Heart-healthy treats and desserts

Chocolate cake

Lockdown boredom has everyone reaching for the fridge. Here are some treats and desserts from Pharma Dynamics’ Cooking from the Heart cookbook, which contains more than 100 recipes that have been developed for Pharma Dynamics by healthy food consultant, Heleen Meyer and dietitians from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Chocolate cake (serves 20)

There is nothing like some chocolate to treat yourself.

This is so easy to bake and ideal for special occasions or to celebrate a birthday while in lockdown.

3 cups (750 ml) cake flour

1¼ cups (310 ml) sugar

4 tsp (20 ml) baking powder

1 tsp (5 ml) bicarbonate of soda

6 tbsp (90 ml) cocoa

2 cups (500 ml) hot water

½ cup (125 ml) buttermilk

5 tbsp (75 ml) sunflower oil

2 tbsp (30 ml) white grape vinegar

2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla essence


150 ml sugar

300 ml water

1 tbsp (15 ml) soft tub margarine

¼ cup (60 ml) cocoa

½ tsp (2,5 ml) vanilla essence

3 tbsp (45 ml) cornflour

1 tbsp (15 ml) grated chocolate

Preheat oven to a 180 °C and line a large rectangular (20 x 30 cm) baking tin or oven dish with baking paper.

Sift all dry ingredients together. Mix the liquids together and gradually fold into the dry ingredients. Pour batter into tin or dish.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the tin and cool.

Topping: Meanwhile, place all the ingredients, except the chocolate, in a pot and stir over a low heat to dissolve the sugar.

Bring to the boil and simmer gently.

Stir until the mixture thickens. Cool slightly and pour over the cooled cake. Sprinkle with grated chocolate.

Milk tart (serves 8)

This no-bake custard filling is delicious and easy to make.


3 tbsp (45 ml) soft tub


2 tbsp (30 ml) sugar

1 egg, beaten

½ tsp (2,5 ml) ground


¾ cup (180 ml) cake flour

¼ cup (60 ml) whole-wheat flour


2 cups (500 ml) low-fat or fat-free milk

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup (60 ml) sugar

3 tbsp (45 ml) cornflour

½ tsp (2,5 ml) vanilla or almond essence

1 tbsp (15 ml) ground cinnamon

Crust: Preheat oven to
180 °C. Beat together the margarine and sugar. Add the egg and mix well.

Mix cinnamon and flours together. Gradually add to the egg mixture to form a soft dough. Press the dough into a 22cm tart or pie dish.

Prick with a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.

Filling: Place milk in a pot, bring to the boil and remove from heat. Beat eggs and sugar well.

Mix cornflour with a little water to make a paste. Stir into egg mixture.

Add half the milk into egg mixture and stir well.

Pour egg mixture into the pot with the rest of the milk and stir well.

Return to a low heat and stir all the time. Allow to simmer very gently until it thickens – at least 10 minutes.

Stir vanilla in and pour into pie crust. Allow to cool and refrigerate. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

Apple pudding (serves 8)

Apples and cinnamon are comforting flavours. Swop your custard or ice cream for plain low-fat yoghurt.

4 medium Granny Smith apples, seeds removed and cut in wedges

1 cinnamon stick

¼ cup (60 ml) sugar

3 eggs, beaten

3 tbsp (45 ml) sunflower oil

¾ cup (180 ml) low-fat or fat-free milk

½ cup (125 ml) plain low-fat yoghurt

1 cup (250 ml) cake flour

½ cup (125 ml) whole-wheat flour

2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder

2 tsp (10 ml) ground cinnamon


½ cup (125 ml) low-fat or fat-free milk

½ cup (125 ml) water

¼ cup (60 ml) sugar

1 cinnamon stick optional

Place apples with 2 tbsp of water and the cinnamon in a pot. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until just tender, but not mushy.

Preheat oven to 180 °C. Beat sugar and eggs until well blended.

Add oil, milk and yoghurt and mix well.

Combine the flours, baking powder and half the cinnamon in a mixing bowl.

Beat liquid into the flour mixture to form a smooth batter.

Spoon apples into an oven dish and pour batter on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked.


Meanwhile, place all the ingredients in a small pot and stir over a low heat.

Simmer for a few minutes or until slightly thickened.

Prick warm pudding with a fork or skewer and pour syrup over. Sprinkle with the rest of the ground cinnamon.

Serve warm with plain low-fat or fat-free yoghurt.

Tip: Make the pudding with fresh pears as above.

Or use a tin of pie apples or peach slices and leave out step 1.