Monday, December 22, 2014

Ridiculously Easy Fudge Christmas Trees


fudge-xmas-trees

Last Christmas I came up with ridiculously easy fudge Christmas trees and my god I was so proud of myself. They went within minutes at all the parties I took them to because they're just so darn cute and, well, fudgey. I put a quick instructional together for Facebook and it was shared hundreds and hundreds of times, making my head swell to enormous proportions. This year I thought I should put it on an actual post so people could pin it rather than trawl through their feed from last year.

The base of this recipe is the two ingredient fudge that is my go-to recipe in "oh shit I forgot to make something" scenarios. Add some green food colouring, some lollies for decorations and voila, Christmas trees.

Tricky and I made these on the weekend as part of our advent calendar activities and he was so chuffed. He broke up the chocolate, poured in the condensed milk and sprinkled over the lollies. I tell ya, lettings kids decorate is a fabulous way to see just how much of a perfectionist you are! Let it go, they'll taste the same whether all the decorations are bunched up or not.

how to make fudge xmas trees

You'll need:
  • One 395g can of condensed milk
  • Two blocks of white chocolate (between 180-200g per block is fine*)
  • Green food colouring
  • Lollies to decorate - I used mini m&ms and silver cashous
Thermomix Method:
thermomix xmas recipe
  • Line a lamington tray (you MUST do this first)
  • Place chocolate in to bowl and mix for five minutes on speed 2 at 50C
  • After five minutes, check to see if it is melted, scrape down the sides and add another minute if necessary
  • Add a few drops of green food colouring and mix for four seconds on speed 4
  • Pour in the condensed milk (see note below) and mix for six seconds on speed 5
  • Tip the green slime in to the tray and spread evenly, working quickly
  • Sprinkle over your decorations and gently push them so they embed slightly
  • Chill in the fridge until firm - allow an hour or so if it is a hot day
  • Remove the fudge from the tray and cut it in half length ways
  • Cut triangles from each half - I usually get about seven or eight
Standard Method:
  • Line a lamington tray (you MUST do this first)
  • Place chocolate in to a double boiler or the microwave and melt
  • When completely melted, add a few drops of green food colouring and stir to combine
  • Pour in the condensed milk (see note below) and mix thoroughly - it will start to thicken instantly, so you'll need to use your muscles
  • Tip the green slime in to the tray and spread evenly, working quickly
  • Sprinkle over your decorations and gently push them so they embed slightly
  • Chill in the fridge until firm - allow an hour or so if it is a hot day
  • Remove the fudge from the tray and cut it in half length ways
  • Cut triangles from each half - I usually get about seven or eight
Keep these chilled until you are ready to serve them. On a hot day they can get very melty if left on the table so be careful! I find they are less likely to melt if you do use the full 400g of chocolate.

*If you use 180g blocks don't scrape the condensed milk from the can, just pour until it mostly stops - you'll be left with the perfect amount to make a few condensed milk sandwiches and the fudge won't melt so easily!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Three ingredient Choc Mint Truffles

High off the success of the amazing three ingredient choc orange truffles/balls, I have been tinkering.

I thought I'd try a new flavour and also an easier way to decorate them - because it's the decorating that turns them from balls to truffles, ya know!

So here it is, complete with craft Santa that Bobbin and MapGuy made together.

Pin me, I'm delicious
You'll need:
2x packets of Choc Ripple biscuits
250g of Cream Cheese, cubed
Candy Canes to taste
Chocolate for decorating (optional)

I say to taste because some are big, some are small, some are particularly minty and some are just meh. So you'll have to experiment a little yourself. I used three full sized candy canes and it was perfect for me - just enough mint to cut through the chocolate, but not so much that it feels like you're eating toothpaste.

To make:
Blitz candy canes in a food processor until they're smashed up (Thermomix speed 5 for 10 seconds)
Add in the bikkies and process again until it looks like ground up coffee (Thermomix speed 5 for 10 seconds)
Place the cream cheese in and blitz again (Thermomix speed 5 for 10 seconds) until a crumbly dough forms
Take spoonfuls of the mixture, squeeze it in your hands to compact it, roll it in a ball and place on a baking sheet
When you've done a whole tray put it in the fridge to firm them up before decorating

L to R: uncoated with white choc stripes, coated with smashed candy canes, coated with white choc stripes
I love to dip these in chocolate, but it can be a little time consuming and fiddly, so this time I experimented with just putting white chocolate stripes on them and I think it looks just as nice as the chocolate coated ones (see above on the left) - they just look a tad smaller.

