Tropical Flapjacks

Welcome to my first blog post from the Southern hemisphere! I apologise for the somewhat haphazard recipe, but I must confess I have no scales so all measurements were in cups, well mugs actually, and I doubled the recipe below as we were using a roasting tin. The latter doesn’t bother me though; it merely means that we have more flapjack than I originally planned. Faithful readers are bound to have had enough of me droning on about my love of flapjack, but I shall repeat – my love for flapjacks runs deep and true. I am, however, point blank refusing to buy more baking equipment when we should be receiving my stuff at the end of next month. We shall see how firm my resolve is after another fortnight without my stuff, but for now it is cast-iron strong and not at all faltering…

We are starting to settle into our new home, well we must be if the kids are in the kitchen. It was a bit touch and go when I realised that we had no hangers, but I solved that problem so nearly everything has a home with my slightly wonky logic. I really do hate unpacking so Simon may well have had to delve into his savings of patience while I was putting off the inevitable chore!

Our kitchen set up here is a little different, and to tell the truth it may well take some getting used to, don’t think for a second that the kids would let any of this hinder us. I did let Ophelia wash up after this and I did think that it was going rather well and then I realised that she had used nearly an entire bottle of washing up liquid! Why oh why did I turn my back on her?!

A different set up, but we get on with it!

These are Tropical Flapjacks as they contain orange juice and zest, raisins and desiccated coconut. Tropical in flavour but, it’s just a shame that the August weather in Stanley doesn’t match the summery fruity vibes of these yummy flapjacks. They make me think of sunny memories in Loughborough and Surrey before our departure from the UK. They are perfect for after school snacks (if you are lucky enough that your angels have returned) or puddings or even if the kids are driving you around the bend and you need a little treat.

Ingredients

In they go!
  • 1/2 cup of butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of golden syrup
  • 1 cup jumbo oats
  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 60g raisings
  • 3tbsp orange juice

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 140°c fan.
  2. Grease a brownie pan or medium-sized roasting tin if you double the recipe like we did!
  3. Put the raisins in a bowl and cover with the orange juice.
  4. Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup over a low heat.
  5. Zest the orange, we used a box grater for this – I did have to remove it from Finch as he was about to grate the orange as well.
  6. Pour both types of oats, the desiccated coconut, the orange zest and the raisins into the melted sugary mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until completely combined.
  7. Dollop the oat mixture into the tin and gently spread it around with the back of the wooden spoon. Make sure there is an even layer.
  8. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the flapjacks are golden. Allow to cool in the tin before removing and slicing.

As usual, I demonstrated my lack of patience by endeavouring to slice them before they were fully cooled. Despite the fact that they crumbled a bit, they were really yummy. I think the kids will have to keep a close eye on me tomorrow morning to ensure that I don’t decide to eat the rest of them for breakfast!

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Date & Walnut Cookies

You know it is going to be one of those days when you are up before 7am with the kids in the school holidays. You know it is going to be longer than you want when in order to retain your sanity, you start baking before you would normally be leaving the house for the school run. Before you start yelling at your screen that I am crazy, my theory that over the summer it is cooler earlier in the morning and therefore easier to have the oven on without turning the whole house into a sauna and turning your children into little dragons set to breathe fire at each other and at you.

Snipping the dates

We made this recipe as we have a lot of dried fruit and nuts in the house – it seems I always put them in the trolley regardless of the quantity that I already own. So if you see me anywhere in the vicinity of a supermarket until the new academic year, please do feel free to remind me that I don’t need anymore of the aforementioned item or even remove them from my trolley unless I can tell you their exact date of use and purpose.

It was another baking in pyjamas session!
Cracking the egg into a separate bowl to whisk means it is easier to retrieve any stray bits of shell!

