raw (everything-free) choc-mint slice

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What this slice lacks in refined sugar, it makes up for in its infinite potential for hashtags: #dairyfree, #paleo, #vegan, #raw, #glutenfree, #cleaneating etc. The only food trend – gluten free – is one I follow by force, not fashion. That being said, I secretly love health food crazes as they encourage trying new things with food. I’m not about to activate an almond or anything, but I genuinely enjoyed the added challenge of making something in a novel way. I especially enjoy how mint leaves themselves lended their colour to the green layer!

I have never been the hugest fan of vegan treats, let alone raw ones, but the Pana Chocolate cafe in Melbourne successfully swayed me to believe that such alternatives could be better than the real thing. One taste of their chocolate mint slice had me happily handing over $8 to indulge in a full piece. It was worth every penny, and I have thought about how amazingly decadent, rich and smooth it was on a regular basis since. All I needed at home to recreate it practically perfectly was patience and a reasonably powerful food processor. The ingredients themselves are not too hard to come by in most supermarkets, however they are more expensive than their standard, sugary counterparts. The batch ensuing is gigantic, however, and best stored frozen. Compared to how much a single piece costs at any hipster cafe, making this is almost economical when it comes to cravings.

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cookies and cream rocky road

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After a six month hiatus from food blogging; albeit certainly not from enjoying food, I’m back blogging in the New Year with rocky road so delicious I would definitely break any kind of resolution to eat it. I made, devoured (thank you Countdown for gluten free Oreo substitutes!) and gifted a few batches of this over Christmas and can safely vouch for how excellent it is – and having passed on the recipe via Facebook chat to a friend, I can thankfully remember it. This is a magnificently transportable treat for long distance gifting, however that’s not to say it needs to go far to be appreciated.

There’s not much more to say about this rocky road beyond issuing my reluctance to adjust the ingredients. It’s ridiculous to be so didactic when it comes to a recipe where you are literally just melting some chocolate and adding tasty treats, but the balance of chewy to crunchy is practically perfect and not to be messed with. Don’t underestimate the power of the salted macadamias, or the lack thereof when it comes to willpower around this.

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homemade honeycomb

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Whoever thought Junk-free June was a clever use of alliteration clearly Hasn’t Had Homemade Honeycomb.

I’m quoting my own Instagram and I was asleep by 8PM on a Friday: these two things paint a rather dismal picture of my mid-twenties. I have made honeycomb (hokey pokey/cinder toffee) once before, over a decade ago, over a bunsen burner. If reliving my high school chemistry days is my way of dealing with a potential quarter life crisis (I’m 25 in less than two weeks), then thank goodness this is actually tasty. Making it in a saucepan over a stovetop certainly lends itself to less of a gas burned beaker vibe, and altogether a more delicious outcome.

Thanks to Planet Science and my poor long term recall, I can divulge the secret of how this treat is made:

The heat of the sugar mixture causes the bicarbonate of soda to break down and release carbon dioxide bubbles. The carbon dioxide bubbles make the sugar mixture expand. When the sugar mixture cools, gaps remain where the carbon dioxide bubbled through the mixture. This gives honeycomb its distinctive texture.

Whatever’s happening, it’s a superb cake decoration and opportunistic treat to nibble from the jar. I was incredibly pleased with the dramatic effect half a batch broken into shards created on top of this cake, and even more so with the amount left over to eat myself. It would also be utterly marvellous covered in chocolate, sprinkled over ice cream or as a component in rocky road.

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chocolate marshmallows

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The only disclaimer I need to preface these with is that OMG they are amazing.

Rich smooth chocolatey taste from dark chocolate + fluffy lightness from marshmallows = the best (gluten free!) treat ever. One batch makes so many you won’t know what to do with them all. Put them in a jar. Save some for yourself and then spread the love.

These are inspired by chocolate marshmallows I had earlier this year at Milse dessert bar in Britomart, Auckland. So inspired I was to make the creation myself that I went out and purchased Valhrona cocoa powder for the expressed purpose. I’ve attempted once before without a sugar thermometer and without heating the syrup and it turned out terribly. Thankfully, my patience with these little lovelies paid off. I’ve eaten enough of them to assure you of that!

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Whittaker’s Creamy Milk chocolate fudge

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Sugar thermometers make the ability to give gifts your command.

Fudge is SO simple with one of these – it takes the guesswork out of heating the sugar, which is 100% the scariest part of making it. I’m so excited to have added this treat to my repertoire of quick treats. It has the perfect smooth but chewy consistency without any hint of grittiness from crystallisation. It also stores well at room temperature and so is perfect for sending away for friend’s birthdays! I would definitely recommend having an occasion planned for this wee one, mainly because it is altogether too easy to consume in vast quantities. Much easier to simply discount the extensive spoon licking and off-cut consuming afterwards as quality control for its final purpose.

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easter bark

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I’ve been a little absent from blogging for the last two weeks or so – in part because I have been dedicating more of my spare time to two newfound hobbies, and also because sometimes it is nice to step back and just enjoy the food I’ve created without voraciously documenting it. I think simply celebrating food with its ability to be shared with others is often the nicest thing – without necessarily stopping to take a photo. In some cases, however, the aesthetic brilliance of the resulting treat is too good not to post.

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I’ve discovered an absolute love for cycling, now that I have a home for a borrowed road bike at my own apartment, and also signed up for a three month unlimited(!) yoga membership. Benefits of these activities include the scenery (above), a resting heart rate of 42 bpm and getting out of my own head/mindfulness/not being such a highly strung human. Let’s just not mention the 1 hour guided meditation I attended in which I promptly fell asleep when considering the sensation in my left foot ~10-20 minutes in and then proceeded to snore for the rest of the class.

Nevertheless, I still have time to get excited for Easter! For those not familiar with the blog-to-behold that is Sweetapolita, this Easter bark I made is one hundred percent attributable to Rosie’s creative genius. Thinking I was being prepared, I purchased all of the ingredients for this bark in advance and then proceeded to leave the chocolate in my car while on a day shift. Now that we are getting into the full swing of Autumn, I underestimated the power of oh, just the entire day of hot sun beating down on my car and returned to find my Malteser bunnies no longer bunnies at all, and my blocks of chocolate to be an utter flaccid mess. Unfortunately the bunnies were beyond resuscitation, but my chocolate was revived easily enough and it all came together pleasingly to create the best looking treat ever. Given the fact that D has nibbled the remaining at all hours of the day (pre-breakfast bark, anyone?), I can attest that it tastes just as good as it looks.

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chocolate sea salt caramels

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I made a double batch these to fill a jar for Valentine’s day – leaving enough for a belated birthday present, an assortment for Mum to taste test … and a serving size appropriate for my sweet tooth. The smoothness of these caramels has redeemed the purchasing of the sugar thermometer already. I’m not sure why it feels like such an effort to attempt recipes that call for them – perhaps because I have always seen such a thing as a superfluous piece of cooking equipment (despite the fact I still have absolutely no idea about the different “ball” stages of sugar) – but in fact, my new gadget costed less than $20 and made the recipe as simple as cooking by numbers, literally.

These are utterly divine. I’m going to make more this week and send them out as treats to deserving loved ones. As frustrating as it is to realise that making your own treats is often nowhere near as economical as just purchasing a box of chocolates on an as needed basis – I really don’t think you can ask for much better than fresh, buttery caramel covered in high quality chocolate. Despite the fact I spend arguably too much time in the kitchen, I am all for efficiency, and these are 100% worth the effort.

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