Choc Mint Slice: A Match Made in Heaven

Does your chocolate need a friend? This month’s posting will be after Valentine’s Day, so you may have a bit of extra chocolate around. What’s your favorite chocolate match? Be it traditional peanut butter or something more exotic like cayenne + chocolate.

I can’t say that I had a lot, or any, chocolate lying around after Valentine’s day – but that’s never stopped me baking before.

I have many a favourite chocolate match: chocolate and orange, chocolate and salt (chocolate covered pretzels anyone?!), chocolate and cherry, chocolate and bacon  (it exists!) aaannndd good old choc mint. Reminisce to my high schools days when a trip to the bakery for a peppermint slice every morning was the norm (I know, I’m screaming on the inside) – but thank god I’ve found a healthy version!

Discovered over at Food Daily it looked too good to ignore. Low in saturated fat and added sugar, and a good hit of calcium and protein from the filling = bliss!  Antioxidants and minerals from those emerald green pistachios? Tick! The peppermint slice of a nutritionist’s dreams, what more could you want?

Alas, there was one problem: it contained gelatine. Oh, why do you taunt me so? Gelatine is out in my books, so I was forced to find another alternative (a more expensive, more pain-in-the-ass alternative) but it happened. Cue: agar agar.

Agar agar is a type of seaweed. It’s actually quite amazing but very tricky to work with because you need to be super precise with your measurements otherwise you end up with a rock. I found this magical seaweed and attempted to make the recipe only for it to be a complete, albeit delicious disaster. It was a gooey mess.

Round two, much better.

After a momentary panic due to a chocolate seizure – I learnt what this is the hard way – I brought it all together in the end. Let me just say, if you are melting chocolate and yoghurt together, do it AT THE SAME TIME, not one after the other. Who knew?! I’m a nutritionist not a chef!

If using gelatine, this recipe will be a breeze.

If using agar agar, just read the packet instructions about 17 times and you should be ok.

If it’s a massive fail, it can’t be too bad. Chocolate, pistachio and mint in any form is heavenly.

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Choc Mint Slice

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted pistachios, shelled
  • 3/4 cup dates, soaked in hot water
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs gelatine  2 level tsp agar agar
  • 2 tbs caster sugar
  • 500g cottage cheese
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 200g dark chocolate (70%)
  • 2 tbs Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbs unsalted pistachios, shelled & roughly chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line the base of a rectangular pan with baking paper.
  2. In a food processor, combine oats, cocoa and pistachio until fine. Add the soaked dates, a few at a time, to form a dough. Then add oil to bring together.
  3. Press into prepared pan with your hands and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.
  4. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup cold water to a simmer, and add in agar agar. Stir really well to dissolve. It will thicken instantly, but as long as you keep it hot it won’t set.
  5. Dissolve sugar with another 1/2 cup hot water to make a syrup. Add the sugar syrup, peppermint extract and cottage cheese to the food processor and blend until smooth.
  6. Now, working really quickly, combine the agar agar with the cottage cheese mixture in a bowl and stir frantically. The agar sets when it starts to cool so you need to be quick!
  7. Pour mixture over chilled base and refrigerate until set firm.
  8. Place chocolate and yoghurt in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, TOGETHER, stirring until melted. (This is where the seizure happened..)
  9. Spread chocolate evenly over the peppermint layer then sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
  10. Chill and cut into even slices.

chocmint

 

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Zucchini Ribbon Spring Salad

We have had some beautiful days in Melbourne so far this Spring. And I’ve been lucky enough to just come back from a weekend in far north Queensland. The anticipation of summer is increasing!

This is the ultimate cool down salad for those days when it’s too hot to eat anything heavy. The zucchini is full of water for a start, a good thing for hydration levels (we get fluids from foods too, not just when we drink water) – and lots of mint to keep it really fresh. Mint contains menthol, which is what gives it that cooling sensation. Use the other half of the bunch to make fresh mint tea, or add it to a jug of cold water with some lemon slices. (This salad would be equally good with cucumber too.)

Tastes best when eaten in the sunshine!

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Zucchini Ribbon Spring Salad

 

2 x zucchini, cut into ribbons

1/2 bunch fresh mint, finely shredded

2 spring onions, chopped

100g feta cheese, diced

1 x tin chickpeas, drained

1/2 x cup dried freekeh

1 x TBS olive oil

1 x TBS lemon juice

S & P

Place freekeh in a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, then drain

While the freekeh is cooking, prepare the rest of the veggies

Throw everything into a bowl and toss with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper

Easy peasy

zuc sal