These cookies are ridiculously moreish; I managed to polish of significantly more of them than necessary for a healthy diet (after successfully completing a spin class, but still….) and the batch lasted under 24 hours from when they were made. The kids loved these and enjoyed bashing the walnuts and cutting the dates with scissors. I did also catch Atticus squeezing honey into his mouth directly from the jar. I was so surprised that I admonished him and he was so surprised that he dropped it. Luckily in this instance the jar was plastic. It is also a rather good thing that I wasn’t planning on sharing the honey with anyone outside the family.

The finished product!

Ingredients

  • 150g dates
  • 100 walnuts
  • 25g melted butter/margarine
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1tbsp honey

Method

  1. Place greaseproof paper or silicone baking mats onto a couple of baking trays.
  2. Using scissors, cut the dates into small pieces.
  3. Using a pestle and mortar or a rolling pin gently bash the walnuts into small pieces.
  4. Crack the egg into a small cup or bowl and gently beat it.
  5. Place all the ingredients apart from the flour into a bowl
  6. Sift in the flour and mix until fully combined.
  7. Take tbsp. of the mixture and either roll into balls (beware it is sticky!) or just dollop onto the baking tray.
  8. Depending on the size of your cookies, you will have between 12 and 15.
  9. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden.
  10. Leave on the tray to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  11. Scoff the lot with or without the kids!
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Chocolate Dip

I love it when I plan to make something with the kids and I actually get round to making it the week I planned to. I know it sounds crazy, but I have list upon list of ideas that I want to try in the kitchen with my little chefs. Some make it to the top incredibly quickly, but others linger for a while before they have their turn in the limelight. I may have made this one the week I planned to, but writing it up to share with you all has taken another week or two. I am placing the blame for this one firmly in the court of the house spring clean. Yes I am still trying to sort our house – it is a job of epic proportions. I should maybe be calling it a summer clean now as despite the changeable weather, not even I can deny that it is in fact summer. I find myself continually distracted and I am at the stage where I find any other activity more interesting than the one at hand! Do I sort through a pile of mismatched toys or plan a list of baking activities?! Yup the latter tends to win. Oh and I am very good at planning, it seems finishing a task is my downfall.

Top; chocolate dip spread on pancakes, bottom left dolloped in cereal and bottom right as a dip for strawberries. All totally yummy and considerably less sugar than regular chocolate spread.

This recipe is essentially a chocolate hummus. We decided to call it dip as the kids had fun dipping strawberries into it. We have also discovered that it works remarkably well with pancakes and dolloped into a bowl of cereal for added protein at breakfast. I am fully aware that it is not a usual thing to make with kids. I know this because when I informed my husband what Ophelia and I were going to be making in the kitchen, a glazed expression crossed his face. He was probably thinking something along the lines of why doesn’t she just make a batch of cookies or cupcakes?!

Ophelia had fun looking at the ingredients and pouring them into the food processor. She took great delight in helping me push down the side with a spatula to ensure it was fully mixed. The best part, once again was licking the bowl. She asked to do this pretty much from the start. I am pretty sure she figured that baking on her own with me meant she wouldn’t have to share the treat. Her brothers were referenced a couple of times.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 140g 0% fat Greek-style natural yoghurt
  • 5 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 50g Sweet Freedom Chocolate Shot
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

  • Add all of the ingredients to the food processor and blitz until smooth. Stop the food processor every so often to scrape down the edges to ensure that it is all mixed.
  • Store in the fridge until ready to use.

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Roasted Chickpeas

It is the season for spring cleaning. I am not a huge fan of spring cleaning. Don’t get me wrong, I love the results, I just hate the sheer volume of work we always have to do to make the house look uncluttered. The reason we are in this mess is because we all seem to be hoarders. I am going to make a concerted effort to prevent our house becoming a nest of items with vague memories attached to them once we are done. But, I will probably be writing a very similar post this time next year!

