Springtime is rushing past & summer is right on our doorstep! So stock your fridge with wholesome, filling, delicious chia puddings. When you're too hot to even contemplate toast for breakfast or you get a craving for an afternoon or late night sweet treat, chia pudding has got your back.
The humble chia pudding is a good reminder that sometimes mixing 2 or 3 simple ingredients together produces something far grander than the sum of its parts.
The soluble fibre in chia seeds makes it turn jelly-like when it's left to soak in liquid. Simply adding chia to milk and adding some flavourings produces the most delicious breakfast, dessert or snack with only a few minutes preparation.
I've provided a recipe for a basic chia pudding, plus 2 variations. Play around with different add-ins and toppings to come up with some more variations! Note that the recipe makes one single serve, so just double or quadruple the recipe if needed. I like to make 3 or 4 at a time so I have a few days worth of yummy breakfast or snack.
Ah, Chocolate. The food so beloved that eating it wasn't enough, so we turned it into a drink, too.
I came up with this Drinking Chocolate recipe when I had a hankering for a hot chocolate made with dark chocolate, and didn't want to pay $6 for one at a cafe. I Know that many cafes' secret to amazing hot chocolate is using actual chocolate pieces, stirred and melted into hot milk.
I decided to take this concept one step further for my home pantry version: instead of pieces of chocolate, why not grind the pieces into dust, making them ready to spoon into a mug or glass to enjoy in any weather?
Then I thought about a stumbling block with the version - straight chocolate does not take well to being mixed directly with water - it 'seizes'. The problem is, to make iced chocolate the powdered chocolate mixture needs to be mixed with with a splash of freshly boiled water in order for it to melt, so that when the cold milk is added the chocolatiness gets distributed throughout.
Solution: I added a little sugar and cocoa. Flavour-wise the sweetness of the sugar and the earthy bitterness of the cocoa cancel each other out somewhat, but it also gives this Drinking Chocolate blend the alchemy it needs to be stirrable, dissolvable and quick.
The end result has been a big hit with my family. For the grown-ups, I make it solely with 70% chocolate drops, while for my children I do a mixture of milk and dark.
I should also mention - a jar of this Drinking Chocolate makes a lovely little gift.
We hope you love it:)
There are a few good reasons to enjoy making chocolatey treats. The cold weather keeps us indoors. The school holidays are upon us yet again. And, well, chocolate! We thought it might be a nice idea to make a selection of really simple petit four chocolates.
A petit four (French for 'small oven') is a bite-sized confection, cake or appetiser - as with so many things, it sounds better in French! These were made in under an hour, and are decadent, delicious morsels.
No chocolate molds, marble benches or any special equipment are needed for these chocolates. There's no tempering or fancy techniques. You simply melt, mix, dollop & set!
We sell four types of chocolate drops at Village Wholefoods, and we're using three of them for this selection of petit fours: milk, 55% dark and 70% dark. If you'd like some in-depth info on the different types of chocolate, head on over to this week's Product Spotlight, where it's explained in more detail.
Now, to the Chocolate Petit Fours
First up, we have Coconut Rough with Orange Zest, using the 70% dark chocolate drops. Next is Hazelnut & Lavender Clusters, made with the mellower 55% dark chocolate drops. Finally, we will make Salted Almond Clusters, using our milk chocolate.
Whether you make these gorgeous treats for yourself, for visitors or as a gift, we think you'll enjoy the process as much as the result.
The ingredient ratios & methods are basically the same for all 3 variations.
So excited were we at the arrival of our new product, Organic Oat Flour, it didn't have a chance to cool its heels before I took some home to put it to delicious use.
And there are so many delicious uses! What I chose to make were these moreish Orange and Poppy Seed Oat Bars.
These Oat Bars come together so quickly and simply, and are an excellent breakfast on the run, a quick refuel with a cup of tea or a nourishing snack popped into a lunch box.
The icing is optional. When making these for breakfast bars I tend to omit the icing, but it's really down to personal preference. You can also reduce the sugar from ⅔ cup to ½ cup if you like.
Who's up for some Easter Baking?
I thought long and hard about a nice Easter recipe to share, and decided quickly that Hot Cross Buns were out. I mean, this is the Inner West, and you can't go more than 500m in any direction without running into an artisan bakery, who over Easter will have punters queuing for award winning Hot Cross Buns. Considering people travel across town just to buy these speciality treats, I figured we leave the professionals to it and simply enjoy scoffing down their offerings over this holiday period.
Then I thought: what about Hot Cross Biscuits? Like…a spicier take on a classic Christmas sugar cookie. With all those warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg we associate with hot cross buns and Autumn. Are they a thing? If not, they should be!
So let's make them a thing. They're deceptively easy, and they look so pretty that you'll feel pleased with yourself for days.
Makes approx 24
Prep Time: 1hr 20min (includes chilling time), Cook Time: 11min
1 ½ cups plain flour
½ corn starch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cardamom
125g butter, cubed & softened
½ cup caster sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg plus 1 yolk (leftover from the icing)
1 egg white
150g icing sugar
Few drops vanilla
1-3 tsp water as needed
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan forced. In one mixing bowl, sift in flour, corn starch, salt, baking powder & spices.
In another mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add honey, vanilla and egg and beat briefly with the electric mixer until well mixed in.
Use a spatula or wooden spoon to add the flour mixture, folding slowly until just combined. Shape the mixture with your hands and roll into a long log. Wrap in cling film and pop it in the fridge for an hour to firm up a bit.
Once chilled, roll dough with rolling pin til it's about 1cm in thickness (if you want a thin, snappy biscuit, aim for closer to a ½ cm)
Sprinkle a little flour over the surface of the dough, then cut out small circles using an upturned glass or round biscuit cutter. The size you choose is up to you! Carefully place the circles 2-3cm apart on a baking paper lined baking tray and bake for 8-11 minutes, or until lightly browned. [Tip: I find I have to turn the tray around about ¾ of the way through baking time, otherwise the biscuits at the back are darker than the front ones. Ovens are rarely an even temperature throughout. Getting things cooked evenly can be trial and error, and nobody knows your oven like you do!]
Transfer to a wire rack and once cooled, pipe icing crosses across the top.
Icing for Cross Decorations:
Mix all icing ingredients together until smooth. You can make crosses on the biscuits with a piping bag or a ziplock bag with a tiny hole cut in a bottom corner, or simply just drizzling with a teaspoon.
After icing, leave to set for about 2 hours before popping them into a jar or biscuit tin.
These biscuits will keep for 2 weeks in the pantry in an airtight container or jar. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Pimp My Recipe
Spiced Biscuits not your cup of tea? Just omit the cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom, and add these following combinations instead:
Always a winning combo! (These are the speckled biscuits in the picture above).
Lemon Myrtle & Pepperberry
Give your Easter biscuits some Australiana flair. The gentle, sweet & refreshing elegance of lemon myrtle is the perfect bake mate for the sharp and spicy pepperberry.