January 30, 2012

Rosy poached white peach in vanilla syrup

Pink and rosy, these peaches are sweet cheeks of summer fruit, which make a gorgeous treat especially when poached in perfumed vanilla syrup. I served mine with some organic sheep's milk yogurt and honey although it's equally scrumptious on top of muesli for a sumptuous breakfast. The romantic colours of the syrup and fruit lends itself to the perfect date night treat, and I may be hinting at a Valentine's Day dessert contender.

This dish is simple to make and takes very little time - and what is even better, it doesn't require perfectly ripened fruit as we all know that the search for soft juicy peaches can be a little tricky even in the ideal months for choosing. The harder the fruit, the longer you will need to simmer the flesh to soften and swell. The peaches I used were a little soft and only took a few minutes on both sides (you delicately spin the fruit over while cooking).

Rosy Poached White Peach in Vanilla syrup

Less than 100 calories per serve :)

2 white peaches
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of sugar (or 3 tablespoons of sweetener - I use Natvia)
1/2 a vanilla bean with seeds scraped out or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
optional: a generous splash of sweet wine (I used pinot grigio for France, which is very fruity)


Halve the peaches, twisting around the stone to release the fruit. If done easily, pull out the stone. If the fruit is quite hard, leave the stone in while cooking and remove later when the fruit is soft. Simmer the water, sugar, vanilla and wine until all sugar is dissolved and the syrup is mildly bubbling. Gently place in the fruit, skin side up. Poach for a few minutes then delicately turn over to the flesh side. Simmer for a few more minutes, until the peach is soft.

Remove the fruit and continue to simmer the syrup for 30 minutes or so until it thickens. You may like to transfer this to a saucepan and reduce the liquid to simmer down to a much richer syrup. I prefer to have more of the gorgeous pink juice as it can be used for so many other recipes. It's too beautiful to waste!

Serve with yogurt or ice cream, drizzled with a little vanilla honey. Bliss.

January 28, 2012

Low GI sugar-free skinny oatmeal raisin cookies

These delicious cookies are gluten-free and have no butter or sugar. Despite missing the usual ingredients of a cookie recipe, these are still moist and crunchy on the outside. Whip up a batch of these and you won't feel as though you are missing out on anything. I like to prepare a batch for my late-night cookie cravings to accompany a nice hot mug of chamomile tea.

Skinny Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2 tablespoons of macadamia butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons of raisins
1 cup of wholemeal spelt flour
1/4 cup of quick oats
splash of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of natural sweetener (natvia is the one I use)

Beat together macadamia butter, olive oil, egg, sweetener and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour, raisins and oats. You may want to add a little splash of water if the mixture seems a little dry and is not quite sticking together. Once the dough is starting to take shape, knead very lightly into a ball. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a spoonful of the mixture and roll into balls. Flatten a little on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Bake for 20 minutes in a moderate oven, until they are golden browned.

Take out a let cool completely on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 10 cookies.

January 27, 2012

Carb-free banana pancakes

These pancakes are Blake Lively's favourite breakfast treat. Containing no flour, these pancakes are dairy and gluten-free and a great way to start your day with protein but still eat something sweet.

Carb-free Banana Pancakes

Serves two.

Contains 200 calories per serve (without syrup added to serve).


4 eggs (2 whole and 2 egg whites)
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 mashed banana
1 teaspoon of natural sweetener
1 teaspoon of olive oil
Olive oil spray


Mash the banana and add in the eggs, whipping together. Add in salt, cinnamon, vanilla, sweetner and oil.

Heat the pan to low heat an spray with oil. Pour mixture of either side of the pan to make two pancakes. This will leave half the mixture to make another two once these are cooked. Once the pancakes are cooked on one side (they will be bubbling and curling on the side) turn over and finish cooking for a few more minutes. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Serve with sugar-free maple syrup.

If you like this breakfast recipe, check out some of my other recipes for breakfast treats like sugar-free poached fruit or fresh almond milk.

