Easy No-Bake Apricot and White Chocolate Slice

“In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem.
Fallen off your bicycle? Nice cup of tea.
Your house has been destroyed by a meteorite? Nice cup of tea and a biscuit.
Your entire family has been eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex that has travelled through a space/time portal? Nice cup of tea and a piece of cake. ” 
~  David Walliams

 

My lovely friend Kerry and her daughter Philomena came to visit on the weekend. (You may remember me introducing you to Kerry – she’s the talented woman who made the short documentary about my Retreats which you can view here).

Of course you can’t have friends over for a cup of tea without having some kind of tasty offering, and this simple no-bake slice is so quick and easy. I learned this recipe as a child, and it’s certainly a keeper. Eating it always takes me back to school holidays at my Nana’s house and spending time with her neighbour Mrs Mac, a CWA member and ex WW2 army cook who was a great influence on my early cooking skills.

The only change I’ve made to that old recipe is to add in some white chocolate, which makes it feel just a tad more fancy.

This is a great lunchbox treat, and is lovely for morning or afternoon tea. It also travels well for picnics, and I often use it for smoko when we are down at the cattle yards or out in the paddock. It’s sweet and fudgy and delicious.

I hope you enjoy it.

Lots of love, Nicole xx

Ingredients:

  • 125g (1/2 cup) butter
  • ½ cup soft brown sugar
  • ½ tin sweetened condensed milk (200 grams)
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1 x 250g packet of plain sweet biscuits, crushed (I prefer Malt biscuits)
  • 200g white chocolate buttons (optional but so good!)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut

Method:

  1. Chop your apricots finely (or save time and buy a packet of diced apricots!)
  2. Crush the biscuits by placing in a plastic bag and smashing with a rolling pin, or whizz them in a food processor. (Note: It is perfectly acceptable as the cook to have a biscuit to nibble on as you prepare the others for your recipe.)
  3. Set aside 2/3 of the white chocolate buttons.
  4. Grease a 20cm x 30cm slice tin with butter, or line it with baking paper so that the paper covers the bottom and the sides of the tin.
  5. Place the butter, condensed milk and sugar into a large saucepan over low heat stirring constantly until the butter has melted. Do not boil! Remove from heat.
  6. Dump the crushed biscuits and apricots into the melted butter mixture and stir well. Then add 1/3 of the white chocolate buds. Stir into the mixture which will be quite thick.
  7. Pat the mix into the prepared tin using the back of a spoon or your clean wet hands. (wet hands stops the mixture sticking and helps you smooth the top)
  8. Sprinkle with the coconut.
  9. Melt the remaining white chocolate (in a microwave or over a double boiler) and drizzle over the slice in a decorative pattern.
  10. Place slice in fridge to set, which will take about four hours.
  11. Cut into small slices to serve. This slice will keep refrigerated for one week, if it lasts that long.

Here is the recipe and the taste test in pictures for you (and you’ll notice that Rufous Dog has a great interest in all things food…):

 

A Lovely Afternoon!

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“It is easy to decide on what is wrong to wear to a party, such as deep-sea diving equipment or a pair of large pillows, but deciding what is right is much trickier.”
~ Lemony Snicket, The Slippery Slope

 

I thought I’d give you a little snapshot of yesterday’s successful afternoon tea, which was, in fact, a very non-traditional baby shower…

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There were all sorts of lovely treats. Finger sandwiches, tiny macarons and cupcakes, fruit platters and cheese plates.

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The steampunk baby cake was a work of art. Inside all of that clever fondant was a scrumptiously moist caramel mud cake for the bottom layer, and chocolate mud for the top.

2015-03-07 13.45.38We played all sorts of fun games, including ‘Guess the Girth’ of our mother-to-be, by placing our name on a wide ribbon to mark what we estimated to be the size of our friend’s tummy. We also guessed the number of jelly beans in a jar, and had a blind taste-test of four different jars of baby food, to see if we could correctly identify the flavours.

