September 06, 2013

Gluten-Free Hazelnut and Cocoa Nibs Slice

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It was in the beginning of September last year when I took this photo of one of our young hazelnut trees on the back of our hillside property. Its young leaves just started to open up from their sleepiness during dormant weather, and it's likely that Spring had sent them a message to persuade their slender brown twigs to start waking up. The leaves were young, green, fresh and proud. 

A few honey bees and bumble bees were gathering on the almond tree nearby, taking the goodness from its blooms and working on pollinating at the same time. 

Beyond it, a couple of fig trees were just happening to take life cycle the same stage as the hazelnut tree, lazily opening their young leaves. Its fruits were still budding, hard and green. Its branches were still bare-looking, seems shivering from early Spring chilliness. We often get southerlies up here which could allure us to stay indoors and sip hot chocolate. Perhaps, they're looking forward to be growing in the sun later in the year. Like we are, in another humanly dimension.

It is always a joy to witness everything around me growing, blooming, and starting to produce in Spring. It's just like to observe before-and-after photos, one is bleak, the next one is colourful.

Sometimes, I am just amazed of how four seasons work that effects garden and orchard; if Winter can really do magic by putting everything to sleep, letting plants and trees conserve their energy within in order to go through a growth spurt; if Spring then takes control of the next cycle, by blowing kisses of fairy dust over flowers, other plants and trees; if Summer holds the density of growth under its powerful sun, supplying men with generous produce; and if Autumn with its coolness starting to flash its amber button to calm everything down. Every season owns its role and characteristics. I don't feel wise to just like one season only, for each season brings connection to the next one. 

When we decided to plant nut trees on our land, it was because we simply wanted to fill in the gaps that were automatically created as soon as we chucked the whole lot of wild blackberries shrubs down the hill (well, actually my husband did, but I was the one who made the coffee, mind you). We started planting almond trees, then hazelnut, walnut, chestnut, macadamia, and pinenut trees. Just recently, we added around 80 Manuka trees and more native trees and shrubs. We just love the feeling of Kereru and Tui birds coming and eating berries of native trees around our house and down the bank. It's what owning a land for, isn't it, that we're looking after nature as well as making it productive.

pinenut tree
We do understand that these nut trees might not be enjoyed thoroughly as much as we want at their young age, but we make sure they will be devoured by our children in the future.

From season to season, walnut, chestnut and hazelnut have started producing, and we have had a taste of each every year. Nuts are just best enjoyed when they are freshly cracked, don't you think?

When making this hazelnut slice, I used some of our homegrown hazelnuts mixed with bought ones. I am sending this to Sweet NZ, this month is hosted by Carmella of Easy Food Hacks.

Gluten-Free Hazelnut and Cocoa Nibs Slice

175g chilled margarine
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup gluten-free flour
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1/2 cups almond meal
1 tsp vanilla essence

Milky Filling:
50g margarine
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbs brown sugar

3/4 cup hazelnuts, roasted, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cocoa nibs

Prepare a 22cm square tin, greased and lined. Put the flour, sugar, hazelnut meal and almond meal in a medium bowl. Rub the chilled margarine in until resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Place two thirds of the mixture on the base of the tin, press firmly. Chill the remaining mixture in the fridge.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160 C. Make the filling by melting margarine, sweetened condensed milk and brown sugar together in a saucepan, until well combined. Remove and let cool. Spread it over the base.

Bring the remaining flour and butter mixture from the fridge. Mix in chopped hazelnut and cocoa nibs. Sprinkle over the filling. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Leave in the tin to cool a bit and cut into squares or fingers. Makes 15-20 pieces.


Finla said...

Wowo the slices look so perfect and yumm.

Alessandra said...

What a great entry for Sweet NZ! But did you put it in the linky tool? I didn't see it there..., maybe you entered by email?

Your photos are always so beautiful!