Photo Friday: Chocolate at the Heritage Museum

Regular readers will know I love chocolate. Dark chocolate specifically. So when the Tea Tree Gully Heritage Museum organised a display revolving around the history of chocolate, I was in! And so was my editor, Sharon. Time for a road trip!

The heritage museum is housed in the building and grounds of the old Highercombe Hotel, built in 1853-4. It has hosted council meetings, dances and public meetings and served as  a school from 1875-1934, with the front half of the building becoming the post office in 1879. (More information is on their webpage.)

Each room was set up with facts, history and information on chocolate... original packaging and posters... and some famous chocolate quotes. Volunteers had been busy making visual chocolate treats, scattered throughout the house. Some real...

 

... like this top hat decorated with chocolate trim and Cocoa Chanel with her chocolate-inspired accessories. Chocolate even replaced the corks on this hat.

Some, like these delicious-looking felt treats, were not so real. Finally we climbed back down stairs for some morning tea and homemade chocolatey treats. Thanks to the volunteers at the Tea Tree Gully Heritage Museum for a lovely (and educational) morning.

Photos ©2017 Karen Carlisle. All rights reserved.

Ed: I originally discovered the Highercombe Hotel and Steventon (now Tea Tree Gully) post office during my research for my short story, Hunted.

Chocolatey Strawberry Goodness

It's been a long month and I'm in need of some chocolatey goodness - and the caffeine and Tryptophan and Phenylethylalanine* to pick me up. So I went searching for some new recipes and found this on Hugs and Cookies XOXO. I've adapted it to metric and for Aussie cooking.

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Brownies.

What you need:
  • 1/2 cup margarine (I'm lactose intolerant. You can use butter if you prefer)
  • 225g dark cooking chocolate for brownies.
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (we used fresh from mum's chook run)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 225g strawberries (just under a punnet )
  • 250g of 70% dark chocolate for the topping.
1-ingredientswm
How to make it:
Brownie base: Melt the cooking chocolate and margarine, until smooth. Stir in the sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and self-raising flour. Pour into pre-greased or non-stick 20 x 20 cm baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes at 175 deg C. Allow to cool. Topping: Slice strawberries and place on top of brown base. Melt dark chocolate and pour over the strawberries. Chill for one hour (minimum) and cut into slices. Yum! finish
Changes I made to the original recipe:

Self raising flour has flour+baking powder. In Australia we don't have salt in our self-raising flour, as they do in the US. I removed the salt in the original recipe to make this healthier. I'm also using 70% dark chocolate which is not as sweet (and less milk - see lactose intolerant comment above). I also increased the amount of chocolate for the topping to ensure the strawberries would be covered.

Changes I'll make next time:

The extra thickness made it harder to cut and made them very, very rich. Next time I'll try my 85% dark chocolate to reduce sweetness. I may also decrease the amount of chocolate to 200-225g for the topping so it is not as thick.

Suggestion: The brownies were soft and gooey (which I love). If you prefer your brownies more 'cake-like', then you will need to cook the brownie base for longer.

And for those who like video:

[embed]https://youtu.be/OMnuSp4MO3U[/embed]
Sciencey Stuff:

*Tryptophan: amino acid found in small amounts in chocolate and is used by the brain to make serotonin (neurotransmitter producing feelings of happiness). Phenylethylalanine: has been found in chocolate. It promotes feelings associated with the initial euphoria of falling in love. It also acts as an anti-depressant, combining with dopamine in the brain.

Bibliography:
  1. A natural compound in red wine and chocolate may halt Alzheimer’s, study finds http://www.sciencealert.com/a-natural-compound-in-red-wine-and-chocolate-may-halt-alzheimer-s-study-finds
  2. Can chocolate give me a happy high? http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/chocolate-high1.htm
  3. Compounds in dark chocolate can make you feel calmer... http://www.sciencealert.com/compounds-in-dark-chocolate-can-make-you-feel-calmer-and-more-content-study-finds
  4. Why does chocolate make us happy: http://www.sciencefocus.com/blog/why-does-chocolate-make-us-happy

Photos and Video:©2016 Karen J Carlisle. All Rights Reserved.