Monthly Archives: October 2010

Baked Honey Figs

It’s a few months too early for fresh figs here in Melbourne which may explain why they cost around $2.50 each at the moment.  Ouch!  But wow, I found some beautiful figs yesterday at Mecca Bros while doing the fruit & veg shopping and couldn’t resist getting a few.  I love fresh figs … they’re so delicate and when they’re perfectly ripe and cut open they give off a sweet perfume that’s really earthy.   I love them cut in half or quarters served with fresh bread and a cheese with a little bite.  Or with fresh ricotta, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with crushed walnuts or pistachios.  Or sliced atop a tart with raspberries and filled with zabaglione.  Or in a salad with prosciutto or buffalo mozzarella cheese.  Or … the possibilities are endless, aren’t they?

I didn’t have time to make anything fancy and had to use them while they were still perfect so I thought I’d make something for Sunday breakfast.  It’s been raining heavily since yesterday afternoon so Sunday brekkie in was a unanimous decision.  I used to pop these under a grill but the grill decided not to work today so I popped them into the oven instead.  I have to admit, I think I prefer it.  Best of all, it’s really easy and takes only minutes to prepare.  Which is great, as I have to figure out what’s up with the grill …

You can serve the figs on their own with a dollop of Greek style yoghurt or as an accompaniment to your favourite breakfast bread or cake as a dessert.  Figs go really well with citrus and middle-eastern flavours but also raspberry.  Figs and raspberries 🙂  I’m dying to add chocolate to that list…oh, just did.  I served them with just a dollop of yoghurt and some left-over citrus almond torte I made yesterday.

Make sure to pick figs that are unblemished and ripe but not overripe – OMG vinegar, yuk!  I used an Italian organic chestnut honey but any delicate flavoured honey works well (e.g. orange blossom, wildflower).  Maple syrup is also quite lovely.

Serves: 2

4 fresh figs
orange-flower water
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons crushed pistachios, almonds, or walnuts
Greek yoghurt, to serve

Pre-heat  the oven to 200°C / 400°F.
If serving on their own, cut the figs into quarters almost through to the base, but not entirely.  Each fig should open up like a flower.  Alternatively, you can cut each fig in half as in the photo.  Place the figs into a baking dish.
Sprinkle a little orange-flower water onto each fig, about 1 teaspoon per fig.
Drizzle a little honey into the centre of each fig or over the top of each half.    Lastly, add the grated orange zest, a little over each fig or fig half.
Bake figs for about 5 – 6 minutes until warmed through.
Remove from the oven and place on serving dishes.
Serve with a dollop of yoghurt, the crushed nuts, and a drizzle of honey.


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Breakfast, Fruit, Special Diet

Awesome Choc Chip Protein Bombs

Lately, I’ve got more serious about my fitness and that includes my diet.  It’s no biggie as I like to eat healthy most of the time anyway.  It’s just that … well, balancing healthy eating with what feels like a biological imperative to bake and make desserts is a teeny-weeny bit of a challenge.  I’m a big believer in the old adage “two birds, one stone”.   Oh, also the one about “having your cake and eating it too”.  Both excellent sayings.  So after a workout, I want something healthy, with a good protein kick, and that doesn’t taste like cardboard.  Or stale.  Or includes ingredients a pharmacist can’t pronounce (mmm, protein bars anyone?).  Or requires me to mix it up in a special bottle.  And it has to taste great.  If it has a little chocolate in it, all the better.  A little chocolate can be good for you.  Remember, I worked out, right?

These protein bombs are chock full of protein, plus some carbs, heart healthy fats, fibre, and other goodies that you need after a workout.  Or before :-).  I modified my recipe for flourless chocolate chip cookies by adding some protein powder (chocolate flavour, but vanilla is good too).  You can leave out the protein powder and the cookies will be more chewy (read, yummy) but they are fabulous with it, plus you get extra protein.  How much protein they contain depends on what nut butter and protein powder you use.  Best of all, they are easy to take with you so you can have a couple after your workout.  No mixing, no mess, and no cardboard taste!

You can use any nut butter you like but ABC (almonds, brazil nuts, and cashews) is a great combination and is a complete protein on its own.  And it tastes fantastic.  Try to use good quality chocolate chips.  I used Callebaut chips with 70% cocoa solids.  You could also use your favourite chocolate chopped into chunks.  Don’t like chocolate?  (has a seizure…)  Guess how good they are if you substitute dried berries for the chocolate?  Sensational.  Lower in fat, higher in fibre, lots of good berry stuff … dried blueberries or cranberries are great but also mixed freeze dried berries or sour cherries.  All good.

They last for about a week stored in an airtight tin.  You can double the recipe easily too.  Good excuse to work out every day 😉  Awesome!

Makes 18 – 24 cookies (depends on how big you like your cookies)

250 grams raw nut butter (ABC, almond, walnut, cashew, hazelnut, macadamia, …)
1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar (not packed)**
1/2 cup rolled oats or quinoa flakes (optional)
60 grams or 2 scoops protein powder*
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon  pure vanilla bean paste or extract
1/2 cup good quality dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (70%)

* Micellar casein or rice protein isolate work best in this recipe but you could substitute whey.  Just beware that it can dry them out more.

