There's something about fudge that always makes me feel better... always... well, almost always. Ü
'Chocolate is for life, not just Easter', declares a sticker that I shared on social media recently. It summed up my thoughts perfectly, given that I'd visited our local village shopping centre that morning and was taken aback by what can only be described as an obscene quantity of Easter chocolates on sale.
'There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate truffles.'
It goes without saying that I agree with Mr, Mrs or Ms Anonymous, who was made famous for that deliciously witty quotation. Certainly in the lead up to the festive season, I'm like a little squirrel, busy checking my larder to make sure that I have plentiful stocks of fine quality chocolate and locally grown hazelnuts.
As the marketing and events manager of a fresh produce market (in a former lifetime), one of the initiatives I implemented was market tours for school groups. I felt a little bit like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, leading groups of 60 children or more, and their teachers, through the centre. With the help of the store owners, the tours became quite an adventure and the children were always delighted, awestruck and fascinated.
With the approach of the festive season, I'm literally tickled pink to share this recipe for creamy coconut ice with you — mainly because it's the best, creamiest coconut ice I have ever tasted and I know that once you've tried it you and your taste buds will love it too!
The first time I tasted Florentines was in the late 1970s. The husband of a family friend kept a pile in his cookie jar and it was always such a treat when we visited. I'm not sure which bakery he bought them from, but they were they size of my hand and, with an assortment of dried fruits, nuts and rich chocolate coating, they were seriously good.
However, they were also rock solid and, as such, a bit hard to bite into. 'Tooth Crackers', I call them. I've eaten some other 'tooth cracker' biscuits over the years, regretting it instantly when I felt that certain crunch, knowing in my gut that the little nugget I just chomped into wasn't part of the biscuit! Ouch! This unplanned activity has kept my dentist, Dr Fang (true), happy for a time. Needless to say, I've been longing to experiment with my own version of Florentines that are kinder to the teeth.
'Why do we need more cherries?' Peter asked when I stopped to buy two large packs of plump cherries from sellers at the Capital Region Farmer's Markets on Saturday. After our recent weekend in Young for the Cherry Festival, you might think that I'd had enough of the fruit. Not so... despite de-stoning and preserving about four and a half kilos (and devouring another kilo or so fresh from the hand, I am still merrily playing with them in my kitchen.
For a deliciously fun, festive indulgence, try dipping some cherries or strawberries in melted chocolate. Chill them until ready to serve, and there you have it... little choc-cherry ballerinas waiting to dance on your taste buds.
My kitchen has been filled with the aroma of various fruit preserves lately due to something of a cooking frenzy! If you've been reading my recent posts, you'll know that I made some jam from bargain-priced Summer strawberries bought at the farmer's market. After a weekend in Young for the Cherry Festival, I've been busy preserving cherries for Winter pies and clafoutis. And when I saw mangoes selling at two for $2.50 at one of the independent grocers in the city, I knew what I had to do. And a girl has to do what a girl has to do, right?!
'Please take some, the cows are sick of eating 'em,' the stall holder said to me with a laugh, as he offered a kilogram of strawberries for just $5.00. 'Are you sure? I'm happy to pay full price,' I insisted, knowing that the good man had travelled some distance to sell his produce. He waved me away and handed over my prize, saying 'I'm sure, because you'll taste 'em, know how good they are and come back for more next week!'. With such a bargain and his genuine smile, how could I resist?!
What's your favourite biscuit, if you have one? I have always adored biscotti (a.k.a. cantuccini), with pistachio and cranberry being my number one pick of flavours. Some of the store-bought varieties are so amazingly firm that they can only be eaten if first dunked in tea or coffee, hence I prefer to bake my own. Although, having said that, whenever I can find Mother Meg's brand locally, I will pick up a pack or two, as they are delicious little morsels.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.