On dark days…when only chocolate will do

Already this morning I have had a text from a friend requesting a recipe to cure her sweet craving….and it is not even mid morning. Do you have those days when a sweet fix would seem to fix everything, cure all ills?Well when I really want to have chocolate and the hour is too early, than these treats are a great substitute.  My date and almond balls consist of a large packet of pitted dates, several cups of whole almonds, orange rind and a small amount of orange juice and all of these ingredients are pulsed in a food processor. Once all the ingredients have combined I mould these treasures into balls and lightly roll into coconut. I found this recipe below for those of you who require exact measurements, but really it is fun to play around with this one, adding a variety of nuts and other dried fruit to suit your taste. I find the orange rind really lifts these sweet morsels.

Date and Almond Balls – The Gawler Foundation


1 ¾ cups Whole Almonds (with the skin on)
2 cups Dates (pitted)
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Essence

Using a food processor place ¾ cup of whole almonds and wizz till you have a fine almond meal. Remove from food processor and set aside. Return to the food processor and add 1 cup of whole almonds with the skin on and 2 cups of pitted dates that have been roughly chopped. Add 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla essence and process till you have achieved a mixture that is well combined.Then using a heaped teaspoon of this mixture, mould the paste into balls and roll in the reserved almond meal. Repeat this until you have used up all the mixture. Balls should be kept small as this mixture is very rich.
Balls can be stored for up to four days in the refrigerator, ideal for school lunches or at supper time. 
Note: I like to freeze mine, as they stay firm and stop me eating them all. Enjoy!

It’s a Donna Hay Day….

I remember when the first ever issue of Donna Hay magazine hit the new stands. My girlfriends and I were in awe – everything was so beautiful. Presentation. Presentation.Presentation. But could it last?Would Australians be happy to pay for this magazine…..well apparently the answer is yes. Donna Hay has become a household name – well in this house anyway. The kids love her books and we buy her kids issue each year simply because its gorgeousness inspires.

Of all the magazines and books I read I continually come back to several standout recipes in her old “Off the Shelf. And this is another sweet treat. And Chocolate to boot.

What I adore about her Basic and Speedy Brownie is it is just that – so simple you might laugh out aloud at the recipe. Furthermore, it uses cocoa powder and not chocolate so I am usually assured of having all the ingredients at hand.

And it is here you see her “Special made Simple” motto come into its own – a large handful of frozen raspberries and you have a delicious dessert. The basic mix can receive other goodies too – nuts, jersey caramels, white chocolate chunks. It can be made in a square pan or as individual cup cakes.

What ever you decide it won’t disappoint. My only tip is that I prefer the texture when I mix it by hand – perhaps it is not as smooth but there is a great ‘fudginess’ to them.

Donna Hay Basic and Speedy Brownie

Melt 250g butter and process with 1&1/3 cups sifted plain flour, 2&1/4 cups sugar, 3/4 cup sifted cocoa powder, 4 eggs and 1/4 teaspoon baking ppowder in a food processor until smooth. Pour into a lined 20cm square cake tin and bake at 170degc for 50 mins.

These are fantastic and never fail.