Mocha Tartlets

Mocha Tartlets OSP (1 of 4)

It took me a long time after university to stop associating coffee with the torture of exams.  Despite being an over-achiever at school, it took me quite a few years to get my groove at uni.  And so frantic, caffeine fuelled all-nighters were the rule rather than the exception during vet school, much to the surprise of those who knew me in high-school.  Couple that with the academically, physically and emotionally demanding nature of a vet degree, and it was a sure formula for one hot mess of a vet student come exam time.  That year that we had 10 exams to complete in a two week period is particularly memorable, and I think it was after that year that I resolved to get my act together so that I wouldn’t have to sit important papers on two hours of sleep and a whole lot of liquid stimulation.

A forced wake-up from an unfairly short sleep wasn’t even the worst of it.  The kicker was the mind-fog through which I would command the answers to surface as I tried to focus on the words on the page.  Finally, there was the fumble of a bus ride home, when my brain was too numb with lack of sleep to even process whether I had performed adequately in the exam.  Even to this day, looking at an energy drink brings back the faint nausea of those delirious, desperate and disillusioned all-nighters that I and my friends (yes, I had company in this silly behaviour) subjected ourselves to for 2 weeks every semester.

Mocha Tartlets OSP (4 of 4)

In the last few years I have felt that I am adult enough and forgetful enough to be able to savour the taste of coffee without the bone-chilling memories that my disorganised uni student self had attached to it.  Good coffee, made well, truly is a wonderful thing.  Those first few sips whose aromas fill the nostrils and which leave a trail of warmth down the oesophagus are a comfort and a wake-up call in one.

I take mine without sugar, always have, and find it is actually an offense to the coffee if sugar masks any of its flavour.  On days when I’m feeling a bit decadent, I will also dip a piece of dark chocolate into it, holding it in there for a few seconds so that I can inelegantly suck off the top layer of melted chocolate before dipping it back in.  Occasionally I will also drop a cube of chocolate in while the coffee is still very hot, so that I have something lovely to scoop out with a spoon after my last swig.

I don’t think there’s any uncertainty that I am all for the marriage of coffee and chocolate.  These mocha tarts combine those two great lovers, and the nutty, gluten-free base does much to ground the whole thing and cut through the bittersweetness.

Mocha Tartlets OSP (2 of 4)

 Mocha Tartlets (Gluten-free, refined sugar free)

Makes 18-20

Get:

For the Crust:
3 cups almond meal
115g butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
1 tbsp rice syrup or honey
1 pinch salt

For the filling:
2 cups raw cashews
1/3 cup strongly brewed, good quality coffee
1/3 cup Rice Syrup or honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
150 g 70% dark chocolate
1/3 cup double cream

Special Equipment:
Mini tart cases or a muffin tin, greased well
A high speed food processor

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.  Spread the cashews out on an oven tray and bake for 4-5 mins until just starting to gain colour.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

To make the crust, cut the butter into cubes and place in a large mixing bowl with the other crust ingredients.  Using clean hands, rub the butter into the other ingredients to form a dough that you can knead.  Knead for 2-3 minutes.

Pinch off portions of the dough the size of ping-pong balls (23-25g each).  Flatten each ball between the palms and press into the tart cases or cups of the muffin tin.  Press the dough evenly at the base and sides of the tins to a 3-4mm thickness.  Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 10-15 mins until the cases are an even golden brown colour.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing the cases from the tins.  Use the tip of a sharp knife to gently loosen the tart cases and facilitate removal from the tins.

While the tart cases are baking, make the filling.  Place the cooled cashews in the bowl of the food processor and blitz on high speed, stopping intermittently, until a smooth butter is formed.  Initially a meal will form, then a thick dough, then a smooth butter.  Add the coffee, cinnamon and honey or rice syrup and blitz until an even mixture forms, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all the nut butter is incorporated.

When all the tart cases are baked, cooled and removed from the tins, fill each one 1/2 to 2/3 with the filling.  Place them in the freezer for an hour or so until they are firmly set.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in 20 to 30 second bursts.  Take off the heat and add the cream, stirring quickly to form a smooth ganache.  When the coffee filling has set, spoon small amounts (about a tsp) of the ganache onto the top of each tart and spread out a little with the back of the spoon.