** You could also substitute stevia, maple syrup, Natvia/Truvia, evaporated cane juice, rapadura, whatever you prefer.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.
Line baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
Place the nut butter, sugar, oats, protein powder, bicarbonate of soda, egg, and vanilla into a large bowl.  Stir to combine.
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on the baking trays, allowing some room for spreading.  Press very lightly with a fork or a flat knife.
Bake cookies for about 8 – 10 minutes until golden.  Be careful not to over-bake them or the base will burn.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on wire racks.  The cookies will be soft when taken out of the oven but will crisp up a little as they cool.
Store in an airtight container, away from heat, in a cool, dry place.

Nutritional Profile
I have used data for most of the ingredients from the Calorie King Australia website.  It provides data that is quite comprehensive.  There will be slight variations across products and brands and so I’ve provided a typical profile.

For the chocolate chips I have used data relating to Nestle Dark Chocolate Chips as these are easy to use and the amounts are fairly typical.

For the protein powder I have based it on the GNC brand 100% Whey Protein as this is widely available and gives fairly standard amounts.  Each scoop is 31 grams so works out about right.

I’ve also provided amounts based on what yield of cookies you get, based on what size you make them ranging from large to small (18 to 24).  I hope you find this helpful.  I certainly did.

Let me know if you have any comments or thoughts!

Trans fats are essentially zero so I haven’t included them.

Want the version with dried blueberries?  Here it is:


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Chocolate, Nuts, Protein, Protein Cookies, Special Diet

Torta di Ricotta Siciliana

Wow, my first recipe post!!!  Bear with me folks, I’m no blogspert and I’m still struggling with the layout 🙂

I vowed I would bake something at least once a week.  I’m not sure I will achieve that, but this is my first attempt to do so.  I was helped this weekend by some bad weather in Melbourne … perfect weather for a ricotta tart, still warm from the oven, and a coffee.

The filling for this tart is influenced by Sicilian cannoli.  I’m a huge cannoli fan and the traditional filling of ricotta cream, flavoured with orange, cinnamon, and chocolate, is divine.  It works really well for this tart which is light and not too sweet.  It doesn’t need anything at all to accompany it, but it is lovely served with a dollop of cream laced with Grand Marnier.  Great served warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Pasta frolla is an Italian version of sweet shortcrust pastry(pate sucree).  In the interests of time, I used a food processor to make the pastry.  I’ll devote another post to Pasta Frolla with more detailed instructions soon.  This pastry is great because you roll it out and line the tart tin before chilling.  You need to work fast though and ensure you don’t overwork or heat the dough.  This will ensure the crust is light and flaky.

Yield: 1 x 24cm tart / 10 servings

Pasta Frolla
175 grams plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
50 grams caster sugar
125 grams unsalted butter, chilled
1 egg yolk

Ricotta Filling
375 grams fresh ricotta
250 millilitres  pure cream
150 grams  sugar
2 eggs
1 orange
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Triple Sec liqueur
100 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
50 grams sultanas
30 grams good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

For the shortcrust pastry: A good tip for making pasta frolla is to have the ingredients chilled (yes, even the flour on a hot day!)

Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F.  Line the base of a 24 cm loose bottomed tart tin with a circle of baking paper.

Place the flour, salt, baking powder, and caster sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to aerate.  Add the chilled butter cut into cubes and process for a few seconds just until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Add the egg and process just until the mixture comes together to form a ball. Be careful not to over-process the dough in the processor as the machine will heat the dough and the result will be tough rather than short and flaky.

Place the pastry onto a clean surface sprinkled liberally with flour.  I tend to use a sheet of non-stick baking paper as this helps to easily lift the pastry for lining the tin. Flatten the pastry slightly and roll it out to a circle about 28cm (11in) in diameter.  Using the rolling pin and baking paper to support the pastry, roll it up and gently unroll it over the tart tin.  Press the pastry into the tin, patching any tears or holes.  Roll the rolling pin over the top of the tin to remove excess pastry.  Cover and chill in the freezer for 30 mins or in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

You can re-roll the excess pastry to make Frollini cookies (I made Stelline – little stars).

Bake the pastry blind at 190C for about 20 – 25 minutes, until the edges are just starting to colour.  Remove from the oven and set onto a wire rack to cool slightly (remove the weights and lining).

While the pastry is baking, make the filling: Place the ricotta, cream, and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated.  Add the grated zest and juice of the orange, and the Grand Marnier to the ricotta mixture and mix well.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon and mix until smooth.  Finely chop the chocolate and fold into the mixture along with the sultanas.    Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F.  Place the filling into the cooled tart shell.  Don’t panic if you think there is a lot of filling!  Bake at 180C for about 60 minutes or until the tart is golden.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly on a wire rack.

Dust liberally with icing sugar to serve.  It keeps for several days in an airtight tin in the refrigerator.  Allow to come to room temperature before serving.   It was pretty cold on Sunday night and the family spent a nice evening tucking into a slice with a cup of coffee.  ENJOY!!!

For posterity, I’ll leave the original main photo here …


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Chocolate, Tarts & Patisserie


Why “Chocolate Chilli Mango”?  Maybe because it rolls off the tongue so nicely … or maybe because they are my favourite foods in the whole world.  Sweet or savoury, they go together in any combination … they can be healthy or deliciously bad for you … and ultimately that’s what this blog is all about.

Over the years I’ve documented a growing library of recipes I’ve created spanning the spectrum from decadent to seriously healthy.

I love the art and science of baking and creating different flavour and texture combinations but the best part is sharing the spoils.  There are so many recipes out there – mine are hardly original – but hopefully they will bring joy to someone out there.

I hope you enjoy it.  Ideas and feedback are most welcome!


Filed under All Recipe Posts