Over half term, we all managed to escape our decluttering project and go to visit my mum. It was lovely not to have to think about sorting out our house and decide what we should keep and what should go. But it seems that we must have missed the process as we spent a significant amount of time helping her declutter. I have discovered it is much easier to sort someone else’s space rather than your own. So if I end up inviting you over for cake or under any other pretence, before accepting, it may be best to check that I am not going to put you to work!

Anyway, between moving boxes and hunting in the loft for other boxes, the kids and I managed to roast some chickpeas. I never thought I would be posting about roasting chickpeas, but the kids discovered that they liked crunchy chickpeas over Christmas when I bought some salt and vinegar ones for me. I was so surprised that they liked them, that I neglected to feel frustration at donating my treat to them! It seems sharing can be just as hard for grown up as their small charges! They have also been known to request them rather than a chocolate biscuit as an afternoon snack. Strange children; I don’t think I would ever make that choice!

This recipe was made with the younger two (five and two). The younger one enjoyed counting out tsp of the spices to add. The elder one trying to read the labels. They both had a good sniff of all of the ingredients. The scent of cinnamon is the one they seem to remember the most – probably because we seem to use it in savoury and sweet bakes. They do often associate it with chocolate though…

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
  • 1/2 tsp onion salt
  • 1tsp lazy garlic
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1tsp mixed herbs
  • Spray oil of choice

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c fan and line a baking tray with a silicone baking mat or greaseproof paper.
  2. Put the chickpeas into a large bowl.
  3. Add all the herbs and spices in with the chickpeas and either mix or gently move the bowl from side to side to ensure that the chickpeas are fully coated in the spices.
  4. Pour or spoon out onto the baking tray and generously spray with oil.
  5. Place in the oven for 40 minutes turning half way through.
  6. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely before storing.
The finished product.

We didn’t have any left from this to store for another day as my youngest two really seem to enjoy them! They served as a substitute for crisps in one of our half term picnic lunches and their wasn’t a single complaint about the lack of crisps from any of the kids!

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Chocolate Muddy Puddles

Ophelia had a Muddy Puddle walk for Save the Children at nursery today. By the sounds of it, grown ups and pre-schoolers alike had fun and managed to get drenched! In anticipation of this event, I thought it would be fun to make some muddy puddles of our own to get into the spirit. She had lots of fun spooning, mashing and squishing, mixing, dolloping and sprinkling. It has to be said that you do have to use your imagination when looking at them, because they could be described as looking a bit like cow pats. This was the reason for adding the leaf shaped sprinkles to make people realise their true nature!

This recipe is essentially a truffle made with only 3 ingredients (4 if you include the sprinkles!), but instead of rolling them into truffles, we dolloped teaspoons of the mixture onto greaseproof paper and flattened with the back of a spoon. To make these you will only need 1 small ripe avocado, chocolate and some vanilla extract. We used only dark chocolate as that is what I had in the house, but I would recommend using half dark chocolate and half milk chocolate if you are making this recipe for small children so that it is a little sweeter. To make them dairy free or vegan, you just need to ensure that your chocolate is dairy free/vegan.

Ophelia was rather intrigued by the large stone in the middle of the avocado and after several attempts managed to get it out. I loved the fact that she tried several times to get it out and didn’t give up until she had achieved it. I feel the need to add at this point, that this is the only way the boys will eat avocado! Ophelia seemed to like it on its own, but the boys have turned their noses up at it several times in salad and homemade guacamole. To my delight, Atticus asked for a second and as he was consuming avocado, I was happy to let him have another!

Ingredients

  • 1 small ripe avocado
  • 175g chocolate of choice (see above paragraph for further advice on chocolate choice)
  • 1/2tsp of vanilla extract
  • Sprinkles of choice (we used autumn leaves ones which I managed to get on offer at TKMaxx, but anything, would work such as chocolate or coloured strands, etc)
Adding the sprinkles.

