White Chocolate Christmas Bark and…’Mummy Dearest’ Now Redundant

On Monday night of this week Archie, Arabella and I were invited to attend a lecture by Al Pacino.

Which is of course, your typical Monday night for a suburban housewife.

Al Pacino sandwiched between a very jubulent Arabella and Archie

This eight-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner for Scent of a Woman was speaking to around 70 people about the craft of acting, his life, theatre and his movies.  The three of us sat on the edge of our seats as this man of Sicilian background who grew up in the South Bronx sat amongst us and kept us entertained for over two hours.

But after the event and after the driver had whisked this brilliant man to the next appointment in his hectic schedule during his week in Sydney, Archie, Arabella and I lingered in the foyer of the theatre building, soaking up the atmosphere.  It was during this time that Archie spied a man he met about a year ago.  This was a man of influence and Archie wanted to re-introduce himself as he believed this man could help him with his career – which is a strange term seeing Archie is on a Gap Year and has no career, no qualifications, and not even a steady job.

White Chocolate Christmas Bark

But Archie, who is not lacking in boldness, headed over to the man of influence and I followed behind, quickening my step to keep up.  As I did so, Archie turned around with a frown and said, ‘Mum, what are you doing?’

I said, ‘I would like to meet this Andrew chap’.

He said, ‘Mum, I’m trying to look independent here.  What’s he going to think if I’m here with my mother?’

And I was stunned.

I’m sure it was only a few sleeps ago where he wanted to be with me every second of my day and he allowed me no personal space.  I couldn’t even shower on my own.  When he was eight months old he followed me into the shower, fully clothed, then slipped over and split his head open.  When he started school he refused to go into the classroom and told the teacher he was ‘going home to be with mummy’.  When he was seven and had his appendix out he made me sleep beside him in the hospital – wouldn’t even let me leave the room to clean my teeth.  When he was 12 and went to boarding school he was missing me so much he cried himself to sleep.

The Core Ingredients

And now he’s a big boy.  All grown up and forging a path along the road he wants to take.  And he can do it without me, thank you very much.  And I suppose that’s a good thing.

Isn’t it?

I’m starting to think about Christmas and during this festive season I always like to be busy in the kitchen.  I’m making Christmas Bark which is so easy to do plus it looks great and tastes fabulous.  It also makes a lovely hostess gift.

Christmas Bark

Degree of Difficulty:  1/5

Cost:  Inexpensive and a great way to use up ingredients sitting around in the pantry like nuts and dried fruits.

Serves a small crowd.

400gms white chocolate

200gms toasted chopped walnuts or pecans

100gms dried cherries or dried cranberries or dried blueberries or a mixture – I used cherries and blueberries but cranberries are great because they add that splash of seasonal red.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper.  Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water but don’t let the water touch the bowl.  Stir until smooth then remove from heat and stir in 3/4 of the nuts and cherries.  Spread onto baking sheet then sprinkle with remaining nuts and cherries.  Allow to cool and harden then break into chunks (irregular looking shapes like bark is ideal) then store in and airtight container for up to one week.

Christmas Bark ready to serve




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  1. Sigh…it’s a good thing, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Gorgeous children you have, Charlie! 🙂

  2. Certainly not a typical Monday night. How with Archie’s meeting go?

  3. I needed some elaboration on the good looking Sicilian guys 😉 FAR OUT, I would die!!! and on a Monday night… whew!

    …but I do agree, gap year or not, your baby is growing up. Good job mum 🙂 The credit is all yours 🙂 oh and hubby of course 🙂

  4. Gian John Banchero says:

    I just found your site this fine gray morning… It was impossible to stop reading due to your absolutely captivating writing, I can tell I’m in for a grand ride and adventure. What an absolute and udder fool the publisher was for not printing your cookbook, obviously it would have been more than a million seller. Great, great recipes!!!
    Berkeley, California

  5. I just love the photo with Al Pacino.. he is an amazing actor. Such a cool post

  6. I’ve heard those words from both of my sons–now the oldest is 33 and has two children under the age of 4. Now I’m back in high demand- “Mom, can’t you fly in for a week or so? ” Or, ” Let’s meet up at the beach house and you can see the grandchildren and we can just talk.” Life goes in cycles.
    And – great picture with Al Pacino!

