Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate & Other Homemade Christmas Gifts


You may have noticed if you follow along on Instagram or if you've seen this post, that I do so LOVE making edible homemade gifts. I always enjoy baking gifts for family, friends and my kids amazing teachers.

This was a gift for my son's incredible prep teacher:

This year the gorgeous and lovely Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim paid me the highest compliment. She asked me to bake gifts for her favourite people for Christmas. To have her like what I make (she's had a few taste tests over the years!) was a thrill! Chantelle sprinkles happiness and loveliness with the things she does online. The photo a day phenomenon has spread all over the world and is such a lovely way of looking for the good, beauty and creativity in your day.  I just adore Chantelle and appreciate what she shares of herself.  I was extremely chuffed to help her share some loveliness with her friends and family and contacts. All of the items I made needed to be able to be posted to various parts of Australia so nothing perishable or totally crushable was my main aim!

What I put in the boxes of yummo:

- Dulce de Leche Shortbread Sandwiches - recipe can be found here.  These are always a favourite and are super easy to make!

- The fabulous Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella's Snickers Rocky Road - recipe can be found here.

- My trusty awesome White Chocolate, Toasted Macadamia, Toasted Coconut & Cranberry Rocky Road. I shall endeavour to post the recipe for this too, but you could easily wing it if you wanted to give it a go!

- My staple Maple Muesli. You can find a version of the recipe here, but these days I use coconut oil and skip the golden syrup just using maple syrup and almond is my fave variety at the moment.  It's a ridiculously versatile recipe that I switch around depending on the seeds and nuts on hand.

- Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix. I know it's summer in Australia but a few years ago when Jamie Oliver made this recipe, I had to try it!  My version had to be salted caramel because I am OBSESSED with salted caramel!

My recipe is below, but in the meantime, here are some cute photos of the packages I made for Chantelle's peeps and some that I made for my kids teachers for end of year gifts.

Kinder & school teacher gifts:

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix

- 2.5 cups of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes

Chocolate Mix:
- 1.5 cups of cocoa (I used 1 cup of dutch process cocoa powder and 1/2 cup of raw cacao)
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of malted milk powder
- 1/2 cup of powered milk
- 250 grams of best quality chocolate finely grated. I used a combination of dark and milk and used Lindt and Green and Blacks organic chocolate
- 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt flakes depending on your salt/sweet preferences.

- cook the sugar in a pan swirling the pan but not stirring until a dark caramel forms


- at the last minute, stir through the vanilla. Have a lined baking tray ready to go because although the caramel takes awhile, at the end it's very quick from going to a lovely deep caramel to burnt so as soon as you've got it to the desired level, pour straight away on to the lined tray. Sprinkle with sea salt.

- allow to cool completely
- shatter the caramel up - best method is putting it inside a big zip lock bag and then putting the bag inside a tea towel and then bash it with a rolling pin.  You can then blitz it in a food processor until it becomes a gorgeous fine praline.

Chocolate Mix:
- keep the grated chocolate aside
- add all of the other ingredients to the caramel praline and blitz until a gorgeous chocolatey power occurs. Don't blitz for too long as you want to keep a few teeny tiny bits of caramel - these taste incredible in the hot chocolate at the end!
- fold through the grated chocolate and you're done!

To serve:
- stir 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate mix in to a cup of warm milk.
- to make it totally off the chain, add in a toasted marshmallow or two!

I hope you all have a lovely, safe and happy Christmas!

Take care.

Love Amy xoxo

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Carrot, Apple & Coconut Muffins and Cakes

Ok, I'm worst food blogger ever! There's a good way to start!  Hopefully I can redeem myself with this ridiculously easy but delicious recipe!

I think I keep putting off posting recipes because I don't have photos of all of the steps in the process of the recipes. I LOVE recipes with photos of every step. But with 3 kids under foot, the days of me having the opportunity to take step by step photos of everything I make are few and far between.  So, rather than putting off sharing recipes any further, I now will endeavour to post a recipe even if I only have one photo of the finished product *gasps in horror!!!!*.  I also don't have that much to say, so the future posts may be short and sweet but will be documenting recipes I've made and loved. Keep it simple stupid! And as my friend Claire says - you're not building a piano!!!!  This little blog can be a recipe journal with a photo here and there. Onwards and upwards!

