Did someone say chocolate pudding?

Ok, with the recent announcement of world chocolate supplies being in jeopardy and possibly running out by the year 2020, we need to be worried people. According to stats, in 2013, the world consumed about 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced. Startling information to take in, but I’m sure world leaders and horticulturists everywhere are tackling this problem as I type.

In the meantime, let me introduce you to the Black Sapote or as I prefer to call it, the chocolate pudding fruit. It will never fully replace chocolate but it will fool you into believing you’re enjoying the smoothest, most comforting chocolate pudding dessert you’ve ever had.

DSC03821The Sapote is a species of persimmon that is native to eastern Mexico and Central America south to Colombia. Crops are also now becoming more common in North Queensland.

It’ll be a bright green colour and very firm to touch when you purchase it. At this point, it’s nowhere near ready to eat. You need to be very patient with this little baby. Sit it on the kitchen bench and wait… wait… pick it up and wait some more. Wait until the colour is a brownish green and the flesh is soft and spongy. The image above and below shows the fruit ripe and ready to go.

DSC03822High in vitamin C (apparently four times the amount found in an orange), it’s a fruit that’s worth waiting for and the best bit, it has a mouth-feel just like a velvety chocolate pudding. I was expecting sweet but it’s not a sweet fruit or a bitter fruit, it’s just… ummmm… delicious.

DSC03825DSC03826Scoop out, eat and enjoy it ‘a la natural’ or mix it with vanilla ice cream if you’re looking for something a little sweeter. From memory, I think I paid about $4 for one fruit and it took approximately three weeks to ripen. (Pretty sure I picked it up everyday, so my anticipation of loving this fruit was very high). Thankfully, it lived up to all of my expectations 🙂

DSC03830DSC03829Purchased from James Street Markets.

Croquembouche challenge

I’ll happily admit it, I’m a MasterChef fan and although, sometimes I roll my eyes at how contrived it all seems, I still enjoy watching the contestants grow from great cooks to fantastic cooks. I enjoy watching them take on challenges that I fear would make me fall to the floor in a blubbering mess. With this in mind, I set about giving myself the challenge of the croquembouche. Da da dahhhhh…

DSC02992We were catching up with friends to celebrate two July birthdays, a ‘welcome to the world’ baby and pre-wedding party. Four celebrations that were worthy of a croquembouche challenge! The key to getting it done is definitely confidence although I did have my assistant Al on hand to help with the caramel dipping and the tower building which I was most afraid of.

DSC02988When piping the choux pastry, make a big effort to get them consistent in size as this will really help when assembling them in the cone. Our final product was a little lopsided but, thankfully, it did still stand up on its own.

I halved the MasterChef recipe as I didn’t fancy making 100 choux pastry balls and I hired a 42 cm cone from our local Kitchenware Megastore for $10 with a $200 refundable deposit.

DSC02982Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make 50 choux balls and enough creme patissiere to fill them. This amount was enough to feed 12 dessert hungry people.

Choux pastry:

  • 200 g butter
  • 10 g sugar
  • 265 ml full cream milk
  • 10 g salt
  • 210 ml water
  • 265 g plain flour
  • 8 eggs

Crème patissiere:

  • 540 ml full cream milk
  • 1 vanilla beans, split, seeds scraped
  • 220 g egg yolks (about 12 egg yolks)
  • 220 g caster sugar
  • 90 g corn flour
  • 90 g butter, diced, softened

Caramel:

  • 500 g white sugar
  • 150 ml water
  • 200 ml liquid glucose

Follow the MasterChef method here to make each of the individual components. Finally, don’t be afraid to take the caramel to the edge of burning. As some of you may know, burnt caramel is one of my favourite flavours plus this will ensure the whole dessert isn’t too sweet. DSC02993As I had to transport my creation to the party I didn’t decorate with the spun sugar.

IMG_2055This is me grinning like a Cheshire cat with my leaning tower of croquembouche. Yes, it was cold, hence my furry hat!

So, the moral of this story is, take the baking challenge, you might just surprise yourself.

