Sunday, 23 June 2013

Winter Solstice chocolate fruit mince slice

This morning I went for a swim and afterwards I was happy.  Not bursting with happiness at big life changes.  Just feeling good about little stabs at happiness.  Perhaps it was the swimming or the winter solstice heralding longer days or the fruit mince slice waiting at home.  So after some recent cranky posts, here is a happy one.

Yes, as I left the pool, life felt good.  I had left E and Sylvia happily building bunk beds for her dolls using cardboard boxes, rulers and masking tape.  I walked out onto a clean verandah that we had brushed and mopped yesterday.  I had swum a kilometre.   I had good bread and fruit mint slice at home to eat for lunch.

I thought about yesterday.  A walk to Coburg Farmers Market to buy fruit and vegies, talk to stall holders about what I had made with their ware (the chocolate pasta lady could not believe I served it with ragu) and share a chocolate toffee apple in the sun.   We ran into a friend whom I have been meaning to contact for too long.

I love farmers markets for the unexpected finds.  We bought capsicum and spinach pasta, dried nectarines and ginger chocolate.  It was very exciting to find romanescu cauliflower and golden beetroot.  Then as we were about to leave I found myself intrigued by the kombucha stall.  Kombucha, a fermented tea with many health claims, is not something you see often around these parts.  This may explain why the woman at the stall was so forthcoming with information about it.  We walked away with a bottle as well as a raw choc mint tart.

In the evening we went to Brunswick South Primary School for their Winter Solstice Festival.  As an aside, I am gladdened to see more winter solstice celebrations happening in Melbourne (Collingwood Children's Farm and Federation Square were other places holding events).  It really does cheer up a gloomy winter.  While Christmas brings joy to winter in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope that we can embrace a wintery festive season here and enjoy Christmas twice a year.

When I had read that the solstice celebrations included a lantern parade I thought we would be watching it.  Instead everyone walked around the school in a spectacle of bobbling lights.  As we walked we recognised one of Sylvia's kinder friends beside us.  It was lovely to walk along seeing Sylvia's and her friend holding hands and carrying their lanterns.

Then we watched the lighting of the bonfire (much smaller than I remember in my childhood and fenced off so there was no toasting marshmallows or any other activities that might threaten health and safety).  It did look great with the school lit up behind and the fire dancers twirling in front of it.

There was soup and pizza available but by the time the fire dancers had finished, we were ready to go home.  We considered tinned soup and toast on the way home but the lure of the brightly lit fish and chip shop was too enticing.  After Sylvia had gone to bed, we watched a movie called The Wicker Tree (not nearly as good as The Wicker Man) with hot chocolate and fruit mince slice.

The fruit mince slice is perfect winter solstice food.  I saw the recipe at Christmas time on Chocolate Log Blog but summer is really not the weather for fruit mince and I find that the last few years it has sat in my fridge until the weather cooled.  I loved how Choclette's fruit mince had chocolate in it.  So I added some chopped chocolate which was delicious but hit and miss.  In retrospect I suspect that Choclette's fruit mince had cooked the chocolate into it and would like to try that.

I made this slice just before picking up Sylvia from kinder and was rather pressed for time.  I gave it exactly 30 minutes as the recipe said - though I turned up the oven a little.  In an ideal world I would have let it brown a little more.  I also absent-mindedly used a little less butter and a little less flour than Laura at How to Cook Good Food.  I think a bit more oats in topping would have made the dough firmer and crispier.

It was best on the day of baking.  E and Sylvia had a piece each crumbled over strawberry yoghurt.  Sylvia loved the slice - but without the fruit!  E thought it would be delicious with cream or custard for dessert.  I love it with a cuppa tea.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: WHB Apple and mince crumble
Two years ago: Tahini lime rice with some multicultural day thoughts
Three years ago: Long Weekend eats: crumble and cake
Four years ago: The Amazing Chocolate Cake in a Mug
Five years ago: Novel Food 4: Drowned Broccoli

Fruit mince slice with chocolate chunks
Adapted from How to Cook Good Food via Chocolate Log Blogg

170g soft brown sugar
170g butter or margarine
70g plain flour
70g wholemeal flour
150g quick oats (I pulsed my rolled oats in a blender)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250g fruit mince*
1 small apple, peeled and grated*
75g dark chocolate chopped*
icing sugar, to serve

Preheat oven to between 170 to 180 C (See my Oven Note below).  Grease and line a square 22cm cake tin.

