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.

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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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12 Things I Learned in This Past Year of Life and a Birthday Cookie Cake

SO! I had a birthday last week.

This sort of thing doesn’t usually get me all introspective, but the past couple of years were pretty big for me… so I feel like I should have something to say for myself.

I lived my dream of quitting my job and traveling Europe with my favorite guy. And at the end of all that, we settled in sunny Australia – very very far from my home, my city and my people.

And while I am not even close to having much of anything figured out…I think I’ve learned a few important (and some unimportant) things this year.

1. I can live in Australia without melting into a puddle of homesickness and tears.

2. Feeling homesick can be really frustrating and tough. Be nice to yourself.

3. A mustache tattoo on one’s index finger is a good omen.

4. I need a dog.

5. Sometimes gelato is an acceptable Saturday lunch.

6. Buy the fancy butter and salt. You won’t regret it.

7. Don’t throw house parties with white carpets and people you don’t know.

8. Magpies are evil winged creatures that are out to get you.

9. I can successfully make a souffle, pulled pork and pavlova.

10. Travel is amazing, but nesting can feel just as rewarding.

11. Regularly counting the small things you’re thankful for can make a big difference.

12. It’s totally OK to make your own birthday cake.

For my birthday this year, I decided to make myself a blondie/cookie cake studded with some of my favorite things: dark chocolate, coconut, banana and pecans bound together with brown sugar and butter. Not a traditional birthday cake, but I couldn’t think of anything more perfect.

Unfortunately final product photos didn’t happen due to late-night overzealous cake consumption. Forgive me, it was my b-day, and I was being selfish.

I was inspired by Joy the Baker’s Banana, Walnut & Chocolate Cookie Cake – she’s got the good looking cookie-cake pics going on too, if that’s something you’re into. Which you probably are. I hope.

Banana, Pecan, Coconut & Chocolate Cookie Cake
(makes 1 8-inch cake)
adapted from Joy the Baker

- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
– 1 cup brown sugar, packed
– 1 large egg
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 ripe banana (mashed)
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 cup spelt flour
– 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
– 1/2 cup large coconut flakes
– 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
– a pinch of sea salt flakes

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat oven to 350 F/175 C.

Melt butter in an 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Stir in sugar  and vanilla extract and remove from heat.  Whisk until thoroughly combined.  Allow mixture to stand and cool for about 5 minutes.  The mixture should not be super hot when the eggs goes in, or the egg will cook.

Add the egg and whisk together until smooth.  The mixture will be glossy and no longer greasy.  Add banana and cinnamon and stir to combine.

Add the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir carefully until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Add the chocolate, coconut and pecans and fold together.

Spread mixture across the pan creating a somewhat smooth top. Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt. Place in the oven.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until mixture is dry on top, but still slightly soft in the center. Under-cooking this cake is where it’s at! Think over-sized gooey cookie.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Top with ice cream and serve warm.

Here’s to another excellent year of life!

Chocolate Pudding Parfaits

When Death by Chocolate was declared the January theme for the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, I couldn’t help but be enthusiastic. Chocolate is almost as good as having a blank canvas – it’s full of possibilities and potential.

My first instinct was to bake. But I had to be real and think about what I really wanted to make and eat on a warm Sydney night. Ice cream crossed my mind, but then I got all sentimental.

There are some things that you don’t realize you’ll miss until you don’t have them anymore. I’ll spare you a relevant song quote, but it’s true. I never would have thought I would miss the New York subway system or the Avenue A Key Foods, but there you are.

And then, there are some things that you anticipate missing. You know at some point in the future you won’t have this thing at your fingertips and you’ll be bummed out about it. Usually when this thought of missing something in the future crosses your mind, you are presently enjoying that very thing, minimizing the impact of the feeling.

Let me illustrate this rambling session with some examples of things from America that I have anticipated missing, that have now become well and truly missed:
– My friends
– My family
– Our E4th Street apartment
– Fresh-caught fish from my Dad
– Franks Red Hot Sauce
– Trader Joe’s
– Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
– Fudgesicles
– Whole Foods
– Tapeo 29, favorite date-night and boozy brunch spot
Jello pudding cups

I’ve always known the pudding would be an issue. The lack of chocolate pudding (or puddin’, if you prefer) in my life lately does not go unnoticed. This recipe (from fellow blog-hopper and former New Yorker, JJ at 84th & 3rd) is perfect. It’s simple, has a much better ingredient list than the Jello brand, and best of all: it tastes and feels just like the pudding I miss a little bit.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that pudding actually means something else entirely in Australian dessert language – I don’t want to talk about it. Not now. Now, we eat chocolate pudding, raspberry and hazelnut parfaits!

P.s. Thank you for kindly ignoring the fact that there are two different types of hot sauce on that condensed list. I have a problem.

Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4 (recipe adapted slightly from 84th & 3rd)
– 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
– 1/4 cup of sugar
– pinch sea salt
– 2 cups of milk, divided
– 2 tablespoons brewed espresso
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2 Tbsp cornflour
Parfait layers (optional)
– Crushed cookie
– Chopped hazelnuts
– Frozen raspberries
– Toasted coconut

Place sugar, cocoa and salt into a medium saucepan and whisk together.

Whisk in 1/4 cup of the milk into the dry ingredients until smooth. Add another 1 1/2 cups of milk and the espresso, whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium low heat, then reduce immediately to a simmer.

