‘My Mother’s Kitchen’ review & adult chocolate afghans

It was a unique idea to invite New Zealand’s best chefs, bakers and foodies to share their mothers’ special recipes and stories.

They all have fond memories of food shared around the family table and give their Mums credit for teaching them to be creative and shaping their culinary instincts.

My Mother’s Kitchen is filled with great recipes for mains, desserts and special treats. As might be expected there are quite a few iconic kiwi ones such as pavlova, caramel slice, never fail sponge, lemon delicious and Mum’s homemade Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.

But many of our chefs, bakers and foodies come from very diverse backgrounds .So there are also recipes for sweet Samoan coconut buns, Irish soda bread, German potato salad, Japanese rice balls, and Chinese dumplings.

Being of Dutch heritage I simply had to try the Dutch apple cake. This is a great recipe (I did use rather less raisins). The second time round I made it in tiny tart tins for a party platter. Dusted with icing sugar they looked very decorative.

So far every recipe we have tried from this book has been successful. We have made the sensible ‘Fridge Quiche” several times created to use up any veggies which are lurking in the fridge at the end of the week. And we’ve enjoyed Kathy’s savoury muffins.

It’s another recipe book from which older grandchildren would enjoy cooking from. I know my granddaughter who is almost as much of a chocoholic as me would find these afghans with their chocolate ganache icing irresistible!

Chocolate Afghans

From Dean Brettschneider’s mother (Global Baker & Pâtissier)

When I was a boy weekends were an exercise in filling the biscuit tins for the week. Afghans were a staple in our house, something to do with the crunchy cornflakes, the creamy icing, the little walnut, and all the chocolatey-ness. I helped Mum make them and used to get in trouble for stealing them off the tray both before and after they went into the oven. When I got old enough to drink tea, I always had an afghan with it. Now that I’m even older I’ve upgraded the icing to a smooth, rich chocolate ganache.

Makes 15

Time – 30 minutes, plus 4 hours 30 minutes inactive


For the ganache:

  • 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tsp golden syrup
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 100ml cream
  • 15 walnut halves, for decorating

For the cookies:

  • 200g butter, at room temperature
  • 65g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 170g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa
  • ¾ tsp mixed spice
  • 100g cornflakes

Prepare the ganache:

Place chocolate, golden syrup, and butter into a small heatproof bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over a low heat until just below boiling point, stirring occasionally. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave to sit for 2–3 minutes before mixing slowly from the centre with a whisk. Stir until chocolate and butter are completely melted and mixed with the cream. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the ganache mixture and leave at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight to set.

Prepare the cookies:

Preheat oven to 180°C and line two large trays with baking paper.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl with electric beaters, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 5–10 minutes until light and fluffy.

In a separate small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, and mixed spice. Gently fold into the creamed mixture, then fold in the cornflakes.

Divide the cookie dough into 15 equally sized balls (they will be about 40g each) and place on the trays, spaced apart. Press each afghan down with the back of a fork to 7cm in diameter.

Bake one tray at a time on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes until set. Rest cookies for 5 minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Spread 1 tablespoon of chocolate ganache onto each cooled afghan with a palette knife or other small flat knife and decorate with a walnut half.

Afghans will keep for up to one week in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe © Dean Brettschneider.

Reproduced from My Mother’s Kitchen, published by Potton & Burton, available nationwide  RRP  $49.99.


Reviews by Lyn Potter

Parent and grandparent, Avid traveller, writer & passionate home cook

Read more by Lyn here.