The Singita Blog

Recipe: Chocolate and Mint Macarons

June 25, 2014 - Cuisine, Kruger National Park

Afternoon tea at Singita Kruger National Park

If you are fortunate enough to have visited Singita Kruger National Park, then you will have enjoyed the wonderful afternoon tea that takes place before every evening game drive. Responsible for this sweet spread is Chef de Partie Christien Schrecker, who has previously shared many of her delectable recipes on our blog, including our personal favourite, giraffe-shaped cinnamon doughnuts!

Today she is showing us how to make a real crowd pleaser; chocolate and mint macarons. These meringue-based confections are sandwiched with an Amarula-spiked ganache to give them some uniquely African flavour but you can substitute this for Irish cream if you prefer. Also, here’s a handy online volume converter if you need help with the metric measurements.

Christien Schrecker's chocolate and mint macarons | Singita Kruger National Park

Ingredients – what you will need:

MACARONS:
100g egg whites
150g caster sugar
50ml water
150g ground almonds (weigh after being sifted twice)
150g icing sugar

FILLING:
150g dark chocolate
180ml Amarula
2 drops peppermint essence

Method – what to do:

MACARONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 135˚C.
2. Combine the ground almonds with the icing sugar, but mix only briefly so that the almonds do not exude their oil.
3. Place half the egg whites (50g) in the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
4. To prepare the Italian meringue, cook the caster sugar with the water to 110˚C. While the mixture is heating, start whisking the egg whites to soft peaks. When the syrup has reached the right temperature, pour it gradually over the whisked egg whites, whisking as you do so.
5. Continue beating until the mixture cools to 45˚C. Then pour in the other half of the egg whites (50g), add the colouring if using, and the ground almonds combined with the icing sugar.
6. Whisk until the batter is liquid and forms a ribbon when drizzled on the surface.
7. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe it out onto the baking sheet or mat.
8. Bake for 20 minutes, depending on the size of your macarons. They are done when you can lift them of the sheet without any batter staying behind. Leave to cool at room temperature.

FILLING & ASSEMBLY:
1. Bring the Amarula cream to a boil.
2. Pour over the chopped chocolate, and the essence. Whisk to combine, finish with a hand blender.
3. Spoon into a piping bag and leave to cool in the fridge for 20 minutes.
4. Pipe onto macarons and sandwich together
5. Place macarons in the fridge for 20 minutes to set the filling before serving.

Share your homemade macarons with us on Instagram by tagging @Singita_ and follow Christien for more mouth-watering photos from the kitchen at Singita Kruger National Park. You can also find more great recipe ideas here.

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The Story of Time Mutema

June 17, 2014 - Experience, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, People of Singita, Singita Pamushana Lodge

The lives of the people who work at Singita are inevitably entwined with the unspoiled wilderness in which our 12 lodges and camps can be found. Their stories weave through forests, over endless landscapes, and along flowing rivers, touching the lives of our guests and travellers along the way.

Time Mutema, Field Guide at Singita Pamushana Lodge

In this series of #singitastories, we’ll introduce you to some of Singita’s team members; people who dedicate their lives to sharing their passion for Africa. Each tell their story through film – bringing their experiences to life. Follow as we unfold these #singitastories over the next few months and we hope your hearts will be captured as much as ours.

Singita Pamushana Lodge

First is this series is Time Mutema, a fully certified, professional field guide working at Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. He grew up fishing and birding with his friends, and knew from a very young age that he belonged outdoors. He has a lifelong devotion to the bush and all that it inspires. Watch this short film to learn more about Time:

For more of our film and video clips, browse our Vimeo channel for inspiration. You can also stay up-to-date with the latest #singitastories by subscribing to our newsletter using the short form on the right.

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Say Hello to the Butamtam Lion Cubs!

June 13, 2014 - Conservation, Experience, Safari, Singita Grumeti, Wildlife

These pictures hardly need a caption – we would be surprised if you could tear your eyes away from their little furry faces long enough to read it! If you are interested however, you may like to know that these gorgeous young lions are offspring of the Butamtam pride at Singita Grumeti in Tanzania. These lions are healthy breeders; over the past two years one of the major prides got so big that it split into two, and two of the other prides seem to be heading in the same direction. In addition, all of their cubs have higher than usual survival rates which is wonderful to hear.