Refrigerate until the ganache is firm. Serve as is or with a dollop of cream.

Leftover chocolate and coffee filling? Mix them together, firm up in the fridge and roll into balls to make mocha truffles!

Notes:

You could probably make 1 large tart in a standard sized tart tin if you prefer, although I have not tried that with this recipe.

Mocha Tartlets OSP (3 of 4)

Raw Mint Slice for The Sweet Swap 2014

The punch of peppermint is what first makes

It’s presence known in the rich nutty base

Then sexy dark chocolate, creamy with coconut

Widens the smile on the indulger’s face

Mint Slice 3

So as a nibble with tea

Or an after dinner zing,

This raw mint slice will make

Your taste-buds sing!

Mint Slice 4

Ok so a poet I clearly am not.  But I am kinda tickled pink with this recipe, and boxes of the decadent yet goodness-filled squares went out to three lovely bloggers.  Amanda of Chewtown, Bryton of Food in Literature and Cassandra of Journey From Within each received a box of these gluten-free, low sugar, raw goodies.  In turn, I welcomed sugary goodness in the form of Butterscotch Pecans from Fiona of Tiffin and Raw Date and Almond Truffles from Karla of Get On Up.  In its second year, the Sweet Swap, organised by Amanda (Chewtown) and Sara (Belly Rumbles) is a fun, innovative event that brings Aussie bloggers together and benefits a worthy cause.

Raw Mint Slice

Makes 24 squares, approx 4cm x 4cm

Get:

Base:
3/4 cup cashew or macadamia nut butter (homemade or store bought)
2 tbsp milk powder (or pea protein powder for a vegan option)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tbsp rice syrup
4 drops peppermint oil (available at cake supply shops)
1 1/2 tsp spirulina powder (for colour, optional)

Topping:
120g good quality dark chocolate
1 tbsp thick coconut cream* (see note)

To Sprinkle:
Small handful cacao nibs or shredded coconut

Make:

See the note below first regarding coconut cream.  Prepare a tray lined with grease-proof paper.  To make the base, place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir.  It will probably be a little too thick to stir, at which point you can knead with clean hands.  If the nut butter you use is on the runny side, you may need to add a little more milk or protein powder to achieve a bread dough consistency.  Press the mixture down into the tray to roughly a 6-8mm thickness.

To make the topping, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in 20-30 second bursts in the microwave.  When it is fully melted, quickly stir through the coconut milk before the chocolate seizes up.  Quickly spread the mixture evenly over the base and sprinkle with cacao nibs or coconut.

Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before slicing with a sharp knife.

Notes:
Use coconut cream with no additives (I use Ayam brand), and pop the can in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Then, open the tin without shaking and use the thick part of the cream off the top of the tin.

Mint Slice 2

Stepping-Stone Nutty Chocolate Eggs (low-fructose)

Beyond the overstuffed floral sofas, past the assortment of porcelain milkmaids and ceramic puppy dogs, there was a scuffed old desk pushed up against the wall.  The tiny old lady gingerly pulled out the chair and perched herself on it, gesturing for my uncle and I to take a seat nearby.  She was my uncle’s dearest patient, and he had brought me along on a house visit to meet her.

stepping stone eggs 1

Carefully, she pulled open a draw and held out a plastic tube, paper thin skin stretching over arthritic knuckles as her hands curled around it.  Peering into the container, my eight-year old eyes widened in delight.  Eggs of all sizes were nestled in together.  They twinkled in their colourful foil wrappers, unlike anything I had seen before.

‘Pick one’ urged my uncle.  I snapped out of my bewilderment to choose a bright blue one, about the size of a chicken egg, and unwrapped it slowly.  A cobblestone chocolate surface was revealed as the soft foil fell away under my eager fingers.  The hollow centre was a real surprise, and there was something about that thin chocolate shell, perhaps the way it just seemed to give way on my tongue, that did it for me.  I’ve been weak at the knees for Easter eggs ever since.

stepping stone eggs 2

Those first few months after we migrated to Australia are mostly a blur, but there are certain memories, like this one that linger vividly within the childhood section of my mental filing cabinet.

