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Archive for the tag “Chocolate”

Shackled by Sugar

When I see that the purple packaging is empty except for the surviving crumbs hiding themselves and quivering away in the corners of the now vast and vacant wrapper, I think to myself “Whose been eating my deliciously creamy Milka chocolate??!” I swear there was some left. I deliberately bought the 300g block as it would be cheaper in the long run, I would eat it slowly over a week or two as I know I have exceptional chocolate will power. Alas it lasted barely a day. And no matter what I tell myself, deep down I know that if I look directly in to the mirror I will see the deviant chocolate thief staring straight back at me. I have become a slave to a master of denial, deception and the slogan “just one more won’t hurt”. I have become enslaved by sugar.

The thing is, before I started travelling I really wasn’t this bad (honest) I could buy a block of chocolate and nibble on it for two weeks, eating just enough to satisfy any sugary cravings, sometimes a little more if I was reaching the “I swear I’m going to strangle somebody if I don’t get a chocolate fix right this instant” level. When I was in the comfort of my own routine back in NZ I had the ability to keep regular eating habits. I could make my spirulina smoothie every morning, I had access to things like coconut oil and quinoa and time to make good lunch choices like salads and wraps. Travelling and being on the road means it’s hard to keep routine and structure which sometimes is the best part about travelling, being homeless and structureless. For me I have found that my whole routine has been turned upside down, thrown in the washing machine and set on spin cycle for far too long. Living in Spain I am eating lunch at 2 or 3 o’clock and dinner at 9 or 10. I believe that this alone has kept me running back to sugar like an old comforting childhood memory.

So I have decided that I will be a slave no more! I have started to slowly chip away at the sugary sweet shackles that bind me to this processed drug, I’ve tried my very best not to eat away at them (: Since I have settled here in Sevilla for a short time I have managed to get my hands on some coconut oil and I have started making some sweet healthy delights to carry me through the withdrawals and get my sugar intake back to normal. I have always loved coconut oil, mainly for taming my unruly and rebellious tresses or for trying to smell like what I imagine a beautiful Island princess to smell like, but mostly I love the versatility of this oil so I try to use it in small amounts in different ways in my diet as well. The main treats I have been whipping up for myself are coconut rough and cool coconut and banana bites both are extremely simple and don’t require much time, equipment or effort.

Coconut Rough

This is one of my favourite chocolate flavours so I absolutely love this version, coconut, coconut and more coconut! What’s not to love?!

4 Tbsp Coconut oil
2 Tbsp Cocoa
¼ C shredded or desiccated coconut (use desired amount, I like more rough in my chocolate so I use a lot)
1 Tbsp Honey or Maple syrup (adjust to taste)

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together until smooth.
2. Pour the mixture in to a small tin lined with baking paper.
3. Set in the freezer and break in to pieces like chocolate bark.
4. Keep stored in the fridge and enjoy!

Cool Coconut and Banana Bites

These are so tasty and great for hot days as they are eaten straight from the freezer.

2 Tbsp Coconut oil
1 Tbsp Cocoa
1 Tbsp Honey or Maple Syrup
1 Banana
Desiccated coconut to cover

1. Mix the coconut oil, cocoa and honey until smooth.
2. Slice a banana in to 1cm thick slices and dip in the chocolate mixture.
3. Roll in coconut and put in a container to store in the freezer.
4. Eat straight from the freezer; try not to eat them all at once!

Of course there is always room for some real chocolate, which I refuse to give up completely, but these definitely keep the sugar cravings at bay and keep those shackles loose. And for the record next time I’m buying chocolate it won’t be the large block, you’re not in charge today sugar, not today!

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Back Where I Belong

As I watch my deliciously golden mixture bubble away on the stove stop I hum to myself that tune by some rapper whose name I cant remember but whose song contains the words that express how I’m feeling at this moment, “ back where I belong, something about being strong, there’s nothing that I cant tryyyy, so put your hands in the skkkkyyy” (along those lines anyway) After being on the road for a good 3-4 months I have finally been able to get back in the kitchen. Where I belong (and no I’m not saying that just because I am a woman). One of the things that makes me happiest in this world apart from travelling, apart from working out to tunes by Beyonce and apart from eating (just eating in general) is cooking.

Since I have been staying in Sevilla in a real house I have been able to get a little creative again in the kitchen. There’s just one problem. This real house, it has no oven. What??! I know who doesn’t have an oven?! I was so shocked to discover this fact that I almost just turned right around, walked out the door and hopped on the next bus out of there. But what I realised is that it just means I have to be more creative. A challenge. So when I attended my first couch surfing cooking meeting I was racking my brains with what to make, I wanted to make the obvious and always moreish NZ (not Australian ☺) dessert, Pavlova, but I didn’t have an oven! So with a little help from my Grandad’s recipe and a little kiwi influence I came up with this velvety hokey pokey chocolate slice.