Sweet and salty crunchy slice

This is the ultimate chocolate slice that sets off explosions in your mouth of sweetness, crunch and a hint of saltiness. The combinations are heavenly and this is a treat to whip up for a party (yes you will impress all) or to use as a gift for someone extra special. This recipe came from Nigella, who devised the recipe after snacking on salted peanuts and chocolate simultaneously. I don't know of anyone else who would admit to doing that late at night but I will thank her for it because this recipe is great. Although, I will issue a slight warning - very addictive. Best to make this with the intention to give most of it away...

Sweet and salty crunchy slice


  • 200 grams of milk chocolte
  • 200 grams of dark chocolate
  • 150 grams of organic butter
  • 4 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 1 packet of salted roasted peanuts
  • 1 large Crunchie bar
  • 1 oven foil tin


  1. Melt the butter, chocolate and golden syrup on low heat in a small saucepan. Once melted and mixed together, take off the heat and mix in peanuts and crush in the Crunchie bar. Immediately pour into the foil tray and smooth down with a spatula.
  2. Cover with clingfilm and put on a flat surface in the freezer or fridge. The freezer will obviously cut down setting time (which is four hours in the fridge.)
  3. Once set, cut up into squares with a sharp knife. I like to individually wrap each piece in foil and store in a container in the freezer (I think they taste better cold from the freezer but this is personal preference.)

Nigella Lawson - what is a domestic goddess

The trouble with much modern cooking is not that the food it produces isn’t good, but that the mood it induces in the cook is one of skin-of-the-teeth efficiency, all briskness and little pleasure. Sometimes that's the best we can manage, but at other times we don’t want to feel like a post-modern, post-feminist, overstretched woman but, rather, a domestic goddess, trailing nutmeggy fumes of baking pie in our languorous wake.

So what I’m talking about is not being a domestic goddess exactly, but feeling like one. One of the reasons making cakes is satisfying is that the effort required is so much less than the gratitude conferred. Everyone seems to think it's hard to make a cake (and no need to disillusion them), but it doesn’t take more than 25 minutes to make and bake a tray of muffins or a sponge layer cake, and the returns are high: you feel disproportionately good about yourself afterwards.

This is what baking, what all of this book, is about: feeling good, wafting along in the warm, sweet-smelling air, unwinding, no longer being entirely an office creature; and that’s exactly what I mean when I talk about ‘comfort cooking’.

Part of it too is about a fond, if ironic, dream: the unexpressed ‘I’ that is a cross between Sophia Loren and Debbie Reynolds in pink cashmere cardigan and fetching gingham pinny, a weekend alter-ego winning adoring glances and endless approbation from anyone who has the good fortune to eat in her kitchen.

The good thing is, we don’t have to get ourselves up in Little Lady drag and we don’t have to renounce the world and enter into a life of domestic drudgery. But we can bake a little - and a cake is just a cake, far easier than getting the timing right for even the most artlessly casual of midweek dinner parties.

This isn’t a dream; what’s more, it isn’t even a nightmare.

- Nigella Lawson

January 26, 2012

Skinny lamington cupcake for Australia Day

Lamington cupcakes

BBQ'ed lamb

Chargrilled marinated tofu

Each year Aussies get together to celebrate all things Australian - lamingtons, BBQs, beer and sun. This year, all that was missing was the sun as Brisbane has been plunged into damp and dark weather for a week now. Not letting that dampen our spirits, we set about to create our Australia Day feast.

I made skinny gluten-free lamington cupcakes, which were absolutely delectable and all were impressed with the cupcake's spongey light texture. Since I was staying at my mum's house for the holiday, I didn't have all my baking supplies so I bought a cake mix. Although I don't usually stoop to this level, I chose an organic gluten-free vegan mix by Orgran and was curious to see how it would turn out. Making the cake mix with organic butter, free-range eggs and rice milk, adding a little extra vanilla essence to pump up the flavour. The cakes rose beautifully and turned golden, but stayed wonderfully moist and sponge-like in the centre. I was very impressed. I covered the cakes in my lamington icing, which I made with 2 tablespoons of cocoa, 1/2 cup of icing sugar, 1 tablespoon of butter and hot water to adjust the consistency. I then sprinkled the finished cakes with dessicated coconut. Delicious!

