Two wonderful things happened to me recently: In November I attended a presentation at which was present the amazing Mrs Helena Clarke, who is over 90 years old and was an Aboriginal rights activist and freedom fighter in the 1950s; and this week I went on an Indigenous Cultural Experience in the Stirling Ranges, where I met 6 Noongar elders and was filled with both sadness and hope.
Back at work after the tour, I made these little treats (I suppose they could be classed petits fours), and have named them Coolbaroo Balls in honour of Mrs Clarke’s iconic Coolbaroo Club, and the efforts she and the Coolbaroo League made to reconcile Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people. This was at a time in the 1950s when racism in Australia was more deplorable than you can imagine. Coolbaroo is a Yamatji word which means “magpie” and with the combination of black and white, it seems a fitting moniker for these little delights. I must acknowledge fellow blogger, Fadanista, who suggested the name, which I prefer to my original idea – Reconciliation Balls. Please, no jokes about eating Magpie Balls…
I was absolutely taken by the spirit and fire of Helena Clarke, and likewise that of the elders I met this week. Several times now I have seen a particular photograph of her as a young woman, and I can’t help but feel awed by the idea of the courage, conviction, and actions of the stunning and slender young woman she was back then. I do not have permission to include the photograph in this blog, but it is reproduced in both of the links above for the Club and League. The former is a link to a PDF of the catalogue for the City of Perth’s Coolbaroo Club exhibition in 2010.
This year, at age 91, Helena Clarke was the recipient of the John Curtin medal for her work as a civil rights activist and freedom fighter.
250g Chocolate cake (shop bought cake is fine)
100g Dark cooking chocolate
1 tablespoon Cream
1 tablespoon Port (I used Graylyn’s White Port – it’s divine)
In a medium sized bowl, break up the chocolate cake into crumbs, sprinkle the port over, and mix.
In a heatproof bowl sitting on a small saucepan of simmering water, melt together the chocolate, butter and cream, and mix until completely combined and smooth.
Add the chocolate mixture to the cake crumbs and mix to thoroughly combine. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the mixture can hold together without being too sticky.
Form into balls by taking about a heaped teaspoon of the mixture and rolling it between your palms, and then roll each ball in dessicated coconut to coat. Place each ball in a paper confectionary case and place in the fridge on a tray to firm. You may need to put the mixture back into the fridge while making the balls, if the mixture becomes sticky again.
For a fun variation:
Make the balls slightly larger and firm them up on a foil lined tray in the fridge before inserting cake pop sticks, coating in melted chocolate, and then sprinkling with the coconut.