Date and pecan muesli… are you cereal?

Making your own home-made muesli is ridiculously easy and what’s great about it is you can customise it to include all your favourite fruit and nuts, lots of healthy stuff and leave out all of the bits you don’t like.

There are a few basic types of muesli – toasted, untoasted and bircher and I am a firm fan of the toasted variety. I know people look at it in terms of calories in the added sweeteners and oil but when you make it yourself you can control all of that and it’s still better for you than pre-packaged sugary cereals. Plus, rolled oats are really, really economical. For about $1.50 you can get 750 gm of oats – that’s a lot of muesli!

I was making this muesli as part of a birthday present so, rather than adding lots of healthy seeds like I normally would I decided to keep it sweet and decadent as a bit of a treat. I originally wanted to make maple-pecan muesli but my local supermarket didn’t have maple syrup! Still, this honey version is delicious.

Ingredients

7 cups of rolled oats

3/4 cup honey

4 tbsp sunflower (or other vegetable) oil

2 cups of whole pecans

2 cups whole dates

1 1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup dried currants

Method

Pre-heat oven to 160ºC

On a large tray lined with baking paper, toast the pecans for 5 minutes but don’t let them brown

While the nuts are toasting, put the oats in a large bowl and set aside. Measure the honey and oil into a microwave safe glass jug and heat for 30 seconds until the honey is runny. (or in a saucepan on the stove). Whisk lightly and pour over oats and stir until the oats are evenly coated

Take the pecans off the tray and set aside to cool. Spread the oats on the tray as evenly as possible and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden and the edges of the tray are starting to brown. Stir the oats every 5 minutes during the cooking time. Once done, leave to cool

While the oats are cooking chop the pecans (roughly in quarters is a good size). Do the same with the dates. Your cooled oats may be stuck together so use a spoon or your hands to break them up. Put them back in a large bowl and add the pecans, dates, currants and coconut and mix well.

And that’s it – it’s so super easy to have delicious muesli every day for a lot less than some of the fancy-schmancy muesli on offer at the supermarket or food halls of department stores and it makes a great gift that you can personalise to the taste of the lucky recipient.

You could try lots of different combinations like dried apple & cinnamon, macadamia & cranberry, apricot & almond, tropical fruit & coconut and walnut & raisin – yummo!

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Sparkly heart cupcake toppers

Here is a quick and easy way to add a little sparkle to your cakes or cupcakes…and who doesn’t like sparkle?!

I made these white chocolate heart cake toppers to go on some white chocolate brownies (a.k.a. ‘blondies’) I need to make for another project (more on that later). The blondies were a disaster but the toppers were a success and the method could be used with milk and dark chocolate and with different shapes. Perhaps festive shapes for Christmas or letters if you wanted to make, say, a ‘Happy Birthday’.

You will need:

Cling film

500gm white chocolate buttons or pieces (500gm will make around 20 heart shapes)

100gm 2mm silver cashous or similar (I get mine from The Raspberry Butterfly)

Small heart biscuit cutter (or any shape you like)

Marble slab, large smooth chopping board or bench top

Pallet knife or rubber spatula (cake scraper)

Lay the cling film over your chosen surface as perfectly as you can. If you have wrinkles or folds, the melted chocolate will seep in and your shapes may get stuck.

Melt your chocolate.

I have the best results melting chocolate in the microwave and the trick is not to let any water get in so don’t cover the bowl with cling film or the condensation will fall back into the chocolate and it will split and go grainy. Put your chocolate pieces in a clean, dry microwave safe ceramic bowl and into the microwave for 1 minute. Remove with over mitt and stir until all the chocolate is melted, smooth and there are no lumps. When you take it out there will still be unmelted chocolate but I find the bowl heats up enough that the chocolate will continue to melt while I stir. If it needs more microwave time, pop it back in for 30 seconds at a time and keep stirring.

Using a spatula or palette knife, smooth the melted chocolate over your plastic covered surface about 3-4mm thick. Work quickly and try to get the chocolate as smooth and even as possible but don’t overwork it as it will start to cool immediately and you need to get the cashous on before it hardens up! Note that if you are using marble like I did, it will harden even more quickly as the marble will be cold (or is it just my cold house?).

Sprinkle the cashous over the entire chocolate surface and then straight away start cutting out your shapes, starting from the outside and working your way in to try to get as many shapes as possible. Then eat all the leftover edges – yum!

If you don’t have biscuit cutters you could cut the chocolate into small squares or diamonds.

I tried taking photos but I was working  too quickly and they were terrible so unfortunately there are no step-by-step pictures but I did include one of the chocolate covered with cashous.

I think they look pretty sweet on my DIY cupcake stand too!

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