The boys also took full advantage of the chance to BBQ, grilling lamb cutlets and agreeing to add on some marinated tofu, gasp! Despite being true meat lovers, they tried and tested the tofu and went back for seconds, concurring it was actually really tasty. Marinating the tofu in soy, ginger and honey gave it a wonderfully burnished finish after grilling and a crunchy golden layer protecting the soft tofu inside. You must add some to your next BBQ - tofu was born for the grill.

Hope you celebrated the day in style x

January 22, 2012

Low-fat cherry banana bread

This sweet banana bread is moist with bursts of swollen cherries that act like splodges of jam. Perfect afternoon treat, my favourite parts are the crunchy toffee edges.

January 14, 2012

How to make delicious juices at home for under 100 calories

It is that kind of morning; you wake up with that queasy feeling, your head is throbbing and your mouth is as dry as sawdust. Of course, this may or may not be due to the fact you had a few too many wines, helpings of the cheese platter and chemistry-defying Lindt balls the night before. But that beside the point, I find there is a way to quell these ill feelings. It's time for some rehydration and a much needed vitamin dose.

Juicing is one of my favourite ways to start the morning, hang over or not. I like to use mainly vegetables because they have a lower calorie content and add a small amount of fruit in for added flavour. Ginger, lime or lemon are also staples for my favourite juices and can spice up any flavour combination.

Here is a picture of what I came up with this morning and it was delicious. So delicious in fact, my partner happily joined me in a glass, despite the fact he has numerously declared he hates 'vegie' juice.

The bright orange colour has led me to entitle this combination my Sunrise Special. Don't laugh, it is fitting!

Sunrise Special Juice

(serves 2)

* 2 carrots
* 3 sticks of celery
* 1/2 lime (keep other half for wedges in the juice)
* 1/2 punnet of strawberries
* 1 green apple

Cut the fruit up to the requirements of your juicer - mine is a super juicer that can handle whole apples and fascinates my partner being that of an engineer.

Serve on ice and enjoy!

Tori Spelling posted this juice idea on her website ediTORIal.

Stress Reliever
To Juice or Not to Juice

2 big handfuls of spinach
3-4 stalks broccoli
3-4 stalks celery
1 larger or 2 small carrots

January 12, 2012

Cheers to the weekend.... with strawberry daiquiries

A photo taken from the Four Seasons in Chiang Mai Thailand 

To finish the work week, indulge in a fresh fruity cocktail. When I went to Thailand a few years ago, I am quite sure I drank my body weight in strawberry daiquiris. These cocktails are very easy to make and because of the high fruit content, the effects of the dehydrating alcohol are somewhat offset...

Despite the questionable health properties, to make these drinks, you will first need a blender and some fresh fruit of your choice. My favourites are mango and strawberry combinations.

Strawberry Daiquiri

*50ml of white rum
*10ml freshly squeezed lime juice
*6 ripe strawberries
*1 cup of ice

Serves 1

Put all ingredients into a blender and let the blades do their work to crush the strawberries and ice into a sweet sludge. Add a little sweetner if you think it needs a pick-me-up. If the strawberries are very ripe and in season, they probably won't need any help.

Serve in a stylish martini glass and if you like, add a strawberry or slice of lime perched on the side of the glass. Enjoy!

Gwyneth's goop

Goop may be a rather unappealing name for a lifestyle website but Gwyneth's blog 'Goop' does have some good ideas on clean living and cooking. Recently Gwyneth posted a list of healthy recipes to put you on good track for 2012 and to attempt to eradicate some of those extra kgs accumulated during the holiday season.

Here are some selected recipes from her recent post.

Ivy Chopped Salad Reinterpreted

Makes 2

1 large avocado
3 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ⅓-inch-thick slices
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts only
2 chicken breast or salmon fillets (6 oz each)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
coarse salt
2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated, cut into thick strips
⅓ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, roughly torn
1 lime, quartered

Clean Balsamic & Lime Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper

Whisk vinegar with brown rice syrup and lime juice in a bowl. Slowly whisk in oil; add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-low heat. Rub zucchini, scallions and chicken or salmon with oil; sprinkle with salt. Grill vegetables and protein for about 20 minutes until browned and cooked through, flipping once. Cut zucchini and scallions into a medium dice. Slice avocado in half, discard pit and dice. Break chicken or salmon into large pieces. Toss grilled vegetables with lettuce, avocado, cilantro and basil; place on a large platter and top with salmon. Drizzle with vinaigrette; serve with lime quarters.

