Chocolate Bark

christmas gift idea #1

blogmas day three! how exciting! i have to say i'm really enjoying this whole blogging everyday thing, it's fun (and delicious, cos there's more food around!). this morning i shamefully slept in unitl noon (!!) which grandma over here never does! i'm normally up by nine at the latest! to be fair, we were out late last night (happy 21st emma!) but all day i was walking around with a body clock that was a solid 4 hours behind. and i was hungry at the wrong times too! urgh. never again. 

i've taken to trolling the internet given the lack of urgent schoolwork that needs doing and it has been occurring to me how much time i spend working on school and academic stuff. sometimes i just sit in my bedroom and look around  thinking ok so what now?!?!??!!  to combat this issue, i wrote a list of things i should do to fill my apparent large amount of spare time. 

1. go to ikea, i need boring things like shelves and picture frames. possibly a mirror too. 

2. go to the gym more.

3. make music playlists for when i go to the gym more. find some funky tunes to pump iron to. 

4. re-watch dr strange and fantastic beasts and where to find them in cinemas again because they were so good the first time nothing will ever compare!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5. if i'm really missing schoolwork i should probs get onto writing my extended essay, 4000 words won't write themselves sadly.....

6. go see the christmas windows in the city! 

7. make a gingerbread model of my newly renovated house and garden 

8. buy a christmas tree for upstairs and decorate it to christmas music!! 

9. buy some plants for the pretty pots i bought that are sitting empty in the corner of my room. 

10.  investigate where (if?) i can get (and then proceed to acquire) a christmas-themed-captain-america onesie  

so there's ten things i'll be doing over the next few days. now onto the edible gifts: chocolate bark! i love edible gifts, so i've decided to give you a few ideas over the course of blogmas! here's number one :)

 this bark is pretty simple. you melt a chocolate of choice and top it with whatever festive and delicious things you like! go nuts! add your own touch! i'm giving these away as christmas gifts to people (because everybody likes edible gifts, it's an easy win) but you could totally make these for a nice desert option or a sneaky snack while watching gilmore girls. also, it should be noted that whilst ALA is normally completely dairy free, this recipe isn't technically (because, like i said, these are going to other homes), but a df version is super easy: just replace all chocolate with greater than 80% dark and you're good to go!


chocolate bark

ingredients

base

 dark chocolate

white chocolate 

Β 

toppings

 uncrystalised ginger

 mixed nuts

candy canes

silver balls

goji berries & other dried fruits

method

melt the dark chocolate and spread it evenly onto a tray lined with baking paper. top the chocolate with toppings of choice (i used a mix of almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, goji berries, candy canes, uncrystalised ginger and white and silver sprinkles).  drizzle some melted white chocolate over the top if desired, or marble it into the dark chocolate base (another idea, is to use a white chocolate base with dark chocolate drizzle). 

wait for the chocolate bark to set, before using a sharp knife to cut the bark into wedges. store the chopped bark in plastic containers until ready for gifting.

to make the present packages, wrap 4-5 pieces in cellophane and tie together with some twine. store in the fridge until it's giving time! 


- jess :D

Baked Nectarines

welcome to day two of blogmas! today i've got some baked nectarines for you all, and they are so delicious ermagawd. in other news i've spent my saturday cleaning out my desk (a thrilling adventure if i've ever had one) and enjoying the peace and quiet that the start of the holidays always brings with it.

speaking of enjoying peace and quiet, given that my regular bedtime is well before 10  and that i thoroughly enjoy tassels (and also that i use words like *thoroughly*) it's recently become apparent to me that i've reached unofficial *grandma status*. except, i'm like a grandma who can use technology.....ish. in fact i was well pleased when my local bookstore offered a three for two deal on their selection of classic literature and have a running debate with a mate at school about whether cardigans are a viable and appropriate clothing choice (hint: i'm on the they're practical and chic what's not to love?!?!? side of the argument). 

so, given that i've peaked* in my grandma status well before the age of 25, i've decided to dedicate this recipe to all the actual or honorary grandmas out there. because living the grandma life isn't always a choice (like the thug life??), and it's not just a lifestyle either. it's a religion.  yay grandmas! 

