There are certain things about Cape Town that will keep me here forever and makes me banish any thought of ever leaving. My family and extended family are all here (with the exception of my brother and his unit, who resides in the UK), Table Mountain and the ocean, and the magical spirit of Ramadaan which is captured in a very unique way in this part of the world.
There’s a very distinct atmosphere during this holy month; an atmosphere I imagine can’t be duplicated elsewhere, and can be beaten, perhaps, only by the Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah…there’s the early morning recitation at the mosques that can clearly be heard from the comfort of our home; the call to prayer can be heard from the numerous mosques that surround our area, just by opening our back door…and the kindred spirit of sharing, the exchanging of bortjies with our neighbours, family and friends…
It is a simple tradition, probably adopted from the holy cities itself, where sharing whatever humble meal you have with whoever is next to you; the essence of which is somewhat lost through excess and extravagance. Through this process of sharing, there are things one starts to look forward to only in Ramadan; Bolla’s and fritters, Batata Warra and Daltjies, Doughnuts and Koeksisters…and my all time favourite… the Chocolate Éclair
Everyone has their own version of the Éclair, all opting for various fillings and toppings; from banana and caramel, to seasonal fresh fruit and cream, or my own favourite; cream flavoured with a hint of vanilla. Here is the recipe I have been using for years. Never flopped, but took some practise to get the size just right.
- 1 cup water
- 125 grams butter
- 1 cup cake flour
- 4 eggs ( I use jumbo)
- Preheat oven to 200 deg
- Bring butter and water to boiling point in a saucepan.
- Stir in flour all at once and stir vigorously until it leaves the side of the pan and forms a lump.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until mixture is velvety and smooth.
- Grease your baking trays (I use spray and cook) and drop one heaped teaspoon of batter at a time, leaving enough room between them for the éclair to puff out.
- Bake at 200 deg for 30 minutes, then reduce oven to 150 def and bake for 20 min.
250ml fresh cream
2 tablespoon castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence or extract
200g chocolate (I use milk chocolate)
1 small tin nestle cream (optional)
- Beat together cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff.
- Slit open the éclair shells and either spoon or pipe some cream into the shell. One could also just slit a hole big enough to squeeze cream in from the piping bag, giving a much neater looking éclair.
- I prefer to just melt the chocolate on low heat with a little oil and top the éclair with that; giving the natural flavour of the chocolate an opportunity to arouse your taste buds ; but you could also melt together the chocolate and nestle cream which results in a more softer, glossy topping.
*TIP: If using the melted chocolate option without the cream, leave outside the fridge for a bit before serving in order for the chocolate to lose it’s hardness.