The lovely old lady is long gone.  But that little girl’s first taste of a chocolate Easter egg, sitting in the living room of her uncle’s favourite patient, is never to be forgotten.

stepping stone eggs 3

These eggs were a happy accident in my quest to create a low-sugar creme egg.  While they are not quite what I envisioned, they are a stepping-stone towards a creme egg, and turned out too good not to share with you. The centres of these are creamy, albeit a bit too firm to call them a creme egg.  They have a natural sweetness provided by the nuts and boosted by the tiny amount of sweetner, which is nicely balanced by the bitter dark chocolate shell.  As for the original goal…..well, there’s always next Easter.

For other low-sugar chocolaty treats, try these or these.  Or even these.

Happy Easter to you all!

stepping stone eggs 4

Stepping-Stone Nutty Chocolate Eggs

Get:

Makes 12-15 small eggs

1/4 cup cashew or macadamia nut butter
100 grams (2 sachets) coconut paste
1-2 tsp rice syrup or honey
100g good quality dark chocolate

Make:

Dip the unopened packets of coconut paste in boiling water for a couple of minutes to soften.

Place the nut butter, coconut paste and syrup or honey in the food processor and blitz to a smooth paste.  Transfer to a bowl and freeze for 20 mins or so until quite firm.  Alternatively, you could pour the mixture into silicone chocolate moulds and place that in the freezer.

If hand-shaping the eggs, remove the mixture from the freezer and using the spoon, scoop out small amounts (about a tsp) of it.  Usig clean hands, knead and roll into balls, then flatten slightly to make eggs.  Place on grease-proof paper on a tray and freeze until very firm.

In the meantime, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in 20-30 second bursts in the microwave.  Roll the frozen eggs (or whatever shape you choose) in the melted chocolate.  Use a couple of spoons to cover the eggs in the chocolate and place back on the grease-proof paper lined tray.  Refrigerate until the chocolate is set.

Eat!

Notes:

If you would like to make your own nut butter, find the method here.  You will need about 1/2 cup of nuts to make 1/4 cup of butter.

I found coconut paste in the Asian food section of large supermarkets.  I found it in a box of 5 sachets of 50 grams each.  I believe it is also available in some Asian grocery stores (thanks for the tip JJ!).

stepping stone eggs 5

 

 

 

Dessert Wontons with Sweet Dipping Sauce

Dessert Wontons 1

It’s not quite a recipe, really.  More like an assembling of things to be steamed, dipped and devoured.  It all started when I was invited to a Chinese themed High Tea at Four Friends, and I started to wonder what I could contribute given my very limited Asian dessert repertoire.  The thought that lingered in my mind was one of dessert wontons.

Dessert Wontons 4

You see, us Indians make a steamed rice parcel stuffed with coconut and jaggery that if done right, will fall apart in the mouth leaving behind a puddle of seductively melted brown sugar and chewy coconut.  How I went from contemplating modakam, and onto deciding to stuff my wontons with peanut butter, chocolate and coconut is probably a function of my ever tangental mind.

If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, you could use a metal colander sprayed with a little oil or lined with grease-proof paper, in a large covered pot with water in the bottom of it.  However you make them, they are best eaten fresh and dipped generously in the sauce.

Oh! And speaking of sweets…..if you live in Sydney and are of a sugary inclination, don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win tickets to the Cake Bake and Sweets Show March 21 – 23 here.

Dessert Wontons 2

Nutty, Chocolatey Dessert Wontons with Coconut Dipping Sauce

Makes about 15

Get:
75 g dark chocolate
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1-2 tbsp rice syrup or honey

Wonton Wrappers

For the dipping sauce:
1/3 cup coconut cream
2 tsp rice syrup
Few strands saffron (optional)

Make:

Blitz the filling ingredients together in a food processor until a coarse paste forms.  Start with 1 tbsp syrup and add more if you prefer it sweeter.

Fill the wonton wrappers.  I used about a tsp of mixture per wrapper, placed it in the centre and folded the edges together.  I used a little water around the edges to make them stick.

Sprinkle the wontons with water and steam them for about 20-25 mins, or until the wrappers are cooked.

Make the dipping sauce by whisking the ingredients together well.

Serve the wontons with dipping sauce for dessert.

