February Bakes: the most amazing coconut and chocolate slice

I’m really excited about sharing this recipe with you because it’s a classic in my family. My grandma used to make it for us all the time and it’s quite the treat. It’s more-ish without being too sickly, it’s comforting and chocolatey and best enjoyed with a steaming, hot cup of Earl Grey.

When my grandmother passed away, we stopped having the slice because nobody really knew how to make it (despite grandma teaching us how to make them!). It didn’t help that the original recipe had disappeared from her recipe box either. One day, I decided I was going to find a way to emulate the recipe and then I was going to share it with the world so we can all enjoy grandma’s killer slices!

Guess what? That day has finally come!

It all started with me trawling through her recipe box to find something similar to the base of the slice; something that was made in the way that I remember them being made. I came across her coconut chocolate biscuit recipe and I thought ‘yeah this could work’. Look at how old school the look and feel of grandma’s recipes is!

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To finish off the base, I made a basic chocolate icing, spread it all over the top like a disease and then sprinkled lots of desiccated coconut and voila! It tastes exactly how I remembered it to taste. I’m pretty sure I’ve made this about four times in the last month and a bit… yes, counting the one I burnt.

Best of all, it’s so easy to make and (depending on your willpower) lasts quite a while! I hope you give it a go!

Ingredients

½ pound of butter (I calculated this to be approx. 226g of butter – it may be a bit off from ½ pound but it works!)

1 tbsp of cocoa powder

1 cup of sugar (I use brown sugar)

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 cup of desiccated coconut

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder (or ½ tsp baking soda)

Pinch of salt

50g of butter (for the icing)

1 ½ cup of icing sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder (for the icing)

2-3 tbsp of boiling water

 

Method

In a saucepan, mix ½ pound of butter, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, sugar and golden syrup and melt over a low heat.

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Once it’s melted, leave it for about 20 minutes to cool down. Aim to turn off the heat as soon as the butter is melted – you don’t want to overcook it as the mixture will split and it’s not very nice when that happens.

When the mixture has cooled, preheat your oven to 160 degree celcius (fan-forced). Add the flour, baking powder or soda, coconut and salt into the mixture and combine them all together.

 

Spray cooking oil or use straight butter/oil onto a thin baking tray. Spread the mixture evenly and then throw it into the oven for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

I just want to point out as well that it may seem uncooked and you’ll be tempted to keep it in the over for longer but don’t do that because it will burn. Get it out of the oven after about 20 minutes even if it’s still soft because when it’s sitting there cooling, it’ll harden.

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slice before

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slice after

Leave the slice out to cool for about 5-10 minutes.

To make the icing, mix 50g softened butter, 1 ½ cup of icing sugar, 1 tbsp of cocoa powder and 2-3 tbsp of boiling water in a bowl. If your icing is too thick, add more boiling water. Mix, mix, mix and you should end up with a glossy, semi-thick chocolate icing.

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Remove the slice from the tray. Spread the icing over the top and sprinkle lots of coconut over it. As you can see, no coconut gets left behind in my slice!

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Lastly, enjoy.

I love this slice so much and it somehow keeps me close to my grandma. It’s honestly the ultimate comfort food and the best kind of pick-me-up when you’re having a bad day. Although they’re not kind to the waistline, they’re definitely kind to the soul.

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I hope you give it a go. I’d love to see your recreations so please tag @michellerosewrites and let me know how it turns out!

 

 

 

Three things to do to get into the weekend spirit

Picture this: You wake up Monday morning, ready to start your week (well, sort of ready). Suddenly, you’re in a routine of waking up, getting ready, going to work, working hard, going home, feeling exhausted, evening routine, bedtime routine then bed. This continues and then BAM!

It’s finally Friday! Yay! You’re all geared up for the much deserved two mornings of sleep-ins and a chance to finally relax, not think about work and have a good time. But there’s one thing in the way: you can’t stop thinking about work.

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Source: Pinterest

I know exactly how you feel because I’m a victim of not being able to fully unwind and relax because I’m constantly thinking about work. ‘Did I do enough during the week to be able to relax this weekend and avoid a meltdown on Monday? Is there something I could do over the weekend to keep my stress levels down the following week at work? I keep getting emails from colleagues and internal customers over the weekend which means they’re working hard so I must work hard too’. It’s a never-ending cycle and I’ve learnt the hard way that you need to relax and spend some time just chilling and switching off from work.

If you’re a modern day workaholic, I completely understand it may be hard for you to switch off; it was so hard for me to do at first so I created my own foolproof way of mentally preparing myself for the weekend and making sure that I unwind and not think about work for the two days that I’m given. Hopefully you can pick up a thing or two to help make your weekend a pleasurable one where you can kick work in the back of your mind.