Method

  1. Adult slice the avocado in half.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
  3. If sufficiently ripe, ask your child to pull out the stone. They may need encouraging to hold the avocado with one hand and to pull the stone out with the other hand.
  4. Scoop out the flesh of the avocado and put it into a bowl. Mash with a fork until smooth. You may want to use a stick blender to ensure that it is completely smooth.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate to the mashed avocado and mix to combine fully.
  6. Take tsp amounts and spoon onto a greaseproof lined baking tray and gently press down with the back of the teaspoon.
  7. Add the sprinkles to the top and store in the fridge until you want to eat.

I thought these were really yummy and the kids enjoyed them too. They felt less naughty as they contained avocado rather than double cream. So two thumbs up from our family and a big yippie as they contain a hidden vegetable!

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Neapolitan Coconut Ice

Do you have a go to treat that makes you feel better no matter what the world (or the nearly pre-schooler) may decide to throw at you? There are some days when we our smallest small displays all the world’s emotions within the space of a couple of hours. This goes some way to explaining why toddlers throw tantrums when these big emotions burst out even if it doesn’t make it any easier to cope with them! Anyway back to treats. The combination of chocolate and coconut transports me to my happy place from where I can cope with any new obstacles that our little monkeys may decide to hurl at us next. Needless to say it is also one of the children’s favourite flavour combinations too!

Coconut ice wasn’t a treat of my childhood, it seems to have featured more prominently in Simon’s. When brainstorming for this recipe, I was wondering how we could put our own stamp on it. It didn’t take me long to conclude that adding chocolate and raspberries to it would be the perfect way to do so. Practically everything is better with chocolate! Unless you are thinking along the lines of cheese then I would have to disagree.

Patting it all down.

The kids loved pretty much the whole of this recipe from decanting the condensed milk into the bowl, blitzing the raspberries, measuring the chocolate syrup and patting a layer in the tin each. Having three children may also have contributed to my conviction that this recipe needed a third layer so each child could have a go on their own! So just a way of reducing my stress levels and increasing my chocolate intake at the same time!

Ingredients

This recipe was featured in the May/June 2019 Soar Valley Life Magazine

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 400g desiccated coconut
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 75g raspberries
  • 1tbsp Sweet Freedom Coconut Chocolate Shot (or chocolate syrup of your choice)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

To make:

  1. Allow the raspberries to defrost a little bit.
  2. Put the condensed milk, and 340g of both the desiccated coconut and the icing sugar in a large bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon. When the mixture becomes stiff and difficult to mix, use your hands to bring it fully together.
  3. Divide the mixture equally between three bowls.
  4. Add 1tsp of vanilla extract to one bowl and mix or knead to combine.
  5. Add 1tbsp of chocolate syrup to another bowl and mix or knead to combine.
  6. With a hand held blender, blitz the frozen raspberries until smooth. You could also do this with the back of a fork or a food processor. Add to the final bowl and mix. Add enough of the remaining desiccated coconut and icing sugar to make the raspberry layer the same consistency as the other two.
  7. Grease and line a tin with greaseproof paper (we used a 16cm square tin).
  8. Dollop the vanilla layer into the bottom of a tin and flatten with the back of a metal spoon to reach all the edges. Pat even with fingers.
  9. Spread the raspberry layer on top of the vanilla layer and spread a pat down.
  10. Add the chocolate layer a spread to cover the raspberry layer.
  11. Put in the fridge for at least 3 hours to set (we left ours overnight) and then cut into small squares or rectangles.
The article in print.

This treat graced our lunchboxes when we visited Legoland over the Easter holidays and it was a most welcome addition. We did receive some rather envious looks from other children queuing for the same ride while the kids were enjoying this! The icing on the cake for me in this instance was to see this recipe in print in Soar Valley Life Magazine.

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Hot Cross Cookies

Working as a team to mix together the dough.

I love a good hot cross bun. They are wonderfully squidgy and are so yummy when toasted and lathered in chocolate spread (sorry I am not a purist as I am not a fan of butter). I don’t make a habit of buying hot cross buns until the Easter holidays as if I do, I know that I will eat them all and happily forget that the kids also enjoy them. My husband is out of sync with the rest of the family on this one – he would prefer, well not to be obliged to eat a hot cross bun I am sure!