  7. Gorgeous pic of gorgeous kids – well done Charlie!
    While it is painful to be left behind, you’ve obviously done your job well enough for him to want to go ahead on his own. My son is striking out in his life and no longer needs me at all – although I was pathetically pleased to be asked to make a big dish of mac & cheese for him to take to schoolies and couldn’t oblige quickly enough.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Ahhh, schoolies – that’s where it all starts. All that, ‘I don’t need you any more mum’ business. That was Archie 12 months ago. I hope your son survives schoolies and continues to need you and love you forever more – baby boys are special!

  8. Love reading your blog with my morning cup to tea. I’m not a mum, but I can’t imagine how hard that shift would be. But your children are gorgeous! And I can tell, you even 30 years on, I never stop needing my mum. Your slice looks divine too!

  9. I know that day is going to come for me down the track too. I think I will enjoy those needing moments while I can.
    Gorgeous kids and delicious looking festive goodness.

  10. As a very independent 24 year old who gets sad if I don’t get to spend at least one afternoon chillin’ with my parents over coffee, chocolate, and a tv show/dvd each weekend, I can assure you that he’ll never stop cherishing having you there 🙂 But you know that!

    Also, awesome bark idea! I do enjoy a spot of white chocolate 🙂

  11. Hehe aparently my husband was the same with his mother when he was little but now…well he likes his independence! But I’m sure he’ll always come running back for some chocolate bark! 😉

  12. Looks so good, great idea for christmas! I don’t know if I can say whether or not it’s a good thing, but I don’t feel like I have that issue with my parents – maybe it’s different for boys?
    Also: AL-F***ING-PACINO!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, Al F***king Pacino and…to make it worse for you…Leo (as in Di Caprio) was standing beside me when I had this photo taken!

  13. Hot stuff! Love Christmas Bark (woof) and Love Al the Pacino too, lucky happy fun times !! Beautiful children too, I have none, but do enjoy hearing about all my lovely blog friends’ kids xx

  14. Didn’t even notice Al Pacino in the middle of your two beautiful children.
    Fantastic holiday recipe – great for Christmas gift hampers too.
    🙂 Mandy

  15. I cannot imagine what it will be like to have my kids all grown up! (They’re currently 12, 9, and 4.) You give me hope that I won’t always have a shadow everywhere I go!!

  16. You have beautiful children! And that dessert looks very tasty!

  17. I love Al Pacino – with a PASSION. Not as much as Christmas Bark though. Has anyone ever told you that you have produced some A-list Hollywood – looking children? Good genes, huh?

    T xx

  18. I was gonna say “Super Cool!” on the Pacino thing. Then, I was gonna say “Why is he wearing a goofy looking scarf?” Then I thought ‘Well, because he’s Al Pacino and he can. That’s why.’

    Then, I was remembering my own little bundle of joy becoming a man, my baby man, and how much I can relate.

    Then, I was thinking ‘……mmmmmmmm, caaaaaaannnnddddyyyyyy!’

    I think I’ve run the gamut of all the emotions, which is what you look for in a good blog post, huh? 😉

  19. Best of luck to Archie!

    You should have him take this bark to his next potential place of employment. I’d hire him! 🙂

  20. Your kids are stunning! Sounds like a great night 🙂 hopefully Archies reintro helps him out a bit

  21. I’m not a big fan of white Christmas, but I do love the way it looks and how you can make it more festive in colours depending on what you throw into it. And to have it in chocolate bark form just makes it that little bit more grown up and elegant.

    As for Mr Pacino, he is looking decidedly dishevelled there!