Smoked Paprika Hummus

(pictured above)

Makes about 3 cups

1 cup dried chickpeas, or 2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons smoked paprika, plus more for garnish
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1⁄3 cup tahini
optional garnishes: roasted red bell peppers, roasted garlic, lemon slices, olives, mint or parsley sprigs

If using dried chickpeas, put them in a saucepan or bowl and add cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Soak in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse.

Put the chickpeas in a saucepan and add cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat, cover, and simmer until the chickpeas are tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Drain and let cool, reserving ¼ to ½ cup of the cooking water.

Combine the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, parsley, olive oil, and tahini in a bowl and stir to mix well. Transfer the mixture to a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until well mixed. Add ¼ cup of the reserved cooking liquid (or water or vegetable stock if using canned chickpeas) and process until smooth and almost fluffy. Add more liquid if necessary. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The hummus can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before serving.)

To serve, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the hummus and sprinkle a bit of paprika. Serve with desired garnishes.

Decadent royal scones and home-made cherry jam

Do as the Royals do and indulge yourself in tea and a sumptuous scone. I must confess, this scone recipe does not qualify as a skinny sweet. I did use thickened cream as an ingredient and double thickened cream as a topping....need I say more...but I have also devised a skinny sweet counterpart for this recipe. Check out my skinny scone version here.

What made these scones even more delicious was the accompaniment of my home made cherry jam (and yes, some gorgeous fresh cream). Making my cherry jam is very simple and is well worth the little extra effort. As a child, I remember loathing the chunky bits of strawberry in the jam on my toast. My cherry jam is a little chunky but instead of chewy over-processed strawberries, the jam is filled with juicy cherries which have a slightly sour edge, balancing the sweetness of the jam itself. The combination is truly delightful.

This is a fabulous recipe to serve at an afternoon tea with girlfriends, to make as a treat for your family or to serve as a special dessert, adding the jam and cream to create a take on the strawberry shortcake. I call them my Royal Scones because there is nothing more British than a scone and these ones are the creme de la creme of their category.

Decadent Royal Scones


*3.5 cups of self-raising flour
*300 ml of thickened cream
*250 ml of organic lemonade


Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the fizzy lemonade and drizzle over the cream. To mix together, cut through the mixture with a blunt knife until all the ingredients start to come together. Then lightly flour your hands to begin gently kneading the dough until a soft ball forms. If the dough seems a little too sticky, don't worry, just add a sprinkle more of flour until the right consistency is achieved. The key here is to not overmix the dough, treat it with loving respect and the outcome will be light fluffy scones. This is not the time to pound out your frustrations, or your scones will be rubbery and hard enough to be quite the weapon if throw with a good arm. Although if you are feeling particularly angry, this might be the exact scone you are after...

Roll out your ball of dough quite thickly onto a lightly floured surface. I cover my kitchen bench with two pieces of cling film, which is easy to wrap up and throw away the mess when you are finished. Using a knife, cut your dough mixture into rough squares (or whatever shape eventuates). I made ten scones from this recipe.

Bake in a hot oven (200 degrees) for about 10 - 15 minutes, until the scones have risen and coloured golden.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once cool, wrap in foil to keep fresh and leave them on the kitchen bench - your family will happily help themselves!

Cherry Jam


*1 tin of stoned cherries in natural juice (mine was 350 g)
*1/2 packet/50 g of jam setta (or whatever jam sugar you can find)
*250 g of white sugar
*1/2 a vanilla pod

Note: The idea with jam is to equal the quantity of fruit with the quantity of sugar. I use less white sugar in this recipe because the jam setta is very sugary tasting and after experimenting with quantities, I think this is the best balance. I prefer my jam to not taste too sweet.