Cream butter and sugar (but beaters or hand - I used nattalex and just stirred mine vigourously with a spoon).  Stir in flours, oats and bicarb of soda. 

Spread about three quarters of the mixture into the prepared tin.  This isn't easy - best to drop little blobs and spread them into each other. 

Mix fruit mince, grated apple and chocolate.  Gently spread over the base in the cake tin.  Now spread the remaining oat mixture onto the fruit mince mixture.  It doesn't have to cover the fruit mince completely.

Bake until golden brown.  Oven Note: Laura said it took her 30 minutes at 170 C.  In my slow oven it took 15 minutes at 180 C and 15 minutes at 190 C and still wasn't quite browned enough.

Cool in the tin.  Cover in icing sugar (I used a small sieve to scatter it evenly).  Slice into squares or bars (I cut about 30 squares).  Keep in an airtight container (ours has lasted 3 days so far).

*NOTE: I used my own home made fruit mince which was made in December.  It had dried out a little in the fridge but was also a bit dry to start with.  I added apple to give a bit more moisture but might not if using jarred fruit mince.  I also thought more chocolate would be good or maybe even heating the chocolate in the fruit mince to have it throughtout the slice rather than occasional chunks.

On the Stereo:
Sigh no more: Mumford and Sons


  1. This sounds like an absolutely perfect day, no wonder you felt happy! Sounds like a lovely recipe too, perfect for midwinter. :)

    1. Thanks Elizabeth - it was a lovely day - and always feels better to dwell on the good stuff rather than the bad stuff

  2. You sound like you have a lot to be happy about! It's a bit cold in Sydney to swim but it sounds like a nice idea. We have had rain for a week non stop and it's not letting up. Love this slice - you had me at chocolate!

    1. Thanks Cass - oh I swim in a heated room under cover - I am not that tough - it has been dry for quite a few days - so much so that I think I had better water the garden. Hope you get a break from the rain soon

  3. Happy stabs are the best Johanna :-)
    Fruit and chocolate were made for each other, and I'd be all over this one. Yum!
    ...and dried nectarines? Ohhh, why don't I ever see them!

    1. Thanks Brydie - happy stabs all the way! I don't think I have seen dried nectarine for a while but this one is so plump and juicy that it makes up for choice of fresh fruit waning at this time of year

  4. I've just pulled out a slice from the oven and it smells so good. I think your slice would definitely cheer me up too! Here's to happiness! :D

    1. Thanks Lorraine - fresh slice from the oven is just amazing - I could have eaten all this slice when it was warm because it tasted so good

  5. I must say, I like the sound of your market fun more than the sound of your swim. Much as I like exercise, swimming a kilometer in winter makes me shiver at the thought! I hope your pool was heated at least (surely, in Melbourne??)! As for this slice, I think I'd love it if we took out the fruit mince ;)

    1. Thanks Kari - oh yes heated indoor pool - the worst of it is that the dressing rooms are always freezing. And swimming warms me up unlike yesterday in the pool with sylvia after her lesson when I just couldn't warm up. I think sylvia would take out the fruit mince too - but I only made it to use it up :-) And still have fruit mince left

  6. I haven't been to the Coburg farmers market yet but will have to check it out (Collingwood Children's Farm is my local so not too far away).

    1. Thanks Cara - oh you are spoilt with having collingwood children's farm as your local - but the coburg farmers market is worth a visit so hope you get there

  7. This looks lovely. I ahve never tried chcoolate fruit mince. Love your market finds - I could definitely go for one of those chocolate apples.

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - chocolate and fruit mince is great (my paneforte always has lots of cocoa in it - I think I got it from you!) The chocolate toffee apples were very good though I am still not so keen on the crunchy toffee on it but much better with chocolate

  8. Yay for a happy post! And for this delicious slice. sounds lovely!

    1. Thanks Joanne - yes all good - well let's not think about the rest:-)

  9. I love hearing about all your little bursts of happiness - it's sometimes the small things that make you feel really good about life. I'm glad there are lots of them for you at the moment - long may it continue. That fruit mince slice looks excellent.


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