  22. How gorgeous are your kids? Making the talented Mr Pacino look a little dated! Still, it’s not like you meet one of the most famous actors on the planet every day. Love the chocolate bark and definitely going to give this a crack, as I plan to make all of my Christmas gifts this year, so thanks for adding one that looks fab to my plans.

  23. Gorgeous kids? Check!

    Drunken looking Al-Pacino? Check!

    Festive Bark? Drool-worthy for sure 😀

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Ah…well…all good except Al doesn’t drink these days! He was completely sober just exhausted. The photo was taken quite late at night.

  24. Wow Al Pacino, his breed is definitely few and far between now. I loved him in Scent of a Woman. I adore Christmas bark, it makes a great gift too.

  25. So what your saying is that I will have to wait 20 years for my extremely attached baby take her independence seriously. haha. i loved the story and that recipe looks yummy!

  26. I subscibed to your blog but am not receiving email notifications *wail* …

  27. Charlie, congratulations on Archie being shortlisted for a position!

    Thank you for sharing the recipe – so simple, and I like that it helps you use up those leftover nuts and fruits.

  28. I’m not usually a fan of white chocolate, but I’m digging the combination of flavors and the name!


  29. Hi! I found your site when you commented on Via Los Angeles! Thank you so much for the compliment on the blog design. I put my heart and soul into it. 🙂 I recently learned how to build WordPress websites too so if you’re ever interested in a re-vamp, feel free to contact me at the e-mail address I provided. You have a great blog, yourself! Sending lots of love, Daniela

  30. I love your writing. Great story. Little boys are so sweet aren’t they? Actually boys are sweet at all ages.

  31. My littlej is just starting to feel embarrased by her Mummy being around all the time too 🙁 Mind you, I do tend to drop her at school in my PJs 🙂 Wow, Al AND Leo! I took littlej to a lecture recently too, but it was by Dr Karl- a feast for the mind more than the eyes!

  32. Wow for the first sight I didn’t even notice it was Al Pacino!! Your children are beautiful and look like a bigger star than Al Pacino. Heheh I love your Christmas Bark!!

  33. I had to come check out your blog after you commented on mine – I love it! You have absolutely beautiful children 🙂 Also, I love reading a blog from an Australian voice – reminds me of the wonderful months I spent up in Darwin (yes, people do go there occasionally 😉 )

  34. wow what a fab experience for him and my lil guy will be like that one day love this recipe so easy 🙂 good to make with toddler

  35. I wish my monday nights were this exciting. One of my friends got to interview Pacino(via phone) about coffee. Sounds like he gave a great lecture.

  36. Awwww that is a sweet story about Archie… pity he is all grown up but trust me, he totally needs you. And you better believe it!

  37. Al Pacino and christmas bark FTW!

    What was Leo Di Cap doin there?

  38. i’ve heard that most actors are shorter than we all think, and if that picture is any indication, that’s a true statement! GREAT bark–i love each and every component and the simple truth is that it’d never survive long enough for me to give it away. 🙂

  39. I am amazed by your son’s chutzpah – there is no way I would have been that self-possessed at his age!

    The bark looks lovely too. Good use for white chocolate.

  40. Someone told me once that the sign of good parenting is independence in your children. I know it isn’t easy, but it means you did a super job! He still loves you, but wants to stand on his own feet. Good for him.
    I had a friend who met Al Pacino and said even the way he moves on stage is sexy.

  41. Al Pacino … hmm… I’m always envious of people who have a permanent tan and looks like they are on a permanent vacation!

  42. Your kids make Al Pacino look slightly unattractive. For all your humorous stories of archie at least he isn’t afraid to knock on doors!

  43. Thanks for the Christmas recipes. Christmas bark looks great. More kilo’s to loose

  44. Love Al Pacino! Not sure Scent of a woman is his best, but I love the movie a lot.
    My husband would love those white chocolate barks…they look so very tempting!

  45. What a spectacular night….Al Pacino!

  46. You have beautiful children! Lucky you!
    Al Pacino is looking old!!
    Your festive white chocllate bark is looking mighty tasty! 🙂


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