In a large saucepan, add the cherries and juice, sugar and jam setta. Turn the heat on high. Halve your vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the saucepan, then add the pod, which you will remove before storing your jam.

Bring jam to the boil then let vibrantly simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly. You can now transfer your jam mixture to a jar/jars of your choice, remembering to take out the vanilla pod. I use recycled jars from around the house. To steralise your jar, make sure you have run it through the dishwasher first. Once you have poured the jam into your jar, seal tightly and refrigerate. Be careful not to let the jam stick to your skin during this process, it will still be molten hot and thus be quite painful....

January 11, 2012

Cool blue tones for the hot summer days

For those of you that live in the Southern Hemisphere, you will know all too well of the scorching heat that January brings. As I was browsing through the Chanel beauty store, I found a deliciously refreshing range of new nail polishes, all in different hues of blue. I felt inspired to adorn my nails with these cool shades instead of warm oranges, reds and pinks. An added bonus is that the navy blue matches my gym wardrobe, and as I often say, any way to inspire oneself to schedule in a gym session should be welcomed.

January 08, 2012

Tia maria spiked ginger cookies

These drunken gingerbreads are crisp on the edges and soft in the middle with a luxurious hint of coffee liqueur. I made them for my mother who was feeling down after a rocky Christmas and they seemed to cheer everyone up. The combination of coffee and ginger was a sure mood booster and I chose cookie cutters in butterflies and flowers.

The Lady Gaga lifestyle - how does GaGa stay in shape?

My mum gave me the most fabulous Christmas present - the Lady Gaga Terry Richardson photo book. Immerse yourself in the world of Lady Gaga as world-class photographer Terry Richardson is thrown into the Gaga lifestyle, documenting his steps through the popstar's routine.

What I liked the most about the book was the revealing of the real girl behind the Gaga persona. Snapshots of her enjoying dinner and sweating in a yoga session - well she has to burn off that steak after all! Although I must say, most of the book boasts more shots of her famous Gaga antics, such as writhing on stage covered in blood or wearing raw meat as couture. But whatever she is doing, each shot is gorgeous, and the girl can do no wrong. Flick through the pages to get a glimpse of the Gaga lifestyle and dare to take a step in those sky high shoes.

January 05, 2012

Selena Gomez reassesses her diet

Selena Gomez has a gorgeous figure and shows it off in her film clips for 'Like a Love Song' and 'Hit the Lights'. As her music career has begun to really take off, Selena's energy and health has become crucial. When Selena recently was hospitalised for exhaustion, she realised her diet was a contributing factor to her illness.

She admitted needing to cut back on junk food."I do eat. The problem is I don't eat right. I love everything that's possibly not good for me. I was a stubborn kid, so I got to eat whatever I wanted. I have to have creamed spinach or cheese on my broccoli. I have to have something that makes it not healthy. "I love M&Ms, Kit Kats, Snickers and Goobers at the movies."

While obviously these types of foods do not affect the weight of 18-year-old Selena, it obviously affects her energy levels and overall health. It is a reminder that despite your weight, there are many other motivations for eating healthfully. Transforming your favourite foods into healthier alternatives is key to permanently changing your lifestyle.

Go to skinny sweets and treats for healthy and fun recipes like carb-free pancakes, low-fat banana bread, skinny gingerbread cookies and reduced-fat lush chocolate cake.

Brooke Burke's workout

Brooke is famous for her phenomenal figure and to maintain her enviable frame, she keeps super fit and healthy. She has released a series of workout DVDs to follow her at-home routines, which she explains can be done anywhere and in under 30 minutes.

Brooke emphasises dedication is an important factor for staying in shape. "It's so easy to procrastinate, but I always make health and fitness a priority in my life," Brooke says. No matter how hectic her schedule, she always fits in her workout. It's the part of her day that balances her mind, body and spirit.

Check out Brooke demonstrating her favourite butt workout.

How to make fresh almond milk

This rich and natural milk alternative is my favourite dairy milk replacement. When I first realised I needed to give up dairy to gain improved digestive balance, I wasn't sure what type of milk replacement to choose. Years later, I have tried all different types, including oat milk, soy milk, rice milk and almond milk. These are all natural products and I do find them all pleasant tasting.