Stir corn flour and vanilla into remaining 1/4 cup of milk until smooth, pour into simmering chocolate mixture and whisk gently for 4 1/2 minutes. Pudding will thicken further as it cools.

Pour hot pudding into a medium heat proof bowl. Refrigerate until cool.

Once cooled, make it a parfait by placing cookie, hazelnuts, toasted coconut and raspberries in the bottom of your serving cup and spooning the pudding over it. Create as many layers as you’d like or simply top off your glass with more of the same elements.

Other ideas for parfait layers:
– Sliced banana
– Whipped cream
– Ice cream
– Peanut Butter
– Chopped peppermint patties
– Granola
– Dried cherries
– Brownies

For more chocolatey goodness, head over to the Sweet Adventures Death by Chocolate Blog Hop page at the Hungry Australian.

Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bark

I discovered Cadbury Fruit and Nut chocolate bars when I was 19 and in London for the first time.  I can almost remember the exact moment I went weak in the knees after I had my first bite of the dairy milk chocolate. I think it was in a tube station.

Something about that brand of chocolate in that city tastes far superior to the same type anywhere else.

…Maybe that’s why I love London so much. That would make a considerable amount of sense, actually.

Anyway, back to the chocolate treat at hand.

One of the suggested desserts in Bon Appetit’s Cleanse was a dark chocolate bark with pepitas and sesame seeds, which I made and really enjoyed.

(A bark is chocolate melted down, spread out in a thin layer and topped with nuts, candy, pretzels (!!!) – whatever you’d like.)

I decided to make a Cadbury-inspired fruit and nut bark — still cleanse-ish, but with a little nostalgia.

I added some crushed up toasted hazelnuts and walnuts, along with some dried cranberries and raisins and a sprinkling of sea salt. I love how thin and delicate the sheets of chocolate are in some places – it almost enhances the flavor of the chocolate itself and the other components at the same time. The sea salt doesn’t hurt either.

If you’ve got some extra plain chocolate lying around, make this with whatever you have in your cupboards. I put some toasted coconut in an earlier version which was lovely.

The point is to make it your own brand of awesome.

Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bark
– 150 grams/5.5 ounces of good quality dark chocolate
– 1-2 tablespoons of combined hazelnuts and walnuts, toasted and crushed into small pieces
– 1-2 tablespoons of combined dried cranberries and raisins.
– Sea salt (optional, but totally recommended!)

Chop up your chocolate into small pieces that will melt easily.

Make a double boiler by placing a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan with a few inches of boiling water in it (make sure the saucepan is smaller than the bowl, so the bowl comfortably rests on top without touching the boiling water.) Place chocolate in the bowl and melt, stirring frequently until smooth. Oh, and wear an oven mitt when you’re touching the bowl – that thing gets hot!

Using a heat-proof rubber spatula, spread the melted chocolate out onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with nuts, fruit and a little salt.

Let set in either the refrigerator or the freezer (I opt for the freezer because I’m impatient.) Once the chocolate is hard again, break into pieces and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Chocolate (regardless of cocoa percentage) does not cure homesickness


I am 100% in the Dessert Every Day camp. You know, have a perfectly ripe piece of fruit, a scoop of ice cream, or yogurt with honey – something to give you a sweet ending to your day.

A favorite dessert in our home is chocolate – dark most of the time, sometimes with nuts or dried fruit in it, sometimes mint flecked or sea salted – we like it all. Mr. F and I always look forward to relaxing together on the couch, having a little nibble of chocolate and talking about our days.

Thanksgiving is about a week away and I have been hit with a bad case of the half-way-across-the-world-for-the-holidays blues. They don’t have Thanksgiving in Oz, but if they did it wouldn’t be the same – like Christmas. I still can’t wrap my head around a Christmas day BBQ and a swim in the pool after exchanging gifts. But I digress, this was supposed to be about chocolate.

Yes, chocolate is my celebration. A celebration of a day done, time with my favorite guy and appreciation of something indulgent.

After dinner with friends last night, I was still feeling a little down. As is ritual, I had a piece of  plain dark chocolate while we settled in to watch a little TV – but there was nothing. No small moment of bliss – in fact, barely any flavor (I was perhaps a little verklempt at this point, and thus possessed a blocked nasal passage, preventing taste) – I even had an extra piece or two, just to make sure – but nada. No chocolate pleasure.

This isn’t a lecture on emotional eating, but I just thought I would share because this instance made me consider my connection to this particular food and it forced me to take a closer look at what I was feeling. It turns out that I can’t enjoy my happy food when I’m feeling bummed out – and that’s ok.

Yeah I miss my best girlfriends an insane amount, and I miss wearing sweaters and scarves, and I miss walking around the East Village and buying my favorite coffee and Mexican food and a good margarita on the rocks with EXTRA salt, and I want to eat a big pile of Gammy’s mashed potatoes next week, damnit! And chocolate can’t change that.

(Disclaimer: Extremely cheesy conclusion to follow. Even cheesier than the preceding sentiments.)

So what can help? Skype, the beach, a few hugs, and getting back in the kitchen. And I am lucky enough to have access to all of those things.

To round out our happy ending to this story, I have just sent out an invite to some new friends for a relaxed Bondi Thanksgiving at our place. This way I’ll get some much needed kitchen therapy and a few tastes of home.

In the end, chocolate may be the catalyst for making my holiday season brighter. My love of enjoying chocolate is a great incentive to pull myself out of this homesick slump and embrace where I am now – with new traditions, new friends and new family.