Lime syrup cake

Every couple of days I have the great pleasure of picking limes from my tree. With this relaxing activity, comes the pressure to use the limes so their juicy goodness doesn’t go to waste.

I’ve added them to cocktails. I’ve made lime curd, preserved limes, lime dressing for salads and more recently this simple and very tasty lime syrup cake.

Lime syrup cakeYou don’t have to be too precious when preparing this cake, just add all the ingredients to your electric mixer and mix until well combined.

Cake

  • 200 grams softened but not melted butter
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 100 grams self-raising flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 100 grams almond meal
  • finely grated zest and juice of one lime

Lime syrup

  • 75 grams icing sugar or 50 grams caster sugar
  • finely grated zest and juice of two limes

Preheat the oven to 180c. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, almond meal, baking powder, lime zest and juice in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until well combined. Spoon the mixture into a spring-form cake tin lined with baking paper. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes but check it at 20 minutes to ensure it’s not burning too much around the edges. When it’s risen, is firm to touch and a nice golden color, take out of the oven and make small holes all over the surface with a skewer. Spoon the lime syrup over the cake, allowing it to seep in between spoonfuls. If you have the willpower leave the cake to cool before slicing or eat it while still warm (which is what I did).

IMG_1936It’s perfect by itself but would also be great with lemon curd and vanilla ice cream.

IMG_1944I’d love your suggestions, what else can I do with an abundance of limes?

 

 

 

 

 

Coconut coffee ice-cream

I’m tragic, every time I make a new ice-cream it’s my new favourite. I always say, yep, that’s a winner, I’ll make that again, and never do but this time, I think I mean it.

Oh so easy, creamy and rich, you’d swear it has eggs and cream.

IMG_1721You’ll need:

3 x 270mls cans of coconut cream (make sure cans are nice and cold straight from the fridge).

1/2 cup agave syrup, maple syrup or honey

1/4 – 1/2 cup of cold espresso coffee (depending how strong you like your coffee flavour).

1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.

If you aren’t going diary-free use:

2 x 270ml cans of cold coconut cream

1 x 395 gram can of condensed milk and leave out the extra sweetner and use the full amount of espresso. (This is the version I made).

Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl until well combined and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to get really cold.

Pour into your ice-cream machine and let it do it’s thing. I found it took a little longer than a custard-based ice-cream to churn but make it the day before you want to eat it so it has a chance to set firmly in the freezer.

IMG_1718IMG_1722This was all kinds of ice-creamy goodness. Do you have a coconut based ice-cream recipe you’d like to share with me?

 

 

 

 

Pink, green and white summer salad

It requires some precision knife skills and nimble fingers but the end result is pretty, delicate and a great light dinner party starter to awaken the taste buds.

DSC02383You’ll need watermelon, avocado, feta and some sprigs of mint and thyme. Cut the watermelon, avo and feta into roughly the same sized squares. I knew I would get bored of the cutting process and cut corners so I asked Al to do the cutting for me. He was methodical and careful, both skills I don’t possess in the kitchen. As you are cutting the avo, squeeze some lemon or lime juice on them to keep the vibrant green alive.

DSC02384Once you’ve got a good pile of each component you can start the assemble. In hindsight, a pair of tweezers would have made this job easier but I managed to get six plates done fairly quickly. You can then decorate however you like but keep it delicate. Once assembled give a final squeeze of citrus over the top and maybe a splash of balsamic if you like.

I’d be keen to hear what other vegetables or fruits would work well presented like this, thoughts?

DSC02381Thanks Ilana Freddye for the inspiration to reproduce this beautiful salad.

Figgy espresso balls (gluten free)

My friend Miss G gave me some dried figs and asked if I’d make something gluten and dairy free. Challenge accepted 🙂

Figgy espresso balls were born. A super easy, quick to prepare, healthy snack to satisfy the sweet cravings.

DSC02358You’ll need: 250grams of dried figs, 3/4 cup of freshly poured espresso, 2-3 tablespoons almond meal, 1/2 cup silvered almonds or crushed peanuts, 1/4 cup sunflower kennels, 1/4 cup coconut chips.

