chocolate

A chocolate Christmas igloo!

What on Earth is a chocolate igloo, let alone a Christmas chocolate igloo, you may well ask!

Obviously, it is an igloo made out of chocolate, and decorated for Christmas!

two views of a chocolate igloo

Making an igloo from chocolate…

So a friend came across a Cadbury competition where you needed to create a Christmas house from chocolate. As lovers of both Christmas and chocolate, we couldn’t resist and set a time to create our chocolate house.

As we sat there with our mounds of chocolate (four 350g blocks and a 250g block of chocolate, plus some white chocolate melts and lollies), we had the idea of making an igloo from individual pieces of chocolate instead of just sticking together big blocks. Let’s face it, Santa lives at the North Pole so a Christmas igloo seems reasonable – and slabs of gingerbread to make a house is one thing, but a gingerbread igloo wasn’t going to happen!

Of course, making an igloo took more than the 40 minutes estimated for a Cadbury Christmas house!

We broke blocks of chocolate into pieces then formed the igloo using more chocolate as the mortar. It was our first time building an igloo so we made the first rows a bit too upright (ie we should have started the inwards slant sooner) but it worked out in the end.

We went with a flat roof as we weren’t sure we had enough chocolate left nor confident of our engineering skills to get it to curve the whole way in 🙂 But the flat rood made adding a chimney easier!

Adding decorations was easier – melted white chocolate for snow, cut up snakes to make a wreath, sour straps to make garlands of tinsel, cut up jelly lollies to make lights and some milk bottles to be the penguins at the door. And we mustn’t forget Freddo was inside the chocolate igloo (who else could live inside a chocolate building?)

Why a frog in an igloo?

Ok, there aren’t a lot of frogs roaming around the North Pole waiting for Santa to drop in, but Freddo is made of chocolate and seemed the right resident for the house!

Freddo Frog sindie a chocolate igloo decorated for Christmas

Seeing Freddo inside the igloo, my eight year old decided there was a story behind the frog. She wrote a lovely story about a little frog who ended up at the North Pole and built himself an igloo to live in.

It was also my daughter who thought of the penguins – I was thinking of milk bottles at the front door to suit the old milk deliveries but she saw them as penguins which was a much better idea! A little black icing to make eyes, and Freddo had some company!

Alternative Christmas houses

So, that is our Christmas chocolate igloo – what do you think? It won;t win any architect awards, but I think it is fun and a very good first igloo building attempt! Maybe you can try making a chocolate Christmas igloo – if you do, we’d love to see photos!

What other alternative Christmas houses have you seen or created?

chocolate igloo in a snow storm!

Freddo stuck in his chocolate Christmas igloo in a snow storm!

Christmas trolls ~ recipe

This is based on a recipe I used for my daughter’s Frozen party last year. We thought it would be fun to create some red and green trolls to help us have a delicious Christmas, and it was worth the experiment as they tasted yummy!Christmas trolls on a plate

 

Christmas trolls

Ingredients:

ingredients for Christmas trolls400g chocolate chip biscuits (about 2 packets)
250 g cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons dried cranberries
200g white chocolate (a bit more would be easier but 1 packet will just make it!)
red jelly crystals (most actually look pink or purple)
green jelly crystals (we used lime)

Method:

Crush the biscuits into crumbs (use a rolling pin to smash them or a blender – I used my red hand blender from Tupperware).

Add in the cream cheese, cranberries and 1 tablespoon of green jelly crystals, and mix until they are all blended together.mixing ingredients for Christmas trolls

Form the mixture into balls. Ideally, put them in the fridge for a little while as it makes them easier to work with if chilled.Rolling dough balls ot make Christmas trolls

Melt the white chocolate in a small bowl.

Roll each ball into the melted chocolate until it is covered.

transferring balls from chocolate to jelly

using a spoon to transfer the troll balls from the melted chocolate to the jelly plate.

little figners coated in melted chocolate

Rolling balls in chocolate can lead to messy little fingers!

Roll the ball in jelly crystals – you can make some balls red and some green, or use both colours on each ball. This is the messy bit, especially if little hands get involved 🙂

chocolate coated troll sitting on jelly crystals

Pop each ball on the jelly crystals then roll to coat – it doesn’t look this neat for long!

Pop them on a plate and the leave the plate in the fridge for half an hour or so to set.

