Baked Coconut Bites Dipped in Dark Chocolate

These are actually what people call bite-sized coconut macaroons, but since you don’t need to fuss around with the egg whites and just mix everything in a large bowl, I’m going to call them baked coconut bites instead.

Sometimes I crave Bounty bars but I stopped buying them when I picked up jogging last year. This doesn’t mean I’ve divorced sweet things (I still love you Nutella), it just means I calculate how hard I’ll cry after I down something I know will take me ages to burn off on my next jogging session.

So I made something similar at home that tasted just as good as the real thing. Plus, I don’t need to cry so much every time I eat a couple in one sitting.

These dark chocolate covered baked coconut bites are slightly crisp on the outside with a brownie-like texture in the centre. They’ll keep well inside a tin for up to three days, so don’t worry about the leftovers.

Coconut Macaroons/Coconut Bites Dipped in Dark Chocolate

(for approx. 24 pieces)

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Near Perfect: Naples, Florida

Sometimes I dream about leaving where I live now for somewhere else, somewhere far away, somewhere with warmer weather, waves, sand and a lot of stars in the night sky. Not for forever but a prolonged stay – maybe for a few years then return again with a newfound appreciation for things that have become invisible due to habit.

That place as it exists in my mind is not a tropical island type of isolated getaway, but a sophisticated seaside town not far from urban life. It’s similar to where I grew up in New Zealand, only much larger and located not so far from the rest of the world.

I unexpectedly found this place I’ve been envisioning on our recent trip to Florida. I know some of you might raise an eyebrow at this, but Naples had me in a heartbeat.

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I stood on the pier and fell in love with what this place implied.

I didn’t mean to Benjamin Button my Florida trip for three months. I’ll end it with this post to forever remind myself and S how happy our time here in Naples made me.

A Night in Downtown Miami

Downtown Miami was surprisingly nice. We parked our car near one of the Metromover stations and took that to the waterfront. I like going on elevated monorails because they usually give you a great overview of a city (e.g. like Sydney), but unfortunately we couldn’t see much out of the windows. At least the rides were free.

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It felt a tad bit chilly by the waterfront, but wearing a hoodie and jandels don’t really qualify as being “cold” in my dictionary anymore. Swiss winters will do that to you. I miss Auckland winters!

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S spotted dolphins here so we stayed a little longer while I miserably failed to take a single photograph of them jumping out of the water.

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So we headed towards the Bayside market place and strolled around the shops, bars and restaurants before calling it a night.

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I’m sure that like every city, downtown Miami also has some dodgey areas that tourists should stay clear of. We were only there for a night and did not venture far enough to say how things could be at night. However, for the parts we were at, we felt safe using the metromover at night and walking along the waterfront too.

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I would have liked to have stayed a little longer, but there were too many places we wanted to see in Florida. It was short but sweet, Miami!

Airboat Tour through the Everglades Mangrove Forests

I know this sounds silly, but I was elated to see mangrove trees in real life. It was like a scene from the Life of Pi movie – stunning! 

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It rained a little that morning, but the weather held up for us to go on an airboat ride.

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We reluctantly put on our long pants, windbreakers, shoes and socks before the tour, but we were very glad that we did once we started to speed through the mangrove forests.

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It was also interesting to see where the salt water and fresh water meet.

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Wildlife doing their thing.

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However, we did not get to see any alligators on this trip :(

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We went with the Everglades City Airboat Tours in January. Our guide did a good job briefly explaining the geography and the ecology of the Everglades while on tour. However, he also mentioned that we won’t be seeing any alligators because it was too cold for them that day only after we took off (I think he said that they won’t come up to the surface if the temperature is below 26C?). He could have mentioned this crucial information beforehand. We would have come back on a warmer day otherwise.

Comfortable seats and a friendly captain though, but was it worth the money? Not really, no. 

 

Manatees at the Blue Spring State Park in Florida, USA

When S and I were in Florida last month, one of the first places we visited was the Blue Spring State Park to go see the manatees.

Past experiences have taught us not believe everything we hear or read about tourist attractions, so we went there expecting not to see much at all. It was a warm sunny day so we were thinking of taking a stroll around the park anyway. Then we arrived at the park and were both mind-blown at how nice this place was. Located just a few metres away from the car park was this; a little sanctuary.

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When we followed the wooden walkway lined with spanish moss  plants, we found these giant blobs hanging in the water. MANATEES!

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Some just hovered around in one place and others swam around very elegantly like Japanese Koi fishes, then there were these two.

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They came up to the surface to say hi a few times, then bumped into each other like two very clumsy hippopotamus’ too tired to swim.

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