Dessert Wontons 3

A Crumble for Comfort

I had serious arguments with myself before I finally made my mind up to post this recipe.  After all, who needs yet another recipe for baking fruit covered in a simple flour and oat mixture?  Especially when we are solidly in spring here in Australia, decidedly not a time for hot baked desserts.

Apple Blueberry Crumble 1

What finally convinced me to post was the reminder that this blog is as much for me as it is for the ten or so of you who regularly read it.

It is a place for me to chronicle my recipes, so that when I am old and senile, I will still be able to whip myself up a quick dessert, a dhal that tastes like home or my palak paneer.

As soon as I remember where I left my glasses so that I may read the screen.

It is a place for me to share my thoughts, memories and experiences.  To excitedly show you what I whipped up in my kitchen that made us happy over here.  I decided that perhaps a classic recipe with some equally sweet memories attached is the perfect thing to share in this, my corner of cyber-space.

All that and the fact that I had some sad, softish looking apples trying to die a slow death in my fruit bowl which simply had to be used up.

Green apples 3

 

I learnt the original version of this from a housemate during my time in Glasgow.  We were interns then, poor for both money and time.

As interns, our days were a blur of hospital duty, scrubs and pagers.  There were weeks of nightshifts where day became night and night was day.  A unique form of jet-lag without the fun parts like aeroplanes and cocktails by the pool.  Amidst it all we did all we could to absorb information from our seniors while attempting to appear knowledgeable in front of the students.

We ate when we could and coming home to a prepared meal was a luxury we never took for granted.  The local pub knew us well as making our way further afield to eat out in the city was a trip we seldom had the time or energy to make.  Piled into a big house together, we found that sharing meals was the most economical, not to mention most enjoyable way to go about things.

When my housemate made this crumble, an enormous dish of this would stretch to be both dessert and breakfast for several days.  During the busier times, it might have served as dinner as well.  We would store it in the cooled oven, which in the Glasgow winter was not too different from a fridge in any other place.

Apple Blueberry Crumble 3

You can make this your own as I did.  I usually use Granny Smith (green) apples but just about any apple will work.  The blueberries do that thing they do, exploding in the heat and covering everything rather dramatically in their purple juices.  Feel free to use whatever berries you like, or even raisins.  The crumble can only be enhanced by add-ins such as shredded coconut, pecans or hazelnuts, but I quite enjoy the way pepitas swell with hot air and go all crunchy.

Apple and Blueberry Crumble

Serves 6-8 for dessert or 4 hungry interns for dinner

Get:

For the fruit layer:

6 apples
1 punnet blueberries
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp rice syrup, honey or brown sugar

For the crumble:

3/4 cup wholewheat plain flour
3/4 cup quick oats
3 tbsp pepitas
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 & 1/2 tbsp rice syrup, honey or brown sugar
1 & 1/2 tbsp butter
8 cloves

Make:

Preheat the oven to 160 C.

Core and dice the apples to a 1 1/2 to 2 cm dice.  In a mixing bowl, mix the apples, blueberries and the rest of the fruit layer ingredients so that the fruit is well coated in the other ingredients.  Distribute the fruit mixture evenly in a medium sized deep ceramic dish.

Place all the crumble ingredients, apart from the cloves, in the same bowl.  Use your (clean) fingers to massage the butter and syrup into the other ingredients.  Stop when it is well mixed to a moist crumble consistency.

Scatter the crumble mixture evenly over the top of the fruit mixture.  Dot the cloves into the crumble.

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40-50 minutes until the apples are soft and yeilding.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, cream or Greek yoghurt. The latter is probably a more sensible option if you are having leftovers for breakfast but if you opt for ice-cream it’ll be our little secret.

Apple Blueberry Crumble 2

Chocolate Orange Macadamia Truffles

Choc Orange Mac Truffles 1

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.

Choc Orange Mac Truffles 6

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.

Choc Orange Mac Truffles 3

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?

Choc Orange Mac Truffles 2

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?

Choc Orange Mac Truffles 5

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.

Choc Orange Mac Truffles 4

Chocolate-Drizzled Macaroon Cookies for August SABH

I spend a lot of time in my own little world. Call it a Piscean trait or an only child thing that la-la land seems to be a second home for me.