Remember they have cream cheese in them so it is best to keep them in the fridge until a few minutes before serving, particularly if it is a stinking hot day (it was 38C here today!).

These are morish. You've been warned. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The difference a year makes

At the start of this year I created a memory jar. It was a big jar that cost a few dollars from The Reject Shop (god, I love that place) that I chucked a bow on in a lame attempt to make it look pretty. It didn't. It looked like a Pinterest fail.

The deal was, every day I would write something nice that happened. It didn't have to be big; just something that had made me smile. Things like got a seat on the train, got a text from a friend, MG cooked an awesome dinner, a good hair day, anything.

After a few weeks, I kinda lost interest which, hello, story of my life. Big plans, not much motivation and oooooh shiny let's start a completely different project and push the other one to the back where it can't mock me for never finishing anything.

Last week as I was putting up Christmas decorations I found the jar with the pathetic smattering of notes in it and sat down to read them. One in particular caught my eye:
29th January 2014
Tricky playing WITH Logan!!! Talking, making up games even!
It was a truly momentous occasion and I'm so glad I wrote it down. So glad that I was completely filled with guilt for not continuing on with it, but there's not much I can do now apart from start again next year, perhaps with a nicer bow. Note to self: check Pinterest again. But I digress.

It was so noteworthy because until then, Tricky hadn't played with Logan despite knowing him, and seeing him weekly, since they were both around six weeks old. His mama, Mrs O, and I met at our awesome mothers group and she's one of my closest friends, so the boys have literally grown up together and even had joint birthday parties as they were born a week apart. But it still took my shy guy three years to begin to interact. That's one helluva warm up period.

The boys at their first Christmas party
Yesterday was Tricky's last day of kindy and the transformation since that memorable day in January when he started to play with other children (and not just adults) is staggering.

At the beginning of the year he would not talk. He would not sing or dance in class. He was coaxed and encouraged by his fabulous teacher who has had lots of experience with introverted kids, but it was just a matter of him quietly growing his confidence. It wasn't something that could be forced upon him; pushing him or punishing him would just make him upset because he was trying. The only person he would talk to or interact with at all was Logan and I was so grateful that they were in class together so there would be a familiar face to help the transition.

And transition he did. Now, he not only talks and plays with his buddies, he begs to have them come over or to go to their houses. When he is at school or with his mates he cracks jokes, sings and dances, makes fart noises, has poo and death in every game, pretends to be a dog, plays chasey, and more often than not, acts completely bloody silly. And I flippin' love it! OK maybe not the poo stuff, but you get my point. Just your average four year old. Average is awesome, never underestimate average.

He and Logan are such good mates. And I'm so lucky that Mrs O and I are too (she is totally my drinking buddy).


I'm bursting with pride at all his achievements this year. He has come so much farther than many of us had anticipated and it is magical that other people can now see his gorgeous, kind, funny personality shining through - a feature that only his family had experienced previously.

I will be forever thankful that he has had such a wonderful teacher who has been caring yet firm, and that he ended up in class with Logan and a beautiful bunch of kids who are just lovely to be around. Plus all the parents are ace, too. Any class mums and dads that meet ups in the pub to celebrate the end of the school year are OK by me!

Tell me what you're super proud of your kids for this year. Embrace the #mumbrag

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Three ingredient choc orange balls (or truffles if you feel like being fancy)


Pin me. You know you want to.
I never know whether to call these things balls or truffles. I figure any opportunity to say balls just cannot be ignored, so we'll go with that for now. Plus when I hear truffles I think of involved recipes, double boilers, leaving it to cool and that's just not my scene because effort.

So I cheat. Yes, you read that right. I cheat and make DELICIOUS three ingredient choc orange truffley balls that, so far, everyone who has tried them has loved. Even the people who wouldn't call themselves jaffa aficionados have loved them. They have a beautiful, creamy texture and the orange cuts through the chocolate juuuust enough.

I make mine in a Thermomix but you can use any food processor. This recipe makes approximately 50 balls because I've been making them as gifts, but you can halve the recipe if you wanted to make less. Though I have NO IDEA why you'd want to do that.


