Monday, 6 January 2014

Trees, Baubles & Chocolate Balls

A few weeks before Christmas my sister-in-law sent me a pic of Chocolate Brownie Christmas Trees. Hmm a challenge perhaps?  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Now I have no idea where she got the photo, maybe from a food mag, maybe PINTEREST?  I suppose I could have maybe asked and possibly maybe even got a recipe but chances are these little chocolate conifers weren't gluten free so I had to improvise..

Abbey's Christmas class party was looming and I thought to myself 'pfft how hard can it be?' plus I totally planned to cheat and use a packet brownie mix BUT THEN disaster struck the night before the class party.  On closer inspection of said packet mix, it was revealed that the product contained traces of nuts. OH CRAP - there was a child in Abbey's class that had a severe allergic reaction to nuts - an ANAPHYLACTIC type of reaction.  There was no way I could use this mix.  Quick Tara, think on your feet.. I had to pull this thing off and bake from scratch.  I also had NO PLAN B.  So I did what any self respecting mother on the brink would do and took to GOOGLE like a woman possessed..

So here's the recipe I used via  It seemed simple enough and even better, I had all of the ingredients in my pantry. Yes. Kicking goals.

200g unsalted butter, chopped
200g GF dark chocolate, broken into pieces                                
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup GF plain flour
2 tablespoons GF cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.  Line a 5cm deep, square brownie tin
Heat butter, chocolate and sugar in saucepan over a low heat stirring until everything has melted and is smooth. Transfer to a heat proof bowl and allow to cool.
Add eggs and vanilla to chocolate mixture.  Mix well.  Sift flour and cocoa over chocolate mix and combine. Pour into brownie tin and bake for 20 minutes.

Now the recipe asks that once cooked & cooled, lift out, wrap in plastic-wrap, then place in an air tight container and leave for 1 day before cutting.. but I didn't have the luxury of time so, once cooled, I placed that sucker into the freezer for a wee while. Say 10 minutes.  It was then perfect to attack with my Christmas Tree cookie cutter.  Sharp edges, no crumbling.  Yes Sir, we were in business.

To finish, I made a simple butter cream icing, tinted it with green food colouring, placed the icing in a snap lock bag and snipped the corner ready to ice those babies.  They actually turned out better than I hoped and I knew they tasted good because I had sampled all the offcuts hahaha.

You can put a candy cane into the base of the tree if you like (just use the straight part of the cane)  - this is what my sister in law's picture had in theirs but I think they looked just as sweet without.

and then there's Gluten Free Rumballs (without the rum or you can add it ~ but I was focusing mainly on child friendly here or you can totally keep a stash separate and indulge later).  We called these Snowballs as kids and this recipe is entirely from my 11 year old memory.  I make no apologies for that.

250g sweet GF biscuits - I used the freelicious tea biscuits
1 tin of condensed milk
1 heaped tablespoon of GF cocoa
Desiccated coconut

Now pay attention.  The very technical method follows ~

(1) Blitz the biscuits in a food processor (or bash them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin) until you have a crumb consistency
(2) Add the cocoa powder and mix to combine
(3) Add the condensed milk and mix in well - if you find your mix is a bit wet,  add a little coconut
(4) Roll heaped teaspoons into balls and then coat with coconut
(5) Cover plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. 

and just a heads up.. they won't last long :)