I do love the fact that you can make your own almond milk at home. Almond milk has many health properties and makes a nutritious alternative to dairy because almonds are naturally packed in calcium. Gwenyth Paltrow is a big fan of almond milk and on her Goop website (a healthy lifestyle site) she recently featured this recipe to make it at home. As she insists, it is really, really easy!

Almond milk makes a great addition to smoothies, porridge and baking recipes.

Almond Milk

* 1 cup raw almonds
* water

Soak the raw almonds in the 2 cups of water for 2-8 hours or over night. Strain, rinse well, then add to blender with 3 cups of fresh water. Blend for 45 seconds, until the almonds are broken down.

Strain though a fine mesh strainer.

Store milk in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

January 04, 2012

Headscarves to style up your gym attire

Be inspired by the old Hollywood style to infuse some fashion into your gym wardrobe. Think Audrey Hepburn and Nicole Richie. Hottest prints of the moment are in safari colours and bright summer hues.

Hilary Duff's pregnancy pilates

Showing other moms-to-be how to get it done when it comes to staying fit during pregnancy, Lizzy McGuire star and expectant mom Hilary Duff was spotted at her favorite LA-area Pilates studio, looking ready for a prenatal workout in stretchy black pants, sneakers, and a loose white T-shirt—so baggy that it made her baby bump seem barely there. We like Duff's approach to dressing comfortably while exercising (plus sneakers help you keep your balance when you're pregnant), but what we really applaud is her choice of prenatal workout.

A series of stretching, toning, and resistance exercises, Pilates zeroes in on toning and building strength in the body's core muscles, including the abdominals, back, and pelvic floor—the very muscles that can help naturally support a more comfortable pregnancy and delivery. According to Pilates expert Marguerite Ogle, another great reason to do Pilates in pregnancy is that Pilates is very adaptable. "Most Pilates exercises can be modified as your body [changes during pregnancy]. The modifications help you keep the intent of the exercise, but adjust the form to work for your body," she writes about the exercise for About.com.

January 01, 2012

Low-fat Christmas cupcakes

Me and my family have just finished devouring the last of these special Christmas cupcakes. Inspired from a Nigella recipe, these cupcakes have a slightly bready texture and a rich flavour of ginger and dark chocolate. With the Christmas gifts pouring in by the time I whipped up this batch, I used what I had started accumulating in my fridge to make these decorative cakes (bountiful quantities of Baci chocolates!).

The royal icing makes for a beautiful shiny finish with a delicate crunch and I topped mine with mini Santa Claus decorations I bought online. This icing will also keep your cakes fresher for longer as it adds a protective layer to the cake inside.

The Ultimate Christmas Cupcake


* 1 cup of plain flour (or gluten-free all purpose flour)
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* 60 grams of organic butter
* 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
* 2 large organic eggs
* 1/4 cup of sugar-free ginger ale
* 8 Baci chocolate crushed (substitute for whatever chocolate you prefer or have in the pantry - keeping in mind the darker chocolate flavour works best)

Royal Icing:

* 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar
* 1 egg white
* 1 teaspoon of lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and lightly grease 12 muffin cups. I like to use the silicone trays as the cakes pop out easily when cooked.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift the flour, baking powder and soda. Add half the flour mixture to the butter and sugar, beating consistently. Add one egg and ginger ale, then beat in remaining flour mixture. Beat in the last egg, then add the ground ginger. Finally, crush in the chocolates and mix thoroughly.

Bake for 30 minutes and when browned on top and cooked through, let rest for 5 minutes before flipping out onto a wire rack to cool.

While cooling, make the royal icing. To do this, simply sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and whip in the egg white and lemon juice. Mix at a fast pace for 5 - 7 minutes, or until the icing is thick and fluffy.

When the cakes are cooled, cover the cakes with the luxurious royal icing. I like to cover mine thickly. Add any decoration you like - I used icing Santas. Gold or silver baubles would look great too. Leave the icing to dry for a few hours, until hard and shiny.