  However, the New Zealand Belgium Biscuit differs slightly in that the biscuit is made with a cinnamon spice mix (reminiscent of Dutch Speculaas cookies) and are usually covered in pink glace icing.

So what has this got to do with Belgium you may ask?  Absolutely nothing!  Both the Belgium and the Empire biscuit were originally called German Biscuits, but during the First World War, the name was changed to either Empire or Belgium as, of course, it suddenly became very unpopular for anything to be associated with Germany.

The classic Belgium Biscuit recipe can be found in The Edmond’s Cookbook (the quintessential New Zealand cookbook) and there aren’t, it seems, many variations on this recipe in existance.  I did find a couple of recipes which use a more buttery cookie dough, and thereby producing a more classic “cookie”.  But for me, a Belgium Biscuit is at its best when made with a dry, crumbly biscuit which complements the gooeyness of the jam filling and the super sweet glace icing.  I therefore still swear by the original Edmond’s recipe. 

I do also have to mention that this recipe is slightly fiddly and time consuming.  But then a Valentine’s gift wouldn’t be the same if it hadn’t taken some effort right?  They take quite some time to assemble and you need a little bit of skill when dealing with the biscuit dough and cutting out the cookie shapes.  However, the advantage of a cookie dough that contains less butter is that you don’t have to worry as much about the dough getting too warm and soft to handle and the rounds spreading in the oven.  This biscuit dough is pretty user-friendly.

Belgium Biscuits
Yields 24
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to make the biscuit ...
125g butter softened at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar (basterdsuiker)
1 large egg
2 cups flour (tarwebloem)
1 tspn baking powder (bakpoeder)
1 tspn cinnamon (kaneel)
1 tspn ground ginger (gemberwortel gemalen)
1 tspn mixed spice (or koek & speculaas kruiden)
1 tspn cocoa (cacaopoeder)
to make the icing ...
1 cup icing sugar (poedersuiker)
1/4 tspn vanilla essence
a tiny amount of red food colouring or paste
filling ...
raspberry or strawberry jam
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer until light and fluffy in texture.
Add in the egg and continue beating until incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients to a separate bowl (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice and cocoa) and mix until combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and combine until it forms a firm dough.
Turn the dough out onto a piece of baking paper. Press to form a round flat circle and then place another sheet of baking paper on top. Roll the dough out until it is roughly 3mm thick.
Cut out the biscuits using a cookie cutter (it's up to you how big. My mini versions as pictured were made using a 1 1/2 inch cookie cutter).
Peel away the unused dough and roll out in order to cut out more rounds. Keep doing this until you have no more dough left.
Depending on how warm it is in your kitchen, you might want to put the rounds in the fridge for 10 minutes before baking in the oven to ensure they keep their shape.
Lay the rounds out on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Watch them carefully as you don't want them too brown!
Cool the biscuits on a cake rake. Once cool, spread the icing on half of them, and spread jam on the others. Sandwich the biscuits together and eat!
Eet Smakelijk!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatcher ProPoints value per yield: 4
Adapted from Edmond's Cookbook
Adapted from Edmond's Cookbook
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Strawberry, Macadamia & White Chocolate Fudge …

I think I’ve discovered heaven. 

I got the idea when buying my dried fruit in Maastricht just before Christmas in order to make my Christmas cake and fruit mince pies.  There was this stall on the edge of the main square selling the most amazing array of dried fruits imaginable.  And among the selection were these incredibly sumptuous and flavorsome semi-dried strawberries. The lady let me sample one, and from that moment on I knew I was in love.


I have been a huge fan of Jo Seagar’s fudge recipe for a long time (found in her cookbook “The Cook School Recipes” and unfortunately only available in New Zealand as far as I can tell).  The magic ingredient that makes her fudge so divinely smooth is liquid glucose.  In New Zealand, liquid glucose is available at any good pharmacy.  In the Netherlands, you can find it at various specialty stores.  Here in Lelystad, the local chocolatier sells it in a big plastic tub.  


Jo Seagar suggests various flavor combinations to use with the fudge base, including “ginger & walnut” or “apricots, macadamia & Grand Mariner.  For me personally, none of these combinations inspired me very much (I’m not a fan of crystallized ginger, and dried apricots just seemed too ‘meh’).  But when I saw the semi-dried strawberries in Maastricht, I knew I had found a combination that would be to die for.  


Any fudge recipe will tell you that it’s important that you keep stirring the mixture and scraping the bottom of the bowl so that it doesn’t catch and burn.  Now I’m a very impatient cook, and I’m not prepared to spend forever waiting for the fudge to boil.  And yes, every time that I cook this fudge, I get little bits of brown stuff forming meaning that it’s catching slightly on the bottom of the pot.  However, I’ve found that if you keep stirring, the bits seem to disappear and the finished product contains no brown bits at all.  So my word of advice – don’t panic if you start seeing little brown flecks in your mixture while you stir and wait for it to boil!  In saying that, you do need to be a little bit careful – obviously if the heat is too high, then it really will catch and burn on the bottom.   

