Tag Archives: glacé fruit

Recipe: Chocolate THING that is basically evil but really yummy

A couple of Thursdays ago, I read an article in the paper lamenting the fact that many Australians would be letting down their employers by taking a sickie on the Monday before Australia Day.  (The article did, at least, point out that employers should be reasonable about granting annual leave on this day, but something about the way it was written still left an unpleasant taste in my mouth.)

My scientists work ridiculous hours, and don’t tend to take sickies, even when they probably should (leading to the fun phenomenon of the Lab Lurgy – we are a sharing sort of team on 5 West!), but I thought that if others were getting a four day weekend, legitimately or otherwise, we should do something to make it worth coming in to work that day.  Accordingly, I proposed a casual lab lunch – anyone who wanted could bring a plate to share, and we’d set up in the meeting room for a couple of hours, with people dropping in, chatting and eating when they had time.

It turned into a smallish but pleasant gathering – certainly worth doing again, with an interesting variety of food ranging from Turkish bread and dips provided by our German lab head and vegetarian sausage rolls from one of our British postdocs, to a proper Gallette des Rois, brought in by one of our French scientists. 

Normally, I would make Nonna’s pizza for this sort of occasion, but my left wrist is still giving me a lot of trouble, and kneading is definitely beyond me.  So instead, I decided to pursue my current favourite confectionery strategy of melting a lot of chocolate, and then opening the pantry and flinging any sweet contents that seem plausible into it.  The results were very tasty – it’s quite a sophisticated, dark chocolate thing, full of glacé and freeze-dried fruits, but I also couldn’t resist pouring in some popping candy, and I got a great deal of glee out of hearing people go “oh, this is really nice – ooh!  Oh my God what is that?” at irregular intervals through the afternoon…

All in all, an excellent way to liven up the day before a holiday.

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Your Shopping List

500 g good dark chocolate (I used half Lindt, half Green and Blacks, both 70% cocoa)
250 g glacé fruit (I used pineapple, peach and apricot, but cherries, pears, oranges, or anything else that takes your fancy would work.  Probably not citron, though.)
50 g crystallised ginger
35 g freeze-dried fruit (I used strawberries and blueberries, but again, pick your own preferred flavours)
35 g popping candy
100 g praline paste (I used almond, but use whatever you prefer)

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Recipe: Chocolate Crackles with the Lot (but Vegan!)

These chocolate crackles really don’t deserve to be as good as they are.  They came about because I had a New Year’s Eve party to go to, and I’m constitutionally incapable of going to a party without bringing dessert – but I didn’t have anything obvious to bring.  What I did have was half a block of copha, a bit of tahini, some chocolate, a big handful of random glacé fruit and a whole box of lollies leftover from various Christmas festivities.  I also had a strong desire not to actually cook, and a rather messy kitchen with both cocoa and icing sugar still left out on the counter after previous baking events.

Everyone knows that chocolate crackles are what Copha (refined coconut oil, for those of you who didn’t grow up with the Aussie tradition of chocolate crackles and honey joys at every birthday party) is for.   And I have always preferred my chocolate crackles with actual chocolate in them.  And surely chocolate crackles could only be improved by a whole lot of random mix-ins?

As for the tahini – well, I didn’t really have enough Copha for the amount of mix-ins I wanted to use.  But I wasn’t going to buy more Copha, because it really is only for chocolate crackles (and, as it turns out, Lebkuchen, which is why I had it in the first place).  I didn’t want to make the crackles richer with butter – I may not be vegan, but if I’ve got a recipe that is perfectly vegan and tasty to begin with, I draw the line at gratuitously un-veganising it – and I was a bit worried that they would be ridiculously sweet.  Tahini is a useful sort of fat, and really quite profoundly bitter, at least to my palate, so it seemed like a good counterbalance to the whole ridiculous mess.