My Grandad uses ginger and apricots in his version and I always remember loving devouring this sweet delight whenever we visited him. His recipe uses sweetened condensed milk, something else I have fond memories about. I remember loving when my Mum would make her caramel slice because I would get to lick the spoon after she had used the sweetened condensed milk. I had a really bad realisaton making this slice as it dawned on me that I am in fact an adult now and if I want to eat sweetened condensed milk straight from the can then I can sure as hell do it and no one can stop me! Unfortunately I have now had to ban myself from buying sweetened condensed milk, add to that list Nutella as I had the same realisation the week before about this, my all time favourite flavor combination, and needless to stay the jar didn’t last long!

So with my slice I decided that I needed to incorporate a little kiwi in to it as it would be my dessert for the International couch surfing dinner, I thought hokey pokey would make a great addition to this slice because I’ve never met a person who doesn’t love hokey pokey! This recipe is great as you can add almost anything you like and it’s so simple. And the best thing, I didn’t need to use an oven! So the recipe…….

Velvety Chocolate and Almond Hokey Pokey Slice

Start with the Hokey Pokey

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50gms Sugar
2 Tablespoons Golden Syrup or Honey (I used honey as Golden Syrup doesn’t exist in Spain, it has a slightly different flavor but is still just as tasty)
1 Teaspoon Baking soda

1. Lightly mix the sugar and the honey together in a pot and boil over a medium heat on the stove. DO NOT stir once the mixture is on the stove top.
2. Let the mixture boil for about 5 minutes or so, the important thing is to watch it carefully and watch for a change in colour. You want the whole mixture to darken in colour to a nice golden brown.
3. When the mixture has darkened, the bubbles are bubbling and it looks as though it’s close to burning, remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the baking soda.
4. The mixture will foam and double in size and you can then pour the mixture quickly on to a piece of baking paper. Let sit until it has cooled.

*If the Hokey Pokey is chewy and sticky then it wasn’t hot enough when you added the baking soda, next time it needs to be left longer to bubble.
** This makes a small batch, double the quantities if you would like to have some left overs!

Chocolate Slice

200gms Best quality dark chocolate (This is important, I have tried it with cheap milk chocolate and the flavor just isn’t as good)
½ C sweetened condensed milk
50 gms Butter
1 portion of crushed Hokey Pokey
¾ C Chopped almonds
¾ C Dried cranberries

1. Melt the chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and butter over a low heat and let your mouth drool at the sight of this delightful mixture!
2. Crush your pre-prepared hokey pokey (which should have beautiful fluffy air bubbles throughout it) into small pieces with your hands or a blunt kitchen object.
3. Add hokey pokey, almonds and cranberries to the chocolate mixture and pour in to a small tin lined with baking paper. I used a loaf tin but you can use a cake tin if you prefer. Cover and put in the fridge to set. And there you have chocolate hokey pokey perfection!
4. Cut in to slices and enjoy straight from the fridge.

I love how simple this recipe is, it’s rich so you don’t need a lot. This recipe makes a small batch to enjoy as dessert or with coffee.

Accidentally in Love with Torino

After a spontaneous decision to head slightly west from my original Northern Italy route, I have found myself in the elegant and humble city of Torino, or Turin as it is better known outside of Italy. This decision sprouted from a convincing recommendation from my Canadian friend who had visited earlier and left with only great things to say. And she wasn’t wrong.

The city portrays an atmosphere of sophistication coupled with an understated easy going attitude. The elegance is shown in it’s array of beautiful museums and arched streets (porticoes) much like those in Bologna and it’s laid back vibe is seen in the trendy and lively cafe and bar scenes scattered throughout the city. It has the same high fashion shopping as Milan without the feeling of business and elitism and the same easy going vibe as Bologna but on a slightly larger scale and with more sophistication. It also has chocolate!

The whole time I have been in Italy I have been indulging far too much in all things nocciola and chocolate. In other words I have consumed more Nutella and Nutella flavoured foods than I think any one person should in their entire lifetime. Whether it be gelato, chocolate, torta or plain old Nutella spread, if it’s chocolate and hazelnut, I’ve been eating it. This divine flavour combination is something that the Italians do extremely well, dangerously well if you ask me! And by visiting Torino I accidentally found out why.

Torino is actually the birth place of the chocolate from which this flavour combination emerged, it goes by the name of Gianduja ( john-DOO-yah) and once you have experienced it no other chocolate will compare. It is the flavour that Nutella is inspired from but Nutella will never be in the same league as the coveted Gianduja. This chocolate gold came about in the early 1800s when Cocoa beans became scarce so the chocolatiers in Turin decided to extend their supplies as much as possible by adding hazelnut paste from the flavoursome and locally grown hazelnuts that were easy to produce and obtain. From then on Turin has been famous for this particular chocolate and it’s velvety smooth texture and distinct taste has been preserved over time with local chocolatiers sticking to the original recipe. The secret lies in the high hazelnut content used and the flavour if the Piedmont hazelnuts.

So if you are visiting Turin it is an absolute must to sample this original and historical chocolate, it can be on the expensive side, especially in seasons when hazelnuts are scarce but it is well worth it. I sampled Gianduja at Guido Gobino a delicate chocolate shop not far from the University and the Egyptian Museum. I was later told that this is probably the best chocolate shop in Turin so it is the perfect place to have your first divine Gianduja intervention. ¡viva my new chocolate obsession!

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