This fudge makes such a wonderful home-made gift, and not only for Valentine’s Day.  Just wrap the pieces up in some clear cellophane, tie a ribbon around it and voila! - a handmade gift that’s cheap and delicious. 

Strawberry, Macadamia & White Chocolate Fudge
Yields 64
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2x 400g tins of condensed milk (gecondeseerde melk)
3 tbsp golden syrup (now sold at Jumbo!!)
100ml liquid glucose syrup
2 cups white sugar (kristalsuiker)
250g butter
400g white chocolate
1 tspn vanilla essence
1/2 cup semi-dried strawberries
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
Line a deep baking tray, brownie tin or square/rectangle cake tin with baking paper, ensuring that some of the paper overlaps the edge so that you can use it as a handle to pull out the finished fudge.
In a food processor, gently process the macadamia nuts. You want a few bigger pieces left, while the rest becomes soft and flaky.
Using kitchen scissors, cut up most of the strawberries into smaller pieces, leaving a handful aside.
Layer the bottom of your tin with the strawberries and macadamia, using a mixture of the smaller flakes and the bigger pieces (see picture).
Put the rest of the ingredients into a pot, and stir over a medium heat until the sugars dissolve and the butter melts.
While continuously stirring the mixture to stop/minimize the bottom from catching, you want to bring the mixture to the "soft ball" stage. (i.e. approximately 116 degrees Celsius) You can either do this by using a temperature gauge as pictured, or else once the mixture starts to boil rapidly and thickens, spoon a tiny amount into a glass of iced water. If the drop of fudge turns into a rough ball of firm fudge, then the mixture is ready. If it's still liquid and falls through your fingers, then you haven't yet reached soft-ball stage (i.e. 116 degrees Celsius).
Once the mixture reaches soft-ball stage, remove from the heat and wait for the bubbles to subside. Add the remaining strawberries and pour the mixture into the lined tin. Use a spatula to smooth the mixture and leave to cool for about 3 hours. Then transfer to the fridge.
Once fully cooled, cut the fudge into pieces.
Eet Smakelijk!!!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints value per piece: 3
Adapted from Jo Seagar
Adapted from Jo Seagar
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Ginger Gems …


I’ve been looking for a quick and easy recipe that I can whip up in a matter of minutes and eat straightaway – you know, for those moments when you feel like something comforting, sweet and yes not particularly healthy – and you don’t want to spend an hour making it and even longer waiting for it to cool.  I felt that way today while I was working from home.  I only had a small window around lunchtime to make something, but was sick of the Capsicum Soup sitting in the fridge which I had been eating every day for lunch.  Then I remembered the good ol’ Kiwi classic Ginger Gems!

Ginger Gems are mini ginger (gember) cakes, with a crunchy outside and a fluffy melt-in-the-mouth inside.  They seem to orginate from New Zealand, and were a popular afternoon tea treat back-in-the-day.  The best thing about them though, is that they take 10 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes in the oven, and then you eat them while they are still piping hot (with lashings of butter)!

Traditionally, they are cooked in cast iron baking tins (called Gem Irons) which even in New Zealand are very hard to find.  The advantage of using Gem Irons is that they are made from cast-iron which retains heat well.  This is the trick to baking a successful Ginger Gem.  I, however, use a standard non-stick baking tin that I found when I was still living in New Zealand and managed to ship back to the Netherlands.  My tin produces bigger Ginger Gems than what is deemed traditional, and doesn’t have the rounded base.  But to be honest, I prefer my bigger versions!  If you don’t have a tin with rectangle indents/moulds like mine, then regular round muffin tins are also fine. Just make sure that you pop the the tin in the oven while it’s heating up so that it’s nice and hot when you spoon the batter in.


Ginger Gems
Yields 8
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20g butter (roomboter, gezouten)
1/2 cup brown sugar (donkere basterd suiker)
1 cup plain flour (patentbloem)
1 tsp ground ginger (gemberwortel gemalen)
1/2 tsp Silvo Koek & Speculaas kruiden (or mixed spice)
1 tsp baking powder (bakpoeder)
1 large egg
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp baking soda (found at your local Toko)
Pre-heat the oven to 210°C and place your Ginger Iron or muffin tin in the oven to heat.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.
Meanwhile, measure out the rest of the dry ingredients into a bowl (flour, ground ginger, spice, baking powder - not the baking soda).
Crack the egg into the creamed sugar and butter and add the maple syrup. Beat for a few minutes.
Meanwhile mix the baking soda with the milk in small bowl or glass.
Take the bowl away from the mixer, and pour in the milk mixed with baking soda. Stir gently to combine.
Sift in the dry ingredients and using a spatular, mix to combine until most of the lumps are gone (do not overmix).
Take our your heated tin from the oven and divide the mixture into each mould using a large spoon or ladle.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden and slightly crunchy on the outside.
Eat straight away with butter (I recommend using Latta!) Otherwise, cooled Ginger Gems are also delicious with whipped cream and a dusting of icing sugar (poeder suiker).
Eet Smakelijk!!
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints per yield: 4
My Little Chequered Kitchen