The first pangs of frosty weather have descended over Nice, and as the days grow shorter and gloomier I start to long for the balmy summertime Christmases we enjoy back home in South Africa. But it’s not all bad.

A recent bout of holiday-related homesickness inspired me to come up with a tasty new take on not one, but two, classic South African desserts, both of which epitomise comfort food in every sense of the word. Cue the Malva + Melktert Cupcake!

What on earth is MELKTERT?

Only the best custard-based pie in the whole world! Melktert is the Afrikaans term for 'milk tart', a classic South African dessert that consists of a sweet pastry crust, filled with a mild, creamy custard of milk, flour, sugar and eggs, baked in a circular pie tin and dusted with cinnamon after baking. It made its way to South Africa in the 1600s via the Dutch settlers and has since become a sweet staple that can be found at literally every bazaar, bake sale and bakery. 

And MALVA PUDDING, what’s up with that?

Malva Pudding is yet another Dutch import. This velvety baked pudding is made with apricot jam and vinegar and usually served with custard and ice cream. According to popular lore, the name was derived from the Malvacea wine from Madeira that used to be served alongside the dessert at early Cape Dutch tables. 

And there you have it – cupcakes that will cure the homesickness of any South African expat!

If you had any lingering guilt about tucking into these tasty little numbers, I’ve got some good news - cinnamon is extremely good for you! It can lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease risk factors, and has many other impressive health benefits. Go ahead – indulge! Where else will you find a cupcake that can do all of that?

Voila! The Malva + Melktert Cupcake!

To combine these two classic childhood treats, I used a variation on a Malva Pudding recipe to bake a cupcake, which I then topped with a custardy, cinnamon-y Melktert icing that had my olfactory memories running rampant.

Makes | 10 cupcakes

Preparation time | 20 minutes

Bake time | 10-15 minutes


For the milktart icing

750ml (3 cups) full cream milk

250ml (1 cup) cream

15ml (1 tbsp) butter

1 vanilla pod, seed scraped

1 egg

2 yolks

125ml (½ cup) cornflour

180ml (1/3 cup) sugar

ground cinnamon, to sprinkle

For the batter

45ml (3 tbsp) butter

125ml (½ cup) dark brown sugar

45ml (3 tbsp) apricot jam

1 egg

250ml (1 cup) flour

2ml (½ tsp) salt

5ml (1 tsp) bicarbonate of soda

125ml (½ cup) milk

20ml (4 tsp) vinegar

For the caramel

375ml (1 ½ cups) cream

45ml (3 tbsp) butter

250ml (1 cup) sugar

1ml (¼ tsp) salt


1.     For the milktart icing, heat the milk, cream, butter and vanilla seeds together in a large pot until it simmers. Whisk the whole egg, egg yolks, cornflour and sugar together in a large bowl. Slowly whisk the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture and pour into a clean pot.

2.     Place on medium heat and whisk until the mixture thickens and the cornflour has been cooked out. Pour into a clean bowl and place plastic wrap over the surface as not to form a skin. Set aside until cooled completely.

3.     For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with cupcake moulds. Cream the butter and sugar until pale, whisk in the jam followed by the egg.

4.     Sift the flour, salt and bicarb together and mix the dry ingredients and milk into the egg mixture. Stir in the vinegar and pour into cupcake moulds. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

5.     For the caramel, place all the ingredients in a pot over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Increase to high heat and bring to the boil. When the mixture starts turning to caramel colour remove from the heat and set aside to cool. If the mixture thickens to much just add another dash of cream. Set aside until needed.

6.     Whisk the cold milktart mixture until smooth and spoon into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle.

7.     Using a measuring spoon, hollow out the inside of the cupcake and pour caramel into the centre. Pipe the milktart icing over, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve immediately.

TIP you might have milktart left over just keep it for later as a mid-night snack, that's usually when Kevin gets hungry!

Recipes, Styling + Production | Inemari Rabie
Photography | Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen
Copy | Skryfyster aka Anna-Bet Stemmet