Chocolate Bliss Balls

Growing this baby has made my sweet tooth ramp up to formerly unknown heights. After the whole liver thing 2 years ago (I cannot believe it’s been 2 years already!?) I cleaned up my diet a lot and pretty much cut out all refined sugar. I maintained it for quite some time, taking a break at Christmas (obviously), but for the most part I was a sugar free individual.

Then we went to Europe. And, well, what’s Europe without Italian Gelato and French pastries? Nothing, that’s what. So naturally I went on a sugar bender for roughly 6 weeks, and I do not regret a minute of it.

Once we got home though, my sweet tooth was tingling and taking myself back to a sugar-free place was challenging. But I tried. Once pregnant however, I found myself making exceptions, oh some chocolate here is ok, a little this and that won’t hurt. I am pregnant after all. And cravings are your body telling you what it needs!

I am pretty sure my body doesn’t need Crunch chocolate…

So, in an effort to tame my sweet tooth I decided I needed an alternative. Enter the Chocolate Bliss Ball. I’ve made a couple of batches but this latest one is definitely my favourite. Sweet, chewy, chocolatey and rolled in coconut. How can you lose?

raw chocolate balls

Chocolate Bliss Balls
(I adapted this recipe from another one that I can’t find now… when I do I’ll be sure post it)

Ingredients
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup roasted hazelnuts
12-15 medjool dates (depending how chevy you want them)
2-3 tbsp cacao
2-5 tbsp vanilla almond milk
Big pinch of salt
Desiccated coconut (for rolling)

Method
1. Blend your hazelnuts and sunflower seeds in a food processor until crumbly looking, you don’t want them to get to a paste stage
2. Add all you other ingredients and blend. Depending on how sticky and wet you want your mix you can add a little more milk here
3. Roll your balls and toss them around in coconut to coat
4. Place in the fridge or freezer to firm up

I store these babies in the freezer. They stay chewy and are sensational icy cold- I think that’s another preggo thing, really cold things.

Chocolate Bliss Balls

Anyway, a clean, vegan, refined sugar free treat that’s bursting with goodness and you don’t need to feel guilty about! But be warned… they are rather addictive!

Sunday

I both love and hate Sundays all at once.

I love them because it’s grocery shopping day- and I really enjoy grocery shopping. I love them because it’s food prep day. I love them because I generally slouch around and don’t really leave the house aside from aforementioned grocery shopping.

I hate them because they are the last day between me and Monday. I really need to start embracing Mondays.

This Sunday just gone wasn’t much different although it did end with Father’s Day dinner for my wonderful dad.

Here’s how the rest of it looked… IMG_4901After looking at them every week I bought a coconut. Fearing for my hands the BF hacked into it for me. I decided we need a cleaver for future coconut hacking. It was amazing. I don’t know what all those coconut water brands do to it when they package it, but honestly, when compared to the real thing, they all kinda suck.IMG_4902Another Sunday treat. For the most part I am a bit of a Pana Chocolate faithful. However I couldn’t resist this little Loving Earth number at the counter of my newly discovered organic-wholefoods market (within walking distance from my house!) It’s coconut mylk and boy oh boy was it good! IMG_4904This was my outrageously large lunch. I did not finish it all. IMG_4903Post lunch it was time to bake. I attempted a Blueberry Buckle upon request from the BF but gave it a clean/paleo twist- almond meal and coconut flour, honey, almond milk, that kind of thing. It wasn’t a complete failure- the coconut sugar crumbly topping was particularly good- but there are definitely some improvements to be made. IMG_4905I think I love Kombucha. This ginger one is my favourite, so zingy and fresh! Continuing to buy might break the bank though so I am going to attempt to brew some at home. I’ll be honest, the result could go either way. I did manage to kill a sour dough starter once…

And then it was off to the parents place for dinner. So long weekend!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are few things in life as satisfying as pulling freshly baked chocolate chip cookies from the oven. The smell is enough to make me a little weak in the knees, and I  don’t even eat them anymore. IMG_2405I mean look at them… all golden with flecks of chocolate, just begging to be eaten before they are appropriately cooled.

Everyone has a go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies. My go-to has evolved over the years to arrive at this fail safe, always incredible, mouth watering, concoction. IMG_2403Even the raw dough looks incredible. There have been times when I’ve bought those cookie dough rolls just to eat them raw… so good. IMG_2404They are perfectly bite sized at this stage. One mouthful. Gone. What raw cookie dough?IMG_2406But then you wait and that smell comes out of your oven! Good lord. What a smell.IMG_2407Then you box them up and take them all out of your house (much to the disppointment of the BF). They were highly appreciated in the wee hours of morning during Relay for Life, I am sure.

Chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup (235 grams) butter
2 cups plain flour
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar (I sometimes do half white, half raw if I feel inclined)
2.5 cups oat bran (I like mine a little bit chunky still, it gives the cookies a chewier texture)
200gr milk chocolate
140-200gr dark chocolate

Method:
1. pre-heat over to 180*c (350*f) and line some cookie trays with baking paper
2. combine flour, oat bran, salt, baking power and baking soda in a bowl, set aside
3. cream your butter and sugars until they are looking fluffy and glorious (you’ll know it when you see it)
4. add vanilla and eggs one at a time, beat baby, beat
5. add your flour mixture gradually until it’s all combined
6. roughly chop all of your chocolate, I use chocolate blocks rather than chips because it melts rather than holding its shape giving you these pockets of chocolate goodness… is anyone else drooling a little?
7. mix your chopped chocolate through your dough, get in there with your hands for even distribution
8. Roll dough into balls, I go with about a teaspoon of mixture, place them on your prepared tray a little way apart so it doesn’t become one big cookie (would that be so bad though, really?)
9. bake for 8-10 minutes, if you want them crispier leave them a little longer, I personally like them soft and chewy so 8-10 is perfection.
10. pull out of oven and try not to burn the roof of your mouth while stealing piping hot cookies off the tray,

Easter slutty brownies

I will pretty much take any excuse to bake something. And easter is as good a reason as any. I had many ideas in mind when it came to easter creations.

1. Cheesecake filled chocolate eggs with a passionfruit “yolk”
2. Chocolate egg nests
3. Easter slutty brownies.

Two and three happened, my nests were not quite as nest-like as I was hoping, but it’s hard to go wrong with slutty brownies. Now you can make these babies bonkers easy by using box mix for both the cookie and brownie components. But I am a sucker for creaming some butter and sugar so I made a from scratch cookie base. The brownie layer however, well you must use Betty Crocker. IMG_2006Ingredients, most of them anyway, not pictured is the flour, baking powder and castor sugar for the cookie layer and the vegetable oil (I used rice bran) for the brownie layer.

First up, cookie layer…IMG_2011Butter and both sugars. Cream.IMG_2012Egg and vanilla. Beat. IMG_2028I love a good action shot… or four. Mixing. Mixing. Mixing. Mixing. IMG_2029Cookie dough. IMG_2016Now squish it into your pan.

Brownie time! IMG_2023Peel your eggs. I had two kinds, the big ones are caramel filled, the little ones are straight up chocolate. Once that’s done you’re ready to make brownie batter. Now focus, this is tricky…IMG_2018Dump all ingredients into a bowl and mix.IMG_2020Eggs meet brownie mix.IMG_2021Brownie mix meet cookie. IMG_2008And you’re ready for the oven.IMG_2034Baked up to gooey-brownie-cookie goodness. The only mistake I made was cutting the chunks too large…

If you fancy looking at the original slutty brownies head over to The Londoner, I can almost guarantee they won’t be the only thing to catch your eye.

Happy (slightly belated) Easter!

Chocolate-chocolate cupcakes + chocolate-salted caramel donuts

Today, despite the fact it was another day of 35*c, was a baking kind of day. Not in my little hot box of a house though, instead I went to visit a friend who has recently moved into an amazing new house built by her very talented husband. Everything is brand-spanking-new, including the self-cleaning over and crazy effective AC. IMG_1822First up to decide on recipes. After much deliberation we went for Magnolia’s chocolate-chocolate cupcakes (possibly the favourite cupcake variety of the BF) and chocolate-salted caramel donuts.

IMG_1823The thing that makes Magnolia’s chocolate cupcakes better than any other? Melted dark chocolate instead of cocoa powder.

IMG_1824Sifting, sifting, sifting… this sifter was super cute but not terribly effective. Not a lot was sifted after this point.

IMG_1837IMG_1821Beating. Creaming. Mixing. Whipping.

IMG_1825Action scooping. Ice cream scoops give you the perfect amount every time, so all of your cupcakes will be the same size, no arguments over who got more cake. IMG_1826And with a near empty bowl into the oven they went. In the interests of full disclosure I’ve no idea what happened once these went into the oven. All of them oozed out the sides and were flat as pancakes on top. I was pretty much mortified.

IMG_1833Icing however can do wonders, especially when applied with fervour by a three and a half year old who ate nearly as much icing as she spread. Sprinkle application was also professional as hell- look at the coverage achieved on the far right!

Donut time.

IMG_1836 IMG_1828Mixed and into pans. Donut pans are magic. This is only the second time I have used them and my goodness I was pleased.

IMG_1829Out of the oven, cooling and waiting for salted-caramel icing. IMG_1830Iced and sprinkled with salt.