Cut the figs in half, place in a bowl and soak them for a couple of hours in espresso to soften them. If you aren’t a fan of coffee, you could soak in orange or apple juice.

Put the figs and coffee soaking liquid into your food processor and blend. Add the other ingredients and blend again until well combined. You might find you’ll need to add more almond meal if the mixture looks too wet. You’re looking for a slightly sticky consistency.

Roll into balls and leave in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up. Enjoy with coffee, herbal tea or dare I say it… a chilled glass of champers!

Lazy Summer Days – 5 Easy Ways With Mangoes

Fiona from TIFFIN bite sized food adventures, readers. With Heather still on her glorious holiday, I thought I’d swing past and write another post. Mangoes polarise people. Not in the same way as say, Lady Gaga but, most people adamantly love or loathe them. I’m in the love camp. That first sweet, juicy, fragrant bite and the string it leaves in your teeth afterwards! Even now, whenever I eat a mango, it takes me back to my childhood and happy summer days.

First Mangoes of the Season

Mangoes in the neighbourhood

Each year when the first mangoes of the season appear on the shelves at ridiculously exorbitant prices, I resist for as long as I can but inevitably cave in. The next thing you know though, there are mangoes everywhere, the price has dropped through the floor and suddenly you have a case of them on your kitchen bench. Green and unyielding one minute, a dozen ripe mangoes that all need eating the next.  After you’ve eaten a couple standing over the kitchen sink, you need to start getting creative, and quick. So, if you’re like me and have a case of mangoes that you need to deal with this weekend, perhaps you could try these 5 Easy Ways With Mangoes.

P1170081 (800x600)

1. Freeze

Mangoes freeze really, really well. So, peel and cube a couple of those mangoes , pop them into a container and put it in the freezer. Frozen mangoes can be defrosted or, you could just wizz them up in the blender with some white rum and caster sugar for an instant daiquiri

2. Puree

Peel and slice a couple of mangoes into the blender. For every mango, add a tablespoon of water and a teaspoon of caster sugar. Give it a good whirl until you have a puree. You can push the mixture through a sieve for an ultra smooth sauce or use as is. The puree is good over ice cream, swirled through yoghurt or on top of a dense coconut cake. This freezes well too.

3. Sorbet

Voila

Mango sorbet as a great creamy texture without any dairy. Here’s a link to a recipe I published when we were overcome with the mango tidal wave of 2013.

4. Coronation Chicken

There are many recipes for this classic salad, now used as a standard sandwich filling in Tesco’s and Boots across the UK. The basic mix is cooked, chopped chicken, mayonnaise, curry powder and an apricot puree and pieces. Some versions include celery or apple (sounds a bit Waldorf Salad to me), many include sultanas and flaked or slivered almonds.  You can choose your recipe from the selection here.

I’m suggesting that instead of the apricot puree or mango chutney, you add in some of the mango puree and some chunks of mango. Go all out and add a fine dice of chilli. Now days, fruit in salads or salt on desserts is par for the course but imagine the thrill when this was invented for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.

 5. Breakfast Smoothie

Over Christmas I made various smoothies and frappes each morning to enjoy with our breakfast. Now that I’m back at work, I don’t have time to muck around in the kitchen in the mornings. Instead, I prepare the ingredients for this breakfast smoothie the night before and leave in the fridge in a bowl. In the morning I can just drop it in the blender and  wizz for a few minutes before pouring it into a drink bottle with wide mouth. I use one of my stainless steel straws to sip it at the bus stop and on the walk to work.

Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 x mango, peeled and cut into chunks
  • ¼ cup plain rolled oats (not toasted, not instant)
  • ¼ cup natural of flavoured yoghurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3- 4 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. If you are using frozen mango chunks, you will not need the ice-cube but may like to add a splash more milk to loosen the mix. The addition of the oats adds fibre and as they are low GI, helps to fill you up until morning tea.

P1170104 (600x800)

That’s all for this time. Thanks for reading and hope to see you again soon. Fiona.