Scooping out the dough
Rolling into balls

I have made hot cross buns in the past, but not with the kids. I remember it being a somewhat lengthy process and not necessarily compatible with my kids’ tiredness levels during term time. However, I did want us to make something related to our faith and have an opportunity to talk with them about the Easter story so I decided we would make cookies as they take less time. As an added bonus, we could make them smaller and perfect for an afterschool snack without having to share a whole hot cross bun and causing arguments over who gets which bit! I don’t know about your kids, but mine will argue over literally anything and make it look like an Olympic sport! Anything not to run the risk of an argument over what I would consider a small inconsequential occurrence, which is clearly the biggest injustice since the previous occasion!

Time to lick the bowl!

We used melted butter in these cookies to recreate the squidgy texture of a hot cross bun, and added orange zest, cinnamon and raisins to replicate the flavours of them. We used icing pens for the crosses, but my eldest had some difficulties piping these out so had help. Alternatively, you could use icing sugar and water, melted white chocolate to pipe a cross on them or cut crosses out of rolled marzipan to stick on. It seems the options are endless! Seb actually quite enjoyed directing me and rating my attempts at putting crosses on the cookies!

Ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 150g melted butter
  • 160g soft light brown sugar
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 150g raisins
  • Zest of an orange
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1tsp of orange extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° or 160°c fan and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
  2. Mix the melted butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Crack the egg in and add the vanilla and orange extract and beat it in until fully combined.
  4. Add the flour, orange zest, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda and bring together until a dough forms.
  5. Add in the raisins and squish and squash to ensure an evenish distribution of fruit in the dough.
  6. Using a tablespoon to measure, get small pieces of dough and roll them into balls and put then on the baking sheets. Remember to leave space for spreading.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Leave on the trays to cool as they are a little fragile directly out of the oven.
  8. When they have cooled slightly make the crosses using icing pens, melted white chocolate, icing or even marzipan.
Who wants a cookie?! Silly question!

These were delicious cookies. If your little ones aren’t a fan of raisins, you could substitute them for chocolate chips. Do let me know if you make these with your monkeys or without them as that is also an option!

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Marshmallow Sheep

Pushing the legs in.

It is officially spring! In our front garden the daffodils are out in their splendour. They make me happy even if I am yelling at the kids to run as we have set out late for school. The temperature is getting warmer and we seem to have said goodbye to winter. Well now I have said that you can guarantee the snow will arrive next week, but I am holding onto the sunshine that we saw last week and hoping for the spring-like conditions to stay! In my head the only bad thing about spring is the fact that we lose an hour of sleep when British Summer Time begins!

On go the eyes.

I have been thinking about making these sheep since Christmas when I was thinking how the kids and I could make the nativity scene out of food items. Unfortunately, I only really got as far as the sheep and then ran out of time to think of more ideas and execute them before Christmas. It may well be on the list for this Christmas, but as usual it depends on time and if I can take precious time away from making mince pies and Christmas cake! I was then racking my brain to see when I could appropriately make them and it occurred to me that new lambs traditionally mark the beginning of spring so there we go! A start of spring activity instead then!

Atticus’s efforts.
Seb’s efforts

As this was a super quick Saturday morning baking in pyjamas activity, I decided to use the opportunity to get the boys, Atticus in particular, to practise their handwriting skills. I find he is more eager to have a go at writing something when it is fun and these sheep and more specifically the promise that he could have one for snack time really spurred him on to have a go. I must say I am super proud of his efforts. His teacher is always advocating him having a go at writing something about something that interested him or that he enjoyed so this certainly fit the bill.

Ingredients

  • Rocky Mountains Mega Marshmallows
  • Giant chocolate buttons
  • Matchmakers
  • Edible eyes
  • Melted chocolate
A pyramid of sheep drying!

