I consider myself incredibly fortunate. I've got a job I love, a fiance who rocks my world, sweet friends and a super cool family. I'm healthy and happy. I've got a bike I love to ride, I run a few mornings a week, I bake up a storm on weekends and my buddies are always keen to check out new bars and restaurants. Lucky, lucky duck.
The downside? I feel like I haven't had a moment to exhale in the last few months. I had four days off last week, with grand plans to sit, watch TV and catch up on some sleep. Instead, they were spent running, cooking, riding and typing. I feel energised, but just need a moment to unlock my jaw.
Why the face? The fact is, I sit down, put on a movie and start fidgeting. I pick up my computer, start perusing Pinterest. Look! A cute looking cake. It reminds me of a recipe in a cookbook I bought eons ago. I open the cookbook and spy a cool tart. I go to the pantry and start thinking of substitutes. Hazelnuts you say? Oooohhh, how about some coffee with that? And a chocolate glaze instead of pears (Pears are just too... wintery. I can't admit we're there yet). By the time the credits are rolling on the movie, the cakes are coming out of the oven and I haven't watched more than a couple of screens. I'm my own worst enemy in the lazy stakes.
The fact is, I whinge and moan, pining for a day of nothing, but when they come I end up doing some productive. I never used to be like this. Nadia and I would spend days on end in our sharehouse, holed up on the sofa bed in the lounge, watching the Princess Bride and eating Twisties, vying for the first bedsore of the holidays. Something must have clicked - the bedsore days of yore are over.
These little treats are a product of one of those afternoons. I'd already made chicken stock, bean and sausage soup, a beautiful sponge and some pastry for tartlets. My feet were aching and my lower back beginning to twitch. But the urge was there and the hazelnuts weren't going to eat themselves. They really only took around 30 minutes to whip up. Besides, what's a movie without a sweet treat? Now to find a movie I will actually watch from start to finish...
1/3 cup ground hazelnuts
1/3 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp plain flour
3 egg whites
1/4 cup brown sugar
Preheat to oven to 190ºC. Grease some small cake pans.
Mix together the ground nuts, icing sugar and flour. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the brown sugar to the egg whites until the mixture is soft and a creamy brown colour.
Fold the egg whites into the nut mixture. Fill the cake pans 3/4 full and bake for around 20 minutes or until golden on top. Cool on a cake rack.
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp glucose
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp cream
70g dark chocolate
Heat the sugar, glucose, water and cream over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the chocolate. Stir occasionally to melt the chocolate. Pour spoonsful over the cakes and serve.