Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cool Confetti Faux-Fudge

There's a lot of sadness plastered all over the TV screen these days.

Seems like all news is bad news.

It's easy to lose sight of happiness in these times and I find myself wanting to stay informed but exhausted from feeling so ruined by it.

Scientifically Sweet is mainly about butter & chocolate, a little life talk and plenty of FUN. Today, I'll dig a bit deeper.

I've been reading things that are not recipes lately. My down-time reading normally doesn't extend past cookbooks and food magazines. Right now I'm onto three Jamie Oliver books (trying to catch-up), a couple of Donna Hay issues and Caramel.

In my reading, what I've learned (aside from how to make a paella in 20 minutes) is that YOU can actually control how happy YOU are?

Happiness and well-being is mostly driven by our own thoughts and behaviours. In these not-so-joyous times it is important to find joyful and positive points and focus on them. I don't mean to just think everything is always hunky dory - that's just ignorant, and people might want to punch you. But, recognize the unfortunate and then focus on the positive. It's important to constantly recover and move forward or the only direction you will go is back.

These are some of things that will contribute to our happiness:
Positive emotions.
Meaningful relationships.

It's easy for me to draw up happy thoughts. Like Nonno Sam slowly slicing up his home-grown cucumbers for a Summer salad - I loved watching him.
Chocolate (mosty I eat rather than just think about it).
My wedding day - what a party!

Say "thank you" as much as you can. It's amazing what a little thank you can do.

Help out, reach out. Give directions to someone who looks lost, help someone carry a suitcase up the stairs off the subway train, bring brownies to your neighbour, call your mother(!).

Linger, don't dwell. It's easy to dwell on the bad things that happen and analyse how you could've done things different. Well, until we develop time machines, this is just a pure waste of time! It's nice to learn from our experiences but keep moving forward and trust your intuition.

Do linger on the happy moments - take time to take it in. Savour a warm chocolate chip cookie, pull over to just stare at that beautiful sunset, cuddle your husband, don't underestimate a hug!

I linger any time I eat. Here's some truth - I don't like going out to dinner with people because I can't eat and talk. When I eat, I want everyone to shut up so that I can taste my food. I'm super weird. I've accepted it. It's one part Italian blood, one part passion and one part obsession.

Here's a reason to linger... Cool Confetti Fudge! Most of you are approaching the end of Summer in the beautiful month of August. It's hot, it's humid, it's gorgeous. I know the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven - if you could bake a cake on the BBQ (and I'm sure someone has), then you would. Here's a recipe that needs no oven. It's cool, it's creamy, it's made with chocolate, toasted oats, fruit and nuts.

Consider this: fudge that doesn't require a candy thermometer and uses far less sugar. I love fudge, but sometimes it can be totally high maintenance, and don't even dare make it on a humid day unless you feel like being disappointed.

You can make them into individual cups or make a big slab and slice it into squares.

The addition of egg (thanks to it's impressive protein content) gives this faux-fudge a chewy texture similar to the real deal. The key is to be patient when cooking the mixture over very low heat once the egg has been added, and don't leave the stove - you need to stir constantly so that it does not burn or curdle. Cooking the egg like this will help tighten up the mixture and create a chewy texture.

The best part? It's cold when outside is hot.

A sprinkle of sea salt on top enhances the chocolate flavour and replenishes electrolytes.

Sit out on the porch, put your feet up and linger on a piece of cool fudge. Heck, linger two, three or four times because it tastes too good! Say thank you to Mexico for discovering chocolate and then share whatever you have left with the neighbours. You'll feel great about it. Promise.


Cool Confetti Faux-Fudge
Makes about 20 pieces

½ cup (50 g) large flake rolled oats
1 cup (80 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
3 tbsp (18 g) cocoa powder
½ cup chopped raw hazelnuts
½ cup chopped dried apricots
7 tbsp (100 g) unsalted butter
150 g (5 1/4 oz) bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
½ cup (100 g) sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp golden syrup or honey
1 large egg

Lightly grease a 24-cup mini muffin tray or line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Spread oats in a single layer in a frying pan over medium heat and cook until lightly toasted and they smell nutty. Transfer oats to a medium mixing bowl and then repeat with coconut until just lightly golden and nutty. Place coconut into the bowl with the oats and add cocoa, chopped hazelnuts and chopped dried apricots. Toss to coat everything evenly with the cocoa.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine butter, chocolate, sugar, salt and golden syrup or honey. Stir occasionally for 5-6 minutes, until completed melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool slightly (about 1 minute) before stirring in the egg. The mixture should still feel hot and the heat from the melted chocolate mixture should be enough to cook the egg safely without scrambling it. Then return the mixture to low heat and stir constantly over the heat until it just begins to bubble - careful not to burn it! 

Stir in the oat mixture and then either spoon the mixture into the wells of your prepared muffin tray, filling them to the top, or spread the mixture evenly into your prepared baking pan. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Store little cups or squares in an airtight container divided between sheets of wax paper and keep refrigerated. 

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