Homemade Honeycomb | gluten free

We’re in New Orleans at the moment experiencing all the delight of the bayou and Bourbon St. I left these with my sister when I left…I wonder if she’s saved me any…

Sweet crystals of honey delight! Make your own honeycomb at home with just a few simple ingredients and have fun decorating it just the way you want! Homemade Honeycomb | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI am not exaggerating when I say that chocolate coated honeycomb contributed to my good report cards in high school. Violet Crumble bars, strawberries, and almonds dipped in Nutella (try it, but don’t blame me…) were what fuelled my late night study of religion essays, math assignments, chemistry calculations, and Japanese vocab memorisations. Whenever end of term came round Mum knew to stock up on Violet Crumble and strawberries and make sure my little dog Tex stayed inside while I worked late into the night. Thanks Mum.Homemade Honeycomb | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI’ve always loved honeycomb. The way it shatters. The sticky, pure sugar sweetness. And most of all, the chocolate coating. Now, in Australia there is a division between Crunchie people and Violet Crumble people. I am a Violet Crumble girl myself. Unfortunately most chocolate-coated honeycomb bars include both wheat and gelatine. No bueno. Enter: my kitchen and a little bit of really awesome chemistry! See Mama, those late night sessions didn’t go to waste!Homemade Honeycomb | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeHoneycomb is essentially a heated sugar syrup with most of the moisture removed by boiling it for a long time to a high temperature. When you add the baking soda to the hot syrup it is forced to break down quickly and carbon dioxide molecules are released in bubbles. These bubbles become trapped in the sugar syrup that has formed long threads of crystals, hence the light, airy, bubbly texture of honeycomb. Sweet, sweet science. Making honeycomb at home is a great way to teach kids about science!

Now, let me issue my warning: this recipe involves heating sugar syrup to high temperatures and is therefore not suitable for small children to make on their own. Be very careful when you make this candy treat so that you can enjoy it at home, and not in the hospital. Homemade Honeycomb | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeWith that warning out of the way. Let me say: making honeycomb at home is totally worth it. You only need a few inexpensive ingredients, a large pot, a massive baking tray, and a candy thermometer. I picked mine up at out local grocery store for under $10.

I had so much fun making and eating this favourite childhood treat and then I decided that the only way to up the ante was to decorate it with sprinkles! Because sprinkles make even the best treats even better! Try this for some homemade trick-or-treating fun or as gifts for friends! Just remember to brush your teeth afterwards 🙂Homemade Honeycomb | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Homemade Honeycomb

Gluten free | Makes: A LOT. Seriously, if you aren’t prepared to eat honeycomb for a ages, or give it away, then make a half batch.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 200 grams chocolate, roughly chopped
  • Sprinkles to decorate, optional

Method

  1. Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet by lining it with baking paper. Spray with cooking oil or spray to make removal of the honeycomb easier. Make sure your baking sheet is at least 20 x 12 inches. Or prep two smaller baking sheets.
  2. Place white sugar, honey, water and golden syrup into a large saucepan. Warm over a low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has melted.
  3. Increase temperature to high and bring the sugar syrup to boiling point. The mixture will rise in the pan while it is boiling. Cook without stirring at all until the temperature reads 154C (309F) on your candy thermometer. This is hard crack stage. Be very careful around the syrup.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow the bubbles to reduce then add baking soda. Quickly stir the baking soda in. The mixture will begin to bubble immediately.
  5. Working quickly spread the honeycomb over your lined baking sheet. It will continue to bubble and foam so place it on some newspaper on your kitchen bench just in case.
  6. Allow the honeycomb to cool completely.
  7. Break honeycomb into large shards.
  8. Melt chocolate by placing it into a microwave-proof bowl and heating in 30 second blasts, stirring well in between with a metal spoon, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  9. Coat honeycomb shards using a spoon and decorate with sprinkles if using.

Homemade Honeycomb | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Honey, Apricot, and Coconut Cookies (gluten free)

One of my favourite things to do while I’m baking is listen to podcasts. As the hosts chatter away among themselves, and educate me about various topics I feel like I am back in the kitchen with my family listening to them chatter away while I cook. I love that kind of company when I am cooking sometimes. The kind of friends who pull up a seat at the breakfast bar and talk to you while you have your hands in the dough and keep you entertained with their stories. I remember sitting at the kitchen table in the afternoons after school and spilling all the secrets, trials and triumphs of my day to Mum while she made dinner. It was the gathering place, the hub of our house, and it still is. When I visit Jess and she is creating something amazing in her kitchen, I pull up a bar stool, make myself a cup of tea and keep her company. My people, my friends and family, are mostly those who center themselves and their lives in the kitchen and this is where the big and small conversations and decisions in life happen. And when you are in the kitchen, keeping the cook company, you usually have the benefit of taste testing their creations first.