And as it turns out, it was.  This recipe may look like a complete disaster but it actually balances quite well.  And I’ve just realised it isn’t vegan after all, because of my choice of lollies, but since you can make it with whatever lollies you have in the house, I’m still calling it vegan, because it really is as vegan as you want it to be.  A note for the gluten-free – Rice Bubbles are not, in fact, gluten-free, but you can buy annoyingly pricey gluten-free puffed rice cereal that would work perfectly well here.  Since I had nobody gluten-free to cater for, I didn’t bother this time.

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Your Shopping List (or Fridge Dive, depending how you want to play it)

125 g copha
50 g tahini
110 g dark chocolate
3 tbsp cocoa
2/3 cup icing sugar
150 g mixed lollies – I used jaffas, smarties, chopped up jelly snakes, and jelly bellies.  None of these are vegan.  But there is no reason you couldn’t use any vegan lollies you have in the house – I have it on good authority that Skittles and Toffee Apples are fair game, as are a lot of dark chocolate-dipped fruit and nuts, and I know there are plenty of stores that sell specifically vegan lollies, too.  You could also just add 150 g of other mix-ins of your choice.
175 g chopped glacé fruit – I used a mixture of glacé cherries, ginger, apricots and peaches, but any kind would do.
4 cups rice bubbles

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Recipe: Carrot Cake With the Lot (or do I mean banana cake?)

decoratedI have this favourite carrot cake recipe which is full of glacé fruit and spices and all sorts of goodies.  And then I have the Green Kitchen cookbook, which has a carrot cake recipe which is sugar-free and full of spices and even more fruit and all sorts of other goodies.  I couldn’t decide which to make for (yet another) birthday party, so I decided to cross them and make them both at once.

A sensible person would probably have decided to do this by averaging the two recipes out somehow.  Not me.  I added the spices together to make it *extra* spicy (nobody ever puts enough spice in carrot cake), and then gleefully decided that if one recipe had dates and glacé fruit and raisins and pineapple and the other one had dates and banana, we should definitely have all of those things.  The recipe narrowly escaped having hazelnut meal in it, too, even though I don’t like hazelnuts, just because there was an open packet sitting there, looking inviting.

Then, having filled the cake with glacé fruit and ginger, I virtuously turned around and made the batter sugar-free.  Because that makes sense.  I spent quite a lot of the cooking process, in fact, giggling and throwing up my hands, exclaiming “I have no idea what I’m making!”.  This amused Andrew no end, which is probably why we are still married, because it’s an intrinsic part of my cooking process and I suspect it could get quite annoying…

My favourite bit in the whole process was the part where I looked at my date-banana-maple-syrup-oil-pineapple-spice-flour-egg mixture and realised I had created a really nice banana cake batter, to which I was about to add a world of carrots and fruit, potentially wrecking the consistency entirely.  So this, O my readers, is an extra special recipe – it came from two cakes and it produces two cakes!  You can stop the recipe halfway and make a virtuous and sugar-free banana cake, or you can continue the merry madness and have Carrot Everything Cake!  The choice is yours.

Choose wisely.

Your Shopping List (which can basically be summarised as ‘all the edible things’)

12 fresh dates
3 ripe bananas (no need for them to be over-ripe, but if that’s what you’ve got, that’s fine too)
4 tinned pineapple rings
1/2 cup canola oil, or any other not terribly strongly-flavoured cooking oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
3 cups plain flour
2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp mixed spice (I used the Gewürzhaus Apple Cake Spice mix, which is just heavenly)
NB: stop here if all you want is banana cake
4 carrots
300 g mixed glacé fruit, such as apricots, peaches, pineapple, pear, orange, or really anything but ginger or cherries
75 g glacé ginger
125 g raisins
 
For the icing
400 g cream cheese (half full-fat and half light makes your life easier, and also provides a modicum of virtue to the situation), or use a dairy-free mock-cream cheese such as tofutti
100 g honey
zest of 1 small lemon; juice of half a lemon
 

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