It’s nice up there you know, and for the most part I have no complaints.  But being somewhat of a space cadet leads to some muddled and sometimes embarrassing effects.

Macaroon Cookies 4

There was that time during my primary school days in Mumbai.  It was a Tuesday and I somehow had it in my seven year old mind that it was a Wednesday, a day when school finished at noon.  So little me waited at the school gates for my mum, slightly puzzled as to why I wasn’t surrounded by the usual crowd of kids waiting and parents collecting.

To add insult to injury, despite normally being a perfectly angelic student, I was reprimanded for my confusion and wound up utterly humiliated!

Macaroon Cookies 1

Last week, the days of the calendar jumped around without any warning again.  I got my Mondays mixed up and posted this Indian spiced cookie recipe for Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, hosted by The Sticky and Sweet.  Seconds after I hit publish, I realised that SABH week was actually this week!

My embarrassment was significantly soothed with the realisation that two batches of cookies can only be better than one.  So I set about to put together another batch.

Macaroon Cookies 3

This is a macaroon like cookie- not the fancy schmancy high maintenance French macarons that are currently on a mission for world dominance.  No, this is like the much simpler coconut macaroon but with other good things added in.

Think of the egg whites as merely a vehicle for all the awesome nuttiness.   You can totally personalise these.  Add almost whatever you want- other nuts, dried fruit or chocolate chips.  The original recipe which is the inspiration for this uses chunks of marzipan.  If you want this to be totally fructose-free, leave out the cranberries and use unsweetened or fructose-free chocolate.

Chocolate-drizzled Macaroon Cookies

Inspired by these cookies from The Tiffin Box

Makes 20-25

Get:

4 egg whites
1/2 cup rice syrup and honey
1/2 cup almonds
3/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup cranberries
10-12 squares dark chocolate

Make:

Preheat the oven to 150 C.

Roast the almonds on a baking tray for about 15 mins.  Allow to cool and chop roughly.

Whip the egg whites to soft peaks.  Fold in the syrup gently.  Sift in the almond meal.  Add the coconut, almonds and cranberries and fold all the ingredients together gently, being careful to preserve as much of the lightness as possible.

Line 2 or 3 baking trays with baking paper and grease the paper for insurance purposes.  Place tablespoon sized dollops of the batter on the paper with about 2 cm between dollops.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cookies have browned a little.  Allow to cool.

Melt the chocolate in a Bain Marie or double boiler, or in the microwave in 20-30 second bursts.  Using a fork, drizzle the cookies with chocolate.

Macaroon Cookies 2

Nutty Bonbons for The Sweet Swap

I didn’t grow up believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy.  There was no leaving cookies and carrots out for Santa and his hungry reindeer on Christmas Eve. I didn’t awake at Easter anticipating the search for chocolate eggs that a big furry visitor had hidden.  As for the tooth fairy, she didn’t visit till I was at least eight when we migrated to Australia.  By then I was old enough to know better and while I happily accepted coins in return for the last of my baby teeth, I knew deep down that a fairy wasn’t the one providing the compensation.

Nutty Bonbons 1

None of these things are anything to be sad about as these are western concepts that weren’t part of a typical Hindu Indian childhood.  We lived in Mumbai then, or Bombay as it was called at the time.  My parents made sure there was no shortage of wonder in my life and so there was no sense of deprivation.  I was an only child with a quirky imagination and they each had their unique ways of entertaining me.

Nutty Bonbons 5

My mother was then a stay-at-home-mum, and as for many kids who have that luxury, she lost some of her authority come nightfall.  So it was my dad who would come home from the daily grind to his duty of coaxing me to eat the healthy dinner that my mum had prepared.

Luckily he too had quite the imagination and sitting at our Formica table in our little flat, he would find a way to transform the contents of my plate into something a fussy six-year-old would find fascinating.

Rice, yoghurt, curries and sambhar would be carefully piled into an exotic looking arrangement with an equally exotic name to pique my interest.  Dad’s skills as an engineer were never so challenged as they were when he constructed these elaborate creations that gave a new meaning to playing with one’s food. The whackily christened Auburi Biselari Kuselari was one such creation, made up of whatever was on my plate and with a name that was entirely conjured up in my dad’s mind.