1. Have something to look forward to

I think it’s really important to have something to look forward to, especially when you’re having a really long week. It can be anything – Netflix and chilling, going to a show/movie, reading a book, going for a hike… heck, even having a cheeky wine after work on a Friday counts! When you have an enjoyable activity planned and you’re counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds until you can do the activity, the last thing you’ll think of when doing said activity is think and worry about work.

2. Switch off

Mentally and technologically.

When I was in my previous role as a Communications and Engagement Advisor, I had my work emails synched to my phone so I never really ‘switched off’. Every time I got an email, I would read it immediately and think about the action points and how I was going to tackle it on Monday, or worst yet, tackle it over the weekend so it became less of a hassle for Monday. That’s why it’s so important to switch off your notifications so you don’t have it as a distraction. You don’t have to use your own personal, UNPAID time to worry about issues at work. It can wait until Monday… trust me, no one is going to die.

However, I understand that some people are in roles where they have to be ‘available’ at all times. If this is the case for you, perhaps set a time in the day where you spend an hour or half an hour if possible sorting through your emails. In fact, you can break it down and set this to two or three times during the day if you’re slammed. If you just straight up struggle with your workload during the week perhaps you need to consider delegating, reallocating or finding a better time management system.

Oh and another thing to add to this is don’t take work home. I’m serious. I was notorious for bringing work home. Leave it at work where it’ll be waiting for you on Monday. I promise you it’ll still be there.

3. Find something you’d like to do and do it

This can be anything – baking, knitting, boardgames, cosplay group, cooking class, yoga, gym, running, climbing mountains… I’m sure there are heaps of activities that you’ve told yourself you’d like to try but haven’t gotten round to it. Well, I tell you now, the weekends are a great time to start an activity. Even if you don’t like it, at least you’ve tried. If you do like it, well voila, a new hobby! And it’s a great distraction from looking through your emails or thinking about the stack of paperwork at your desk. You also get to meet new people and who knows, you might end up making new friends to do more weekend activities with. Plus, linking this to point number one, it gives you something to look forward to.

As you know, I’ve recently been doing a lot of baking and it’s such a great way to relax and keep my mind off the weekday shenanigans. Another thing I’ve been getting into is knitting. I learnt how to knit when I was younger but then I’d forgotten how to do it and I’ve always admired people who spend their time watching TV or commuting and knitting. Seems like a great way to be productive while doing something that’s considered nothing (eg Netflix). So, I’ve bought some knitting needles and wool and I’ve been teaching myself how to knit… with the help of YouTube of course. I’m hoping to make some sort of scarf by the end of next week… we’ll see how that goes lol.

So there you have it – my three foolproof ways of unwinding and enjoying the weekend. If you’re struggling to unwind, give one or all of these points a go and let me know how it goes!

What do you do to unwind for the weekend?

February Bakes: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’ve been on fire with this whole baking thing. I feel like it’s now such a huge part of my week that it’d be weird to just stop baking next month. Even though it started out being something I wanted to do (and needed to do for the February bakes series), I think I might actually continue to bake at least once a week.

I keep forgetting that baking is something I enjoy; I’d be reminded of it when I feel like making something so I would and then I’d wonder why I don’t do it often and then suddenly it’s months before I get my bake on again.

This week, I’ve been testing a few recipes – some came out good and some, well, needed a bit more work. I also found my grandmother’s box of recipes. It’s a cute wooden box where she keeps all her recipes and they’re all handwritten! Ingredients, methods and all! There’s a recipe that I’ll share with you in the next February Bakes because it’s a family fave and the first time I trialed it, it came out perfect but I didn’t take photos. The second attempt resulted in a burnt slice (lol) so I’ll try again next week.

So for this weeks recipe, I wanted to share something that I tried and it came out rather delicious. It’s not too sweet either which I absolutely love because it makes it less of an indulgence. It’s one you can also freeze and thaw out when you’re having a sweet craving or for when unexpected guests turn up. Not gonna lie, I’m having my second one for the day with a cup of coffee as I’m typing this out. So naughty.

I’m going to list the ingredients as it was on the recipe card but I had to tweak a couple of the ingredients because I didn’t have them. What I used as alternatives, I’ve placed beside the ingredient list. So yeah, let’s get into it!

Ingredients

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2 eggs

¼ cup of plain, vegetable or canola oil (I used coconut oil because I ran out of canola)

2 riped bananas (I used 3 because I figured I might as well use up all my bananas)

1 cup of milk

¾ cup of brown sugar (any sugar will do but I prefer brown)

2 ½ cup plain flour

4 tsp baking powder (I only had baking soda so I used 1 tspn)

1 cup chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

Lightly grease your muffin/loaf/cake tin with cooking spray, oil or butter.

In a large bowl, mash your bananas. Add the egg, oil, milk and sugar and mix lightly. You know you’re doing it right when it looks like mushy, yellow goop.