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The afternoon finished with a gifting ceremony, excellent cups of tea and coffee, slices of cake, and more marvellous chocolate steampunk cupcakes and salted caramel and chocolate macarons.

All in all it was a wonderful afternoon of kindness, laughter, friendship, much chatter, and just a few little tears.

A perfectly nourishing dose of soul medicine for each of us!

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The Tea Party – A Post About Friendship

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“Anne and her family lived alone on an island. She enjoyed having tea time with her friends the spiny lobster and baby hawk.”

~  National Geographic, August 1938

 

Today I’m attending an afternoon tea for one of my friends.

Perhaps you’re all thinking it shall be like this: glamorous well-frocked girls having the perfect time.

I’m sure the food will be beautiful, and the company heart-warming. We’re coming together to celebrate a  milestone for one of our group, and to show our love and support, as friends do.

I’m really looking forward to catching up with everyone.

But today I also want to paint an honest portrait of our small group, so that you can appreciate the nature of friendship. And I’m also writing this in support of another dear friend who is battling with being in a difficult place in life right now, and who wrote yesterday that she was finding it difficult coping with the eternal optimism, happy-happy magical unicorns and dreams-come-true posts that are filling her facebook feed.

Photographs and posts seldom capture the energy that sits behind the snapshot of an event. So let me fill you in on ours.

Image from Etsy

Image from Etsy

The star of our afternoon tea came home with a limp and a scratchy throat last night, and may still be in questionable health today.

One of our party was released from hospital yesterday after an unexpected stay, and another of our number has recently been diagnosed with a serious virus that has laid her low and greatly slowed her down.

One girlfriend is completely under the hammer with work and deadlines, and has been flattened by stress.

One girlfriend has just lost her father.

I’m still reeling from the sudden death of my friend’s daughter and that intense week of psychic experiences, followed by the passing of a good friend a week ago whose death provoked a social media onslaught of judgment, nastiness and ignorance. On top of lyme playing havoc with my sleep, and leaving me ragged.

Why am I sharing this?

You might not be able to know these things by simply looking at us.

We might not be able to know these things by simply looking at you.

I also know you’ll relate. Haven’t you pulled yourself together, or made a big effort, or put that happy face on and pushed through at one time or another, because of the people you love? And most times we were glad we did.

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Most of us are struggling a little right now. Haven’t you noticed that it’s crazy-time? As well as being the full moon. It’s the space we’re in energetically. It’s havoc and chaos and sadness and slow-down and obstruction. It’s big emotional stuff, and relationship stuff, and we’re all sitting in that energy and most of us are affected by it.

Despite that, and despite our own battles, a group of us will come together today and drink bubbles and cups of tea, and eat cake and sandwiches and assorted tasties. Because we care for each other. We love each other. And that’s what love does.

That’s actually the most delicious, nourishing and restorative thing of all.

Wherever you are today, know that I’m sending you love and wishing you well.

Bless xx

Image from gogreenkp.com

Image from gogreenkp.com

Quick Guava Tea Cake Recipe

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“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

Henry James

 

Afternoon tea is a popular time in our household. In fact, it usually attracts visitors hopeful of a cuppa, a chat, and a small slice of something tasty.

I love this tea cake recipe. You can whip it up in under ten minutes (plus baking time), and it makes a moist cake that goes well with a robust cup of tea or an afternoon coffee.

Tea cake was one of my Nana’s favourites. Traditionally it is topped with apple, but it seemed the perfect way to use up some of my bumper guava crop! The guava topping is fragrant, sweet and slightly exotic.

Paired with a hearty cup of Irish Breakfast Tea it truly is a little piece of heaven on a plate.

Cake Ingredients:

65g x (5 tablespoons) softened butter, 2 x teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 x egg, 1/2 x cup sugar, 1 x cup self raising (self-rising for my USA friends or 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 x teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt, sifted together), 1/3 cup plain yogurt, 1 x 20cm round cake tin, paper lined.

