Saturday, 11 April 2015

Chocoholics and sisterhood: Dark chocolate and date slices



The Brady women are chocoholics. We always have been. Step between us and a bar of Lindt or question our authority when it comes to how to make the best chocolate cake and we'll cut you with a look and a raised eyebrow that will make you wish you had never been born. We are loving women but don't get in the way of our chocolate.

Since we're not in the least bit religious, lent doesn't exactly factor in our lives but the chocolate easter eggs at the end of the whole fourty days do. As a household, if you haven't figured it out already, we are big into our food and any excuse to celebrate food together and combine our food skills to create an enormous meal at key times of the year have become a tradition in our family, with the same fervour that others might reserve for religious events. Easter is one of my favourite times to celebrate time together and the dauning of Spring together. Before you go thinking that we are some magical non religious version of the Flanders family, let me assure you that we are just as crazy and irritating as any other family aroun, it's just that for some reason, food brings us together. Even though I've had shouting matches with my Dad for hovering over my space in the kitchen or gotten impatient with something my sisters or mam were doing, sitting down and looking at the collective dishes of deliciousness always makes me happy and proud that I have such a weird, irritating but loving family.


Within this family, I have two beautiful sisters. I'm the oddball that's stuck in the middle. When I think of the relationship I have with both of them, several memories, both rocky and loving come to mind. As part of growing up and figuring myself out, my relationship with them has grown. Especially within the last three years, I've come to love them not just as sisters but as the amazing women they are.

The little sister is about a kajillion lightyears ahead of me in the maturity game. We have polar views on success and stability and general life outlook but she has been there for me in ways unimaginable to me a few years previous. She has the ability to swan and glide so gracefully through life, to instill serene calm in those around her while simultaneously paddling like shit under the surface. She is honest and caring and has the driest sense of humour I know of. She has sat and listened to me three times in the last few years when others would have left out of sheer discomfort when I was at my lowest and most ashamed of my depressive state. She is, quite simply, the most generous person I know.


The eldest sister is nine years older than me so while she was going to nightclubs, I was making mud pies in the forest next to our house. Not a whole lot in common there. She was loving and motherly back then in ways that defied her adolescence. It wasn't until I got to college that the wonders of going to parties with your older sister became something I was familiar with. We got to know each other, even if we did disagree about so much and I loved those years of house parties and afternoons watching movies on the couch together. In the last few years I've seen her marry a man with a heart of gold, give birth to and raise two beautiful, creative, luminescent daughters and move to Spain to set up a life for herself and her family. She's like another mother, stubborn and opinionated, a thoughtful second mother who's fiercely protective nature towards me makes me feel absolutely wrapped up in love, even if it occassionally drives me mad at the same time. Her sturdiness and caring nature make me incredibly proud to call her my sister.


In the first time in 6 years, since the birth of her first daughter, the elder sister flew over to spend the weekend with us. There were six places set at the easter dinner table, just like it was before we all grew up and started having our own adult lives, plus one for the little sister's lovely man. It was just us. I could hear her footsteps in the landing, I could smell her perfume upstairs, hear her laugh in the kitchen, feel her presence in the house alongside the younger sister's calm, methodical movements around the kitchen while she cooked. It was sheer bliss having them all around.

In the spirit of a child free zone and missing the little ones who I'd usually make milk chocolate rice crispie cakes with and laugh as they stuffed one cake after another into their chocolate pasted mouths, I decided to create an adults-only rice crispie slice for the chocolate loving adults we had become. When I was about nine, I fed half of the little sister's easter egg to our fat dog and there were countless times I snuck into big sister's room and snooped around it. These chocolate squares were the adult equivalent of making it up for silly childhood moments when I hadn't treated my sisters with the beauty and love they deserved and since we were now all adults, they deserved a treat no kid could have.


On Monday, I went back to Dublin and later in the week, big sis flew back to Spain and little sis carried on working. It might be another few years before we get a kid free reunion like that again where it will be just us, the original family together again but at least the dark chocolate slices recipe will last and if they read this, big sis and little sis will keel the recipe going and know that I made it for them and that all the words in the world couldn't equate to the love I have for them.

Ingredients

6 cups rice crispies or quinoa puffs
2 handfuls whole almonds
1 handful each of hazelnuts and almonds
20 dates, stones removed (they needn't be expensive medjools)
1 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
500 grams dark chocolate, the 70% cocoa type
2 tablespoons dessicated coconut

Method

Roughly chop the nuts and add them to the rice crispies. In a small pot add the dates, roughly chopped, with the cup of water and cinnamon and simmer on a low heat until the dates soften. Stir to a paste, add the coconut oil and maple syrup, stir until it's all one paste then set aside. Fill another small pot with about 3 cups of boiling water and place a metal bowel on top on a high heat. Break the chocolate into the top metal bowl and allow the chocolate to melt. Don't stir, just give it time. Once melted, stir two thirds of the chocolate through the date mix and stir this through the rice crispies and nuts until all of it is coated. Line a large, deep baking tray with greaseproof paper and scoop the mix into the tray, pressing into all the corners and down to flatten into into one solid slice. Pour the other third of the melted chocolate ontop of the rice crispie mix and smooth over, like an icing. Sprinkle with the coconut and put it in the freezer for one hour or over night. To eat, remove from the tray and slice into squares. Consume at your leisure with not a child in sight and welcome yourself to the long established brady woman tradition of chocoholics. You're most welcome. Enjoy!






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