I like to think it is more a testament to my dad’s creativity and not a reflection of my own gullibility that this was a tactic which worked very well indeed.

Nutty Bonbons 4

Dad had another trick up his sleeve, and not just in a metaphorical sense.

Wanna see some magic? He would ask.

Now what child says no to that?

He would wave his hands around in the air, click his fingers, mumble some magicky sounding mumbo jumbo.  With spectacular pomp, dad would make a fist, wave his other hand over it and turn it over to reveal a treat as if materialised from the air.  And amazingly in his palm there would be a 5-star chocolate bar or a little pack of Gems (India’s answer to M & M’s) or a wedge of Amul cheese in its foil wrapping.

Dad knew just how to enthral and impress his little girl.

Nutty Bonbons 2

The Sweet Swap wasn’t quite the same as my dad’s wizardry, but it still involved packages of sweets appearing, as if by magic, on my doorstep.  The inaugural event involved food bloggers from all of Australia and was put together by two lovely bloggers; Sara of Belly Rumbles and Amanda of Chewtown.  Not only did the event raise funds for the charity organisation Childfund Australia, but it served to connect food nerds from all over the country, a real bonus for a newbie blogger like yours truly.  The basic gist of it was that each blogger was matched with three other bloggers.  We were instructed to make three batches of the same sweet and post them off to our matches.  In turn, we received three surprise bundles of sweets from the bloggers that we were matched to.

Now what could be better than receiving homemade goodies in the mail?

Over the course of the week, I delightedly received firstly some scrumptious Irresistaballs by Tara from vegeTARAian, followed by the heavenly, goodbye-diet, Snickers Bars courtesy of Cassandra from Food Is My Friend.  The last package contained some cloud-like Green Tea and Lemon Sherbet Marshmallows from Ed at Yaya’s Yumyums.

Left to right: Marshmallows, Irresistaballs, Snickers Bar
Left to right: Marshmallows, Irresistaballs, Snickers Bar

As for me, I decided to try and dabble in some low-fructose treats.  A little while ago, one of my colleagues, Maria, gave me a recipe for some seriously addictive bonbons that she had brought in to share.  After a few tweaks, I came up with a version that had a fructose-free middle and a coating of dark chocolate.

These bonbons have an incredible texture, with ingredients that feel really substantial in the mouth.  The bitterness of the dark chocolate beautifully cuts through the sweet nuttiness of the filling.  Remember that almond butter we made a few weeks ago?  Well, you probably didn’t need a way of using it up, but if you did, this is one.  These beauties are super easy and no-bake, which means you could easily get the kiddies involved, as long as an adult is handling the molten chocolate.  They also make a great gift and evidently survive well in the postal system.

VKD_0637

These bonbons landed on the doorsteps of Emily of  Hold the Peas, Muppy of Muppys and as nervous as I was about sending chocolate treats that I made to a professional sweet-maker, John of Perfection Chocolates.

Nutty Bonbons

Makes 30-35 bonbons

Get:

1 1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp almond butter
1/4 cup rice malt syrup
150g good quality dark chocolate
Desiccated coconut for sprinkling

Make:

Blitz the walnuts in a food processor until a very chunky meal is achieved.  Place in a large mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients apart from the chocolate. Start with 2 tbsp almond butter and add more later if the mixture is too dry.  Mix with a wooden spoon until it is a sticky, even mixture.  Oil your hands with a little coconut oil or a neutral oil.  Roll the mixture into balls that are a little smaller than a cherry tomato.  Spread out on a tray and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

Melt the chocolate using your preferred method- I like to use a Bain Marie.  Drop the balls into the molten chocolate two or three at a time.  Use two teaspoons to roll each ball in the chocolate until completely covered.  At this point, I sprinkled about half of them with desiccated coconut.  Place the balls on a grease-proof paper lined tray and return to the fridge. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Notes:

You can substitute any other nut butter for the almond butter.

To make these completely fructose-free, you could use fructose-free chocolate which is sweetened with glucose or Stevia, and vanilla powder instead of extract.

Of course, if you are happy to embrace the fructose, you can substitute golden syrup for rice syrup and use any chocolate you like.

Nutty Bonbons 3