Is it just me or……..

…….are artichokes the most daunting thing ever?  Where did they come from anyway? It’s like some little green martian accidentally dropped one out of his backpack whilst here scoping the earth as a potential new colony for his martian people (meople?).

And actually, the martians use them as war missiles but us crazy humans saw them growing everywhere and thought eating them would be a great idea.  Meanwhile, the little green people are looking down at this funny little planet with its strange inhabitants that are inexplicably making dip out of their weapons.

Blueberries

And I’m surely not the only one who collapses into fits of giggles every-time that meerkat ad airs.  Seriously? I barely even know what they are advertising since I’m usually rolling on the floor by the time they get to the point.

Oh and I can’t be alone in thinking that celebrity is no excuse to try out ludicrous names on your children.  Is anyone else waiting for poor little North West’s parents to announce that it was all just a silly joke and that they actually named her Jane?

Please tell me it’s not just me….

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Also, is anyone else completely in awe that if you whip egg whites long enough and fast enough, they transform into snowy peaks?  The science geek in me is secretly excited every time this happens…..the denaturing of proteins to turn slimy egg whites into glorious edible snow.

And furthermore, you can sweeten and flavour this almost solid white froth and bake it to crispy-chewy mounds.  Mounds that you can top with cream, syrup, fruit or whatever you fancy and call it dessert!

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Oh yes, the theme of this month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, hosted by Claire K Creations, was Meringue Madness so I just had to try my hand at fructose-free meringues.  I replaced caster sugar with dextrose and although they bled a bit, this didn’t seem to affect them in the end and they were pretty darn good.  You could flavour these with whatever essence takes your fancy (I intend to try rosewater next time) and top them just about anything.  I went with this fructose-free lemon curd, some cream and some lovely fresh blueberries.

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Fructose-free Meringues

Makes 6

Modified from Donna Hay Magazine

Get:

4 egg whites
1 cup dextrose powder
1 tsp white vinegar

Make:

Preheat the oven to 120 C.

Beat egg whites initially on low speed, then on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Drizzle in vinegar and any flavouring, and sprinkle in dextrose bit  by bit, beating briefly with each addition.  Beat until sugar is completely incorporated.

Line a baking tray with baking paper or a silicone mat and grease lightly.  Dollop large scoops of the mixture onto the tray and flatten out slightly.  Bake on the middle shelf for 40 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave them in there to cool for an hour or so.

Top with whatever you like and serve.

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Chocolate Orange Macadamia Truffles

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The universe has a way of leading you towards things, doesn’t it? There are suggestive powers out there that not always subtly lead you towards a decision.  You may discover a new holiday destination that you want to try out, and suddenly there are references to that destination in every magazine you read.  Also three other people in your workplace have just been there and are full of stories about how amazing it is.

They show you pictures of their bare knees propped up on a beach with the ocean in the background (anyone else baffled by that trend??).  Then you get an email about holiday deals to the very same place and that decides it for you.

Sometimes, there really is no point arguing with the Universe.

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Over the past couple of weeks, the Universe has been throwing balls at me.  Not the type that are made of hard rubber that people more athletic and co-ordinated than I kick around on a field on purpose (also baffling).  These are the very same type that for some reason seem to be magnetically attracted to my head and will come flying through the air to give me a concussion, even if I am no-where near the field in question.

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No, the balls I’m talking about are the smaller, softer chocolatey variety. Truffles, if you will, although I’m sure you’ll agree that ‘balls’ is infinitely more fun to say.

They are all over the internet, these little spheres of goodness.  Here, and here and here. Ohh and these ones!  Last weekend my parents had people over and I was asked  to make these date truffles, so of course I was already in balling mode.  Then there was lunch at Ungaro Raw followed by their divine chocolate truffles.  And that did it for me.

If the universe wants balls, who am I to deny it?

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As a lover of texture in my balls (too far?), I decided to make some chocolatey truffles that were creamy with avocado and studded with shredded coconut and crushed macadamias that would make the eating experience that much more interesting.  These are only mildly sweet as I preferred the choc orange flavour to dominate, but you can add more sweetener if you prefer.

Before you say anything or make that face, I promise you can’t taste the avocado so don’t let that stop you.

I have a box of these in my fridge and I still can’t get them out of my mind.

So, I want to know…… what has the universe been telling you lately?

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Chocolate Orange Macadamia Truffles

Makes 23-25 truffles

Get:

1/2 cup raw, unsalted macadamias
3 tbsp raw cacao or cocoa powder + 2-3 tbsp for dusting
4 1/2 tbsp dextrose powder (fructose-free) or icing sugar
Flesh of 1/2 a large, softish avocado
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup skim milk powder
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1 tbsp orange juice

Make:

Pulse the macadamias in the food processor until they are very coarsely crushed.  I stopped when some of the nuts were in a coarse powder but there were still lots of small un-powdered pieces.

Place the avocado flesh in a large bowl and mash well with a fork.  Sift in 3 tbsp of the cacao or cocoa powder.  Add the other ingredients.  If using icing sugar, this should be sifted as well.  Mix well with a spoon, then with clean hands like a dough.

Place the bowl in the fridge for about 30 min.

Have a tray or a large plate lined with grease-proof paper.  Place 2 or 3 tbsp of cacao or cocoa powder in a food-safe plastic bag, such as a sandwich bag.

Oil your hands a little- I used coconut oil.  Roll the mixture into balls.  I like truffles that are about 3 cm in diameter (roughly a tbsp).  Drop 3 or 4 truffles at a time into the bag of cocoa powder.  Hold the top of the bag closed and shake to coat the truffles.  Dust off the extra cocoa powder and place the balls on the plate.  When all the truffles are done, place them in the fridge for at least an hour or so before serving or devouring.

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