Four chocolate Christmas trolls on a plate

Four chocolate Christmas trolls on a plate

Gently break off any dripped chocolate to make the tolls look nicer. remember to store these in the fridge (if they last that long!)

Alternatives:

To add more Christmas colour to the balls while eating them, you could also mix in some cut up green lollies (spearmint leaves would give a minty taste, while jelly babies or snakes would add sweetness and texture).

Instead of rolling the balls in jelly crystals (which give colour and glisten), you could try

  • adding food colours to the melted chocolate (use cake decorating quality dyes or it will set the chocolate)
  • using red and green sprinkles (1oos and 1000s) to roll the balls in
  • leaving the balls white and sticking some red and green on top like holly (as we did in the Christmas Royal puddings) and call them Christmas presents or Christmas puddings!

These are yummy so I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Different advent calendars

So the main idea of an advent calendar is to enjoy the count down of days to Christmas Day.

By walking through shops and listening to kids, it would seem that the first thing in many minds at the mention of an advent calendar is a cardboard folder with 24 chocolates. There are many options available, from Christmas related images to popular children’s themes (Frozen, Cars, Peppa Pig, Dora the Explorer, Star Wars and so on).

But there are many other ways to count down to Christmas, so I thought I’d list a few…

Christmas books

array booksWhile keeping to the idea of counting down the days, this one doesn’t actually involve a calendar as such. All you have to do is read a different Christmas book each night.

So you need to have 24 books (or a few less if some are longer/harder/multiple stories) but the advantage is that you need only one book per family and can reuse them year after year! You could wrap them all individually and unwrap one from under the tree each evening, or have them in a special box to get one each day (let children take turns to choose one or make it a lucky dip).

There are many Christmas books around, and you probably already have a few around the house. But if you’re looking for some more, you might like to read our Christmas book reviews for ideas.

Lego Advent calendars

Lego City advent calendar 2015Ok, these are not the cheapest option and could still be considered commercial, but they are not based on chocolate and leave the kids with something long term. Plus Lego is a great way to build fine motor skills and imagination.

We’re actually trying these calendars for the first time this year so check out our reviews day by day🙂

beautiful messages

I admit I have often thought of this but leave it too late to organise. Basically, it just means writing 24 personal messages to each child, giving them one a day to read. The messages can be presented in a number of ways, and maybe you could a different presentation each year!

The only rule is that every message must be positive, either acknowledging something good about the child or encouraging them to keep trying.

daily activities

Like the beautiful messages, you can create an advent calendar of your own but instead of positive messages, add in some fun activities to do together.

a tree of thanks

This is simple and a different twist on the messages idea above, but certainly fits into  the spirit of Christmas – and I think it is a great idea to help bring some peace to the world this year. Get the family to make Christmas decorations each day that centre around gratitude, creating a very special tree of thanks to treasure.

homemade treat calendar

Instead of using the commercial chocolate advent calendars (which usually have pretty cheap chocolate in them!), you can get some other chocolates or lollies and give out one a day. Presentations can be as simple as en envelope each day or you can use a reusable calendar (like a wooden display or a cloth calendar with 24 pockets, or make one!)

Another option is to give non edible treats each day – we did this last year with a number of small items as the surprises (things like toy animals, stickers, pencil sharpeners, hair ties, toy cars.) The challenge we found was buying enough different things that were small enough to fit into the compartments of our wooden advent calendar!

make Santa’s beard

I think this is very cute – have a lovely image of Santa, preferably with fluffy trims on his hat, but no beard. Each day of December, stick on one cotton ball… Thanks to oopsey daisy for this idea 🙂

Christmas tree decorating

While you may add the lights and tinsel to the tree on 1 December, you could all add one ornament a day until Christmas Eve as a form of counting down the days and making the tree more exciting day by day!

The Easter Bilby made it – phew!

Some very happy people in our house this morning to discover that the Easter Bilby had found our house – and hidden eggs inside to protect them from the rain 🙂

little girl with chalk & chocolate easter eggs

Chalk Easter eggs were just as exciting as the little chocolate ones!

The Bilby left the littlies a carton of egg-chalks (yes, not so much chocolate and great ongoing activities!) as well as leaving too many little eggs to find.

