Ginger Molasses Cookies + Ice Cream Sandwiches


These are representative of my annual negotiation with a warm weather Australian Christmas. Most days in December are too hot to bake – but without baking, Love Actually, and Buble’s Christmas crooning – what else is there to get me in the mood?

Malls are stressful, the post office tries one’s patience, and every women’s magazine is telling you to avoid canapés, load up on crudités and choose low-fat turkey breast (no skin!) over ham to avoid that holiday bloat!

My response is simple: butter, molasses and brown sugar. I seek solace and holiday cheer in the kitchen and bake like there’s a freaking blizzard outside.

Boldly spiced and chewy, these are my ultimate festive cookies. They taste like Christmas, even if it doesn’t totally feel like Christmas.

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Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Bites

peanut butter pretzel cup

These are a few of my favorite things.

Peanut butter and chocolate.  Pretzels and sea salt.

Put em all together and you have some rich and addictive tricked-out peanut butter cups.

I used all-natural creamy peanut butter, dark chocolate and salted mini pretzels. Then topped it all off with crunchy flakes of Maldon sea salt.

There’s something about melting chocolate in a double boiler that’s oddly soothing. I loved layering the ingredients and impatiently waiting for the chocolate to harden. It was a nice little way to spend a chilly winter Sunday.

The motivation behind these simple two-bite treats was the Sweet Swap to raise money for ChildFund Australia.

The idea was to share sweets and recipes with fellow Australian food bloggers.  I loved wrapping the peanut butter cups and sending them out in the post like some kind of chocolate fairy – crossing my fingers that they arrived still looking at least a little cute.

I hope my sweet swapping pen pals enjoyed them!

ready to go pb and choc pretzels pb and choc   packagingFood 2013 029

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Bites

From With Style and Grace

Makes about about 24

  • 2 cups dark [or milk chocolate] chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup peanut butter – or nut butter of choice
  • 1 tablespoon powdered/confectioner ‘s sugar
  • mini pretzels
  • sea salt

Line a mini muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, saucepan or microwave. Once it’s melted down, add coconut oil to thin out. Add more, if needed.

Add about one teaspoon of melted chocolate to the bottom of each paper cup. Tilt the liners so the chocolate evenly coats the bottom and slightly up the sides.

Place the cupcake pan in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to let set.

Meanwhile, mix together peanut butter and powdered sugar. Place peanut butter mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Once both timers have gone off, scoop 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture and place in the center of each chocolate cup. Place pan back in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Remove pan from the freezer and add a mini pretzel on top of the peanut butter.

With the remaining chocolate, cover each cup until covered. Top with sea salt (optional.)

Place baking tin back into the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Store in the fridge.

Cherry Chocolate Banana Pops

banana cherry choc #voracious

So, we’ve all talked about the amazing phenomenon that is frozen banana or one-ingredient “ice cream”, right? I mean, it’s like an internet sensation. It’s been pinterested all over town.

These pops are that.

With chunks of dark chocolate and some of summer’s last cherries. They’ve got sweetness, creaminess, crunch and chew. And only three ingredients.

I’ll be real. I think I deserve dessert every single day. Sometimes I deserve a fruit-based dessert more than an ice cream-based dessert. But this here, is a compromise.

A much-needed compromise, since Fabes and I just discovered the liter-sized takeaway tub at our favorite gelato shop. Having Sydney’s best gelato in your freezer and not in the shop that’s a 30 minute bus ride away is a dangerous thing, friends.

At the risk of touting something as “guilt-free” (obnoxious?), I threw in a handful of chocolate chunks. For balance. Chocolatey balance.

You can add whatever you want to your banana mixture – I’m thinking mango or peach might be next up, along with some toasted coconut flakes.

But just so we’re clear: dark chocolate chunks are never a bad idea. And neither is that gelato takeaway tub from time to time.

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Peppermint Patties

voraciousv - ppprmint

This time of year, Gammy (my totally awesome grandma) always brings out this tiered serving dish with old-timey Christmas trees painted on it. Each of the tiers display an assortment Christmas-colored candies like M&Ms (plain M&M’s in Christmas colors taste infinitely better than regular, amiright?), those spearmint gummy trees coated in sugar, and always always fun-sized, silver foil-wrapped York Peppermint Patties.

I’ve wanted to make homemade peppermint patties since I first realized that was a thing about 2 Christmases ago. Honestly, I don’t know what’s taken me so dang long. Besides the dough being a bit sticky, these little morsels were the easiest and most fun treats I’ve made this holiday season so far.

There are some recipes that call for butter or shortening or coconut oil but this one just uses egg whites…and a generous helping of powdered sugar.

As a life-long fan of the original York Peppermint Patty, I can attest to the fact that these are oh so close to the real thing. The snap of the dark chocolate and the slight crunch of the whipped peppermint filling (which is pretty much the edible equivalent to stepping into freshly fallen snow) – gaahhh. I can’t deal. I’m on a chocolate peppermint high.

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Orange Gingerbread Cake

voracious vander - gingerbread

I know the last thing you want to hear me talk about is how I STILL cannot deal with being in the opposite season of what I’m used to.

But it just doesn’t feel right, you guys.

The symbols of the holiday season are all out of place, for starters. There are no snowmen (or women), disposable pine trees or need for a yule log. And Santa’s apparel makes me sweat just looking at it. Get that man some shorts! Or at least some capri pants.

I started to wonder if the usual heady holiday baking spices were appropriate for the summertime?

I feel like the whole point of using lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves is to warm me up when it’s cold and I’m looking for some comfort wrapped in sugar wrapped in cake.

But really, the point of all of these awesome spices is to make it taste unmistakably like holiday time.

So short answer: they’re totally appropriate.

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