Method

  1. Grown up cut each Matchmaker into four for legs.
  2. Push each leg into the bottom of the marshmallow. You will need to push it in quite far for it to work. Some of ours didn’t stand properly, but most did. It is all a matter of making them even.
  3. Put the sheep on its bottom and coat the back (with a spoon or by dipping although the latter is messier in this case!) of the chocolate button in melted chocolate and stick to the sheep’s face.
  4. Put a tiny bit of chocolate on each eye and stick to the chocolate button.
  5. Leave the sheep on their bottoms (so chocolate button facing upwards) until the melted chocolate has set so they don’t move around.
  6. Enjoy!
What you doing?!

My kids are now waiting to be allowed to eat one of these sheep. I am quite enjoying having an ovine (yes the adjective for sheep is ovine in case you didn’t know) audience as I write this up for you all. Please do send me pictures of your sheep if you do make some!

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Choccy Toffee Squares

I try alone mummy!

I find baking therapeutic. I even find baking with children relatively therapeutic. This is especially true when the alternative is a 20-minute argument about what board game they should play or TV show they should watch or a meltdown because one little Gilbert didn’t listen to any other little Gilbert’s ideas. The reason for this is generally because any argument can be solved by licking the bowl or by consuming copious amounts of leftover melted chocolate. Yes there are times when the melted butter pot gets knocked over or the flour manages to escape out of the packet and everyone swears they didn’t touch it, but the good in it definitely outweighs the bad and most of the time I get through the activity with my frazzled temper relatively intact! Disclosure; I would like to remind my lovely readers that the more children you try to cook with, the more stressful the undertaking for the ‘responsible’ adult. As a mum who has been cooking with little people for around 5 years, if you manage to get through the planned recipe with no mistakes or cross words I salute you! You deserve all the chocolate!

When I managed to decorate without the children!

These squares were initially mummy-daughter baking time. The boys didn’t participate as they had agreed on a game and were tearing around the garden completely immersed in their imaginations (completely lovely to see especially seeing as it was a rather rotten day). But as is so often true, two is company and three a crowd so Ophelia was at a loose end. And as it is a darn sight easier to cook with just one child rather than my whole tribe, I enjoyed this time with just her and she seemed to enjoy having me completely to herself!

This recipe makes a thin biscuit bar coated in chocolate. Don’t be tempted to place it in a smaller tin for a thicker biscuit. It will fit in a brownie pan when spread out thinly – your little chef may need a bit of help to achieve this. If you are making these bars with small children I recommend using more chocolate to coat them as it is easier to spread a thicker layer of chocolate than a thin one to ensure that the top of the bar doesn’t get damaged. I think these are yummy with desiccated coconut or chopped almonds on the top. Unsurprisingly, Ophelia prefers them with sprinkles – the pinker the better! You will see that she and I compromised and both coconut and multi-coloured stars to decorate one of the batches.

Ingredients

For the biscuit base

  • 100g margarine (or softened butter)
  • 100g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g porridge oats (this recipe works best with bog standard oats rather than jumbo ones)

For the top

  • If for young children 200g milk chocolate and 50g margarine/butter
  • For older children 150g milk chocolate and 40g margarine/butter
  • Chopped nuts, desiccated coconut or sprinkles to decorate

Method

The concentration level was immense!
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c fan and grease a brownie pan with a silicone baking brush and line it with greaseproof paper.
  2. Put the margarine, sugar and egg yolk into a bowl and mix until smooth, pale and creamy.
  3. Sift in the flour and add the oats and gently mix them in.
  4. Carefully spread in the brownie tin (adult help may be required here) and cook for 15-20 minutes until golden.
  5. Remove from the oven and melt the chocolate and margarine. This can be done in a double boiler on the stove or in the microwave. If you are using the microwave, melt it in short bursts on medium power, ensuring you mix it frequently.
  6. Pour the chocolate over the biscuit base (the tin will probably still be hot, so carefully) and spread with a silicone spatula. Decorate with your toppings of choice.
  7. Cut into squares while still warm and then leave in the tin until they have completely cooled.
The compromise: sprinkles and desiccated coconut!