The Butamtam lion cubs at Singita Grumeti by Ryan Schmitt

The Butamtam lion cubs at Singita Grumeti by Ryan Schmitt

butamtam_cubs_3

Photos by Field Guide Ryan Schmitt. Ryan regularly posts snapshots from his adventures in the bush on our Facebook and Instagram feeds so follow us there to see more!

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Curious Cats

June 09, 2014 - Sabi Sand, Wildlife

Just in! Field Guide Ross Couper from Singita Sabi Sand sent through this incredible snapshot from Thursday afternoon’s game drive. In it, a serval faces off with a pair of cheetahs:

Cheetah vs Serval by Ross Couper

“Upon a approaching a cheetah sighting, a serval and two cubs were seen moving through the grass within meters of the cheetah. The serval’s movement caught the attention of the cheetah after the adult serval attempted to catch a rodent in the grass. A chase ensued and the adult serval was surrounded by the two cheetah. A moment of sheer aggression from the serval saved its life and several tense minutes were felt amongst the guests viewing the interaction. As dusk settled we returned back to the lodge, the fate of the serval unknown. It was a true privilege to witness this interaction in the wild.”

Ross regularly shares his stunning wildlife photos with our Facebook community, so follow us there for the latest sightings, direct from the bush!

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Creatures Great & Small: The Flap-Necked Chameleon

May 30, 2014 - Did You Know?, Singita Grumeti, Wildlife

Chameleons really are funny little creatures! Did you know that, besides being masterful at camouflage and having tongues roughly 1½ times their body length, chameleons can rotate each eye in a different direction and go through life without the benefit of ears? There are 156 different species concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and many of them can be found at Singita’s lodges and camps throughout the region.

Flap-necked chameleon at Singita Grumeti

In this gorgeous photo, Singita Grumeti Guide Manager, Ryan Schmitt, carries this female flap-necked chameleon from the middle of the road to the safety of the grass. This particular reptile is a real crowd pleaser with guests and staff alike, and can often be found stalking their favourite snacks of grasshoppers and butterflies.

See more of the unique and fascinating wildlife to be found at Singita by reading our monthly field reports, written by the guides themselves.

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Visual Inspiration

May 27, 2014 - Experience, Lodges and Camps, Singita Grumeti, Singita Mara River Tented Camp, Singita Serengeti House

Over the past few years, Singita has collaborated with some extremely talented filmmakers to produce stunning videos that showcase our twelve lodges and camps in Africa. These include breathtaking snapshots of the people and surroundings that define all our lodges and camps, as well as interesting wildlife sightings from our guides in the bush.

We are thrilled to bring you the latest footage from Tanzania that captures the spirit and design of Singita Serengeti House and Singita Mara River Tented Camp. We have also launched a brand new Vimeo channel where you can follow us and browse through our entire collection of videos and short films.

Singita Serengeti House

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Another highlight of our Vimeo channel is the story of Joyful Nghala, who graduated from the Singita School of Cooking (SSC) at the end of last year. The SSC, located on site at the Singita Kruger National Park staff village, was established to encourage the development of culinary skills and job potential among local youth. Read more about our community development projects here.

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The Migration 2014 Arrives at Singita Grumeti

May 20, 2014 - Community Development, Conservation, Experience, Safari, Singita Grumeti, Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Wildlife

It’s that time of year again! The wildebeest have started arriving on the Sasakwa Plains of the Serengeti and the herds seem to be multiplying at an astonishing rate with each passing day. Overnight, the grassland below Singita Sasakwa Lodge has been flooded by tens of thousands of wildebeest, making for some very exciting horseback game-spotting for our lucky guests.

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

Singita Grumeti, situated adjacent to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, is an integral part of the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, the home of the Great Migration. Singita manages 350,000 acres of this land, and generates the funds necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the reserve via low impact tourism. Visit our website to find out more about our conservation and community development projects in the area.