You'll need:
Two packets of Choc Ripple biscuits
250g of cream cheese, cubed
The finely grated zest of one orange
Dark chocolate for dipping (optional)

Blitz the biscuits to fine crumbs in your food processor (10 seconds on speed 5 in Thermo)
Add the orange zest and the cream cheese in to the bowl
Mix together until a crumbly looking dough forms (10 seconds on speed 5 in Thermo)
Grab spoonfuls of the mixture and squeeze it in your fist to compact it then roll in to a ball
Place on a baking sheet and put it in the fridge until firm (20 minutes or put them in the freezer for 10)

If you want them to look fancy and be called truffles, melt some dark chocolate and dip them in, then add a few orange sprinkles. The dipping process can be a bit time consuming so feel free to skip it and serve them as is.

It's best to keep these in the fridge and take them out a few minutes before serving - though I eat them straight from the fridge sometimes!

Will you make some?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thriller Live: not so thrilling {review}

This is a C2 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy
Photo of previous cast member
Aunty Penny and I were invited to see the preview night of Thriller Live last night. It's a bit of a treat to go out mid-week so I wore heels and lipstick. Fancy, no? 

I was excited to see the show because I'd heard a bit about it; it's been going for six years, five of those in the West End before heading on tour and meant to be jam packed with awesome tunes celebrating the career of Michael Jackson.

Now, I'm not a die hard fan of MJ, but I do know a lot of his songs and figured a show that condensed his best bits in to a few hours would be something an ordinary fan could really get in to, in the same way I actually enjoy 20/20 cricket but would sooner swallow razor blades than watch a test match. I don't want the whole back catalogue, but the iconic songs? Yes please.

It didn't get off to a good start with a cursor visible on the screens for a while and flashes of another program running. I work with duplicated desktops for presentations so I understand how one false move can spell disaster, and I know how much the lighting peeps would have been kicking themselves.

Opening the show was MiG Ayesa. He's a bloody talented dude. Sings. Dances. Probably can cook, too. However, he kinda sucks at an American accent. He spoke alone on stage at the very beginning and his accent kept changing every few words. American one second, Australian the next, then that weird inbetween "I grew up in multiple countries" accent. I don't understand why he had to put on an accent anyway. Just be you, man, you're freakin' awesome. 

Watching the first half it was evident all the singers were amazing. Samantha Johnson (I think?) blew me away. I'd pay to just watch her alone on stage, she was outstanding. But on the whole, something was definitely lacking. 

At intermission I turned to Penny and said "I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?" to which she replied, of course, "I think you can in Europe?". We were both just "whelmed". 

Photo of previous cast member
I was having trouble concentrating on the whole of the stage for parts of it because one of the dancers just seemed so out of place. Now, granted, she is at least eleventy billion times better at dancing than yours truly, but yet still it was just... awkward. I felt like she was an understudy, or that she had trained in classical ballet and came over to this style recently or something. Because she stood out from the others and not in a good way. I thought I must have been being unfair but after chatting with Penny plus bloggers Raychael from Agent Mystery Case and Jules from Zippy Zappy Life, I realized I wasn't the only one who felt that way.

I tried concentrating on the dancers that were my favourites; MiG Ayesa, a little pocket rocket chick with an awesome booty, and an afro-sporting dude that was a little easy on the eye. I leaned over to Penny and said I'd like to take him home and eat him on a crumpet. Tasty. 

There were definitely good bits. Moonwalks, crotch grabbing, the lean (I love the lean!), some cool outfit changes, and even pyrotechnics. Still just whelmed. I began to think that maybe I was missing the point, but Penny, who knew all the songs, was also a bit meh.

I felt the audience participation was a bit naff, though perhaps the die hard fans would be all in for it. I got my groove on towards the end of the second half and bopped along in my seat to Billy Jean. It finished and the lights stayed down in the annoying tradition of encores. Just play your show. Don't pretend to finish and then come back when the crowd cheers. We all know it's rehearsed so it takes away the true "screaming for more". I think this of every single concert I go to, not just for Thriller Live. Having said that, the encore was the only bit I found thrilling. If the whole show had been like that, it would have been brilliant.

Photo of previous cast member
For over $100 a ticket, even for the matinee shows, I don't really think I could recommend it as is. To only clap properly in the last fifteen minutes of the show is kinda disappointing. I can only hope the screen issues (which popped up again at the end) lack of flow and the dodgy dancer were just first night jitters. 

Do you like Michael Jackson? What is your favourite song of his?

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