*last week planned my future cats and their names extensively. i drew a flowchart with gel pens about it. 

note: there isn't really a trick to this recipe, so i do feel like i'm cheating a little by making it an entire blog post. the key though, is deciding how long to cook the nectarines for. if they're suuuuper ripe, then you may need to cook them for less time, as they'll soften up faster and sugars will cook rapidly. nectarines are a staple in the aussie summer time and often appear on top of a pavlova at christmas, so i thought i'd spice them up by baking them! you could make this the base of a crumble, spoon the fruit over ice-cream or yoghurt, or fill/top a cake with them. 


baked nectarines

{recipe for six medium sized nectarines}

ingredients

six firm nectarines

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Β 

Β 

method

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

halve the nectarines and remove the stones. drizzle the evoo over the base of a shallow baking tray tray and spread it around evenly. place the nectarines into the tray, and  sprinkle on the brown sugar and vanilla.

bake for 40 minutes using the fan forced (or equivalent) setting on your oven. at 20 minutes, swap to a low grill setting (if need be, reduce the heat to 160 degrees here). ideally, the fruit should be cooked on the middle shelf of the oven. 

remove the fruit once cooked and caramelized on top. serve warm or cold withe the syrup either alone or as a side. store in the fridge in a sealed container. 


- jess :D 

Banana Muffins

hello! welcome to december! (ho ho ho!) how exciting! my summer holidays began two whole days ago and boy oh boy am i enjoying the sleeping, the snacking and the streaming. the streaming of netflix that is, because since my exams have finished, somehow i zoomed my way through this, this and now i'm three episodes deep into gilmore girls. amazingly my internet hasn't suffered...yet. 

another thing that this december brings with it, other than the re-construction of our back/front/side -yards (we are living in a dustbowl atm) is blogmas! it's like when youtubers do vlogmas, except on the interwebs and with words and photos. basically instead of getting the *usual* one-post-a-week, you'll be getting one post a day* (!!!) until christmas! i'm excited. are you excited? 

i've swapped my tight jeans for my stretchy ones in preparation and have googled extensive lists of podcasts to listen to while i cook and edit in preparation. i also drew a guide for the recipes and posts for the month and scheduled some extra gym sessions into my calendar to combat the extra cake i plan to be eating in the next 25 days. not to mention that i've told friends to be ready to receive baked goods as gifts this year because there are only so many christmas cookies one person can eat ok??!!?!?

*ok so i can't promise they'll all  be uploaded daily (because ya know... life happens), but the plan is to have 25 pieces of content during the month of december. 

anyway, here are some delicious banana muffins that lasted approximately 0.25 seconds in my house and i'll see you tomorrow! 

notes: this recipe is based off one of our family favourites from Stephanie Alexander. If you don't know who that is, look the woman up, she's practically an australian legend. the key to these muffins is to mix gently. very. gently. if you don't, you'll knock the air out of the muffins, and they'll become rock cakes. the best thing about these muffins, is that they're super quick to whip up, and within the hour, you're scoffing down banana muffiny goodness. anyway, enjoy! 


banana & chia muffins

{makes 12 muffins}

ingredients

220g self-raising flour (i used gluten free flour, but  it shouldn't make a difference either way)

60g castor sugar

2 tbsp chia seeds

3 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground nutmeg 

1 egg

3/4 c unsweetened almond milk

1/4 c vegetable oil

2 medium sized ripe bananas, mashed

method

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a muffin tray with 12 patty pans.

in a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and chia seeds. mix together with a fork or a whisk, until an even colour is distributed in the mix. 

in a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg, almond milk, oil and bananas together until well combined. make a well in the centre of the dry mix. gently fold the wet and dry mixes together until just combined.

spoon the mixture into the patty pans until they're just over half full. bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. 

the muffins are best eaten on the day they're made, but they'll keep for a couple of days.


- jess