Every time these are made I am surprised when they survive the night as I am always worried I may decide to sneak down stairs and devour the whole batch before the children wake! Do get in contact if you make these and let me know what you think.

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Apricot and Pistachio Energy Balls

We are nearly at the end of January and I am taking big breathes to relax as we have made it. It really can be a really dreary and depressing month weather wise and with everyone trying to be good it can seem like the fun is sucked out of it. Let me tell you this though, it isn’t all bad as when life gets overly stressful, when the kids drive me round the bend, my wonderful husband sends me off to a café on my own, with my laptop so I can write a blog post in the day and he instructs me to eat cake. Yes my lovely readers, my gem of a husband sends me out to eat cake. Some of you may well struggle to believe that I have to be told to eat cake with all the things we make, but it turns out I do… I have just ordered my second slice and I am not feeling one bit guilty. Why? Because it has been a stressful day month and I have been really good since I devoured practically a whole batch of meringue topped mince pies – and that was last year! Please don’t remind me that that was only last month! Yes the second slice of cake may well cancel out the rest of the good in the month, but for my sanity I was ordered to eat cake, so I have. It is one thing I can tick of my list without any trouble. And I will vow to work with even greater dedication at the exercise classes I attend during the week. So if any of my instructors are reading this yes you may yell at me to work harder next week and I won’t roll my eyes at you or grimace at you. I promise. Well I promise to endeavour not to!

Ophelia deciding I had taken enough time photographing the snack and wanting to dive right in!

So before I went out to eat loads of cake, last week the boys made these delectable Apricot and Pistachio Energy Balls. We seem to get through kilos of dried fruit in cereal, cakes and snacks during the year, but looking back over the things we have made, I realised energy balls had never featured. The main reason is due to the nut content and me being super paranoid about another child getting hold of them in the school grounds. But when they have these, I herd the children out of the school grounds questioning where their snacks are, (it is after all a long walk or trek in their eyes home) and then distribute them to the eager recipients. I would maybe say though, they are probably better as a pack up snack in the winter months as they do need to be stored in the fridge.

Rolling the energy balls without licking their fingers!

I promise they couldn’t be easier to make. My children made them one evening after school and enjoyed the fruits of their labour the rest of the week and over the weekend. They are literally one of the easiest thing to make with your little chefs. We also made it a game to see who could go the longest while rolling them into balls without licking their fingers. I have to say even I was sorely tempted to lick my fingers as they were so truly scrummy and at the end we all sat there eating the remains off our fingers before hand washing! We truly must have looked a sight! Poor Ophelia though, watched from the other end of the counter as she had a particularly bad cold I that was one thing I was not eager for her to share. She was given a little spoon to lick to feel included while she chatted along to grandma.

Ingredients

  • 275g dried apricots
  • 85g shelled pistachios
  • 2tbsp runny honey (or use maple syrup to make vegan)
  • 50g oats

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and put the lid on.
  2. Turn it on at a medium speed. You may need switch off and scrape the sides a bit.
  3. Blend together until the ingredients form a big thick clump.
  4. Remove the lid and the blade from the food processor and take pieces of the mixture and roll into balls. Ours were all slightly different slices, but mainly around the half a tbsp. mark.
  5. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and the return to the fridge in a tub. These will store in the fridge for a week or so.
Challenge completed!

It has to be said that the boys were more fond of these than Ophelia. I do think that the no finger licking contest that they had going made this activity even more fun and made them want to eat even more of them! There were many happy sounds from them when I said I had energy balls for snacks. I think we shall be trying some different flavours next time. I am dreaming of chocolate and ginger… I shall leave that one out there and hopefully they will come around at some point!

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