Apricot Coconut Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Apricot Coconut Cookies 3

If you had been keeping me company last weekend, you would have been the first to try one of these chewy cookies straight from the baking tin. I would have made us both a cup of tea while they were baking and when they made their appearance all golden and puffed up you would have had first choice of the two dozen cookies. But since I was alone, with my podcast friends, I had first choice. The honey is what hits you first here. You can actually taste it, and most of the sweetness comes from quarter cup of honey in the dough. I also suggest using a strongly flavoured honey. I used a local Manuka honey, dark, thick and slow to pour. A lighter honey will still sweeten the dough, but you won’t get the real hit of honey when you bite into the cookie. The dried apricots, oats, and coconut give the cookie a high chew factor. This is not a snappable ginger biscuit or a delicate melt-in-your-mouth shortbread, this cookie demands that you chew it and savour each bite. These are school bag biscuits, afternoon tea saviours, and the ones you want to keep in your handbag for emergency cookie situations. They are also good for keeping in a biscuit tin to entertain your kitchen table company.

Apricot Coconut Cookies 1

 Honey, Apricot, and Coconut Cookies

Gluten Free | Makes 24 biscuits | Note: if you do not require these to be gluten free you can substitute 180 grams plain flour for the flours listed below |

Ingredients

  •  100 grams  butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey (strongly flavoured is best)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 60 grams brown rice flour
  • 60 grams white rice flour
  • 60 grams sorghum flour
  • 1 cup gluten free quick oats (I used Freedom Foods)
  • 100 grams dried apricots, diced
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line two large cookie sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add honey, vanilla extract and egg and beat until well incorporated.
  4. In a separate medium size bowl whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown rice flour, white rice flour, and sorghum flour.
  5. Add whisked flours to butter mixture and beat until combined.
  6. Add oats, apricots and coconut and stir until all incorporated.
  7. Place dough in refrigerator and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Once dough has chilled remove from fridge. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Allow room for spreading.
  9. Place in preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Cookies are done when the edges are lightly golden.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to a week.

Apricot Coconut Cookies 2

Honey Caramels

Let’s talk about hidden talents and honey caramels today. These are the things that make life interesting, they keep us from a truly linear progression and they are the spice in the curiousity cabinet of life. Firstly, hidden talents. I love when you think you know someone and then they turn around and completely surprise you. My little sister does an excellent Beyonce/Sasha Fierce impersonation – she unleashes her inner Amazon with amazing power for such a small person. Her Z-snap is almost as impressive as Chris’s (sorry for outing you honey…). My darling Casey can sing the American national anthem in cat (basically her ‘meowing’ to the tune of Star Spangled Banner) – it’s a sight to behold for sure. Then comes my friend Ricky – who knew that this man was a budding apiarist? (That’s a person who tends for bees by the way.) Ricky’s honey has become a huge hit in our house, and we are putting it on/into everything! Now that’s a hidden talent to admire.

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My hidden talents? Well there was a party trick that involved my tongue and musk sticks, but we don’t talk about my early twenties any more…let’s really just not go there. Now that I am a sophisticated (ahem) professional (ahem) lady (AHEM!) my hidden talent has become misreading recipes and rescuing them at the last minute to achieve something different and usually as pleasing as the original. These Honey Caramels were born of that hidden talent. Because messing up, when worded correctly, can be a hidden talent. It’s all in the marketing you see.

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The caramels start off with a smooth nutty flavour and then right at the end the honey shines through. They are welcomed eagerly with a cup of coffee after dinner and just as equally at place wrapped up in some pretty tissue paper and put into a tin as a Christmas present. Just remember to save a few for yourself…(my other hidden talent is hiding things, but you didn’t hear that from me).

Honey Caramels

This recipe was accidentally adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Australia, December 2013. Gluten free. Definitely NOT diabetic friendly.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 395 gram can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons glucose syrup (ensure this is made from corn)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 200 grams white chocolate, chopped
  • Icing sugar, to dust, about 1/2 cup

Method

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking tin with baking paper and make a space in your fridge of the same size.
  2. Put sugar, sweetened condensed milk, honey, and glucose syrup into a heavy based saucepan. Place over a medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil. Keep stirring or your caramel will burn on the bottom. That is not good.
  3. When the mixture comes to the boil, lower the heat and continue stirring for about 15 minutes or until the caramel deepens in colour and thickens.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste and the white chocolate. Beat until melted and smooth. The mixture will start to thicken so work quickly!
  5. Spread caramel into the prepared baking tin and smooth the top. Allow to come to room temperature on the bench before placing in your pre-prepared space in the fridge. Cool until set. About 2-3 hours.
  6. Remove caramel slab from the fridge and cut into small squares. Dust with icing sugar so that the pieces don’t stick together too much.
  7. Serve, or store in the fridge until you gift them (or gobble them).

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Don’t mind if I do…

Weekend Breakfast: Honey, Apple, and Spice Loaf

Could we still call this breakfast? Perhaps brunch might be a more apt title. It was well after eleven this morning when I slid this loaf into the oven, and just before twelve when I sat down to a slice cut from the still- warm loaf. We had a long night on Saturday, celebrating a friend’s birthday, and a Sunday sleep-in session was most definitely required. The problem with sleeping in though is that I am not very good at it. I get up at five during the week, and I can make my body sleep until eight, but any time past that and I am a alert and awake. I feel sorry for my poor darling, who is talented in the art of hibernation, and has to deal with a girlfriend who wriggles around like a sack of jumping beans and can’t get back to sleep once she has decided to wake up and start the day.

