everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

A snack food revelation

So, last week when I was at the airport in Melbourne, I accidentally wandered into a little shop called The Chocolate Box. And, while I bought some chocolates for a friend, I saw a lady clear out a large number of bags (the entire range) of something at the counter. It caused a bit of a kerfuffle amongst the staff, I tell you.

When I asked the ladies behind the counter what the lady had bought in such dramatic fashion, they whispered, “have you heard of chocolate chips?” Errr derrr, ladies. I like to bake and I have a massive sweet tooth, there’s nothing I don’t know about chocolate chips. “We mean salt and vinegar crisps covered in chocolate.” Really? Yes. Apparently they are one of their best sellers.

Here they are. [image from chocolatebox.com.au]

Here they are.
[image from chocolatebox.com.au]

So, today I bought a bag (ok, maybe two) to bring in to the office so we could experience this phenomenon. The verdict was mixed – but I vote YES for this snack food. A bit too much chocolate masking the flavour, but every now and again there was an unmistakable salty/vinegary kick. Like chocolate covered pretzels, only better, I reckon.

If you’re in Australia, you can stock up at The Chocolate Box. Or I guess you could make your own, if you’re so inclined. Chocolate Chicken Crisps, anyone? Anyone?

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Hello, Chocolate Mug Cake

I had read about these magical sounding chocolate puddings in a few different places on the internets recently. Put a few simple ingredients in a mug, pop it in the microwave for a minute or so and – hey, presto – out comes a delicious cake. Can’t argue with that for a quick and easy dessert. Or morning tea treat. Or midnight snack. Or, you know, breakfast. No judgement.

A little smaller than a normal mixing bowl...

A little smaller than a normal mixing bowl…

As always, Google generously provides about a bzillion recipes for cakes and puddings in mugs. I tried a chocolate peanut butter version last night, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

And then there was cake.

And then there was cake.

The verdict? For a basic muggy dessert that microwaved in 1 minute 10 seconds, it was actually quite good. Definitely much better than I had expected. I have included the recipe that I used (from The Novice Chef blog) below – it’s well worth a try. Especially if you’re in rainy Sydney at the moment and need a bit of extra warmth!

When a cup of tea isn’t quite comforting enough, try a mug of cake, I say.

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[recipe from The Novice Chef blog]

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The best chocolate product in the whole wide world

According to the good people at Haigh’s Chocolates here in Australia, it’s ‘Marshmallow & Coconut Season‘ from April to October. And that is indeed great news. I know they’re telling the truth about the limited season as I once went into their shop in Sydney looking for their rocky road (the subject of this blog & my vote for the best chocolate product in the whole wide world) and the young lady behind the counter looked at me as if I was a poor simple visiting from another planet. Very slowly, she explained: “Ummm…we don’t actually sell rocky road now, it’s just too hot for marshmallow’.

Compliments of the season. [image from haighschocolates.com.au]

Compliments of the season.
[image from haighschocolates.com.au]

I can’t believe I had lived ’til that point without knowing about marshmallow season. But now I do and, from April to October, I do like to celebrate the season from time to time with Haigh’s milk chocolate rocky road (they also have dark chocolate, if you’re so inclined). I bought some yesterday – my first for the season, I swear – and was reminded again of just how awesome it is.

Haigh’s is a bit of an Australian institution for chocolate. According to their website, they are ‘the oldest family-owned chocolate manufacturing retailer in Australia’. Sure, that’s a pretty narrow niche, but I love that there are still Haighs running the show and churning out their amazing chocolate. They only came to Sydney relatively recently – when I was a wee graduate working at a major bank, it was a treat when one of the big wigs in our area went to Adelaide or Melbourne as he’d bring back Haigh’s chocolate frogs. Good times.

'Tis the REAL season to be jolly, I tell you. [image from haighschocolates.com.au]

‘Tis the REAL season to be jolly, I tell you.
[image from haighschocolates.com.au]

Anyways, if you are in Australia during Coconut & Marshmallow Season and you haven’t tried Haigh’s rocky road, I reckon you definitely should. You have until the end of October, peeps. Enjoy! (You can also have a calorie-free look at their website here if you’re from another land…or if you’re in Australia, but you don’t like delicious chocolate.)

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Choccywoccydoodah

No, I’m not jet-lagged. Choccywoccydoodah is the name of a very cool chocolate and cake shop in the UK and we visited its London store for afternoon tea. If you can imagine Willy Wonka and the Cake Boss joining forces and then increasing their over the top-ness by the power of 10, you’ve pretty much got the idea. It’s a bit crazy.

Here are some of the cakes that were on display. Yep, they’re all cakes.

And then there was the upstairs cafe, with another giant cake on display (the rose one in this picture) along with a huge range of amazing-looking cakes on sale by the slice. Pretty much enough to induce a sugar coma just by looking at them. Most of the cakes were made of several layers, with a whole heap of marshmallows or sweets on top for good measure.

Like this one. It was a chocolate, gingerbread, coconut cake. But you can’t really see it, because the huge slice appeared on a plate under chocolate drizzle and ice cream. We also ordered a chocolate flapjack, in case one piece of cake wasn’t enough. We hadn’t realised the one piece of cake would be as big as my head.

Needless to say, we rolled out of the shop after eating as much as we could. Which really wasn’t all that much.

You can have a look at the amazing work of Choccywoccydoodah here. And just a tip – if you’re going for cake, don’t have breakfast, lunch or dinner that day.

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