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First Sighting of the Hlabankunzi Leopard Cubs

May 19, 2014 - Experience, Sabi Sand, Safari, Wildlife

Leopard cubs at Singita Sabi Sand

Last week was a very special one for visitors to Singita Sabi Sand, as the brand new Hlabankunzi leopard cubs made their public debut! The female has moved into the territory of the Ravenscourt female, who was killed roughly a year ago, and now patrols a prize piece of Singita’s 45,000 acre concession. Briefly before the cubs were spotted for the first time, Head Field Guide Mark Broodryk sent us this report:

Leopard cubs at Singita Sabi Sand

“We suspect that she has her cubs under the deck of Room 11 at Singita Ebony Lodge and is as comfortable around the lodge as the Ravenscourt female was. Field guides Dylan, Ruel and I saw Mobeni’s new cubs for the first time yesterday morning, still very tiny and not exactly sure of numbers just yet. She has them close to the Khosa pan area in the Ximobanyane drainage. She seems to be a different leopard now that the Ravenscourt female has gone, she is not nearly as nervous as she used to be and we are able to view her fairly regularly. Her son has become independent and if approached correctly, also provides good viewing. Just yesterday we followed him for about 1½ hours and he curled up to sleep about 10m from the vehicle! Overall we seem to have come out on top with our leopard viewing and looks like the legacy of the leopard viewing for this reserve will continue.”

Leopard cubs at Singita Sabi Sand

Keep your eyes on our Instagram and Facebook accounts to see the latest photos of the cubs, straight from our field guides.

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Lion Line-Up

May 08, 2014 - Sabi Sand, Wildlife

This photo of the Mhangeni pride walking in what appears to be military formation through Singita Sabi Sand, was taken last week by Field Guide Ross Couper. Of the unusual and entertaining sighting, he says: “As the honey coloured morning light filtered through the mist on the horizon, we knew we were in for a very good morning.” Ross’ stunning photo was even featured in the Cape Times a few days later, aptly captioned “Dawn Patrol”.

Lion photo by Ross Couper Copyright 2014

Follow us on Facebook to see more wildlife shots straight from our field guides in the bush.

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Meet the Lebombo Euphorbia

May 06, 2014 - Did You Know?, Environment, Kruger National Park

Lebombo euphorbias growing along a ridge at Singita Kruger National Park

Singita is very fortunate to share its concession in the Kruger National Park with an astonishing variety of unique and interesting flora. The 33,000 acres of land in the southeastern reaches of the park lie between the red rhyolite-based Lebombo Mountains in the east and the flat grasslands with their extremely fertile basaltic soils in the west. This creates a beautiful and varied landscape filled with rich, verdant plant life.

Lebombo euphorbias growing along a ridge at Singita Kruger National Park

Flora, like fauna, has its own preferences in terms of habitat, and the differences in soil type and topography allow for a wonderful and flourishing spectrum to exist. One such example of this unique vegetation is the Lebombo euphorbia (Euphorbia confinalis), a cactus-like tree with a single trunk and a canopy of upward-growing branches. It is only found in the Lebombo mountain region, and, along with its cousin, the Transvaal candelabra euphorbia, is an incredibly picturesque and exotic part of the local landscape.

Transvaal candelabra euphorbias growing in the boma at Singita Lebombo Lodge

They are very drought resistant and are particularly beautiful from June to August, when they grow small, light-yellow flowers in groups of three along the spine of each cucumber-shaped lobe.

Transvaal candelabra euphorbias dot the ridge along which Singita Lebombo Lodge is situated

Trees of the euphorbia family are filled with a white, milky latex and are extremely toxic. As a result, the tree is not eaten by many animals. Despite this, the traditional uses are quite varied – they include using it to stun fish (making them easier to catch), for treating lesions and wounds on cattle, and as an effective poison for hunting arrows.

Find out more about the local flora of Singita Kruger National Park, as well as interesting game spotting and animal stores by catching up on the latest Wildlife Reports from the region.

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