So, here's a recipe that I've made about a dozen times in the past year. A firm lunchbox favourite. Extremely adaptable!  You can make it as muffins or as larger cakes.  I made it as for my little Lady Babycake's first birthday cake. It's delicious! When I'm just making it for lunchboxes, I lower the maple syrup amount but for birthday cakes, I use the full amount. You don't have to use spelt flour or any wholemeal if you don't want to, but I tried it with spelt flour (regular and wholemeal combination) and it's my fave!!!! I'm converted!!!  For any info on the health benefits of spelt, I suggest you google and look for your own evidence. I'm happy that it's a healthier option and even happier that it's also tastier!  I just bought it from Woolworths - the Macro brand (not sponsored, just saw it and bought it!).

Next time I'm going to try it with coconut flour.  Not because I'm gluten free or in to fad food, but I love experimenting with different products and wheat free baking is good for a change. I've been using coconut flour lots lately and love it. Makes for super tasty and non dry cakes and muffins.

Whilst I'm on the topic, here are a couple of further thoughts on fad foods and wholefoods. I, clearly, love to cook. I also love to bake sweet things. But with 3 kids 5 and under, I'm getting more and more mindful of what foods are better choices for them and for me.  There are lots of fad foods out there at the moment. Some are awesome, some are gross! Um, maca powder - ewwwwww!!!!  I know it's supposed to be awesome but I can't stand it!  The approach I am taking with 80-90% of the food in our house is wholefoods. Fruit, vegetables, meat, chicken, fish, nuts, legumes, dairy, grains etc. The best quality and freshest we can afford, grow and/or find. No food groups are excluded, but different choices are being experimented with. For example, I no longer use vegetable oil, instead I use proper butter, extra virgin olive oil and cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil. It's not about fat, it's about how wholesome it is.  Less processed sugar is also happening. But I can assure you that I have not jumped on the "I quit sugar" bandwagon! Fruit is awesome. Maple syrup is delicious! And sometimes, you just NEED to make salted caramel brownies jam packed full of refined sugar!!!! ;-) I could continue to ramble on about this, but I won't. Instead, I will introduce you to these 3 awesome ladies:

- No nonsense nutrition guru Katie180. Visit her blog or follow her on Facebook for some little pearls of wisdom.  No extremes and loads of interesting information.  Plus she likes cake :-)

- The fabulous Heidi at Apples Under My Bed is a dietitian who loves to eat and cooks the most delicious food. I've made lots of her recipes and I'm inspired daily by her instgram feed.  A fellow Melbournian and an awesome chick.

- Bianca at Wholefood Simply has so many straight forward but gorgeous recipes- particularly baked goods with healthier ingredients.  I made her coconut bread in muffin form yesterday and they were awesome!

All 3 blogs are full of really ace recipes that are delicious, simple and mostly wholesome without any deprivation!

Ok, what was I saying earlier about having nothing to say?!?! See why I don't blog very often?! I start rambling.

Here's the recipe! Finally!

Carrot, Apple & Coconut Muffins and Cakes

150 grams of spelt flour
100 grams of spelt wholemeal flour
80 grams (1 cup) of coconut
3 teaspoons of baking powder
80grams of cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil, melted
3 eggs, lightly whisked
75-125ml of pure maple syrup (not the imitation stuff!) depending on your preference.
3 carrots, grated (squeeze some of the juice out and discard or drink it!)
2 apples, grated (same as with the carrot juice!)

- Preheat oven to 160 degrees
- Mix all of the ingredients together with a wooden spoon.  That's how easy this recipe is!

- pour in to patty pan cases or lined and greased (with coconut oil) cake tins

For muffins/cupcakes - bake for approximately 15 minutes depending on the size you use - I make about 36 medium muffins from this recipe usually but have also made larger ones and mini ones.  Once the muffins are golden and cooked all the way through, they're done.  Here's some photos of the muffin version that are a regular lunchbox item for my kiddos.

For larger cakes - bake for approximately 30-40 minutes. I made 3 small, flat cakes with this recipe ready to be stacked with maple cream cheese frosting - yummo!!!!  Here's some pics of the cake as seen at Lady Babycakes First Birthday.

I hope you try these and love them as much as we do!

I shall endeavour to post another recipe soon….I have about 20 waiting in the wings...

Love Amy xoxo