Guava Topping:

2 cups of sliced fresh guava, plus the sieved pulp from the fruit’s centre, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, zest of half a lemon, 1/3 cup of sugar

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Method:

Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Wash the guavas and remove the tips of both ends. Halve and scoop out the seedy centre.

Press the centres through a sieve. Discard seeds. This should yield about half a cup of pulp.

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Slice the guava flesh and place the flesh, the pulp, the lemon juice, zest and sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat for two or three minutes until the fruit is soft and fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

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Place butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in bowl and beat until thick and creamy (about 2 minutes).

Fold through the yoghurt and flour until combined, and then spread the batter into your paper-lined baking tin.

Spoon about a cup of the gauva compote over the top of the batter.

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Cook for thirty minutes.  Check your cake by poking  a skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean it is ready. Leave in a little longer if batter still clings to skewer.

Serve warm with cream or ice-cream and the remainder of the guava compote. I apologise that this is the only picture I have of the cake being served but it got eaten before I could get a better one!

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The cake can also be enjoyed served cold, sliced and spread with butter. It is best eaten on the day it is made, but kept covered or in an airtight tin will last for three days. It freezes well too.

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A Cup of Tea and Comfort…

Living and working as a psychic can be quite draining, although I love what I do. It’s not dissimilar to any other ‘caring’ profession, where you are totally focused on the needs of others, in a way that leaves little time for yourself.

I’ve learned that the best way to avoid burnout for me is to work for a few intense days in a row and then have a complete break from clients for a time. And one of the ways I often celebrate finishing my work week is with a visit to Queenies Teahouse, at Nundah Village in Brisbane.

It’s the perfect place for nurture and soul food. From the moment you push open the door with its tinkling bell you can feel yourself begin to unwind. Smiling staff greet you and usher you to crisp linen’d tables, and soon you’ll find yourself cradling a small tasting cup of one of their delightful teas as you peruse the menu.

A visit to Queenies is like a step back in time, where the worries of the world stop at the front door.  In the background the gentle strains of music your grandmother might have listened to – all the old jazz and blues greats, and the sounds of yesteryear – soothe and unfrazzle your senses.  Gorgeous smells waft from the kitchen.

This is no coffee shop with its clatter and noise, laptops and mobile phones. Here you find friends chatting, generations of families catching up over a pot of tea, and individuals having a moment’s respite from their daily madness – a sort of ‘tea and tasties’ meditation for one.

The teas are sublime and there are so many to choose from. There are two full menu pages devoted to the tea selection, with the sorts of descriptions usually reserved for wine lists.

The herbal tea and green tea varieties are as extensive as the black teas, and they always arrive at your table perfectly brewed, or refreshingly iced.

And have I mentioned the food…

Everything is made fresh in the Queenies kitchen – examples include the daintiest of ribbon sandwiches, creamy risotto, savoury mince (that is right up there with my late grandmother’s), exquisite cakes, coconut ice, and of course cupcakes and scones to die for…

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday a friend and I enjoyed ribbon sandwiches and a pot of Creme Brulee Tea, followed by something sweet.

For me, the most moist and delicious gluten-free orange and almond cake, with its own little shotglass of orange syrup and a perfect ball of chocolate ganache of swooning quality…

For my friend, the baked cheesecake with its spicy gingernut biscuit crust and heavenly berry topping…

The menu has all the traditional high tea favourites, and is also vegetarian and gluten-free friendly. And there are lovely treats to take home –  a sachet or two of your favourite tea, a pretty teapot or tea-towel, or perhaps a tiny tea set for the small people in your life.

My wonderful friend, the poet Carly-Jay Metcalfe was moved to poetry by yesterday’s outing.  You can read about it here.

In fact, I was so inspired that I am planning to book the place out and have a Sunday Function here one day soon, where we can combine Soul Food, Spirituality, Blessings and Poetry over a lovely lunch and a good cup of tea with like-minded souls. Stay tuned for details!