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Add the flour, baking powder/soda and chocolate chips. Mix them all together until just combined.

Add the mixture into your tin of choice. If you’re like me and you use an ice cream scoop, it works out to about 1 and a half scoops per muffin.

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Chuck them into the over for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

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Remove from tin and let cool. Next step, ENJOY.

These muffins are moist and so enjoyable. If you’re not a huge fan of bananas, fair enough, I can understand why you’d think this is gross. But did you know, if you use the same recipe without banana, you could actually make chocolate chip muffins? Amazing.

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If you give this recipe a go, let me know how it turns out. Better yet, share it with me @michellerosewrites or comment below. I’d love to hear to how it goes!

February Bakes: Carrot Cake Muffins

Baking is one of the activities that I enjoy a lot. It’s relaxing, fun (especially when everything turns out the way it should) and the end result, be it good or bad, always gives me a sense of satisfaction and leaves me with a smile on my face.

As part of February self-love, I wanted to do more baking and I’m aiming to bake at least once a week. I thought I’d share with you, dear reader, a simple baking recipe a week.

This week, I made carrot cake muffins. You can actually make a cake version instead of a muffin version but our house lacks a cake tin so I thought I’d be creative and create muffins instead.

The first time I made this carrot cake was for my sister’s 20th birthday. She absolutely loves carrot cake and I’d never made it in my life so I thought I’d give it a shot. The verdict was 10 out of 10, which is awesome. And if memory serves me right, I baked it in a loaf tin because we didn’t have a cake tin. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever baked this cake in a cake tin. But at least you know that no matter what you put it in that’s oven proof, you’re going to get the same results!

What I love about this carrot cake recipe is the flavours and textures you get. It’s not just a plain and simple cake; it’s got walnuts and sultanas in it and for the icing, I tend to use vanilla flavoured. Plus, it’s incredibly moist and doesn’t seem to dry out even after a few days.

It sounds very more-ish and that’s exactly the point. It’s not something you’d want to eat everyday, but something you’d want to enjoy every once in a while. If you’re not a fan of sultanas, walnuts, raisins, feel free to either omit these from the recipe or replace them with your dry fruit and/or nuts of choice. I’m sure it’ll come out just as spectacular. With the icing, you can also go plain or even use a lemon flavouring which I’ve tried and loved. If you don’t want icing, that’s completely fine as well as it still tastes delicious (yes I’ve tried it without icing). You do what works best for you.

 The best more-ish carrot cake ever

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

baking ingredients

¾ cup self-raising flour

¾ cup wholemeal flour

1 tsp mixed spice

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp baking soda

I cup raw sugar or coconut sugar

¾ cup chopped walnuts

2 cups grated carrots (approx.2 large carrots or 3 medium carrots)

½ cup sultanas or raisins

2 tbsp desiccated coconut

3 large eggs

1 cup rice bran oil or canola oil

1 tsp vanilla essence

Cream cheese icing ingredients

50g butter, softened

125g cream cheese, softened and chopped

1½ cup icing sugar

Method

Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees celcius (160 if your oven is fan-forced). Grease your muffin/cake/loaf/whatever tin with spray oil or butter. You can also use muffin cups if you’d like or add baking paper.

Sift the self-rising flour, spices and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Add the wholemeal flour and sugar on top.

Add the walnuts, carrots, raisins/sultanas and coconut and stir all the ingredients until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, oil and vanilla. If it comes out all gloopy and gross like this, don’t panic; it means you’re doing it right.

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Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into your tin of choice. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until cooked (you can tell it’s ready when a skewer/chopstick inserted into the center comes out clean). Remove the muffin/cake from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

To make the icing, beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined. You then want to stir in the icing sugar, then beat the mixture on high speed until it comes out light and fluffy.

 

When your cake/muffins have cooled, swirl the icing over the cake. I like to add pumpkin seeds and any remaining walnuts and grated carrot over the top to make it look really pretty. In this instance though, I didn’t have anything left except pumpkin seeds.

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I must admit, I’m not the best when it comes to icing anything but I try. I’ve always believed in the saying, it’s not how it looks but how it tastes.

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… and trust me this bad boy is effing delicious (lol my hand looks funny).

I hope you give it a try! I’d love it if you’d share your recreations with me by tagging me on instagram (@michellerosewrites).

Do you bake? What’s your favourite thing to bake?

Getting hygge with the heat

I was recently introduced to a new word/concept – hygge (pronounced hue-guh, not hee-gi as I keep thinking it as). It’s a Danish word that can’t be described using one English word. It’s probably best described as a feeling of cosiness, content, satisfaction; a moment that’s just plain special from enjoying the simple things in life. It even gives me fuzzies just saying the word. But it’s not just confined to a feeling – it’s also about your surroundings such as your home décor and with loved ones.