Breakfast Winnie the Pooh and Piglet

A.A. Milne’s classic

Today was one of those mornings. I tried to snuggle. I tried to grasp onto the last remembered threads of sleep and wander back into dreamland again. But it was to no avail. I had already set my mind on another goal: breakfast. There were so many options: muesli with yoghurt and berries, gluten free toast with jam, cornflakes with strawberries. And then, I remembered the apples. Too soft to eat, too ripe and red and juicy to be thrown away – perfect for baking. Cloaked in a warmly spiced batter the apples were transformed from rejected snacks to a celebrated breakfast. Perfect for a nourishing Sunday meal whether you want to call it breakfast or brunch, or just a sweet treat.

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Honey, Apple, and Spice Loaf (gluten free)

As always, if you do not require this to be gluten free please replace the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, and almond meal with 230 grams of plain flour. You could use a mixture of wholemeal and white in this cake as it would hold up well with the breakfast attitude and homeliness of the apples and spices.

Ingredients:

  • 100 grams buckwheat flour
  • 80 grams brown rice flour
  • 50 grams almond meal
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 apple cored and diced
  • 2 tablespoons flaked almonds

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C (375F) and line a 9 x 4 inch loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl, this should only take about 20 seconds. Then stir in honey and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, brown sugar, baking powder, and the spices. Ensure that there are no large lumps of brown sugar. You might have to break them up with your fingers.
  4. In a separate, small, bowl whisk together buttermilk, vanilla essence, and eggs.
  5. Add melted butter and buttermilk to the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir the chunks of apple through.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan, sprinkle with flaked almonds, and slide into the oven.
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes. You may have to cover this halfway through to stop the almonds from burning.
  8. Remove and allow to cool completely before slicing. Although, sliced warm and eaten plain, or with jam, it makes a lovely Sunday breakfast with a large mug of tea and a good newspaper.

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Tell me dear reader, do you enjoy sleeping in? Or are you an up-and-at-em person? Also, weekend breakfast/brunch, what’s your favourite?

A.A. Milne's classic.

Joie de Vivre and Spicy Honey Gingerbread

Every year the carols seem to start earlier, the decorations go up in the shopping centre more obnoxiously close to June than I am comfortable with, and retailers start pushing the need to ‘get ready for the holidays’. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I am from a family where Christmas  is embraced in Krank-ian proportions, for example, I keep Josh Groban’s ‘Noel’ album in my car from October onwards, and my Santa hat has a permanent place in my closet. But despite my love for the holiday season, sometimes the joie de vivre of the season takes a little longer to wrap my heart in tinsel and light it up like a Christmas tree.

Standing on the street near midnight on Monday with the scent of frangipani in the air and the heat of the day still soaking out from the bitumen, I could hear the whisper of ‘Carol of the Bells’ starting in my head. I wish I could bottle days like Monday: the endorphin rush of a great run, the laughter of friends over a birthday lunch, the tears of happiness induced by my gorgeous friend Melissa’s Salted Caramel Pecan and Chocolate Cheesecake.

Those are the days where the spirit of Christmas seem to come alive, and the best part is, when you really search for it, the joie de vivre of this short season can be found in the simplest things all year long: a bunch of flowers from the markets, an unexpected dinner party, a bear hug from my Dad, an ice cold diet coke and lime as an aperitif on a long summer afternoon…

Then there is this cake, every spice designed to lure the holiday spirit into your house, and a perfect gift for a neighbour to help them welcome the season. If you don’t want to make the ginger-honey glaze you can just dust the top with icing sugar, all the easier for wrapping in waxed paper to be gifted.

Tell me dear reader, what summons the beginning of the holiday season for you?

Spicy Honey Gingerbread

Please don’t be put off by the seemingly long ingredient list. If you don’t want to go and buy all the individual spices, or don’t already have them, you can use 3 teaspoons ground ginger and 1 teaspoon mixed spice instead; similarly, if you don’t have sour cream you can use all milk, or vice versa. I can promise though, that this perfumed bread will summon Christmas in your house as soon as the heat from the oven releases the first scent of ginger and brown sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 125 grams butter
  • 1/2 cup honey (I used a local macadamia honey – so delicious)
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with baking paper.
  2. Place butter, honey, and golden syrup in a medium saucepan and melt over a medium heat. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl whisk together plain flour, self raising flour, almond meal, bicarbonate soda, spices, and brown sugar. Make sure that there are no lumps of brown sugar in the dry mixture – you may have to break them up with your fingers.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.
  5. Add melted butter mixture to flour mix and whisk until smooth. Then add milk mix to the batter and stir gently with a wooden spoon. It may look like it won’t combine but just be a little patient and keep stirring.
  6. Pour mixture into loaf pan and slide into the oven.
  7. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and allow to cool completely before spreading glaze on top.

Glaze:

Whisk together 1 cup of icing sugar, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, and 3 tablespoons milk until smooth. Spread over the top of the completely cooled cake.