IMG_1832BOOM. These babies 100% redeemed the cupcake disaster and apparently tasted just like sticky date pudding.

Recipe wise the cupcakes were Magnolia’s chocolate cupcakes with the chocolate buttercream, which you can find here. The donuts have been pinned on my donuts, oh donuts pinterest board for some time, you can them here.

It’s been far too long since I have baked for no reason at all than simply to be in the kitchen, and it’s even more rare to be doing it with someone else, usually it’s just little ol’ me. I loved being in the kitchen with friends, and kids. A very happy Saturday indeed.

February wrap + March goals

IMG_1705The BF discovered this amazing sugar, dairy and gluten free chocolate in a local supermarket- thank you Piedimontes! The nuts one was perfectly nutty, the goji and coconut one however was like cherry ripe, but with chunky of cherry (goji) and flakes or thick coconut nestled into the super dark chocolate, I could have eaten a bucket of it. AND look how cute the packaging is, and inside these gorgeous little boxes the chocolate was wrapped in really cute paper too. Definitely a highlight of the month. IMG_1668Not a highlight but something that happened regularly… reading my biology textbook and diligently taking notes. IMG_1715This is the cutest honey packaging I’ve ever seen. I didn’t buy it but couldn’t resist taking a photo. IMG_1678Food wise, my month can probably be summed up by protein pancakes (this one was a pancake fail and turned into a scramble, still tasted good). My go-to breakfast.

So I thought that I would have a little look back and February and see how I did with my goals. They were:
1. Euro Adventure research. This month I would like to book our Barcelona accommodation and look into camper van rental in France Our Barcelona hostel was booked on Tuesday night AND we’ve decided on a van.
2. Run! Run! Run! I achieved my 100 by Vday, which was awesome, but since then I have slacked off a bit.
3. Take more photos. I have made a point of taking photos everyday, not all of them are works of art but I like the habit of it.
4. Create a study nook and stay on top of school work. Well this was probably my least successful goal. I did my best to stay on top of my work, and am feeling pretty good about it so far, however I failed to create a nook and as a result the kitchen table and couch are still my study areas. Whoops.
5. Keep it lean and green. I think I have done pretty well in this department overall. I’ve made healthy food choices and have only slipped up a couple of times- who can say no to popcorn I ask you!?

During February I have also taken up swimming, which I am thoroughly enjoying, have taken on a lot more responsibility at work, which is daunting but satisfying  and I have kept up my posts in this little corner of the internet, which makes me exceedingly happy.

For the month ahead- MARCH, how on earth did that happen?- my goals are:

1. Serious saving. With the euro adventure now less than 3 months away I really need to knuckle down with the saving. So for the month of March I will not buy anything that is not food or otherwise essential (essential does NOT include cute glitter nail polish, jeans, ballet flats etc).

2. Run. This one deserves to be on again because I got a bit lax. The couch to 10k app is back on my phone and I am looking forward to having more structure to push me forward.

3. Experiment with sugar/dairy/gluten free chocolate. Inspired by the amazing chocolate up the top of this post and then seeing a recipe for homemade SF, DF, GF chocolate on instagram, and with Easter fast approaching this is the perfect time to play!

4. Do a little bit of study everyday. In theory this will help me to be all over my readings and lectures. We shall see if it happens.

5. (still) Keep it lean and green.

6. Pay attention  Sometimes it feel that at the rate time is moving I will be sitting in a nursing home in the blink of an eye, so this month I would also like to pay more attention to what’s happening around me and smell the roses if you will.

Ok March, bring it.

Lamingtons (for my love)


Valentine’s Day isn’t really celebrated in our house. Having said that I cannot help but do something, even if it’s just little, and possibly an excuse to bake.

The BF is a huge lamington fan. For those of you not familiar with this classically Australian treat it’s basically 2 layers of sponge cake with jam between them and then covered entirely in chocolate sauce and rolled in coconut. If you’ve not had one, I suggest you hunt one down, or as I did, make your own.

Rather than transcribe the recipes I used you can just head on over to Donna Hay… I started with the basic sponge and then referred to the lamingtons.

So we start with an eggy sponge. 
IMG_1639While that’s baking you can prepare your coconut and chocolate sauce, if it goes a little hard (like mine did) add some extra hot water to loosen it back up.
IMG_1642All of the elements…
IMG_1644But before they all go together you need to cut your sponge in half horizontally (like a big sandwich) and cover one side with jam, the pop the top back on. Now it’s time to cut it into chunks, however large you please.
IMG_1643Get your production line ready. When dipping your spongey squares it’s easiest to use two forks, let the chocolate drain off before it goes into the coconut.

It’s messy work, coconut will go pretty much everywhere.
IMG_1646But it’s worth it in the end… And I was told they were delicious!