We’ve all experienced hygge in some way, shape or form without realising it; reading a book under the tree, enjoying a hot chocolate in warm, fluffy pjs in the middle of winter and even just watching TV and chillaxing are all examples of hygge moments. While I would describe it as ‘hygge moments’, to the Danish people hygge is their way of life. Research* tells me that the word hygge was made famous in the UK in 2016; so famous that it earned a spot in the Collins Words of the Year for 2016. Soon after, the Americans started raving about it. So I guess it’s fair to say that hygge is quickly making headways around the world (although it makes me wonder why it took me so long to get acquainted with the word? Maybe it’s because I’m from New Zealand and it takes a million years for things to get down to this corner of the Earth…).

While the words ‘cosy’ and ‘fuzzy’ are usually associated with wintertime, I think hygge can also be experienced in the summertime. No I’m not asking you to break out the fluffy polar bear PJs and wear it in this 24 degree heat or start a fire in the scorching warmth and sit next to it while attempting to enjoy a book and also trying not to melt. There are lots of different ways to experience cosiness and well, hygge, even in the heat.

Here’s are my top six ways of creating and experiencing a hygge atmosphere in the hot weather: 

Have a bath

Don’t scream or panic. I promise you the heat hasn’t got to me and I’m not crazy. Yet. You know how we have warm baths in winter because it’s relaxing, warming and oh so comforting? Well, why not have a cool bath in summer? It produces the same effects – relaxing, warming and comforting without sharing your water space with others a la the beach or the public pools. Plus you get the added bonus of adding a bath bomb to create your own little galactic and glittery cocoon with bubbles. Delightful.

To create a more comforting and cosy atmosphere, why not light a candle, pour yourself an iced tea and read a book? I promise you won’t die of hyperthermia if you stay in the bath for hours. Here’s a pic of the last cool bath I had:

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Plant it up

Summer makes me think of bright colours and light, airy spaces. Adding succulents and/or flowers in a room is guaranteed to create a summery atmosphere – I guess in some ways it’s like bringing the outside to the inside (if that makes sense). Just being near flowers makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

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I love the aesthetic of succulents and the fact that they’re low maintenance. Its unique and pointy leaves adds an edge to wherever you place it. I got these at the farmers market and absolutely adore them. If you’re in New Plymouth, it’s from the Saturday markets behind the old Mill.

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Enjoying a cuppa

I love tea. Earl grey, jasmine green tea, lady grey, chamomile… I could go on. But when you’re hanging in average 25-degree weather, the last thing you want is a hot drink. Nah uh. But if you’re like me, you don’t want to give up your comforting beves…

Why not enjoy them chilled by throwing in some ice cubes? I particularly enjoy a cuppa cold chamomile.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the tag on my teabag #preach

Relax under the shade

 I think I’ve made this pretty clear in heaps of my posts but I love reading. While I never mind my surroundings when I read, I always find it more enjoyable when I read in a cosy, chilled spot.

In summer, it’s hard to find a cool spot indoors… unless you have air conditioning or are sitting directly in front of a fan. I don’t have the pleasure of either of these luxuries so I like to sit outside and pray for a breeze.

In particular, I love sitting under the trees to get a bit of shade.

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My parents’ garden is set up pretty nicely. It’s like a little wonderland and I spend a lot of time reading in the hammocks. I always find myself with a smile of my face when I’m swinging in the hammocks with a book or kindle in my hand. I know we’re not all lucky enough to have a set up like this but I’m usually quite content with lying on a blanket under a tree. Pure bliss.

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Breaking out the summer sheets 

In wintertime, I usually break out the dark coloured duvets and bed sheets. To me, the darker shades are comforting and warm and it makes me want to dive into the sheets and I know I’m going to be nestled in fuzziness. In summertime, it’s quite the opposite. To achieve the same feeling, I break out the bright, light and airy sheets.

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I love these sheets. If you’re in New Zealand, you can get them from Briscoes. They have a cool, hippy vibe to them and the flowers, leaves and bright colours makes me so happy. Plus its so cool that after a long day, all I want to do is just dive into bed and unwind and enjoy the moment of being relaxed and joyful.

Have a picnic

There’s nothing like embracing summer by heading out into the great outdoors and taking in some sweet fresh air. Enjoying a wine/beer/alcoholic bevy of choice with a fruit and cheese platter under a tree at a park and enjoying a gorgeous view is one of life’s simple pleasures. And guess what? You can do this with family and friends as well. This is sharing a hygge moment with loved ones at its finest.

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So there you have it folks; my list of six things you can try to get hygge with it in summer.

Are you into the hygge life? I’d love it if you shared your hygge experiences and thoughts! In particular, what you do to hygge in the summer!