However, it was nice to see the kids sort the eggs into colours (and into matching coloured construction toys!) and then just eat at will – maths skills and sharing/no greed in one go.

As the Easter Bilby, the Easter Bunny and Santa are friends, we’d like to take this chance to wish you all a Happy Easter – and no belly aches from too much chocolate!

sorting colours of Easter eggs

Sorting colours is a maths foundation skill

colour sorted easter eggs in construction toys

Colour sorted into construction vehicles!

Christmas Anzac biscuits

I first made these for my daughter to take to a ‘bring a dish’ Christmas break up for her scout troop, and I think they’re quite effective – and very Australian!

You could of course make the Anzacs – or buy a packet as I did to save time.

Christmas Anzac biscuits on a green plate

Decorating the biscuits

 

  1. Melt some white chocolate
  2. Drizzle melted chocolate over each Anzac biscuit
  3. Add some red and green to each biscuit to represent holly
  4. Let the chocolate set (it doesn’t take long unless it’s a hot day!) and serve

Simple, effective and they travel pretty well so make a good plate to take to functions.

Red and green decorations…

To create the holly, I used red and green smarties as a very quick option (and one I’m quite partial to!) but a little more effort will get a fancier result.

Other ideas I’ve had are:

  • use a red smartie as is but half the green smarties so they are thinner and look more like leaves
  • cut up some spearmint leaves
  • get an edible cake topper with Santa or another Christmas theme to pop on top
  • glace cherries (not my preferred choice, but they’d look good!)
  • cut the top part off a lolly raspberry for a real berry look
  • sprinkle red and green 100s & 1000s over the chocolate – not so much like holly but very pretty!

Have you got any other suggestions for adding the red and green?

Chocolate fruit mince tarts

I love Christmas, I love cooking and even more, I love looking at recipes! I came across this one recently – I haven’t yet tried it but I’m sure any chocoholics (like me!) will love this version of the traditional yummy mince tart…

700 g fruit mince (buy it or make your own)
300g dark chocolate, chopped
shortcrust pastry (See below)
120g white or milk chocolate, for decoration

Cut out 48 circles form the pastry

preheat over to 190

Push circles into greased patty tins (or use the bottom of muffin trays)

Sprinkle chocolate pieces on top until about half full

Spoon in the fruit mince

Bake for about 20 minutes – until pastry is golden

Once cooled, drizzle melted chocolate over the top

Shortcrust pastry

400g plain flour
80g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter
140g ground almonds
1 egg, beaten

Mix dry ingredients
add butter and rub into flour mixture
mix egg with 1 Tbs chilled water
blend in egg until forms a ball of dough – add more egg if necessary
knead dough until lower surface is smooth
ideally, cover and leave in fridge for 2 or 3 hours before use

Chocolate Christmas Trees

Takes about 50 miniutes ot make, but they look so cool!

Ingrediants:

250 g plain sweet biscuits
2 tbsp cocoa
1 cup desicated coconut
150 – 200g white chocolate for decoration.
150g dark chocolate pieces, hundreds & thousands, or choc sprinkles for decoration as well.

Method:

combine buicuit crumbs with cocoa!

 Now add your cocoanut and sweet condensed milk.

Put cling wrap on them and put in fridge for 20-25 minutes

than shape them into fir tree shapes (cones really)

Now drissle melted white choclate  all  over(as your tinsel) and decorate with your delicous hundreads and thousands or choclate sprinkles (as your other decorations on your tree).

if you have some star stickers or icing shapes, put one on each tree to finish it off.

Ummmmmmmmmm,a quick,yummy and fun activity to do with your kids – maybe give as presents, too.  The trees, not the kids!)

Easy chocolate shortbread

Like most other people, our family is pretty busy. I love the idea of my kids leaving something for Santa (I think it shows respect and hospitality – not to mention gratitude for all those presents he leaves!)

But with school finishing so close to Christmas and my work commitments, we have limited cooking time. So I buy some shortbread – just plain basic stuff form the supermarket – and we decorate it. I melt some chocolate (white and brown) and put out 100s & 1000s, coconut and crushed nuts, and let the kids decorate shortbread biscuits.

We do enough for Santa and for gifts from the kids to their grandparents – and for us to eat all the broken ones 🙂

It’s easy, fun, messy and a family tradition for us now. Maybe this year we’ll bake the shortbread first – nah, probably not!

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